‘IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD’
Lina El Sharif, 31, communications manager, from Palestine
The first thought that came to my mind when I was diagnosed with breast cancer this June on the first day of Ramadan, was: Why me? I’m only 31, and there is no history of breast cancer in my family. I don’t smoke, am not overweight and I breast-fed my two-year-old son Tarek.
I’d felt a small lump in my left breast while having a shower two months earlier. I had been told by a doctor it was fibroadenoma, a solid, non-cancerous tumour, and would go away. So I waited and hoped. But after three months I could feel two lumps and after a lot of tests, including biopsy and MRI, I was told I had breast cancer.
After the panic subsided, I thought: how will my husband Ramy and Tarek cope without me? But I had to face this. I needed chemotherapy and I knew what that meant: losing my long, thick hair. That was a horrifying thought and something my family nor friends could help me with.
That is where a WhatsApp breast cancer support group called PINK-Ladies 24/7, which was formed by a couple of breast cancer warriors, came in. Any member can ask questions and get advise from women who’ve been there. These friends helped me deal with the loss of my precious hair.
Now my attitude is if you can’t accept my baldness, look the other way. But I wish people would stop being so judgemental about looks.
My chemotherapy was divided into two stages – the first was a medication called AC, administered once every three weeks, which is intense but tolerable. The body cannot take more than that. I am still undergoing chemo sessions with a medicine called Taxol and am still working. After a session if I feel better I go to work, if not I work from home. Nothing can stop me from being me.
I have not had my breast removed yet. After I finish my chemo I may need to get either the left breast or both breasts removed depending on my response to the treatment.
One of the reasons I want to talk about my condition is because I want to convey that being detected with cancer is not the end of the world. I enjoy parties, celebrating birthdays, being with my son and a good laugh with my friends. Life will go on and everything will be fine, if you feel it will be fine. It all depends on you.