Aisha Soud Mohammed, a 30-year-old cancer survivor from Kenya, is grateful to the Al Jalila Foundation for helping her overcome the most difficult part of her life. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai’s Al Jalila Foundation has played a major role in helping a Dubai-based cancer patient, diagnosed with colorectal cancer, overcome the dreaded disease.

Aisha Soud Mohammed, a 30-year-old mother from Kenya, who has been living in Dubai with her husband since 2018, was leading a normal life until she felt a few uneasy symptoms in December 2020. “I started noticing blood in my stool. I was worried and told my husband about it. We went to the hospital and met a specialist. After tests and scans that evening, the doctor asked for colonoscopy because they had noticed something abnormal,” said Aisha.

She went through colonoscopy, which was covered under her medical insurance. Subsequently, she was told by the hospital about the horrific diagnosis. “The doctor met me and said that I had Stage 3 colorectal cancer. I broke down. I couldn’t believe I had cancer at this age, but Alhamdulillah, Allah knows best,” she added.

In January 2021, she underwent a major surgery to excise the tumour. The surgery went off well and she had a colostomy bag as a life-saving support mechanism as she couldn’t pass stools normally. After the surgery, she started a follow-up treatment plan involving radiation therapy.

“All this was happening in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. So I couldn’t go home. I couldn’t be with my family. It was just me and my husband as my son lives with the rest of my family in my home country. It was the toughest time for us,” she said.

‘Becoming a cancer survivor’

Soon after Aisha started her radiation therapy, her insurance cover got exhausted. Her company tried to support her as much as they could, but the treatment proved to be very expensive. “We started looking for charity to support the second part of my treatment, which involved chemotherapy. Thank God, Al Jalila Foundation responded to my application and helped me to become a cancer survivor,” Aisha said.

She appealed to the A’awen programme at Al Jalila Foundation which covered the entire cost of her remaining treatment plan. “I received from Al Jalila Foundation more than what I could have asked for. I cannot thank the foundation enough for their support. I’m happy that I was able to take the road back to a healthy life. Al Jalila Foundation gave me hope and a fighting chance,” Aisha said.”

After one year with the colostomy bag, she recently had it removed and the recovery phase started after successful completion of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

The A’awen programme

Al Jalila Foundation, a global health-care philanthropic organisation dedicated to transforming lives, was founded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in April 2013, to position Dubai and the UAE at the forefront of medical innovation.

Al Jalila Foundation, through its A’awen programme, provides financial assistance for the treatment of UAE-based patients suffering from life-threatening illnesses who are unable to afford quality health care.

‘Health, the cornerstone of happiness’

Dr Abdukareem Sultan Al Olama, CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, said the foundation gave hope to Aisha and other patients through the support of partners and donors.

Dr Abdukareem Sultan Al Olama

“At Al Jalila Foundation, we believe that health is the cornerstone of happiness and everyone deserves a second chance at health. With the support we receive, we are able to give hope to patients like Aisha and help alleviate their financial burden so that they can focus on treatment and recovery,” Dr Al Olama added.

In the UAE, approximately 4,500 new cases of cancer are reported every year.

Al Jalila Foundation has supported 174 cancer patients with a total investment of Dh12 million. One out of every six patients who approach Al Jalila Foundation for help has cancer.

“Nothing makes us happier than experience the overwhelming joy from patients whose lives have been transformed after successful treatment. These are the precious moments that make our job at Al Jalila Foundation so rewarding,” added Dr Al Olama.

In addition to treating cancer patients, Al Jalila Foundation organises more than 150 cancer community awareness activities every year and supports cancer support groups.

Hamdan Bin Rashid Cancer Charity Hospital

Dr Al Olama said that with cancer incidences increasing globally and the need for charity patient support rising by the day, Al Jalila Foundation is establishing the first comprehensive cancer charity hospital in the UAE, called ‘Hamdan Bin Rashid Cancer Charity Hospital’, bringing together leading experts to manage prevention, diagnosis and treatment under one roof. The hospital is set to open in 2024.