The first time we met Laila, she was organizing a Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar at the Shaheed Park. Cheerful and funny, we would have never known she was a breast cancer survivor herself has she not mentioned it. Here is her story.
“I do not want to bore you with the details of how I discovered that I had breast cancer or its symptoms; I am rather going to jump right into my journey to recovery.
Silent, strange and deadly is how I can best describe cancer. My story starts at the Mastectomy operation I went through at Al Adan hospital. This is where my battle with cancer began. After the surgery for a while I could not feel my hand, all there was, was this strong pain. At that point in time the only thing that seemed to carry me forth was the presence of my family and friends. Between them, the pain seemed to reduce and the fear for my life seemed to subside.
After the surgery came the chemotherapy. To a lay man I would say chemotherapy is similar to a hurricane. It does now distinguish between healthy and unhealthy cells. Like a hurricane, it destroys everything that comes in its way. The loss of hair is just a physical proof. Instead of waiting for my hair to fall a little every day, I decided I was going to shave my head, once and for all!
Eventually, I did succeed in fighting back. But even today when I look back, I don’t think I could have ever made it through had it not been for those close to me constantly holding my hand and giving me hope. I realized how important friends and family were during this period.
The phase with the most number of revelations however was my recovery. Cancer was like rebirth in many ways. I feel I now lead a much more fulfilling life than I did before I was diagnosed. A part of it has to do with knowing that everything you have could be taken from you anytime while another important lesson I learnt was to live in the moment.
In the end, I would like to thank all those who saw me through my illness, and to all those who are fighting the disease, I would say, keep fighting. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either!”
Laila currently works with Ruqayah Abdulwahab Al Qatami Breast Cancer Foundation.