Dubai: Emirati Amina Ali AlMheiri, 39, was delivering her first child back in December 2020. During the Cesarean section, doctors found a suspicious lump in her ovaries and sent it for biopsy right away. It turned out positive for cancer.
AlMheiri cannot thank her doctor enough for the timely action. After two years of treatment which involved 18 cycles of chemotherapy and 22 cycles of immunotherapy, AlMheiri said her ordeal with cancer made her strong. “I never knew this side of me. I was somebody who would cry watching a Bollywood movie. But now I found courage from everywhere.”
AlMheiri said the pandemic was a tough time with stress levels being high. There was general fear all around. During her chemotherapy treatment, she recalled asking her husband to shave her head. He was in a meeting. “He excused himself from the meeting and actually shaved my head. That is the love and support I have received from him and my family.”
AlMheiri is an entrepreuneur, a passionate diver and make-up artist. “I do amazing make-up. Cancer friends always call me. When I was going through my chemotherapy, I wanted to look good. So I decided to do free make up for all my cancer friends anytime they needed it. I just pack my kit and drive to them.”
Aarti Sondhi: Live in the present
Indian expat Aarti Sondhi turned a life coach and motivational speaker after being diagnosed with metastatic cancer. She discovered her cancer in the breast during a routine check-up back in September 2020. But that was already late as the cancer had started to spread.
“I am living my present. For tomorrow is another day,” said Sondhi. “I have learnt to live my today to the best and fullest. Last evening for example, I was worried about something. But this morning I woke up feeling the need to dress up and get out and do something that makes me happy.”
Sondhi, who is still undergoing treatment, said has turned a life coach. “I coach my cancer friends to be happy and live in the moment. Let us live everyday feeling happy and doing our best.”
Mais Mohammed: Regular check-ups are a must
Canadian expat with Iraqi origin Mais Mohammed is a Goodwill Ambassador, Master Life Coach, WIFA Assistant President and TV host. She never thought she would get cancer. But one thing she has been doing regularly from the age of 21 is having check-ups done. Yet, she found out two years ago that she had stage two invasive carcinoma. “I had several nodules on my left breast but ended up having breast cancer on my right breast.”
Mohammed said she decided to do a bilateral mastectomy. It was a good decision as it addressed an elusive tiny tumour, she added.
Mohammed said she considered herself the perfect candidate for a healthy person. “I would sleep early, wake up early. Take my antioxidants, exercise every day. So I was shocked when this happened to me.”
“My message to all is that catch cancer early. It behaves differently with different people. We just need to do regular check-ups. And it is definitely not the end of the world.”
According to her, “There is such a huge phobia attached to cancer. One can live long and cancer free if it is treated early,” explained Mohammed.
Prachi Kastwar: Act on acceptance
It is the same story with Indian expat Prachi Kastwar. With no family history of cancer, Kastwar was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I kept thinking why me. I asked my mother what I had done wrong as a child that I had to endure cancer. She could not tell me anything concrete. And then after treatment, acceptance finally dawned. And that is when I began to act on my acceptance.”
Kastwar became passionate about addressing all aspects of a healthy lifestyle - food, sleep, exercise and mental well-being.
“Today, I am more open to talking about cancer and sharing my experience with the world than before. It is important for us to share our experience so others learn,” she said.
“Cancer is not the end of the world. It is a journey of learning. The sooner patients accept it, the better the journey becomes,” she added.