Mus­lim Food Bank Suc­cess Sto­ries

The Miracle - - Women -

A Syr­ian Woman Fights Can­cer in the Midst of a War S haima Ah­mad, 55, lived in a small Syr­ian town with her hus­band Dawud and their six chil­dren. She lived the mod­est life of a lower-mid­dle class fam­ily and her days were oc­cu­pied with tak­ing care of her chil­dren. One rainy morn­ing, Shaima spoke to her hus­band about the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing breast can­cer. All her symp­toms matched what she had heard of about this de­bil­i­tat­ing dis­ease. Of course, she didn’t let her chil­dren get wind of her fears be­cause she didn’t want to cause them dis­tress. When Shaima and Dawud con­sulted the can­cer spe­cial­ist in a hos­pi­tal two towns away from home, their worst fears were re­al­ized. Two words rang aloud in Shaima’s head. Breast. Can­cer. In the weeks and months that fol­lowed, Shaima and Dawud made count­less trips to the hos­pi­tal. At first, Shaima walked to the can­cer ward side by side with Dawud. Af­ter a few rounds of treat­ment, Dawud had to carry her in a wheel­chair. Though the doc­tors were able to over­come the can­cer, they were not able to con­trol the side-ef­fects as­so­ci­ated with can­cer treat­ment. Shaima de­vel­oped lym­phedema in her left arm. Lym­phedema – of­ten as­so­ci­ated with breast can­cer – is the swelling of the lym­phatic ves­sels caused by the backup of flu­ids in tis­sues. Shaima did her best to hide the ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain that she lived with every day from her fam­ily. Dawud also buried the stress re­lated to the crip­pling cost of the can­cer treat­ment within him­self. Just when Shaima thought her life couldn’t get any more try­ing, her coun­try plunged into civil war. Shaima dragged her aching body to join her fam­ily in flee­ing Syria. Life as a refugee is tough enough for peo­ple with no health is­sues but it’s so much worse for those with a dis­abil­ity. Re­search done by the United Na­tions supports this no­tion when it states that “refugees with dis­abil­i­ties are more likely to be side­lined in every as­pect of hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance due to phys­i­cal, en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­ci­etal bar­ri­ers against ac­cess­ing in­for­ma­tion, health and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ser­vice­sand hu­man rights pro­tec­tion.” The Ah­mads spent months in neigh­bor­ing Jor­dan dur­ing which time Shaima did not have ac­cess to a doc­tor. Not all of Shaima and Dawud’s chil­dren were with them when they were flown into Canada in De­cem­ber, 2016, as part of the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to give home to dis­placed Syr­ian refugees. One of their sons had fled to Iraq and the other to Turkey, each deem­ing the coun­try they chose as a safer op­tion. When the Mus­lim Food Bank & Com­mu­nity Ser­vices case­worker, Mariam, took up the Ah­mads’ case three months af­ter their ar­rival in Canada the one thing that struck her the most was the newly-ar­rived cou­ple’s con­cern for the sons they’d left be­hind.

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