Abdullah Mohammad Ishaq Chougulay with daughter Zareen and his wife Clementine
Abdullah Mohammad Ishaq Chougulay with daughter Zareen and his wife Clementine Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: An Indian expatriate who rushed to a hospital Emergency to get his tummy ache addressed, has not only tested positive for COVID-19, but also diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer.

Zareen Chougulay, an A level student of St Mary’s School, Dubai, told Gulf News: “My father. Abdullah Mohammad Ishaq Chouglay, 71, went to the Emergency in June, as he had a tummy ache. The hospital admitted him to carry out tests. As a mandatory precaution, the hospital carried out a COVID-19 test and it was positive although my dad did not show any symptoms of COVID. Further investigations reveled he had Stage 4 colorectal cancer.”

Abdullah Mohammad Ishaq Chougulay

The Chougulays are devastated as Abdullah, who worked in the hospitality industry, had been without a job for many months. His wife, Clementine, 55, who was working with a travel agency, lost her job when the company closed down in February owing to the pandemic. Abdullah had managed to arrange a residence visa for the family which is valid until next year, but they have been living on their savings and with help from friends.

Zareen, 19, said the family is desperate for help for her father’s treatment. he is currently at a hospital in Ail Ain where he is undergoing chemotherapy.

She said: “Doctors at the hospital in Dubai referred my dad to this hospital where oncologists ruled out any surgery or radiotherapy. The only treatment prescribed for him is chemotherapy. We told the hospital authorities about our financial status and they have asked us to get a health card made to get some relief. But we have no idea how to manage our lives right now without any source of income.”

Currently, the mother and daughter are at the patient’s bedside in Al Ain and claim they have nowhere else to go.

Zareen, who was hoping to study law at the Middlesex University in the new academic year, is heartbroken.

“I am so worried about my dad. My mom and I are being comforted by my friends who have been supportive. I was hoping as their only child, I could complete my law and become the breadwinner of the family. Right now we are focusing on dad’s treatment and I hope to work some miracles to support the family in this unprecedented crisis.”

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer occurs in the colon or the rectum area when the DNA in the cells in the region mutate and become malignant. While no direct cause for these mutations is known, the triggers are a family history of colon cancer, a poor diet, smoking and use of alcohol. According to a study conducted by the Department of Health, Abu Dhabi (HAAD) in 2012, colon cancers are the second most common cancers in the UAE and they are the fourth common cause of cancer deaths in men and the second most common cause of cancer deaths in women.

Preventive strategies include preventive screening after the age of 50 that would include a stool test every two years or colonoscopy every 10 years.