CANCER SURVIVOR16-1718605122877
Early screening and detection remain the key to dealing with cancer, say patients who have been through the trauma. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Battling cancer is not just about getting the right medical treatment. Complex as the situation is, it requires a holistic approach with maximum support from family and society, so that the patient faces the challenges at hand as a means for transformation.

Some cancer patients under the Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP), a UAE-based non-profit organisation in Sharjah, have shared their experiences to help uplift the morale of others embarking on their treatment journey.

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By doing so in the National Cancer Survivors Month, they hope their heroic tales serve to raise community awareness about the importance of early and regular screening for all types of cancer, empowering individuals to take proactive steps towards their health.

Life after Stage 4 cancer: Every moment matters

Following chronic chest pain, a 52-year-old mother of three received devastating news: She suffered from Stage 4 breast cancer, with the tumour spreading rapidly. Each moment became a critical turning point in her treatment journey. She recalls the diagnosis as an unbearable shock, adding financial strain to her emotional and physical torment during the initial treatment. Despair loomed until her chemotherapy doctor recommended FoCP.

FoCP, which provided a lifeline of support and encouragement, helped transform her battle, turning survival into a journey of resilience and hope, she says.

“The psychological and moral support from FoCP made me stronger and boosted my confidence, allowing me to control the cancer instead of it controlling me. It was crucial in overcoming this critical stage in my life, and the events they organised uplifted the morale of my husband and children, who witnessed my transformation and improved mental state. These activities felt like a large family home, a sanctuary for all sisters battling cancer. Thankfully, I am now better, stronger, and more resilient, capable of enduring the harsh side effects of chemotherapy.”

Early screening: A love for life

After a misdiagnosis, a 69-year-old man was found to have advanced breast cancer, which had spread to his liver, bones, lymph nodes and lungs due to smoking. Despite three years of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, his life could not be saved. Widowed, his wife became solely responsible for their three children.

Not willing to face the same fate, she decided to visit a Pink Caravan Fixed Clinic for an early breast cancer screening. As luck would have it, a small tumour was found, which might have been untreatable if discovered later. She underwent surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormonal therapy at Tawam Hospital.

“FOCP helped me fight the disease by instilling hope and love for life, which helped me resist cancer. Even working as a teacher, I remained strong and didn’t show my fatigue. The psychological and moral support was essential in overcoming cancer, and above all, my faith in God’s will and His ability to heal me,” she said.

Cancer-free after initial shock

A 55-year-old woman felt no fatigue but was shocked by a breast cancer diagnosis during October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With no family history of cancer, her life turned upside down amidst financial struggles and the need for treatment support. Her journey began with surgery to remove the tumour, but the remnants required a second surgery. Thankfully, tests showed no further spread, eliminating the need for chemotherapy or radiation.

She said: “I faced many challenges, especially the high treatment costs and being away from family. I didn’t want my illness to affect my three daughters. FOCP supported me financially and provided crucial emotional and moral support, helping me fight cancer with patience and hope. This support also empowered my family to care for me from diagnosis through recovery. Today, I am completely cancer-free.”