Dubai: A Portuguese expatriate living in Dubai has penned her life’s journey through fighting cancer by authoring a book. Sandra Martinho, 46, suffered Stage 2 colon cancer back in November 2019. But she took it in her stride and beat the dreaded disease. Her literary offering, The Dance of Life, is not only about her fight against cancer, but also about building a self-support system when faced with a challenging phase in one’s life.
“Even after one beats cancer, the experience that one goes through can cast a long shadow on one’s life. How do you reclaim your personal power and reignite your spark? Going beyond my story, in this book, I share practical tips and a system that you can develop to reclaim your power. Heal your mind, your body and soul,” said Martinho.
Martinho said in November 2019, she found blood in her stool. Without wasting much time, she booked an appointment with an oncologist. Medical examinations revealed Stage 2 colon cancer. “There were no other symptoms. Luckily, I did not waste time in doing the diagnosis and I was saved from surgery.”
Martinho said she turned her life around to cope with her post-cancer treatment. “Be it my diet, my nutrition or my sleeping habits — I worked on my mental and physical well-being.”
Martinho had to deal with a harsh post-cancer treatment regimen. “The radiation was very strong. Since I had colon cancer, the treatment was largely focused around the anal area. It burnt the nerves around that area. It left my lower half of the body weak.”
The mother of two said there were many thoughts and worries running in her head. “While I was dealing with fantastic doctors who treated me very well, I was in some way missing some sort of an additional support system in my life.”
Why she wrote the book
Martinho said every day, she would pen her thoughts and feelings on a piece of paper. Soon, there was a pile of paper building up. “A friend of mine, who worked as a teacher in Dubai, said I had a book waiting to be published! She gathered my notes, put a flow to my stories and separated them into chapters and a book was ready to be published.”
What started as a way to just express her feelings has now turned out to be a complete book.
“The book not only highlights my journey with cancer, but also offers tips on how people can change their lives by building a self-support system. I was new to Dubai when I was diagnosed with cancer. It was hard for me to find support, but there are ways you can overcome this.”
Find your essence
“When I was diagnosed with cancer, I felt that I was at the bottom of a mountain. That is when I felt I needed to start the process of finding my essence. Then slowly I started to climb up the mountain. I can now proudly say that I have found meaning in my existence.”
Fitness is the key
Martinho said she found solace in fitness. “When you start to get back into fitness you realise it makes you happy. Fitness releases happy hormones and it does wonders to your mind.”
She started with walking as a way to get her legs stronger. Soon, she found other fitness routines that kept her mentally and physically active. Recently, she turned a fitness instructor. “I did a pound fitness training and have turned into an instructor. I am so thrilled with this new journey. I hope to achieve a lot through this. After all, a happy mind is a happy body, which makes one healthy,” she said.
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“I never thought I would turn an instructor at this stage in my life. Fitness inspires people to do better and more. For now, I want to immerse myself in things I enjoy doing. And that is what every cancer patient should do. There is hope and life after cancer. Just embrace it,” Martinho added.