The Rose Began Her Odyssey to Help in Treating Other Women

The Rose Board Directror Ashma Khanani-Moosa with CEO and co-founder Dorothy Weston Gibbons.     

The Rose Board Directror Ashma Khanani-Moosa with CEO and co-founder Dorothy Weston Gibbons.

By Jawahar Malhotra              

HOUSTON: It was the most traumatic time in her life, she recalled with emotion in her voice, even years later, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. With it began a year of treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center and a bilateral mastectomy. She had gone to The Rose for her diagnosis and was thankful they had found the cancer early enough to be treated.

After her rehabilitation, Ashma Khanani-Moosa realized that this would be her life’s work and she dove into helping other women learn about breast cancer and getting the diagnosis early, “which is the key to survival” she added of her odyssey to reach as many women as possible. She credits her own cure to her oncologist, Dr. Maqbool Haq; her caregiver and husband Dr. Abdul Moosa, a family practitioner and wound care specialist in La Porte and to Dr. Pierre Chevray, a plastic surgeon.

Moosa had gone to The Rose, which was close to her home, because she had heard of the reputation of the two women who founded it 32 years ago, Dr. Dixie Melillo, a surgeon, and Dorothy Weston Gibbons who were passionate about treating breast cancer in women, which was slowly rising to become an epidemic. 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 two women started The Rose in 1986 and led it to become the leading nonprofit breast health care organization in southeast Texas, serving over 500,000 patients. It now has two locations – the original near Fuqua and 45 South and another in Bellaire near the Galleria. 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 diagnose one women who is uninsured. In addition to the 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 and this is where Moosa joined the non-profit’s Board to help in brining awareness to the South Asian community. She is already active in the Boards of the Indo American Muslim Association of Greater Houston and the Indo American Cancer Awareness Network and has volunteered regularly at the MD Anderson Cancer Center since 2015.

What Moosa noticed was that whenever they made an appointment for a breast exam, “South Asian women would be a no-show, perhaps due to social taboos against exposure or personal reluctance and prudishness,” she reasoned. She decided to work within her community to overcome these stigmas and get early diagnoses.

In 2015, Moosa started a fundraiser called “Hats and Henna” at her home in Friendswood. “It was a high tea for women to be fashionable and my daughter, Fatima Aisha, 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 this Sunday, September 30, will be held at Hotel Granducca from 3 to 5pm.

In addition, Moosa has embarked on a more ambitious fundraiser, a fashion show called “L’Affaire du Monde” to be held on Friday, October 12 at The Ballroom on Bayou Place on 500 Texas Avenue from 6 pm to 10 pm. It is a culmination of an odyssey that began nine years ago for Moosa and one she continues to be passionate about.

For information on the two fundraisers – “Hats and Henna” and “L’Affaire du Monde”- in support of The Rose, contact Ashma Khanani-Moosa at 281-235-2529 or