I am Maruf Azimov, (Max Fardan) a 32-year old fitness model based in Dubai. On social media, most people know me as Max Fardan. I’m a proud native of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, a beautiful landlocked Central Asian country teeming with history and exotic appeal. I have three adorable kids, and I’m married to Shohista, my amazing, beautiful wife.
Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with an unlikely illness. Breast cancer, the culprit that takes over thousands of victims every year worldwide, struck me: and I’ve fought it for years. Three years ago, I underwent several sessions of chemotherapy, including surgery to remove the lump in my chest. Today, I stand as a proud cancer survivor, and I wish for more years of good health to come. I still undergo routine check-ups every six months to monitor my condition.
I came to Dubai when I got sick, and I was anxious about letting my family know about my struggle. When magazines started wanting to write about me, they asked for my real name. I was a little hesitant to disclose it back then for fear that news about my health will reach my family in Tashkent. Most of my friends call me Max, as it’s a short name, with an easy ring to it like ‘Max Rich’. Max sounded just perfect, so I eventually adopted this screen name.
I was 24 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Back then, I’d been noticing a small lump in my left chest for months. It was becoming uncomfortable, and it wasn’t going away. I felt that it was getting bigger. I decided to see a doctor to have my condition checked. I’d undergone several tests: from lab tests to MRI scans.
The day came when my doctor told me to call my family. I was preparing for some bad news. My father was recuperating from a recent heart problem, and I couldn’t bear to send my family depressing news. “Be strong; everything will be okay.” The doctor told me. What came next was something I wasn’t prepared to hear in my life, ever. “You have breast cancer.”
It was difficult for me to comprehend at first. I have breast cancer. I googled about it, and I could only stare in shock at the facts. At 24 years, I was, indeed, a Stage 2 breast cancer patient.
Cancer treatment started very soon. Slowly, I went to treatment after treatment, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. It was a dizzying struggle, nauseating and leaving me fatigued. I was told that there would be more chemo sessions to undergo, so I considered leaving my home country. At first, I went to Turkey, asking myself where to work, and weighing in the sacrifices I need to make to get treatments as well.
I decided to come to Dubai because of a close friend. He recommended Dubai very highly, saying that it’s a good place he thought might work for me well. I found a good job in Dubai, initially starting as a salesman. At that time, it wasn’t enough to sustain my needs, so I found a part-time night shift job as security personnel. I worked for a year doing these jobs, and at the same time, going to the hospital for the treatments. It was a challenging time for me, and whenever I’m talking with my family over the phone, I’d pretend that everything was alright.
The life of a cancer patient is exhausting. The fatigue quickly sets in, and the exhaustion was palpable at the end of the day’s work. After a year, I stopped working those two jobs, and I just focused on one. I was eventually promoted to sales manager after three years. The company helped me through my ordeal. My manager, my boss, they understood my situation, and they supported me all the way. The unwavering support of my friends here in Dubai was also instrumental in helping me cope with cancer. For this reason, Dubai will always be my second home.
I went back to Tashkent for my surgery. My fantastic doctor became a close friend of mine, and my gratitude for him flows really deep. He helped me obtain the expensive medicine I needed. In Uzbekistan, healthcare is also free, thanks to the government’s efforts to finance the state hospitals, medical institutions and clinics.
After finishing chemo and successfully undergoing surgery to remove the lump in my left chest, I was declared cancer-free. Living not only for myself but for my wife and kids, as well as my family back in Tashkent, makes me so happy and grateful.
I was in Dubai when the ‘call’ happened. I picked up the phone and heard my doctor on the other side. He was crying. “You’ve won it, my boy. You’ve won it.” I was in shock. “What happened?” I told him. He replied, “You’ve beaten cancer!”
I reminisced about all the treatments I braved, the arduous, difficult months of chemotherapy. I looked back on all the support I received from the people around me. There wasn’t a day in those cancer-stricken years that I’ve told myself that I have to be ready for anything that could happen. Life is fragile, and it is a brief time we only borrowed from God. I remembered the prayers I’ve mumbled silently, asking God to give me even a little bit more time for my loved ones, for the dreams and goals I have for them. I have to be there when all my unwed sisters finally walk down the aisles. For my father, I’ll buy him a car for his taxi business. And how could I even leave my sweet wife? At least, if I were to perish soon, I should be able to find him a suitable husband to take care of her and the kids when I’m gone. These were the thoughts I had to prepare for the worst.
I was indeed fortunate and blessed. And I knew I fought well. I never gave up, and I enjoyed life even though I was stricken with cancer during all those challenging years. I went to the gym to dance because I love dancing, and I also sing whenever the vibe hits me. Knowing that I might as well be gone at any day made me enjoy my life, including the smallest of happy, positive events. I think God listens when we are truly grateful for the lives we’ve been gifted with.
I ventured into freelance modelling and eventually became a brand ambassador. I’m more passionate and happier than ever, and I couldn’t simply ask for more. Having won over cancer and becoming healthy is enough as a blessing and a renewed gift of life.
Story curtesy of Out & About Mag.