Abdulrahman: This journey made me stronger than I think

Abdulrahman is a typical 13-year-old Qatari boy whose life changed dramatically when he was eight. Which tells us his story, saying:

It was a month after my birthday, and I was playing with my cousins and my brother (at my grandfather Yousuf’s house) when my mom brought me to the Pediatric Emergency Centre at Al-Saad for what we both thought was a regular physical checkup and blood work since I was falling sick continually (with a high fever) and more than any other children in my family. (The doctor wanted to send me home with antibiotics, but my mother felt something was wrong and insisted that the doctor get blood labs done as I looked pale, weak, and tired.) I told my cousins I would be back very soon and we could continue playing football when I returned. Little did I know that would be the last time I would see my family for another three years.

My mother and I had arrived at PEC and expected similar results as previous visits. We waited patiently when the nurse and doctor told us we had to be moved to an Isolation room. Being an 8-year-old, I didn’t quite understand what was happening around me, but this was also the case for my mother, and the doctor didn’t explain why we had to move.

As the nurse came in to (check on my vital signs), my mother asked if we were placed in the isolation room to keep others safe since she thought I had an infectious disease. When the nurse replied, “It’s to keep your son safe from others,” this reply shocked my mother and me.

Within an hour, I was in an ambulance on my way to Hamad General Hospital, still not knowing why all this was happening to me. Once I arrived at the hospital, another group of nurses tended to me and started (a) another blood transfusion containing platelets. Despite all this chaos and uncertainty, my mother kept her composure and was my light in the dark. My mother had called her father (my grandfather). She told him of this situation, which caused him to cry since his friend was diagnosed with Cancer and had undergone a similar procedure (the symptoms she was explaining to him that I was having confirmed to him that I had Cancer.

My mother, extremely frustrated as nobody was giving us any answers, had googled all the symptoms and concluded that I had Leukemia (pale, fatigue, high fever, bruises, low platelets, low ANC, etc.). This conclusion was met with hesitancy from the doctors, and both my mother and I spent the entire (night) in Hamad Hospital without knowing why we were there. The next day, when the doctors came in for their morning rounds, my mother confronted them and asked if I had Leukemia–but she was met with more uncertainty from the doctors. (The doctor had excused himself and left the room.

After a few hours, my mom was asked by the doctor to step out of my room and in the hallway, I was told that they usually don’t give this type of information to a lady without her family present, but as I have already known, yes they are suspecting that my son has Leukemia) After enduring a couple more days full of tests in Hamad Hospital, they had to confirm that I had Leukemia, so I had to undergo an LP to take a sample of my bone marrow to check for cancer cells. My mother and family were very nervous and praying, but my mom never should be a sign that something serious was wrong with me.). (The next day, the doctors had a meeting with my family and informed them that) I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and started on chemotherapy immediately to save my life – this was only two days after I had left my home for what had seemed to be a regular checkup that would change my life forever. At this point, I was getting agitated and just wanted to know when I could leave the hospital and play with my cousins again. At that point, my mother explained to me simply about Leukemia and what we would have to do to get rid of this disease. For example, there was a problem with my blood, and the platelets and blood transfusion they gave me were like soldiers going into my body to fight the bad guys). My mother didn’t want to leave me in the dark regarding my condition (and firmly believed that it was essential that I understand what was happening), but at the same time, she didn’t want to scare me with big words–I was a child after all.

Within a week after this chaos, my father, brother, grandma Ameena, mother, and I were flown to the Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC (accompanied by a doctor and nurse on the plane as I was still very sick and hooked up on various medications). Immediately as we walked into the hospital room, we were swarmed by a room full of doctors and social workers (remember this was the evening, and my mother was exhausted from the long flight). This was the start of my 3-year medical journey (in the USA). I was (sad, confused, and wanted to see my family) miserable most of this time, despite my family’s strong support and my mother staying by my side the entire time. I hadn’t seen my school friends, siblings, and cousins for a long time and felt emotionally isolated. I only had my mother and grandmother as my only constants, which was the sole reason I could get through this illness and stay strong.

I don’t remember much of what happened in the hospital (since most of the time, I was on strong pain medication). Still, some of the most painful moments were when they had to place a Broviac Catheter in my body–I remember being in excruciating pain and not talking to my mother. I felt like I was no longer a boy; they had changed me into a robot. That period was the longest time that I had ignored my mom. Then (my Uncle Ahmed) one of my uncles, called me from Qatar and pointed out that Ironman’s arc reactor on his chest looked just like my catheter, and he told me that Ironman’s reactor was the basis of his strength in the same way that my (Broviac)catheter was my strength. My Uncle’s words helped me to change how I looked at hospital procedures; the procedures no longer scared me, but they were still painful, just not as scary as before.

I lost much of my hair in the hospital due to chemotherapy. Chunks of my hair would be falling into my cereal ( and I would wake up with hair all over my pillow, even in my mouth sometimes, and that frustrated me), and then (my Uncle Abdulla) another of my Uncles, Facetimed me and told me about John Cena and The Rock, two of my favorite wrestlers who were bald (and that the strongest people in the world are the people in the military and they all shave their heads). He said being bald made them strong, and this conversation helped me immensely during that time. I even let the Chief of Hematology Oncology in the hospital to shave my head. (And I was happy with that.)

Besides the hard times, I also remember the fun I had in the hospital with the nurses who cared for me and the hospital clowns and ballet dancers who would often visit. I remember (during my bone marrow transplant, I was not allowed many visitors, and my interactions with the nurses weren’t allowed anymore except with my assigned nurse) one time when interaction with the hospital staff was decreasing, so my mother created a game called “Guess Haman’s ANC,” where the hospital staff would guess my Absolute Neutrophil Count every day. The closest guesses would get prizes. This encouraged the team to walk by my room and wave or smile or talk to me, which lifted my spirits (she would print a piece of paper, stick it on my door, and open the curtains so that I could see everyone’s excitement). This community spirit helped me and my family get through this ordeal.

I was able to be friends with some of the children in the hospital, especially this Saudi boy who was admitted at the same time as me. Still, there was an incident when one of my friends had to get her legs amputated, which was a major shock to me, and that event stopped me from talking to any of the children in the hospital. I still don’t understand why I did that, but I felt more comfortable talking to the adults in the hospital after that incident.)

I could not go to school during chemotherapy as it was taking a significant toll on my body, but I did have tutors who would come to the  tutor would come to my home whenever I was there, and no matter how sick I felt, my mother made sure I kept my brain working) hospital to teach me. Even at moments when I wouldn’t be able to speak, I was still learning, thanks to my mom. I wouldn’t say I liked every second of it then, and I would try to hide under my blankets and ask my mother to make the tutor leave, but now I understand the importance of continuing my education. My mom said that continuing my education was designed to make me feel that this part of my life was temporary and that this, too, shall pass. I didn’t believe in that idea then, but I do now.

After most of my chemotherapy cycles were over, we rented a huge house and moved into it instead of the hospital as it wasn’t necessary to stay there. My mother had rented a house with a basement and turned it into my playground – I had video games and a vast space to play football – it was great! But this didn’t last long: more labs were done for me, which revealed that there were still cancer cells in the blood – the chemotherapy wasn’t working as well as we thought it would, and the doctors found out that I had a 5q deletion in my genetic profile, which means that I had to have a bone marrow transplant. Thus, I had to have two more cycles of chemo before the transplant could be done, so we had to move back to the hospital.

The search for an HLA (human leukocyte antigen) match was probably the worst period for my mother as our relatives and friends back in Qatar weren’t aware of this, and even when they were tested, no one turned out to be my match (even the international bank didn’t have a good match for me). One day, the doctors informed us that a mother in Texas had donated her newborn’s cord blood, which surprisingly matched my HLA: I had an unrelated stem cell donor in Texas!

The following steps before the transplant were the worst. I had to endure total body radiation twice a day (since kids rarely undergo this type of radiation, I had to go to an adult hospital via ambulance – I didn’t mind the ambulance ride. It had a TV!)  and then (one more cycle of chemo but it was strong on my body and the doctor’s told my mom that they need to bring my body to near death as possible so that my body doesn’t reject the donor’s cells) more cycles of chemo before I was ready for the transplant. Then came the complications – (Acute and chronic GVHD in the gut and skin) and multiple rejections of the transplanted bone marrow. Your body recognizes that the new bone marrow is foreign and tries to fight it. Hence, I was placed on heavy steroids to combat the rejections. I was given strict guidelines: everything I ate had to be cooked thoroughly, and I had an hour to eat it and to drink a bottle of water within an hour as well –if it had been left alone more than that, it was no longer safe for me to drink. (I was not allowed to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, or anything not cooked at home for a long time. However, due to my GVHD and other complications, I didn’t eat for six months and was living on TPN 24 hours) During this challenging time, my mother ensured I had a psychologist so that my mental health was cared for.

After most of the medical severe therapy was over, and the doctors allowed me to go to school, I was enrolled in a public school in the USA. I had mixed feelings about going back to school. I had missed playing and having friends my age, but at the same time, this was a different environment, and I didn’t exactly look like a normal kid. The steroids I was on had caused a lot of weight gain, so I faced some bullying at the public school. Other students wouldn’t allow me to play football, my favorite sport, with them, and even the teachers didn’t seem to understand my situation. The Physical Education teacher was frustrated that I couldn’t run during the PE sessions due to my weight. This didn’t bother me as much as it did my mother. I just told her that it was okay, and I played football in my head – little did I know then that this was a coping mechanism I had developed during my bedridden time in the hospital. I was taken out of the school soon after since the students or the teachers weren’t accommodating, and the next school, BASIS Independent Mclean (a private school), was more understanding and accompanied by my condition and requirements. Instead of making me feel left out, they made me stand out amongst the others, and I had the opportunity to share my story, which was welcomed by all students and teachers alike. I made many friends there and felt like I was returning to my life.

Besides support from the school, the community spirit in the hospital played a massive role in my recovery. Organizations such as “Make a Wish” allowed me to meet John Cena, and support groups for mothers such as PANDA would come up with non-medical solutions for issues such as nausea or sleeping difficulties. I remember receiving a ‘magic ceramic in the shape of a ball stone’ from them to help with nausea. Now I realize that the stone was probably not magical at all, but it helped me to believe in such a thing at that time. Additionally, there was a couple who volunteered to take pictures of all the kids in the hospital, giving us all a photo shoot – it was this support that broke the stigma and feeling of hopelessness that surrounded the kids and their families. Removing stigma about Cancer is something that I feel could be improved in Qatar, which is what the Qatar Cancer Society is trying to achieve.

When we all returned to Qatar after the transplant, I had to every 6 months Abdulrahman had to return to DC to continue his treatment and checkups. Alhamdallah, on the 12th of June 2020, we celebrated five years since his bone marrow transplant – 5 years cancer-free!  My mother made sure I joined QCS so that I could share my story with others who might be in the same position as me. We expected to see Qatari children and their families to be in the support groups. However, the association had only ex-pats, which shows that this is still a taboo topic in this society. Hence, in an attempt to empower others, my mother arranged for me to make a video about my experience with Cancer to show that if I can get through this, so can they.

This journey has made me realize that I am stronger than I look or think and appreciate the people around me, as life is unpredictable. I thank the doctors, nurses, social workers, and everyone who supported me in Qatar and the USA. I would also like to mention “Be the Match,” a bank to which anyone can donate their blood and help find an HLA match like me. If the mother in Texas hadn’t donated her newborn’s (cord) blood to the bank, I wouldn’t have had a good transplant, and if more people in Qatar were aware of this bank, then I could have gotten a faster match and recovery. (since the HLA typing is based on ethnicity)

Last, Abdel Rahman’s mother sent her message to the community: “Cancer is given to us by God: children like my son have done nothing to acquire this. Hence, it shouldn’t be taboo or haram to talk about it; more people should open up to this so that we as a society can get comfortable and support each other.


1800 workers benefit from Qatar Cancer Society awareness campaigns

Qatar Cancer Society “QCS “launched a quarterly awareness campaign targeting workers to educate them about the most common types of cancer, according to the global awareness calendar of the disease, as nearly 1,800 workers were targeted from several health centers, as Mesaimeer Health Center, Fereej Abdulaziz, Al Jamila, Zikreet, in addition to several workers, from private companies in cooperation with Qatar Red Crescent.

The campaign started in June and lasted for three months. It was launched in some languages, namely Arabic, English, Urdu, and Hindi.

The June campaign focused on raising skin cancer awareness and targeted 500 workers by broadcasting educational messages through direct and indirect workshops and lectures. It presented the signs and symptoms of skin cancer, how to deal with sunlight, especially in hot summer weather, and the risk factors that increase the possibility of infection.

July also witnessed awareness of liver cancer, and 500 workers were targeted. The focus was on the most important signs and symptoms of liver cancer and methods of prevention, and emphasis on not sharing personal care tools such as razors and toothbrushes to avoid infection with hepatitis B virus, which is a risk factor for liver cancer. The campaign included distributing a personal care kit to the workers.

Within August, which is International Blood Cancer Awareness Month, the campaign targeted 300. It made them aware of blood cancers And focused on the importance of adhering to safety standards at work to limit exposure to chemicals and radiation to reduce the risk of disease. Another group of workers is being targeted in cooperation with several companies, namely (FMM & Q TERMINALS and Suhail Holding), which target approximately 500 workers.



Suma, Having cancer changed my outlook on life.

My name is Suma; I’m a Nurse Specialist. I always cared for patients with Lung cancer who are primarily diagnosed in advanced stages and hence need palliative care, thinking that I can ease their pains and sorrows – I can be their shield against cancer, against a villain who I have never expected to face myself, but I was wrong; July 2016 was the time for me to be bold and fight against it, and at that time, I found my patients to be my strong, protective shield throughout my journey. I had persistent fatigue, so I decided to see a physician; then, I had blood tests and a mammogram, which showed that I might lump in my breast, so a biopsy was obtained. This biopsy conveyed a diagnosis that I had never imagined. It translated my fatigue into something beyond my imagination. I was told that I have Stage 1 Breast Cancer.

Denial and rejection were all that I was feeling initially; I was not able to grasp the fact that I had cancer. I went home that day with a heavy heart, with serious steps, carrying a worrying diagnosis, which should have been the end of my story. I went home where I was sure I would feel secure; I went home to see my children and to listen to their joyful stories; I went home to be embraced by my family as my heart was filled with worry, and they’re the only ones who can enlighten it. Then came the question: should I inform my family yet? Will they be able to grasp it? I believed in them and knew they would support me with every step I took.

I informed my husband; he broke into tears. He cared for me a lot and was upset about my well-being. As time passed, he accepted it, and so did I. We both were ready to fight it together. He was always strong and by my side when I needed him. He comforted me and was there for me throughout the treatment. I had a one-year treatment phase, which included surgical treatment followed by chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy. I was tired and physically drained but I knew I was strong enough to handle it. I did things I enjoyed during my treatment cycle; for example, I’m a workaholic; thus, working although I’m sick took away all the sickness which I was experiencing as I felt happy doing my assigned duties. I showed this physically-draining disease that I’d appreciate life more as much as it drains me. I decided not to take sick leave; I went to work and helped my patients as I now know what they go through when they are sick. Cancer has enlightened my perspective regarding the disease and made me a better carer for my patients. Was I losing hair? Being fatigued? Having mood swings? This all vanished when I realized I was strong enough to win this battle. I gained strength through my family’s support, my patient’s well-being, and acceptance of my illness. In addition, my spiritual habits and strong relationship with god made me stronger and wiser, as I started to look at this condition as any other condition that will pass, making me mentally and physically stronger.

Cancer throws a person into a deep end, thinking that they entered a tunnel with no opening on the other side, but this is not the case; one should believe that they have the tools to create a space for themselves, leading to their well-being and acceptance. For that to happen, one must establish a positive attitude, supportive group, hope, and faith. Do things that make you happy, support others, and give yourself time to heal. Let it be; you can fight it.




“Together We Can” to advocate for people living with cancer.

Qatar Cancer Society “QCS “launched “I am a survivor, and I will inspire you with my story” campaign to support, empower, and advocate for people living with cancer and provide them with psychological and societal support within the framework of June, which is the global awareness month for people living with the disease.

The campaign focused this year on the sustainable program “Together We Can” to emphasize the concept and importance of community advocacy for this group in various environments, especially the work environment and the educational environment “the school.” The campaign also included many events, activities, and direct and virtual awareness workshops, most notably a visit to patients at the National Center for Cancer Care and Research, a “Together We Can” workshop targeted social workers in schools, and others that targeted health, safety, and human resources officials in institutions, in addition to publishing stories of hope for some of those recovering from cancer. ,  awareness campaigns through social media platforms, and several television interviews to advocate for patients and raise awareness of their issues.

Mrs. Dana Mansour -People Living with Cancer department at QCS – said the “campaign “I am a survivor, and I will inspire you with my story” was launched as a sustainable initiative within the psychological and community support programs offered by  QCS  for this category, which would present more positive images of people living with the disease and the importance of activating their role in society and changing images Wrong stereotypes about cancer and its sufferers, as well as emphasizing that it is a disease like other diseases that can be cured, in addition to helping cohabitants to re-engage in society and regain their influential roles in it.

Qatar Cancer Society has launched many sustainable programs targeting people living with cancer. All of them aim to achieve a package of goals, the most important of which is identifying the unique needs of cancer patients, survivors, and their families,  helping patients deal with the side effects of cancer treatment, providing patients, survivors, and their families with information about available services in Qatar, providing information and advice to maintain a healthy lifestyle and improve the physical and psychological capabilities of patients and survivors to practice their daily life activities as much as possible, improving the quality of life for patients, survivors and their families during the treatment period and beyond to overcome the effects associated with the disease and its treatment and help them reactivate their role in society after treatment.



Sami Fattouh: I am proud of myself and thanks to QCS for the support.

My name is Sami Fattouh. I am eight years old, Syrian, live in Canada, and go to Fairview public school. I have fond memories of Qatar, the country I have lived in and one of the most beloved countries in my heart.

I speak Arabic and English. My parents enrolled me in a different school to learn Arabic after they felt that I started to forget it little by little because of living in Canada. I love to play in public parks and ride bikes. My dream is to become an adventurer, a paleontologist, and an astronaut in the future.

When I was three years old, I started to feel pain in my leg, but my parents did not want to worry me, so they told me that I had to go to the doctor to know the reason. when I was six, my parents told me, “We did not want you to be anxious when you were young; you had cancer since you were three.” At seven, my parents informed me more about Cancer and how it varies. I learned more when I started school. The treatment lasted for 36 months at the hospital. I completed the treatment, checkups, and medication at home. I still remember when my friends visited me and bought me presents. My favorite gift was Air Wheels Cars.

Cancer has many types. Any of them may attack body organs… You have to be punctual and take the medication in a strict amount and promptly. There was a playroom in the basement where I frequently played with my brother. Sometimes, I would stroll down the street with friends in Doha. But sometimes, the doctors recommended stopping visitors from seeing me. Therefore, in cooperation with Qatar Cancer Society (QCS), several volunteers would come to my room to make happy faces across the glass in the hospital and give me gifts so I could smile and even laugh. The doctors were kind and friendly.

My grandparents and aunts were paying visits to me constantly, bringing gifts and favorite foods. I decorated my room during Ramadan with crescents, stars, and lanterns. My family accompanied me every single moment of my journey. We always engaged in different activities, such as watching TV or playing cards. The intravenous treatment was painful; I was sometimes intense and weak at others. my uncle Mustafa and Khaled had their hair cut and said, “Come on, Sami, you have to have your hair cut.” I didn’t know that hair loss was a side effect of chemo. I guessed they encouraged me to cut my hair because it was a competition.

I have been feeling pain sometimes, but not always. Once, my cheeks were ripped out of the inside from the chemo, and it was painful, so I had to go to the hospital. It turns out I had cracks in my digestive system. It took a month to treat these cracks. I was no longer able to eat. I lost weight quickly. There were dry spots on my cheek inside, and I was crying from the pain, but soon I was playing and stopped crying. I liked eating the pasta the hospital served, and my mother started cooking it for me at home. I am used to eating it, and to this day, I call it ‘the hospital pasta.’ I also used to ask my mother to call my grandmother to ask her to make me kibbeh and mahshi.

I was so proud of myself when my parents called me Victor because I had beaten Cancer; Cancer significantly prevented me from hanging out with friends, going to preschool, and riding horses and bikes. It even stopped me from strolling down through the park. However, I used to walk in the hospital garden and play in the games room. I used to ask my aunt to take me to the games room during closing hours, and I used to go back to my room sadly to compensate my aunt, who gave me an iPad, to play games and watch YouTube together. I was accustomed to playing with toy trucks and characters, and I liked to run outside with my brother Iyad, but unfortunately, I could not run fast.

I was bored in the early days of my stay in the hospital, but I stopped being bored with the help of QCS and my family. My friends used to come to visit me and bring toys. I put those toys aside to be a souvenir for these difficult days. My brother and I frequently played with them. I have donated some of the toys to those in need. QCS used to give many gifts, and some of their members warmed my heart, especially when they dressed as clowns and cartoon characters.

QCS has provided me with much support and encouragement by inviting my parents and me to the events they organize. When I finished the treatment period, I could do everything. I will return to my usual life as before. I will sleep, as usual, go shopping, and go to classes.


The mother tells her memories of this  journey, saying :

“Stories of hope and people’s life experiences are the most important things that patients and their families seek. What matters most is that they are the hope and motivation to give more hope. Patients and families seek similar experiences and success stories that inspire patience and hope.

When the doctor told us that Sami had leukemia, it was a huge shock. Nevertheless, the involvement of our family and friends around us was a helpful factor in relieving the situation. Besides, credible doctors, thoughtful responses, and direct care from health professionals in Qatar have played a significant role in introducing the disease to us and calming us. We still remember our first stays at the hospital as the most challenging phase of our lives.

سWe had thought it was the end. Cancer is a diverse disease that affects people and ends their lives. We were trying to learn more about this disease and the recovery rate. We’ve been trying to hear any person’s experience that may lift our spirits and give us hope. I was praying for God to save my son and remove this ordeal. We quickly became ambassadors who spread hope among patients.

Sami responded to the treatment and medication processes despite the difficulties and complications. As a result of the lack of immunity, he sometimes developed some infections, and treatment was stopped. He has been infected with hepatitis, fluid retention, and heart inflammation. The cracks in his cheek, which Sami talks about with a smile now, were one of his most challenging experiences. These ulcers continued for 30 days, and he could not eat or drink, so the condition worsened. His digestive system completely deteriorated after chemotherapy until the doctors temporarily stopped treatment. Eventually, he recovered.

After Sami was discharged from the hospital, we decided to play a role in alleviating people’s suffering by paying short visits to other patients, telling them Sami’s success story, and providing them with advice. Through the effectiveness of QCS, I can inspire you with our journey. While describing his story, I am thrilled with Sami, a hero who achieved his voice faster and reached a more significant segment of society.

We were waiting patiently for Sami’s recovery day, and I took photos and videos to document the moments in his journey. Our feelings were a mixture of joy, and we ended this phase of his life with some concern about a possible relapse, God forbid. Still, this obsession haunts me even now, but it will gradually ease with time. However, I relate any minor illness of Sami to the possibility of his disease returning.

In conclusion, I sincerely thank QCS, who are still by our side. They have supported us financially and emotionally. Their programs and targeted activities mean a lot to families and patients.



The General Manager of RACA honors the winners of QCS Competition.

Qatar Cancer Society “QCS “organized a ceremony honoring the winners of the “Time to Quiet ” competition, launched this May for school students as part of the celebration of World No Tobacco Day, which falls on the thirty-first of May every year. In the presence of His Excellency Shaikh Dr. Khalid bin Jabor Al Thani – Chairman of Qatar Cancer Society, Mr. Ibrahim Abdullah Al Dehaimi – General Manager  of the Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities, and Mrs. Mona Ashkanani – Director General of Qatar Cancer Society

His Excellency Shaikh Dr. Khalid bin Jabor Al Thani – Chairman of Qatar Cancer Society, Mr. Ibrahim Abdullah Al Dehaimi – General Manager of the Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities, and Mr. Muhammad Abdullah Al-Maraghi – Director of the Health and Safety Department / Ministry of Education and Higher Education-  honored the three winning schools The first is Maha Ali Talib – Al-Jazeera Academy, Heba Hamza – Al-Bayan Secondary School for Girls, the second place is Al-Dana Salem Khamis – Umm Ayman Secondary School for Girls, Khaled Hussam – Elite International School, and the third place went to  Aizah Khan – Bright Future International School, The Next Generation (TNG) School /Wakra Primary & Secondary Campus.

The celebration included a panel discussion about raising awareness of the harms of tobacco and the importance of quitting and promoting a healthy lifestyle, with the participation of several specialists and partners, namely Mr. Muhammad Abdullah Al-Maraghi – Director of the Health and Safety Department / Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Dr. Abdul Hameed Al-Khonji – Head of Wellness for Community Interventions & Senior Consultant Community Medicine /Preventative Health – Wellness Programs, – Dr. Jamal Bashi – Smoking control and treatment specialist / Tobacco Control Center Hamad Medical Corporation, and Mrs. Marwa Al-Saleh / Radio Host and Social media influencer.

His Excellency Shaikh Dr. Khaled bin Jabr Al Thani – expressed his happiness with the participation of this large number of state schools, whether governmental, private or international, in their preparatory and secondary stages, in this competition, which the charity is keen to launch every year, especially since the honoring of the winners in this version witnessed the presence of dear brother  Ibrahim Abdullah Al Dehaimi – General Manager of the Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities, especially since the responsibility for tobacco control is a joint responsibility that rests with all of us as officials and parents at the same time.

His Excellency thanked all partners and supporters, including the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Hamad Medical Corporation, Primary Health Care Corporation, Suhail Holding Company, and Vodafone Company. Thanks are extended to the competition jury represented by Mr. Abdullah Ahmed Mohammed – Head of the Communication and Awareness Department at Fire Station, And Dr. Muhammad Abdeen – Community Medicine Specialist.

Mrs. Mona Ashkanani – Director General of QCS – said ‘Time to Quiet’ competition  aims to raise awareness of the harms of tobacco and to emphasize the importance of quitting it and avoiding passive smoking as well as encouraging the adoption of a healthy lifestyle, noting that more than 90 artworks received from preparatory and secondary school students  and as a result of the significant interaction that we found, two winners were chosen for each of the three  places,


Faiza Al Kaabi : I am lucky with my family.. now I see life more clearly.

 I felt it twice, and I kept feeling it until I realized I needed to see a doctor about it. At the doctor’s office, I was told it was a muscle cramp; I was given painkillers and sent on my way. However, the pain came back when I ran out of painkillers on vacation with my sister; therefore, I made an appointment at a clinic in Istanbul.

 When Faiza Al Kaabi – The owner of the story – went to her appointment, she described her pain to the doctor, who ordered some tests, and when the test results finally came back, her sister found out before her, and she could see in her face” Bad news. “

Faiza said, “I had lymphoma around the lungs, and the cancer had spread to my underarm and abdomen.

I was shocked–I couldn’t believe it. I had cancer. I used to participate in events to support cancer patients, and now they tell me I am a cancer patient. How did this happen? I had no bad habits that could cause cancer: I was active, constantly moving around. Why did this happen? Was it a test from Allah? Was it an affliction, and if so, for how long? Was it a punishment–what am I being punished for? What is my future going to be like? Will even I have a lot, to begin with? I had too many questions running around, colliding in my head. I was torn; one part of me thought it made sense that I had cancer. The pain was there (I could feel it); the test results were there, confirming the diagnosis. And yet the other part of me couldn’t make sense of it, and that part screamed, “This is me we are talking about! How can I have cancer!” But I did. I had cancer.

My head was a tangled web of thoughts, and the world was moving too fast. I needed to decide if I wanted treatment, and if so, I needed to start treatment immediately. I needed to decide where will I get the treatment. Will I return to Doha, get treated there, or stay in a foreign country? I needed to make too many decisions, and I needed to make them quickly. I couldn’t decide since I was still confused and in disbelief. Eventually, I pulled myself together and decided to get my treatment abroad with the same doctor who diagnosed me.

As my first chemo session approached, more and more people called me to tell me that I was strong and would get through it, and after a while, I started to believe it. I began to accept that I had cancer. By that point, some of the initial shock dissipated, but not all of it.

Everything changed a few days before Eid Al-Adha when I started chemo. The chemo shocked my body: I was constantly tired and vomiting, I was irritable and anxious, and I couldn’t eat without getting nauseous. I reached a point where I wished my mother would not visit me so that she would not bring me food that would make me sick. It felt as if I became a new person that didn’t know what she wanted or how to express it; I felt like I was in the middle of a storm, alone with a stranger that is supposed to be me, and my task was to get to know the stranger. I was in such agony that I prayed for patience to bear all this pain and the trials to come the day before Eid.

The first day of Eid came, and Faiza felt even worse. Her family looked as if they had been at a funeral. Everyone had a frown on their face. They couldn’t smile or be happy, and they couldn’t even wish each other a happy Eid. Eid seemed like a burden on her family, reminding them that while the rest of the world was enjoying this “happy” day, something was eating her from the inside out.

A week after my first chemo session was my birthday. The chemo was wreaking havoc inside my body, and I felt every little change the chemo was inducing. I felt the pain of every dying cancer cell and was exhausted. The pain was too much. I reached a point where I started to question why I was doing this. Why am I putting myself through this torture? Why am I bearing all this agony?

My reason became apparent when I saw the unshed tears in my family’s eyes and how hard they tried to make the treatment more accessible and make me happy. On my birthday, my sisters rented a yacht. On the yacht, they showed me how much they loved me; they prepared a birthday dinner with cakes and gifts and even wrote my name with a laser on Bosphorus Bridge. I was over the moon. I forgot about the pain and was too happy to think about it or feel it. In that blissful moment, I thought, “If I die after today, I will be content.” That day gave me an intense dose of happiness that kept me going.

My family treated me with love. They showed me how much they loved me through the little things. The smell of detergent bothered me, so they told me to leave the room whenever they wanted to use it. I saw how worried they were about me. My sister couldn’t sleep well and would wake me up and ask me if I was alright. My mother couldn’t eat because I couldn’t eat. She would cook me food daily, even though it was hard for her to get up and stand due to a leg problem. It soon became apparent that I feared leaving my family behind rather than fearing death.

When it was time for one of my sisters to return to Doha for her kids, I could sense her heart’s dilemma. She left a part of her heart with me, while the other part belonged to her children. We were all having dinner one last time before my sister went back to Doha when I broke the news to them. “I haven’t had enough of you all yet,” I said. “There are so many more experiences that I want to have with you. I want to grow old with you. I will bear it all for you; I will endure the pain, bear the nausea and the fatigue. I will come back for you, sister.” Everyone broke down in tears. I realized I was one of the lucky ones. I had so many people that loved me and cared for me. The people who weren’t physically with me called me every day without getting bored to check up on me.

It took me a while, but I accepted my illness. I was in a situation I couldn’t get out of. What was I going to do about it? My doctor told me that my chances of survival were high. Nonetheless, some people don’t get better and die. He said, “It’s still a disease, treat it like you would anything else, and leave the medicine for me and focus on yourself.” And that I did.

After my third chemo, I learned to live with my cancer. I had a chair in the bathroom for when I got dizzy and bags for when I needed to vomit. I knew that lemon made me nauseous, so I steered clear of it. I had one of my sisters sneak ice cream into my hospital room behind the nurse’s back since I wasn’t allowed to have any. I had my favorite books sent over from Doha to read them whenever I felt like it. I let my body adjust to the new reality of cancer and chemotherapy.

Even with my family’s unwavering support, I had moments of weakness. I was left alone in an isolated room for six chemo sessions, with no sound except for machines beeping here and there. I was starved of human interaction. I missed being with people and socializing with them. The loneliness of the treatment room, combined with the inconsistent illness that the chemo brought on, pushed me to a point where I couldn’t make the most straightforward decisions, so I surrendered my autonomy to those I trusted most, my family. During my moments of weakness, I felt insufferable pain that made me want to quit, but my sister wouldn’t let me. She would ask me to bear it for her if not for myself, which made me angry. I didn’t want to take this torture for anyone. My sister would leave me to my thoughts after my outbursts. I would think about what she said and remember why I started treatment in the first place: I started it for them.

Six chemotherapy sessions in total. It sounded like a lot and like the sixth session was so far away, out of my reach. Regardless, I did it: I finished the first course of chemotherapy, and now, it was time for the doctor to check and see if chemotherapy had any effect on my cancer.

I had no expectations for the test results. I was neither hopeful nor was I pessimistic. I didn’t want to have hope to get disappointed, and I didn’t want to think negatively. Whatever the test results were, I would have accepted them. I was in a place of tranquility. If the doctor told me the treatment didn’t work and there was nothing else he could do, I would be upset, but I accepted death. I didn’t take death as the end. Instead, I took it from a religious perspective. “If you yearn to meet Allah, Allah will also yearn to meet you.” That phrase gave me comfort and courage to face my death. My family, of course, wouldn’t hear any of this, but it was a possibility that we all needed to acknowledge. If the doctor told me I had a little while left, I would go back to Doha and gather all my loved ones to see them one last time before I departed this universe and entered another. If he told me my end was near, I would stay in this country until my time was up.

“Fayzah, I have some news for you,” said the doctor.

“What?” I asked.

“Good news,” the doctor answered. I expected him to say that my body was responding well to treatment or other things doctors say to their patients to motivate them. What he said next left me speechless and baffled.

“The test results are out: they show a healthy body.”

Everyone calls me a hero for beating cancer, but I do not feel like one. I had moments of weakness, for no one is strong regarding illness. Sometimes we can’t sleep due to a toothache. Imagine what it would be like to feel the ache of cancer and chemo. It has been a year since I got cancer. I don’t know if it will ever come back or when. Maybe I got cancer to change how I see things, to tell me that I needed to live my life better. However, I know I am stronger now, thanks to cancer.

My life was a dirty lens before cancer–blurry and unclear–and cancer helped me clean it and see the world. I stopped letting the small things bother me, for life is more significant than whatever little thing is trying to upset you. Cancer taught me to choose myself and those who love me over work because I am easily replaceable at work, whereas I am irreplaceable for my loved ones. I realized that losing my hair is nothing compared to losing my soul and that I should do whatever it takes to preserve it, for a single hair doesn’t determine my happiness, and my soul is what matters.

I am grateful that I belong to a community where strangers will reach out and ask about you, and other strangers will start a charity project in your name just because they heard you were sick. Nonetheless, I hope that one day people will stop treating cancer as if it were a disgrace: we, cancer patients and survivors, did not choose or ask for it.

I can say to those who were just diagnosed, “I prevailed, and so can you.” There isn’t a single disease on earth without a cure. Humans haven’t discovered the cures for “incurable” diseases. Listen to your doctor and only your doctor for medical advice, and focus on yourself.

I’m glad I put up with the treatment a year later because many things are worth the pain and living for. I’m so happy that I got cancer and went through this experience. Given the choice, I would not return to the way things were because I now see things.

I wouldn’t wish that someone would go through what I went through, but if someone has cancer, take it with courage. We can do this together. We are part of a supportive community that wants to be there for everyone. I am sharing my story as my way to be there for you.


QCS hosts ‘Hope Iftar ‘ to celebrate people living with cancer

Mrs.Mona Ashkanani

Qatar Cancer Society “QCS “hosted (the Hope Iftar) event as part of the Psychosocial and social support program for people living with cancer; the ceremony was held at the Doha Sheraton Hotel. It was presented by the Iman Al-Kaabi and was attended by more than 300 patients, survivors and their families, and many public figures and media personalities. , and included the distribution of gifts to children provided by Kiddy Zone and flowers distributed by Floward.

Mrs. Mona Ashkanani – Director General of  Qatar Cancer Society  welcomed the attendees at the IFTAR, which the charity is keen to organize every year, aiming to provide psychological and societal support for people living with cancer, pointing out that the annual event is happening in conjunction with QCS’ mission to prevent cancer and control its burden in Qatar by working with its partners to educate the community and to support, empower and advocate individuals living with cancer,

QCS is keen to provide all means of support for people living with cancer, whether material, psychological, social, or educational. In this regard, it has launched many programs concerned with this matter, noting that organizing an annual “Hope IFTAR” aims to shed light on bright models that have been able to conquer disease and overcome it to write May God give them a new glow full of the love of life. She added

she thanked everyone who contributed to supporting the society’s vision to be the community partnership platform for making Qatar a leader in cancer prevention and its burden control.


Qatar Cancer Society signs MoU with Houston Methodist

Qatar Cancer Society (QCS) represented by His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Khalid bin Jabor Al Thani, chairman of the board, and Houston Methodist Global Health Care Services, represented by Talal Braidy, regional director of global development, signed a memorandum of understanding which aims to raise awareness about cancer, supporting and empowering patients and advancing scientific research opportunities in the field.

His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Khalid bin Jabor Al Thani appreciated Houston Methodist Global’s efforts in the health sector and its active role in supporting QCS through the signing of this agreement. “We hope this cooperation will be the first building block for future partnerships that benefit all members of society, especially those living with the disease,” he said.

“The agreement reflects QCS and Houston Methodist Global’s commitment to community service and effective partnership that contribute to achieving goals that are in the interest of all, especially since the cancer control issue requires concerted efforts to confront the disease,” he added.

His Excellency indicated that the agreement between the two parties provides an opportunity to build close partnerships to spread awareness and contribute to the provision of health and humanitarian services to cancer patients. The two organizations are cooperating in affirmation of the charity’s vision to make Qatar a leader in cancer prevention and control.

Mr. Talal Braidy said “Houston Methodist Global Health Care Services is honored to partner with Qatar Cancer Society to support and advocate for programs that empower individuals with cancer and expand potential areas of scientific research collaboration in the field of cancer. Houston Methodist is committed to enhancing health care delivery within Qatar and the region. We look forward to a longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship with QCS as they continue their pioneering work to prevent cancer and reduce its burden in Qatar.”

The MoU was signed during a Suhoor event At The St. Regis Doha Hotel, attended by His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Khalid and members of Qatar Cancer Society, and Mr.Talal Braidy, Ms.  Najla AlHudaib, Senior Country Manager. The signing ceremony was also attended by several people living with cancer and their families, as well as a group of media professionals and public figures.



Rana Shahryar : My experience left an indelible mark, and made me more positive

On June 14th, 2013, I felt a tightness followed by a pain in my chest. It wasn’t sore like I had after a futile effort fighting off a bench press sitting on my sternum. It felt like some uncomfortable imp pushing against my heart to leave my chest, and my heart responded by beating back in a morbidly familiar way. I went to the hospital for an EKG, and years of learning vectors in Physics made me an expert in reading, or at least I remember saying as much. They then put an IV cannula on my hand, the first of many that year, and injected contrast for the upcoming CT scan.

Rana Shahryar talked about his experience with cancer, saying: “I was eventually diagnosed with lymphoma. There was a medical who was doing a rotation with the team overseeing me, and she told me that the T cell lymphoma was indeed cancer but that most at my age with the disease survive. My most immediate thought was: “Neat, I’ll live through this and milk this experience for sympathy for my entire life,” and I laughed. She and my parents joined in the discussions after a lot of hesitation and a bit of concern. She would visit every evening, and we would talk about what I was interested in school, what I did for fun, and what I planned on doing after high school… but that’s when it occurred to me that I might not see my friends for quite some time. I asked my father if I could go to school after this, and he said that treatment would most likely take a few months, so we couldn’t hope to have this resolved all that soon.

The doctors required a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis, but I had to be awake during the procedure because they were taking a sample from the chest. Once the biopsy wound healed, I was sent to Qatar’s National Center for Cancer Care and Research (NCCCR), and I waited in the shared room before a private room could be arranged. I was started on steroids to decrease inflammation around the mass. Being a patient this long, I eventually recognized patterns that come with that role. Nurses come in every morning to check my vitals, give me my medications, and perhaps joke with me and ask what I’m reading. My mother would come in with some food, sit, and ask how I was doing before heading out to pick up my siblings from school. My father would come in after work; we would speak for a while, and later he would sleep on the couch beside my bed.

However, my interactions were limited overall, and I would be alone to my own devices for most of the day. Being sick is also quite restrictive as people would see you as a fragile creature and insist that jumping jacks would cause the mass to move down and influence my heart, among other things. I would also be given a different kind of pity that I’m much less sympathetic towards. On my birthday, my grandmother paid a visit, and my parents had yet to explain my diagnosis to her, though she read the hospital sign on the way to my ward. As I was given my cake, she asked, “Why are you doing this? His life sucks.” It was a condescending and hopeless pity that I thankfully didn’t see often. Still, when I did encounter it, I could glimpse into their eyes momentarily and see a frail young man blissfully unaware that he may soon die. Of course, we’re no longer in the 1970s, and treatment has been quite successful for my particular cancer, and I knew death was a much more remote possibility.

If I could go back–take the time to spend more time with my friends. Hearing them talk about finishing their final year of high school on our group chats only made me feel further and further distant; at least if I could explain my situation, I’d be able to join in on the conversation with a freer conscience. Instead, I tried to limit my interaction to meet my parents’ wishes, and at least in this instance, it simply was not worth the cost.

Chemotherapy wipes out your bone marrow’s ability to create new cells, including your white blood cells, leaving you vulnerable to infection. To kickstart my white blood cell count, I was given Neupogen, which has the rare side effect of causing joint pain. I had that rare side effect in its full glory. I often spent my days at home crouched into a ball; with each movement, a hot dagger buried into one of my joints. I also had a cold the entire time at home. This time, it was impossible to keep my illness secret from my neighbors and friends; it’s not easy hiding a bright naked scalp and absent eyebrows. My neighbor would often visit, but I would be curled on the couch the entire time, struggling to sit comfortably. Once the worst of it had passed, I managed to call my high school. Once in the library, the librarian who knew me well hugged me. She knew I had a budding hobby of playing cricket, so she passed me a book about the history of cricket, and I sat like I had hoped to some weeks ago, reading a book while watching the sun rising from the window. I met my friends, and one of them hugged me, but I had to adjust a blue strap on my shoulder before I could hug him. I had to explain that it was not a bra but was used to hang the container around the central line in my neck, which quickly diffused my friends’ discomfort. We caught up quickly, and though it was clear that I wouldn’t graduate with them that day, I felt like I was still part of my class.

My extended time alone taught me how to direct my energies and conversations to the page and write poetry, and I also performed spoken word poetry in talent shows and at public events. I found poetry a much better way to solidify my complex and amorphous ideas about time and mortality and ideas of a more grounded perspective. I think there is a tendency to imagine that rationalism necessarily leads to cynicism; however, I’ve learned that it’s often rational to hope and find delight in the simple facts of life. As dark as my humor is, laughing is incredibly courageous and empowering when faced with harsh realities such as suffering and death.

As many would say, I wouldn’t limit humor to a coping mechanism because I think that view conjures up the image of a mental band-aid. Humor can be an act of healing an otherwise hurting soul. But that’s not all it offers. Much like courage, ambition, and resilience, humor is a way to invite people to the challenge of defeating and dealing with their hidden fears and the absurdity often encountered when living. It also brings people closer, and much like poetry, it gives the individual a broader set of tools to understand their audience and allow them to respond with thoughts of their own. I wouldn’t say I’m grateful for this experience; however, I don’t think any suffering was necessary. I wouldn’t recommend we reintroduce cholera to children so that they have a greater appreciation for living. These skills can be learned, and I would have much rather learned them from a friend or a mentor instead of through months of pain and isolation.

My history with cancer is something I often tell people within minutes of meeting them. As someone who enjoys humor, some mischievous part of my mind relishes the opportunity to flip people’s expectations. It’s a running gag in my class for me to mention that I had cancer, and they groan whenever I say that I had experienced that particular experience. Most days, that’s what I wished it all was, something insignificant. However, I often get hurt when I hear how many interpret it and often understate the magnitude of my experiences. As much as I would like it to be behind me, I know it was difficult and sometimes traumatic. I don’t usually share that aspect of my experience. I don’t share that for a few years after remission; I would return to the Emergency Department worried that the chest pain had returned or felt pain in my leg yet again, wincing for days when physically nothing in my leg had changed. The panic I felt in those moments was real, and my experiences left an indelible imprint on my outlook and behavior. I’ll continue to make jokes about my experiences. However, I’ll be more proactive in clarifying that this issue is still difficult to share with complete transparency and that the audience is not invited to speak on my behalf about the most troubling aspects of my journey.

As I’m doing rounds as a third-year medical student, I notice that my colleagues often wince and get disturbed by the more “difficult” and less fortunate cases we often encounter. Metastatic, genetic, and disabling diseases are the ones most often feared. My colleagues often tell me that since there is no hope of success, they would feel like they are failing their patients. I’m sympathetic to that mindset; as future physicians, we all wish to see our patients leave our clinic smiling and ready to enjoy their lives in total health and comfort. However, I want to help where I feel I’m needed. Of course, I can’t offer parents of a child born with multiple congenital diseases the chance to see their child speak his first words, his first unassisted steps, seeing him grow to his mother’s height and drive his family on a road trip. I can’t even offer the parents much time. But I can show them comfort. I often think of Lujain, the intern I befriended, and I remember how powerful the uncomplicated desire to do good can be.