‘I DID YOGA WHILE HAVING MY CHEMO’
Natalia Hassanie, 39, co-founder of Posetivity, from Lebanon
My doctor found a lump during a routine examination last June. I had a biopsy and two days later he told me and my husband Tarek, ‘It is an invasive mammary carcinoma, the second-most common invasive breast cancer. We need to act now.’
I felt like someone had thrown ice-cold water on my face. I turned to Tarek, 46, but he was sobbing. ‘It’s going to be fine,’ I said.
Back home I went to my laptop and typed in ‘how to heal from cancer’. I already knew I would opt for non-traditional treatment, maybe homeopathy.
Next, I told my three little girls – Emma, 10, Jasmine, nine, and five-year-old Jana. ‘Don’t worry Mum,’ Emma said. ‘You’ll be fine soon.’
I refused to have any surgery. I’d been practising meditation for 16 years, and I was sure it would help me, and so would homeopathy. I went to my homeopath who suggested I cut out sugars and processed foods and go gluten-free. I also enrolled in a yoga teacher training course. But after two months the lump was bigger. I could actually feel it clearly and the areas of my breast where I’d had the biopsy started to bruise, which showed something wasn’t right.
‘You have to go back to the hospital,’ Tarek said, urging me to stop alternative therapy. But I pleaded against it. Reluctantly, he began researching online for alternative treatments and found an immunologist in Tijuana, Mexico, who claimed to have had some success treating cancers. He combines chemo with vitamins and minerals to boost the immune system. So we set off for Mexico.
The immunologist gave me glucose and insulin at the start of each week followed by chemo. He also pumped all sorts of vitamins into me via a catheter for four or five hours a day. It made me feel horrible. But I focused on the girls – I needed to get well for them.
After two months, the tumour was still growing so I finally had a mastectomy. It was a success – they removed a 6cm lump from my breast. My chances of reoccurrence were 60 per cent so my oncologist, Dr Maroun El Khoury, persuaded me to do chemotherapy. I did yoga during every hospital session and uploaded photos on Facebook and Instagram. Followers have told me my posts give them hope and energy.
On September 9, I did my PET scan, which showed I was clear of cancer. Now, I feel like I’m just getting started.