For Hiba Rahman, the feeling of being trapped and submerged in a deep dark well of helplessness is an all too familiar feeling. She first felt it when she was struggling through her teenage years, then again when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 25 years old. She took solace in counselling her fellow cancer patients with their struggles. It was an unintentional moment during one of her talks about family support for cancer patients that led to her first sharing about her struggles and suicidal tendencies in public. She was surprised at how everyone around her had been “fooled” by her
happy-go-lucky outgoing spirit and never suspected that she too was struggling with depression and anxiety during her treatments.
“They were shocked because anyone who’s met me knows how happy I am about 90 percent of the time. Happiness makes me happy, but it is also my defense mechanism. I wanted to let people know that, they’re not alone, and to also educate people that, it doesn’t mean if someone looks happy, that there’s nothing wrong. Everyone is fighting their own battles.”
Now that Hiba has made a full recovery from cancer, she has directed all her efforts at helping the public understand how to care or react around a cancer patient. Her unexpected experience speaking about her depression and anxiety has also made her realise that while the trials of a cancer patient’s physical illness are difficult, their mental health is seldom taken into consideration. “I’m not a superhero, and I can’t fix anyone’s problem. But I can give you the tools that you need, to find those answers.”