Her Battle with Breast Cancer Led to Fundraising to Help Others

Ashma Khanani-Moosa with her family at the 3rd Annual Hats and Henna High Tea fundraiser held on Sunday, September 30, at Hotel Granducca in Uptown Park.

Ashma Khanani-Moosa with her family at the 3rd Annual Hats and Henna High Tea fundraiser held on Sunday, September 30, at Hotel Granducca in Uptown Park.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: After learning about her breast cancer in 2009, Ashma Khanani-Moosa’s life changed in more ways than she could have imagined. The mother of two and wife of successful physician Dr. Abdul Moosa, she received her diagnosis at The Rose, a center near her home in Friendswood and it was early and accurate enough for her cancer to be treated aggressively at MD Anderson Cancer Center, eventually resulting in a bilateral mastectomy.

She was thankful it was caught in time and realized that she was among the fortunate ones to have received an early diagnosis which was a key to her survival. After rehabilitation, Moosa started volunteering at MD Anderson in 2015 and became an ardent supporter of The Rose, eventually being appointed as a board director.

The Rose was founded 32 years ago in 1986 by Dr. Dixie Melillo, a surgeon, and Dorothy Weston Gibbons who were passionate about treating breast cancer in women.

They were both affiliated with HCA-Bayshore Hospital in Pasadena and saw firsthand how women had to suffer in order to get a proper diagnosis.

The Rose has become the leading non-profit breast health care organization in southeast Texas, serving over 500,000 patients. It treats both insured and uninsured women and depends on revenue from paying customers, grants and donations. The revenue from every three women with insurance is able to pay for the diagnosis of one women who is uninsured. Besides two locations, The Rose has mobile mammography vans that screen 40,000 women annually. In addition, The Rose depends on fundraising support from the community so Moosa came up with a unique way to reach the community while also giving the women a morale boost during their trying times..

In 2009, Moosa started a fundraiser – which eventually in 2015 was named “Hats and Henna High Tea” – at her home in Friendswood. “It was a high tea for women to be fashionable and my daughter, Fatima, 23 decided to draw henna designs on the women as she does on other cancer patients to uplift their spirits.” That event has grown every year and the 3rd annual fundraiser was held on Sunday, September 30, at Hotel Granducca in Uptown Park.

Most of the women were dressed in flamboyant hats and elegant outfits, and many were also in colorful hijabs and the emcee was Fatima Moosa. Over tea and finger-food, sandwiches, scones and pastries, they heard from several speakers who revealed their own personal voyages with battling cancer and stories of those who needed help. Dr. Basyouni spoke about his son’s fight with leukemia and called The Rose “a gift to the community”.

Dr. Dixie Melillo said she “felt reassured when she hears a woman has cancer, because this means she has an accurate diagnosis and is on the road to being okay.” She shared a story of a woman who couldn’t afford the diagnosis because it cost $80 for an office visit, declaring “if you come to us, you are not going to be turned away” and that they should not be concerned about payments. Later, her so-founder Dorothy Gibbons shared more courageous stories, declaring “The Rose is about community.”

Dr. Abdul Moosa opened by stating that “I am the Moon to this Shining Star”, referring to his wife and his total dependency on her for his daily routine. “When we learnt of her diagnosis, our world fell apart,” he added. “It was emotionally difficult to see … but the journey has made me a better person.” He ended with plugging the health lifestyles program of Dr. Dean Ornish.

Diasha Michell, a young survivor spoke about her diagnosis when she was just 21 and felt a lump while at a Super Bowl party. Her own mother had been misdiagnosed with a cyst when she was 33, so when Michell’s diagnosis was also the same, she felt that something was amiss and turned to The Rose for a second opinion. She eventually went through treatment while she was still going to classes to get her degree.

Andrea Plummer sang the voice-only song “Let Go, Let God” by Olivia Newton-John, herself a breast cancer survivor. Ashma Moosa was the final speaker, declaring “I love The Rose’s mission. They never let women down, especially those who are uninsured.” She said she had started the Hats and Henna party in her home 9 years ago, and that it was growing every year, to where they had over 120 people at this year’s event. “My dream is to take The Rose globally!”

Moosa has also embarked on a more ambitious fundraiser, a fashion show called “L’Affaire du Monde” to be held on Friday night, October 12 at The Ballroom on Bayou Place on 500 Texas Avenue.

For information on the fundraiser “L’Affaire du Monde”- in support of The Rose, contact Ashma Khanani-Moosa at 281-235-2529 or akananimoosa@gmail.com