Sheikha Al-Mannai: I realized the true meaning of life after recovery

My name is Sheikha Al-Mannai. I work as a TV and Radio presenter. I have been working as a teacher and a school principal since 1995. I resigned from my position as a school Principal of a governmental school in 2016, and I traveled abroad to explore myself and find a new passion. At first, I thought it was just a contusion, although it was not blue. I have learned in school how to examine my body. While checking my body, I found a tumor at the top of my shoulder that scared me. Initially, I suspected it could be a tumor because a barrier hit me during swimming. I initially neglected it for nearly four months as I thought it was just a contusion. I met a competent doctor who told me it would be better to subject me to ultrasound rays to see the content of this discoloration. He gave some medicines that might help to reduce inflation. Upon coming home, I decided to work in media. Two months after starting my new career, I became worried about the tumor because it had decreased in size after taking medicines. However, it had re-emerged. Therefore, I went to the Health Center that converted my health file to Hamad Medical Corporation the following day. I received a phone call from a health consultant that they had received my file and would identify an appointment for me.

The doctor went through a Clinical examination and said he suspected having a tumor. He asked me about my family’s disease history and children and whether I had breastfed them. After the first visit to the hospital, I was referred to the surgery department, which removed some lymph nodes for analysis. It took two weeks to get the analysis results. The result was positive for grade 1 breast cancer. I have not understood what happened for a while. I cried when I knew the result, not for fear of illness, but because I knew how my mother was frightened. My mother knew something was wrong, so I told her the truth. The doctor was the most prominent supporter. He told me that I needed chemotherapy followed by surgical treatment. He said to me that medicine is divided into stages. The healing process may be complex and critical. Any of them may result in hair and weight loss. What helped me during this crucial period was the remembrance of God Almighty, the observance of the prayers, and the reading of the Holy Qur’an. I swept grievingly, especially during prayers. I took the first chemotherapy dose at the National Center for Cancer Care & Research (Al-Amal Hospital). The smell of the treatment made me nauseous and tired. I asked the nurse how long the treatment might take, and the response was almost three hours.

My father and doctor used to accompany me on every treatment visit and were waiting for me throughout the treatment period in the hospital. They asked me to eat after treatment, and I refused because the medicine made me nauseous.

On the first dose of treatment completion, I went to my parent’s home; they insisted I stay with them during the treatment period because of my symptoms. I was taking treatment every twenty-one days. The biggest concern for me was the pain that happened to my mother. After treatment, she burst into tears because she smelled of treatment mixed with mine. She noticed that my mood was changing after treatment. Having completed the first treatment stage, I asked to complete treatment in a tranquil city like Qatar in terms of customs and habits. To avoid seeing myself in that sick state, I was converted to MD Anderson, where I was far from my mother. My brother accompanied me on my road for treatment. Before traveling, I had told some of my coworkers about my medical condition. I had not said any of them before because I didn’t want anyone to pity me.

My brother looked at my weak body piteously, and I asked him to stop because this pathetic way may result in more weakness and would not help. Living in Houston is considered the best-ever period of my entire life. I have not lived in the accommodation allocated to patients. Instead, I lived far from them to avoid the sympathetic sight of people. I decided on a day to stop using a wig. When my brother saw me, he went off without saying a word. I knew how he felt. Therefore, when he returned, he was shocked that I accepted myself. Physicians have told me it is temporary; you will return to your normality within nine months. I told my brother that I didn’t want him to look at me miserably, significantly, since the treatment differed. I took the medical dose every 21 days; I take it now weekly. A large number of breast cancer patients were there. Most of them were elderly and accompanied by their husband or sister. Their condition was more difficult than mine. For that reason, I realized that there is hope, and I must be brave and overcome the pain caused by chemotherapy with the help of God during treatment.

I rarely felt hurt because I insisted on keeping myself busy with sports, swimming, and cooking for my brother and neighbors. My daily schedule was crowded. I woke up at 10:00 a.m. to clean the house, put the clothes in the washing machine, do house chores ..etc. These little details mean a lot to me. It made me feel so accomplished instead of feeling sorry for myself. I persisted with my brother going out before treatment to have fun because I knew I couldn’t do anything the day after treatment. The treatment period meant a lot to me. It allowed me to realize the true meaning of family.

I became aware of the importance of having my family next to me. My mother, may God have mercy on her, and my father used to call me several times every day. My mother was very worried about me; she felt ill. Her heart became weak, and she became unable to speak. Psychologically, she suffered more than I did. I tried to show her I was okay and sent her pictures of me doing the housework, but she was still worried. Having arrived in the USA, my life changed completely. My faith became stronger; I used to pray Tahjud at night until now.

Moreover, I read Surat Al-Baqarah and morning and evening remembrances daily. I noticed how the speed of daily life makes us all get distracted and lose control of time, convincing us that there is not enough time for what we want to work on and occupying us with work that we think is more important. However, there is nothing more important than that a person takes time dedicated to himself to maintain his health and keep him connected to his Lord to feel God’s blessings in life. All of us need time to meditate on what we went through. It is important because the disease affects everything in a person’s life, no matter how small. Treatment affected my body and deepened my way of thinking. This experience made me shift my view from negative to positive and how I deal with life difficulties.

Now, I consider anything that may meet me in life easy, God willing. When a person relies on God Almighty, he will find an unnatural force that helps him face whatever happens. I have realized that nothing could be compared to cancer. I cannot describe myself as a cancer fighter. However, I combat cancer with the help of God Almighty. My illness was a test from God to see my patience and endurance. Allah says, “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope” 02:286. God, the Highest, knew I could bear my illness, and I contracted this disease to realize my shortcomings. On becoming ill, I realized the importance of everything and became aware and appreciated what life gave me. I knew the value of health and family. My children and brothers have become closer. My daily routine took me away from my parents. I visited them daily, but I have never been close to them. I have discovered these things because of illness.


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