Humans of Toronto: #StandUpToCancer

By Lina Soliman

I went to undergo the “after the age of 50” check-up. It’s just a routine check-up, where I have to get an ultrasound and a mammogram. After I was done I was told that I have to do the ultrasound again, but this time they would use contrast dye, which makes the ultrasound clearer. The nurse called me in and I redid the whole process again. During the process she asked if there was any previous history of breast cancer in my family. At that moment, I knew there was something up, because she started talking to me in a sympathetic way, and looked worried. I told her my grandmother suffered from breast cancer and couldn’t survive.

I was called in to get the results, as I go in the room, I find three doctors sitting. They asked me to go call the person accompanying me, so I went to the cafeteria downstairs and called my husband. As we go in the consultation room, the doctors stopped talking instantly and told us to take a seat. “You have a tumour in the breast area,” one of the doctors said. After hearing that, my heart just dropped, I couldn’t hear anything or anyone around me, everything went black, I burst out crying and kept asking the doctors to double check the mammogram, because I was sure there was no way I would have breast cancer.  I was in a state of denial and shock, I was traumatized.

On our way back home, my husband tried consoling me, but all I did was cry, all I could think of was the future, and whether I would be able to attend my daughter’s wedding which would’ve happened in a couple of months back then. I spent the rest of the day crying and being comforted by my family, but nothing helped. The next morning, I booked appointments to see 4 different doctors, as I still doubted what the doctors told me the day before, I thought they did some kind of mistake or messed up somewhere. I heard the same statement four more times “its cancer.” It was then that I finally decided to face reality.

My husband told me that it would be best to perform the surgery outside Egypt for the advanced medication. My sister’s friend that works at the Egyptian Embassy in France helped us book an appointment to see the best breast cancer surgeon in Paris, the appointment was three days ahead of time. My best friend decided to come with me, as my husband had to still apply for a visa. We packed our bags, I said my goodbyes, and next thing I know is that I’m in Paris in a surgery room. My best friend was with me through the whole process, she made it seem that my whole family was next to me, although it was just her always being by my side, telling me stories of our happy memories, and would always try making me forget the situation I was in.  

I returned back to Egypt, and started the chemotherapy sessions. The 12 sessions felt like 12 years of constant pain, nausea, and suffering. Like any cancer patient, I lost all my hair, but this didn’t make me embarrassed or anything. In fact, it made me more confident, I didn’t wear a wig or hide my illness, I wanted to show people that one can have a difficult time in their life, the important thing is to overcome it and not be afraid. At hard times like this, one always ends up with an important lesson. I realized how important friends were to me, i felt they helped more than my own family did, even my daughter was too busy organizing her wedding. I also learned that one must not be too generous, because if you do people would always expect you giving them all your effort and care instead of you taking all their effort and care. #standuptocancer  #youarestrongerthancancer  #strength

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