‘IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD’

Lina El Sharif, 31, com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager, from Palestine

Friday - - The Big Story -

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.

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