Between Pain and Hope: The Journey of Sheikha Al-Mannai with Cancer

My name is Sheikha Al-Mannai, and I am a television and radio presenter. I started my career as a teacher in 1995 and served as a school principal until 2016. After finishing my tenure as the principal of an independent school, I decided to travel abroad for leisure and to find a new passion. Little did I know that this journey would begin another, more challenging journey in my life.

The Initial Discovery of the Tumor

While staying abroad, I noticed a lump on my upper shoulder. At first, I thought it was just a bruise from hitting the swimming pool wall before my trip. However, the lack of any bruising made me concerned and prompted me to conduct a self-examination, a skill I had learned in medical courses I attended in the past. I felt a small, ball-like lump under my skin, but I ignored it, believing it would disappear over time.

The Diagnosis Journey

After four months of the lump’s appearance, I decided to visit an ultrasound specialist upon returning to Qatar. Although the lump had shrunk after taking the medications prescribed by the doctor, it reappeared, increasing my anxiety. I then went to the health center, which referred me to Hamad Hospital. The next day, I received a call from the hospital requesting that I schedule an appointment with an oncology specialist.

Examinations and Tests

The doctor began with a clinical examination and suspected a malignant tumor. He asked about my family’s medical history and whether I had children. After the initial review, I was referred to the surgery department to remove some lymph nodes for testing. It took two weeks to get the test results, and during that time, the days passed slowly and anxiously. When the results came in, it was confirmed that I had stage one breast cancer. I was in shock and cried, not out of fear of the disease, but out of fear for my late mother, knowing how scared and anxious she would have been for me.

Starting Treatment

When I informed my mother of the test results, I noticed the worry on her face. My doctor was a great support, explaining that I needed chemotherapy followed by surgery. He informed me about the stages of treatment and the challenges I might face, such as hair loss and weight loss. Despite the physical and emotional pain, I decided to hold on to hope and faith.

Family Support and Faith

I began chemotherapy at the National Center for Cancer Care and Research. The smell of the treatment caused nausea and made me feel fatigued. My father and my doctor accompanied me to every session, waiting for me throughout the treatment. After each session, they would ask if I wanted to eat, but the treatment made me nauseous, and I had no appetite. I moved in with my parents during the treatment due to the side effects. I received treatment every 21 days.

Psychological and Social Challenges

What hurt me the most was seeing my mother cry when I returned from treatment sessions, as she could smell the treatment mixed with my scent and sensed my mood changes. I requested to be transferred to a hospital in Houston to complete my treatment, so my mother wouldn’t see me in my sick state. My brother accompanied me on my treatment journey, and I always tried to show him my strength so he wouldn’t feel pity for me.

Life in Houston

I considered the time I spent in Houston one of the best periods of my life, despite the challenges of the illness. I did not stay in inpatient housing but in a home away from other patients because I didn’t want to feel pitied. I focused on exercising, swimming, cooking, and keeping myself busy with household chores. I would wake up at ten in the morning and start my day by cleaning the house and doing laundry. These small details meant a lot to me and made me feel a great sense of accomplishment instead of feeling sorry for myself.

New Challenges

One day, I decided to live without wearing a wig, which shocked my brother when he saw me. He cried and left the house, but I told him that I had accepted my condition that it was temporary and that my health would return to normal in nine months. Despite the difficulties, I insisted that my brother and I go out before my treatment sessions to enjoy the weather, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to do anything the day after the treatment.

Lessons Learned

During my treatment, I realized the true meaning of family and the importance of having them by my side. My mother and father would call me several times a day to check on me. Despite my mother’s severe anxiety and deteriorating mental health, I always tried to show her that I was fine. This experience brought me closer to my children and siblings and gave me a chance to re-evaluate my life.

Conclusion

After arriving in the United States, my life changed completely. I became more faithful and consistent in prayer, and reading the Quran. I realized the importance of enjoying simple moments and stepping away from the pressures of daily life. I learned to allocate time for myself to maintain my health and connection with God and to appreciate divine blessings. The experience affected every aspect of my life and made me view things positively.

I went through a difficult experience, but I learned a lot from it. I realized that relying on God gives a person extraordinary strength to face any challenge. I consider my illness a test from God to see my patience and endurance. I became more humble before God’s greatness and more aware of the value of life, health, and family. Praise be to God for everything.

 

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To the Melody of Hope overcome Adversity ..Roger Wickham

Roger Wickam, a 50-year-old musician from the UK, found his second home in the vibrant city of Madrid, Spain, before relocating to Doha with his loving family five years ago. As a saxophonist and flutist, Roger’s life revolved around his passion for music, punctuated by moments of joy with his wife and children.

Life in Doha was idyllic for Roger and his family, filled with hard work, holidays, and cherished moments together. Despite a generally healthy lifestyle, Roger encountered an unexpected hurdle when a seemingly innocuous sore throat and swelling in his neck led to a life-altering diagnosis.

When confronted with cancer, Roger’s world momentarily faltered, but his spirit remained unbroken. With the support of the Qatar Cancer Society and his loved ones, he embarked on a journey of healing and resilience. Reflecting on his experience, Roger emphasizes the importance of having someone to confide in and relate to during challenging times.

The road to diagnosis was fraught with uncertainty, but Roger credits the swift action of his physicians for setting him on the path to treatment early. Throughout the grueling process of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, Roger found solace in the stories of survivors and the unwavering support of his family and friends.

Despite the physical and emotional toll of his treatment, Roger remained steadfast in his optimism, finding silver linings even in the darkest moments. His journey taught him the value of open communication and the profound impact of human connection in times of adversity.

Today, as Roger celebrates two-and-a-half years in remission, he sees life through a new lens. Grateful for each day, he pours his heart into his music, determined to make the most of his second chance at life. His message to fellow cancer warriors is one of hope and resilience – lean on your support system, embrace the resources available, and never underestimate your strength.

Roger’s journey serves as a reminder that even in the face of adversity, there is music to be found – melodies of hope, courage, and the unwavering human spirit. As he looks towards the future, Roger’s notes of resilience continue to inspire those touched by cancer, reminding us of the power of perseverance and the beauty of the human spirit

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Fahth : Cancer taught me to become more persistent and robust.

In early spring of 2017, a short visit to the doctor changed his life forever. He had begun noticing a small mass on the left side of his neck in April, but I didn’t think much of it then and initially dismissed it. Fahth only decided to get it checked out when prompted by his friends and family. Fahth said, “I conceded for their sakes, but I wasn’t worried; it was flu season, and everyone in my family was in good health. I remained oblivious as I took sick leave, so I avoided them like I had the plague—which wasn’t so far from the stock-keeping company I worked for and made my way to the hospital. The doctors poked and prodded, hunting for a diagnosis and scouring my body for information. The doctors decided on a surgical removal of my thyroid, and in June 2017, I underwent surgery and a biopsy. They then told me that I had papillary thyroid carcinoma, a type of cancer that affects the thyroid gland.

Upon learning my condition, I was shocked. The cancer had been the last thing on my mind. The lump in my neck now felt like a noose, and my diagnosis was a death sentence. But my initial fears were put to ease by the doctor’s reassurances that this type of cancer is the most common, amongst the most curable, and my chances were fantastic. Despite my initial reactions, my mind was surprisingly straightforward, and I worked with my doctor to draw up an elaborate plan to overcome my illness. I knew exactly what I had to do and was determined to beat the cancer.

The following month, the doctors performed a surgical removal of my thyroid gland, which was thoroughly colonized by cancer cells. The surgery was declared a success, but the doctors advised me to do high-dose radioactive iodine therapy, as opposed to the standard dosage. The higher dosage would almost guarantee that the cancer wouldn’t come back, at least not for a while. However, it wasn’t offered here in Doha, so I had to travel to another country to receive the treatment. So, in September of 2017, I had high-dose radioactive iodine treatment.

I was also given a lifelong prescription of thyroxine supplements and a tiny scar to remind me of the victory. I was satisfied and ready to close that chapter and move on. I could return to enjoying my time by video-calling my family and shopping with friends. I felt carefree again. Every three months, I had routine follow-up appointments. The doctor also gave me a regular follow-up appointment, and it was during one of these that they found a 6mm mass that, thankfully, wasn’t cancerous.  I had low-dose radioactive iodine therapy in June 2018 as part of my treatment.

As time went on, I was no longer thinking of obscure masses on my neck or anything cancer-related. The routine follow-up appointments every three months and the regular follow-ups with my doctor were the only reminders that I had even gone through that experience. Every visit felt like a small victory. Every time the doctor told me that there was no sign of cancer, I let out a small sigh of relief. As the months passed and I continued testing negative for any recurrence of cancer, the follow-up appointments began to feel redundant, and I felt confident that we had warded off the tumor. So, during a follow-up appointment in November of 2019, I failed to notice the unusually long ultrasound, the doctor’s careful manner, or the nurses’ sympathetic expressions. With an almost guilty expression on his face, the doctor informed me that he had found a new 3mm mass in my lymph nodes, which was a new recurrence of the cancer. Again, the medical staff tried to reassure me that this was a fairly common phenomenon, that 75% of patients with thyroid cancers exhibit metastasis to the lymph nodes. They advised me to complete another round of high-dose radioiodine therapy.

I felt sorry. I had followed through with the plan and had done everything right. I had already beat the cancer. How could it be back? I tried to trace my habits, searching for clues in my lifestyle. I needed answers to find logic in my illness. I came up blank. I began to blame myself at this point. Not just for this complication but for getting the cancer in the first place. Was it an unhealthy diet? Was it bad luck? Or perhaps a neighbor’s evil eye? I felt responsible, convinced that I might’ve prevented it if I had done something differently. But the truth is that nobody can control or predict cancer. It took me a long while and much heartache before I realized this, but when I finally did, it became easier to modify my action plan and move on to the next phase of treatment.

I returned in February 2020 for another round of high-dose radioactive iodine treatment. This would help eradicate the cancerous tissue migrating to my lymph nodes. As standard protocol, they had asked me to stop taking my thyroxine medication in the weeks leading up to the therapy, so I was constantly fatigued and in pain. The pills they gave me for my symptoms only replaced my lethargy and pain with overwhelming nausea. My hormones were all up and down; some days, I would be shivering, while other days, I would be sweating so much that I would have to take up to three showers. These were the most difficult times of my cancer journey. My life became bland, and it had little to do with the low-salt diet that was prescribed to me. I expected that the radioactive therapy must have felt agonizing, like my insides were burning. But I don’t specifically recall that pain. Thinking back, I wonder where I drew the strength to endure a treatment that felt like being nuclear bombed. I suspect that perhaps it was because I had no choice. I didn’t have time to dwell on the details of my discomfort as I just needed to be done with it to proceed to the next phase of the plan.

After the radioiodine therapy in February, I was in one-month isolation. The radiation that I was emitting would harm anybody in my vicinity. Those few weeks where I was entirely on my own reinforced my sense of alienation; my physical isolation reflected the mental isolation of my cancer diagnosis.  But there was light at the end of the tunnel. Soon after this period, my doctor gave me the good news. I had cleared the last hurdle: I was once again cancer-free.

From then on, I was wary during my follow-up appointments. I was careful not to be overconfident about the status of my cancer this time, cognizant that my papillary cancer had already spread to my lymph nodes before and that it could happen again. Like clockwork, a couple of months later, they found more cancer sprinkled in my lymph nodes. With every encounter, my cancer grew more robust and more persistent, but I was unfazed; I was evolving alongside my cancer and felt prepared for it this time. No longer naïve, I was ready to attack the next course of treatment.

The treatment was the same radioactive iodine ablation therapy that was used against my cancer the last time. However, I was advised to seek a higher dosage, as opposed to the standard dosage that was previously administered. The higher dosage would almost guarantee that cancer wouldn’t come back, at least not for a while: a new battlefield, the same old enemy. Where I had been supported financially and emotionally by the Qatar Cancer Society (QCS) in Doha, I would have to look for new solace wherever I decided to seek treatment. I decided to continue my treatments back home in Sri Lanka so that my family and friends could surround me; it seemed like a fair enough trade-off.

Before I left, QCS gave me a booklet called Story of Hope, which detailed the experiences of many cancer survivors. While reading through the stories, I was filled with the strangest feeling. Although the individuals in the stories differed from me—their backgrounds, types of cancers, and individual experiences — I still could relate to bits and pieces of their journeys. Until now, I remained strong because I felt I had no choice. I had to go on. But reading through the stories in the booklet filled me with extraordinary hope and inspiration. It helped me realize there is no cookie-cutter cancer experience, only a rich variety unique to every patient. Finally, I could make sense of my experience and take control of my narrative. It was hard to constantly hear that I had the “good” or “easy” type of cancer because while I respect that many others have had more difficult journeys, it undermined the fact that my experience was far from good or easy. Cancer is still Cancer. It was now as straightforward as the doctors would tell me, as the websites reassured me. I constantly had to modify my action plan; I had to be determined yet flexible, hopeful but not naïve. Reading the QCS booklet helped me realize that cancer is not the monolithic disease that the label suggests. Instead, it is a continuum experienced differently by every cancer patient. Suddenly, I felt liberated from any expectation of how this process was supposed to go and drew strength from the fact that cancer could be beaten even in all its different forms. I began to see the unpredictability of cancer as predictable and felt comforted that no matter how the cancer presented itself, I would be able to overcome it. Now that I have finished my treatment, I hope that my story can similarly inspire other cancer patients who felt as lost as I did. I hope they can find clarity and see themselves in my story. But I would expect even more for them to be able to create their own story on their terms.

 

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Mohammed Shabaan: with patience and faith, I’m living with cancer

Mohammed Shabaan, a 55-year-old man, has always prioritized a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise routine as part of his daily life. His passion for health extends to his small home farm, where he cultivates a variety of fruits and vegetables, recognizing the numerous benefits they offer. Among his crops is the Moringa tree, known for its medicinal properties in reducing blood sugar levels and providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

In March 2017, Mohammed faced what he describes as a life-altering moment. Initially experiencing mild constipation, which he attributed to consuming pomegranates, his condition persisted for ten days, prompting him to seek medical attention. Despite efforts with laxatives, his symptoms worsened with sudden and severe vomiting, leaving him exhausted and unable to walk, leading to an ambulance call.

Following extensive tests, including CT and PT scans, Mohammed received a diagnosis of Stage 3 Colon Cancer. This news came as a shock, as he had expected his symptoms to be transient and quickly resolved. However, upon learning of his diagnosis, Mohammed was prepared to confront the challenges ahead, remaining steadfast in his faith and determination to overcome the obstacles brought by his illness.

Concerned about potential complications, including the temporary placement of a colostomy bag, Mohammed grappled with worries about his image and reputation among family and friends. Despite these fears, he remained resolute in facing the uncertainties of his condition.

After a prolonged discussion, surgical intervention became necessary due to bowel obstruction, with initial attempts to insert a tube proving unsuccessful. However, with the arrival of a determined surgeon, Mohammed’s faith in God’s will was affirmed as the procedure was completed without complications.

Following surgery, Mohammed underwent chemotherapy, enduring severe side effects, including weight loss and diarrhea. Nevertheless, he found solace in the realization that he was nearing victory in his battle against cancer, having weathered the storms of surgery and chemotherapy.

Throughout his journey, Mohammed found unwavering support and understanding from his family and friends, witnessing a positive shift in attitudes towards cancer acceptance. Despite the challenges, he remained hopeful and resilient, facing each obstacle with courage and determination.

Mohammed views cancer not as a defeat but a new beginning—a chance for personal growth and resilience. He actively participates in initiatives such as the “Step of Hope,” in collaboration with the Qatar Cancer Society and the National Center for Cancer Care and Research, advocating for cancer awareness and support.

In conclusion, Mohammed is grateful to the Qatar Cancer Society for pioneering efforts in supporting cancer survivors and raising awareness. His journey is a testament to the power of patience, faith, and community in overcoming life’s most significant challenges. Through his story, Mohammed inspires others to embrace hope and resilience in the face of adversity, proving that with patience and faith, living with cancer is possible and can lead to a life of newfound strength and purpose.

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Sami: I told my family about my illness after recovery

I’m going to tell you my cancer story. Thank God, I am blessed with a new chance to live and survive after passing through a bitter experience , My story may be a turning point for a patient who lost strength and will. It will be inspiring for those patients consumed by disease and treatment.

My name is Sami. I come from Jordan. I moved to Doha in 2016 to start my own business and improve my children’s and my family’s material and social conditions. I was a kind father, responsible for the happiness and welfare of my family. I was an athlete, never smoked, and paid great attention to my health.

After I arrived in Doha, I began to feel a change in my right eye, although the external eye examinations did not explain why! However, an MRI scan did.

Here was my first shock when it turned out that the reason was the presence of some tumors in my brain. Later, cancer spread to different parts of my body: the liver, the adrenal glands, the lungs, and the spine, and a terrible nightmare began.

I never thought I’d start counting the number of days left for me in the world, and I never imagined myself in bed, waiting to die; I’ve had mixed thoughts about everything: parents, children, work .. etc.

Should I give in to sickness and death just like that? Should I open the door so easily for that monster to eat my body and my ability to live? During those days, I saw only death in front of my eyes. Death did not faint in my mind, so I was exhausted of this feeling until I stopped myself and asked, why do I think about death while I was still alive? Therefore, I resisted; I decided to co-live with it and put away every negative thought or slight idea that meant my life was ending. I would hide this dilemma from my parents and family. I did not want to overburden them or make them feel pain or sorrow for knowing my disease, so I decided to leave them to their lives and studies. Even my wife has burdens and responsibilities against kids and their studies.

I started the journey of radiotherapy, then chemotherapy. Have you ever heard about chemotherapy and its adverse effects? It has severe impacts on the body and psyche. It causes delirium, weakness, inflammation, diarrhea, depression, and several significant side effects.

Cortisone and radiation left their prints on my face and frail body. Questions by colleagues at work began to increase. My capability to work was decreasing. I found that people surrounding me offered their help. However, my decision not to inform anyone has never changed. I did not stop working, refused all assistance despite suffering from fatigue and pain, and endured all with love and conviction about God’s fate.

I continued with the chemotherapy for a while and liked to stay in the hospital despite seeing patients suffering everywhere around me. Nevertheless, I succeeded in making these hard times an opportunity to create a peaceful and thrilling atmosphere. I used to sit in the hospital garden to enjoy the open air and chat with nurses and patients. I was grateful to God that the center was free of sick children because I couldn’t bear to see a sick child.

I followed the treatment patiently and effortlessly, resisting and insisting. Little by little, disease began to decline, and victory was overcome. Medical reports showed positive results after the chemotherapy. In contrast, the stage of immunotherapy has started. Hope, vitality, and strength returned to my tired body, which was exhausted by the treatment.

I have become more upbeat and optimistic and look forward to the prospects of a better life free from cancer and treatment.

All this happens without telling anyone about my family. I endured a great deal of physical and psychological fatigue.

During that period, all excuses for not returning to my country and seeing my family during holidays and vacations are running out. My wife was inquiring why her husband was changing, so I had to tell her about my status and everything that had happened. She had never expected that I and death would be at a close distance.

My wife asked me to come to Doha immediately, but I refused and asked me to leave everything back and go to me. Still, I declined and convinced her of the necessity and importance of our stay in the same situation and continued my treatment, and she continued to take care of the children.

Thank God, I became better and better under the treatment I follow at the National Centre for Cancer Care & Research.

My advice to those afflicted by this disease is to adhere to treatment, not give up hope, and not heed other advice that others believe will cure cancer.

Having achieved an excellent result with immunotherapy, my presence in the center became less, and I recovered successfully. After a short period, I visited my family. I told everyone, especially my mother, but I reassured her that I was being treated in safe hands and that it was much better than being in any other place or country.

At this time, I decided to end this line of my life and start over another bright line and page. I came out of that experience a new human being reborn after my recovery, and my view of life was renewed, so that time became more valuable, as well as in the evaluation of relationships and work, and God only determines that death. Determination, will, desire to live, and trust in God is the way to recovery and not to think about death for as long as we live.

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Alison Stone; A Pap smear test was a reason for my recovery

My name is Alison Stone, and I have a PhD in Metaphysics, so I am often referred to as Dr. Alison Stone. I came to Qatar to open up a lady’s well-being center, and the reason that I took this journey of well-being and preventative medicine is that I was diagnosed with cervical cancer when I was 30. So, I attribute my success today to that incident many years ago. I have survived cancer for 27 years, and I think it is essential to see how things have changed in that period.

Here is a brief synopsis of my journey ;

I was married at 18 (in my generation, that was acceptable and normal), had two children, and when I was pregnant with my third child, I went for a routine check-up, and they discovered that I had lesions and they were cancerous. Now, one of the things that I was blessed with in the UK was that in the 80s and early 90s, Pap smears were becoming very accessible for women: they weren’t mandatory, and they weren’t encouraged, but they were accessible, so after the birth of my first daughter I had them done, so I continued getting Pap smears after the birth of my second daughter. Had I not been tested, I am convinced I would not be here today.

The cervical cancer that I had was very aggressive, and mine was mainly because I was pregnant at the time. The cancer had gone to my lymph nodes, so by the time I had delivered my child, I was in stage 4. I do feel very strongly about the need to be proactive with your health.

That experience forced me to look at my life and my control over it. The experience of the surgeries and the treatments that you go through has such a profound effect on you physically, but I think it is more the fear that has the most profound impact, and the fear I had 27 years ago was never addressed. So now, when I find out about societies like the Qatar Cancer Society in Qatar, I am so impressed and excited that women have this opportunity to be supported. Had we had something similar in my day, it might not have changed the outcome, but it would have changed the journey.

As a mother, back then, you would not know what cervical cancer was. And in my day, doctors did not understand that it was the human papillomavirus that caused cervical cancer. And so we suffered in silence. I remember on the fourth day after the surgery–about 14 hours of surgery–and I started to cry. I remember the nurse came in and said, “Stop crying. There are people worse off”. And I remember that I never spoke again. I never spoke about my pain, and I internalized it. So it was ‘keep a brave face, don’t speak about it, don’t talk about it,’ and when I look back now, I see how it took a good 10 or 15 years after that until cancer could be talked about openly. Now, having chemo and not having hair, we celebrate it; it’s ok, and I think that Social Media is a way for people to talk about their own experiences and raise awareness about cancer.

I chose to take control of my life, and I took a spiritual path – I was lost, and I was fearful, and I think that learning and things like meditation about your health give you back a sense of control. Because when you are diagnosed, and the doctor says, ‘You have cancer, it is in stage 4, this is serious’ – you hand everything over to them, and with it goes this feeling of hopelessness because now you are at the mercy of people telling you that ‘you have to have this surgery, you have to have this chemo, you have to have this radiotherapy,” but you don’t feel sick.

So, the growth of self-help groups has been positive since doctors are starting to understand that patients need to have some emotional care. As a patient, I am not just somebody who has had surgery and whose vital signs you will check – I have gone through something life-changing–a hysterectomy– and I might be facing the fact that I will never have children again, the fact that I might die and leave my children, the fact that my husband might never love me again, and I have scars everywhere – nobody addressed that. It was all ‘hush hush,’ don’t talk about it, or ‘You should be grateful you are alive.’ Now, I feel that people can talk about the cancer experience; they can address it.

I  think that the difference in Qatar (I was here ten years ago) is that nobody said the word nobody said that word, and women, therefore, especially Middle Eastern women who tend to put their children first, their husbands first, their sons first, would never even acknowledge having cancer, or want to know, that was the issue. I addressed a group of ladies in a Middle Eastern country 12 years ago, and we tried to convince them to get breast checks and pap smear tests, but they wouldn’t do it because they didn’t want to know. After all, they have fear, or they feel that sickness is based on divine intervention – and either way, they think they should surrender to it, and they don’t want to know. But the generation of women now, we can do something about it, especially the survivors. You can survive cancer, but that is a message that is never given out – you always hear ‘cancer death’ ‘cancer death’ – what about instead ‘cancer journey,’ ‘survival,’ ‘change,’ ‘power,’ ‘change in life,’ ‘change in perspective,’ ‘transformation’? There are a lot more positive words that can go with cancer, not just doom and death.

Not talking about cancer can be devastating – probably the most powerful memory I have about my experience is that I remember after my initial diagnosis from my doctor going home to my husband and when I told him and the look of fear in his eyes and then he shut down. I remember that they said I could terminate my pregnancy and that I had every reason to because my pregnancy would escalate the cancer, and I remember thinking, ‘What do I do? This will be the last chance to have a child because they are going to give me a hysterectomy. What do I do? And I again.

I told nobody about the look on my husband’s face and his inability to even respond to me. And so I carried that burden, which I am sure wasn’t healthy. I couldn’t even have the conversation about terminating my child or not because I didn’t want to reach out to anyone, because I didn’t want to see the fear again in somebody else’s eyes. And in those days, when you said the word cancer, you were met with silence. So I didn’t tell even my mother or anybody until after my surgeries. And then, when I was in the hospital, people started to visit. And I put on a very brave face to begin to deal with the fear because the fear I saw in other people’s eyes put fear back in me. But at least by then, I had gone through the process. In a way, keeping silent saved me because I could pretend it wasn’t happening. After all, nobody was talking about it. I fit into that era’s psyche: “Don’t speak about it; it doesn’t exist; let’s pretend everything is ok; just move forward.” Then, at night time, in the shower, you cry your eyes out.

I didn’t tell anyone about my illness, and I was in the hospital for about six or seven weeks. When I came out of the hospital, I asked my Mum to take care of me, so of course I opened up to her. I never told my daughters until they were 18 years old. I didn’t want them to be afraid that I was going to die. I did not want to put that fear into them. And I, not them, was preventing me from telling them. I always used the excuse that they were not old enough, and I didn’t want them to fear, but at the same time, I did want them to be proactive about cancer screening, so it was one of those challenges that I told myself: ‘I have to tell them.’ Two of my children have been vaccinated against the Human Papilloma Virus and regularly go for Pap smears. What I realized was that if I had dared to address it earlier, it is not that they would have gone earlier for Pap smears, but we could have had the conversations we had when I did eventually tell them. But my daughters have taken the situation on board, and nobody is afraid. I think the blessing in waiting to talk to them is that it is 22 years later, and they have only known me as a very healthy person, and now they understand the need to be proactive. As for everybody else, they avoided me. I lost contact with quite a few people after my illness. And I think some girlfriends were fearful because I was so young and healthy. That was the main thing: I was not a sickly person. I was healthy and had brilliant births.

But what the experience of illness has done for me is pave the course of my life since that time. My choices in development, self-development, and professional development have their basis in understanding and going through my journey. My Ph.D. is in metaphysics, and I am very keen on learning about epigenetics, which is the complete understanding that your cells are a reflection of your environment and not only your DNA, and so that is why they change. The internalization of fear and not taking care of yourself affects your genes too, which is fearful but empowering as well – it is fear because you ask yourself, ‘Did I do this to myself?’ but it is an empowering idea as well because whatever has happened to me, I have the power to change that environment. So therefore, again, having that supportive, nurturing, caring environment versus having that fearful environment is essential, which includes everybody else’s fear. Fear is quite toxic, and that can affect you too. That could affect your genes.

When I went for my surgeries, I was courageous. I took a breath and went in there feeling strong and brave. So I think the whole spiritual aspect to illness is faith, how strong faith is, what color it is and what it looks like to you, and how you can turn that into a physical element that walks you through that journey.

My illness made me a much better person, and it gave me a purpose in life – when I look at all the things that I had been planning before my illness and what my life has been like over the years, everything was about learning about care and preventative medicine. I have a bachelor’s degree in alternative medicine. A housewife with three kids – who would have thought it? I studied Ayurveda in India. Who would have thought that a homemaker would have done that? And I met the most incredible people who came my way. And I can look back and see that every single thing that I did without a plan, in reality, led me to get a Ph.D., to be in Qatar to build the women’s wellness center, to be connected, and to finally, after 27 years being able to tell my story someday.

Even in my 5th year being cancer-free, I was sweating and panicking – what if it has come back? This is interesting because you would not do that with any other disease. All of our terminology characterizes this disease as a beast, and once it has you in its grip, it is going to seize you, but if we could change the dialogue to an attitude of ‘let’s see how healthy you are’ or ‘your blood cells are fantastic today.’ Suppose we switched our approach to cancer and reframed everything, for example. In that case, we might say things like, ‘Let’s see if we can add you to our three-year list of cancer-free living,’ that would be a very different conversation about the disease rather than saying, ‘Let’s see if it’s come back’ or ‘let’s see if you are still in remission.’

I think that the medical profession could reframe the way it talks about cancer with patients. For example, changing phrases like ‘I am so sorry, but I think we need to see you…” or ‘we will only call you if there is something wrong’ – in simple terms, what the patient hears is, ‘we will only call you if you have cancer’ and you get a miscall, and you get upset, and you are waiting and waiting anxiously. Make the experience of going in for a check-up more positive, so I will want to return. Instead of telling patients, ‘You only have two months to live,’ why not tell them that the medical system will do the best it can, send them home, and ask them to focus on the quality of their life and their diet?

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Muhammad Mawloud: with family’s support, I overcame the challenges

Mr. Mohamed  Mawloud was living normally until he began to experience some strange symptoms one day. After undergoing all the necessary tests and a colonoscopy, he was found to have rectal cancer. He was told then that the next step would be to undergo surgery to remove the tumor. Having no previous knowledge or predetermined notions about rectal cancer, Mr. Mohamed approached this news with the ideology that it was like any other condition that could happen to any person. His faith and trust in Allah dissipated doubts about what the future may hold for him. Even though the procedure was painful, he drew strength from the incredible support of his family, especially his sister. He went on to take a 1-year leave from his job to complete his chemotherapy course. Unfortunately, the body aches, fatigue, and loss of appetite he experienced as byproducts of the therapy forced him to leave his job.

Despite everything, Mr. Mohamed is relieved to have completed most of his treatment course. He is looking forward to his very last session, after which he can look for a new job.

Mohamed received radiotherapy and chemotherapy through the Qatar Cancer Society, which he got in touch with through Hamad Medical Corporation. He was delighted with the psychological support he received from the medical team, which positively influenced his well-being as he went through this challenging journey. While recalling what he learned, Mr. Mohamed pinpointed that patience was the most critical lesson he acquired from going through treatment. He advises everyone going through the same journey to comply, continue the treatment, and face it without fear of the temporary side effects that eventually go away. Finally, Mr. Mohamed reiterated that what helped him the most was praying and reading a daily verse of the Qur’an, which he described as “God’s cure to people.”

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Mohammed Shabaan: with patience and faith, I’m living with cancer

Mohammed Shabaan is a 55-year-old man who has always been on a healthy diet and followed a fitness regimen, describing it as a way of living. He has a small farm at home where he grows various kinds of fruits and vegetables. He has always been interested in the wide range of benefits these organic corps provide. For example, the Moringa tree is one of the crops he is harvesting on his farm; it reduces blood sugar and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

March 2017 was the time Mohammed described as the time he “dropped down.” this initially started as mild constipation, which he attributed to ingestion of pomegranate; however, the constipation was persistent and remained for ten days, and he decided to seek medical attention. He was given laxatives, but his condition did not improve. Then, he started having a sudden onset of vomiting, which was severe as he felt tired and energy drained. The accumulation of all these symptoms led to him not walking, so he called the ambulance.

Mohammed had multiple tests done; He had both CT and PT scans done, which concluded the potential of having Stage 3 Colon Cancer. He had never imagined this diagnosis as he thought these symptoms would be due to a fleeting cause, which can be resolved quickly and last a few days. As he requested, the news was brought to him in a friendly manner in the absence of his parents. Once Mohammed was informed about his diagnosis, the only thing constantly on his mind was the surgery and the complications that followed the procedure. He was ready to confront the struggles which are brought to him by his fate, which, in this case, had brought him cancer. “Cancer? I don’t care about it,” he said as I asked him about what he felt when the physician told him about his condition, prognosis, and management. Mohammed proved that each person could beat disease by learning how to cope with it.

He was constantly thinking about the complications he could avoid; one of these dreaded complications was temporarily placing a colostomy bag until a reconnection between the colon and the rectum healed. He was anxious and worried about the perspective of his friends and family regarding the idea of having an external bag for feces. He thought that this might ruin his image and reputation in front of them.

This discussion continued for a long time until the physician decided that an urgent surgical intervention should occur as the patient had a bowel obstruction, leading to fatal sequelae. The physician tried to insert a tube to remove all the poisons from Mohammed’s abdomen, but they could not. However, another surgeon arrived in Qatar that day and was called to the Operation Room (OR). This surgeon was determined not to leave the OR until he inserted the tube. Mohammed described him as one who has confidence and trust in god’s will. He could insert the box without any complications or danger to Mohammed. “These were all complications that only God knows of,” said Mohammed, believing that he was in a sophisticated situation leading to a path of his well-being and survival.

The removal of the poisons from his body took one and a half hours. He felt better and more relieved afterward. He had surgical excision of 80% of his colon and adjacent lymph nodes. This journey was described as crossing an ocean with strong tides against him, but he passed safely; however, as this ended, another battle was coming up against him: Chemotherapy. The side effects of the chemotherapy were very severe; he experienced diarrhea and weight loss – He had lost 20 kgs. Nevertheless, he was relieved that he reached a state of almost winning the battle against cancer; the side effects did not matter as he had passed two storms set by cancer, the surgery, and the chemotherapy. He knew that he had reached the winning line with himself leading.

He found his family and friends very supportive and understanding during that period. Although there was a negative stigma of having cancer, he noticed that he and his family changed and became more accepting; they grew to accept that cancer, like any other disease, can be treated and should not be considered as the closure of one’s life.

Eight months after the surgery, Mohammed developed an abdominal hernia; he sought treatment and gained more strength to face this new complication. He sought both physical and mental therapy. He “Never lost hope” and was able to live through this dreadful journey of fighting cancer and its following complications.

 

Cancer was an “uninvited guest,” but you must offer hospitality and welcome like any other guest. Thus, one should find a support group and habits that bring joy and happiness to embrace this disease rather than allow it to drain them. It would help if you did not let this monstrous disease take over your lives and consider it as something that is only passing by but is offering you a grain of strength and enlightenment, making you a stronger warrior. Cancer is the beginning of a new life, not the end.

The “Step of Hope” initiative was launched in collaboration with the Qatar Cancer Society and the National Center for Cancer Care and Research. This initiative aims to support individuals living with cancer and emphasize that cancer can be cured. Patients can practice their daily lives and highlight the importance of psychological and community support for this group to make the disease period and beyond easier and the importance of a healthy lifestyle of exercise and healthy food to prevent diseases, especially cancer.

During this initiative, I walked about 555 km on foot in the first phase and then completed the tour to cover 2022 km as a later goal. And we have chosen 2022 for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where I seek to walk about 25 km per day at a rate of five hours.

I want to emphasize that this initiative is an opportunity to strengthen the role of physical activity in the prevention of diseases, especially cancer, in line with the State Vision 2030 to improve human health, in addition to emphasizing the close relationship between cancer and mental status that may facilitate or prevent treatment.

 In conclusion, I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to the Qatar Cancer Society as it has adopted the ” step of hope” its kind in the world, and all its efforts and support; this initiative is considered the first of its kind in the world, and I want to thank the Qatar cancer society for their hard effort and continuous support for me and success of this event.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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