Dubai: A South African expatriate with aggressive neuroendocrine carcinoma has started a community initiative to raise awareness and money for the rare form cancer in the UAE.
Malignant neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) commonly occur in the intestine, but can also be found in the pancreas, lungs and other parts of the body.
The South African Angelica Simoes, 28, who has launched C in Colour in conjunction with the Al Jalila Foundation, said she was motivated to start a support group for patients after a round of medical tests confirmed she had cancer last April.
At a loss
She said she was at a total loss on how to deal with her diagnosis at the time.
“I was eight weeks pregnant and my life turned upside down. A workout at the gym was getting tough and I could barely climb up the stairs. I felt very unfit and wanted to talk to other cancer patients. There were so many questions on my mind but no one to answer them. So I decided to do something about it and initiated a group to bring patients together.”
Simoes said C in Colour - as the name suggests - is intended to add a splash of colour to patients’ lives.
“Cancer is a debilitating disease which can lower one’s self-esteem. Having as much information as possible about the disease can be a big help. To achieve this, we hold sports and lifestyle events where patients and their families come together and exchange information,” she said.
Simoes said she has organised three major sports events so far. They include a tough mudder – a 10 mile obstacle race played on mud, a triathlon series (swimming, cycling and running) with the Jebal Ali Dragons rugby club and a nine-hole golf event in Meydan.
She said hundreds of people have taken part in the events organised by C in Colour. “The response has been overwhelming.”
C in Colour has raised almost Dh100,000 so far. Simoes said the Al Jalila Foundation is currently arranging for her tumour sample to be sent for research.
“The cost could go up to Dh40,000. Cancer research can be expensive,” she said. The South African expat said the support group actively promotes healthy eating with a plant-based diet to help patients cope with the disease better.
“With cancer the body struggles to break down heavy food like meat. But with a plant-based diet, it is able to absorb nutrients and minerals easier.”
Boost to immunity
She said plants contain various phytochemicals that enhance the body’s immunity.
“Greens also help boost Vitamin C and E levels in the body. They are rich in minerals like magnesium and potassium which get reduced considerably in patients undergoing treatment,” she added.