My name is Khitam Masoud, and I was diagnosed with Vulvar Cancer at the age of 26 in 2007. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had noticed a skin color change in the form of several dark spots and was tested for HPV. The results came back to be a very high grade, high risk strand of HPV, and I was referred to an oncologist. He then did another biopsy and the results showed that I had developed Stage 1 Vulvar Cancer from certain strands of HPV. Within the month, I was scheduled for a partial vaginectomy, partial vulvectomy, leep/cone biopsy and a D&C. I was so scared, and I had no one to talk to. I had run away from home at the age of 16 because my parents wanted to force me into an arranged marriage and haven’t spoken with them since 1998. I had my friends from work who became my family, but it wasn’t the same. I felt isolated and alone and spent three-to-four days in the hospital by myself. I had no idea what to expect during or after cancer.
I joined Imerman Angels as a mentor and runner of Team IA with the goal of making sure that no one would have to go through cancer alone. I was recently matched with a woman close to my age and fighting through a very similar cancer. My mentee and I have become great friends, and I’ve been able to support her through her recent hysterectomy and radiation due to her Stage 2 Vaginal Cancer. She has as supportive family, but having a mentor to talk to who has faced this journey has made a huge impact for her. I went to her doctor’s appointments with her and have met with her at least once a week to offer support. Her journey has become a part of my journey. We discuss things that we normally couldn’t discuss with our friends and family who never went through cancer.
After my surgery in 2007, I wanted to get active and be healthier. The first race I ran in Chicago gave me so much confidence, and every race I’ve run since has been for charity. My mentee and I just finished her first 5K together. I’m so proud of my mentee and so grateful to be a part of such an amazing organization. I feel that being a mentor has been more rewarding for me than anything else I have ever done in my life. I have found myself and have grown in so many ways as I’ve faced this journey. Speaking at events and meeting new cancer patients when I’m volunteering has helped spread so much awareness in our community.
Now at 31, I’m in my 3rd year of my undergraduate and pre-med studies. I now know why I was put here on earth and why I had to go through all those years of challenging experiences. I was born with a lot of energy, the gift of making people smile and the passion to live, love, and laugh to the fullest! I’m going to become a Doctor of Oncology one day and always fight so NO ONE FIGHTS CANCER ALONE. Everything happens for a reason. As an Everygirl, I’m honored to have this opportunity to share my story. Just remember that sometimes things might fall apart so better things can come together.