Bravery & Hope: A Retelling Of Stories From Breast Cancer Survivors

Life-changing, frightening and shocking are some of the words that were used by women who had to face the fate of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The stories of these Arab breast cancer survivors will take readers on a journey of inspiration following stories of mental and physical battles. In honor of World Cancer Day, we have gathered a few of these stories to act as beacons of hope for all women out there.

With Just Four Rounds Of Chemo, It Was All Gone

It all started with me feeling this slight pain on the left side of my body. It felt like there was something hard, like a lump but at the time, I did not think much of it. I even jokingly told my mum to feel for the lump but she ended up freaking out and took it very seriously. We ended up going to the doctor the next day and after doing a monogram, we found out that it was cancer and not just any cancer but stage 4 and so by then, the cancer had moved to my lungs. It was an extremely aggressive type of cancer. That was in August 2017.

At that moment, I felt confused, and I was not thinking about the future but rather “what are we going to do now?” With stage 4 cancer, there is not much you can do so we went with the most logical approach and tried out chemo. Unfortunately, it turned out that I was allergic to the strain they were using despite it being the most common and best kind of chemo for my type of cancer. We ended up changing the type of chemo used. I remember the pain and the long hours; it was excruciating and coupled with the hair loss, it was all a mess. Despite it all, here’s what’s interesting, after just four rounds of chemo, I ended up being cancer free. It was a literal miracle, one that I still haven’t wrapped my head around to this day.

– Nadia Ahmed

My Life Was A Moving Circus Until That Day

I was in Alexandria when I found out that I had cancer. My body just froze and it felt like a sort of halt or pause on life. On that day, I encountered death and that is why everything stopped and everything changed. My thoughts, my behavior, they all changed. To me, cancer was a monster that I had to live with everyday. It was stage 2 cancer and from there, I had to do chemo for 3 months as well as 28 sessions of radiation. It was not easy and had a debilitating effect on my health and my psyche.

The journey was tough and that is why I am thankful that during one of my checkups, I found out that I was cancer free. Words cannot describe how I felt on that day. I am grateful that there is one extremely valuable life lesson that I learned from the entire experience which is that life is unpredictable. Cancer also taught me that when you are faced with the possibility of death, it changes how you perceive the world. What used to upset me, no longer does. The scenarios that I magnified in my head and made them feel so big and scary have now become small. Today, I am grateful to be braver and more appreciative of this world and my life.

– Shereen Hatab

My Family and Friends Were My Literal Life Support

It was fifteen years ago, eons ago if you really think about it. I went to the doctor because I felt this weird lump in my chest. When I found out it was cancer, I was shocked. As I was the first person in the family to get cancer the news was completely unexpected. For five whole years, I had to undergo hormonal treatment and it was horrible because of the extreme pain I would get in my bones as a side effect. I used to be able to resist and tolerate pain but cancer made me so weak that I couldn’t handle it.

The one thing that kept me going were my friends and family. I was never left alone. They made this schedule to make sure that someone was always there with me whenever I was undergoing treatment. That is why I always say that they were my literal life support. My sister was the one who was with me when we found out that I was cancer free. On that day, I cannot forget the look on her face, that smile that felt like it would go on forever. I am grateful for the journey because it showed that no matter what, I am blessed enough to have a big, loving support system.

– Mariam Atia

Cancer Completely Changed How I View Life

Breast cancer had always been a part of my life. It runs in the family. My mum, sister and two of my aunts had breast cancer so finding out I also had it wasn’t that surprising. I found out just like anyone else would. There was this small lump in my chest and when I went for a check-up, the doctor confirmed it was cancer. I can only say that I felt devastated on that day especially knowing that my mother recently passed away from cancer. Finding out that it was stage 3 made it all the harder.

The worst part was probably the treatment. I did all types of treatment including 6 rounds of chemo followed by an operation then fifteen rounds of radiation. Radiation was a whole other battlefield because I ended up spending an entire month and a half unable to eat anything from severe throat pain. The journey was long and exhausting but one day, it all changed. During one of my checkups, the doctor told me that I am cancer free. I couldn’t believe it. All I can say is that cancer has completely changed how I view life. Now whenever I see any cancer patient I am able to put myself In their shoes and feel what they feel because I went through it and I lived it and I thank God everyday that I am here to retell this story.

– Laila Ali

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