Dubai: On National Cancer Survivors’ Day today (4 June), two expatriate women in the UAE spoke about the pain of battling the disease and shared their inspiring journey to recovery.
Belgian expatriate Catherine Vander Cammen was diagnosed with cancer on her 60th birthday. The 69-year-old said: “It’s not the best news you’ll get on your birthday. My cancer treatment took a toll on me too. There was a time when I thought I wouldn’t survive, but now I’m going to tell you I s story.”
“There are ups and downs in the cancer journey. But there is hope. And there is strength that can help you find your way out of it,” adds Kamen.
About National Cancer Survivors Day
National Cancer Survivors Day is widely celebrated on the first Sunday in June – this year it is June 4th. The day aims to “prove that life after a cancer diagnosis can be a reality”. Although it’s mostly celebrated in the United States, the National Cancer Survivors’ Day Foundation is gaining popularity in other countries as well.
National Cancer Survivors Day was first proclaimed by Merril Hastings on November 20, 1987, at the second national meeting of the National Cancer Survivors Coalition in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The first National Cancer Survivors’ Day was held on June 5, 1988.
Carmen, who was living and working in the UK when she was diagnosed with cancer, said she discovered an inverted nipple in her right breast during a routine shower. A painful biopsy turned positive. She underwent a mastectomy. The following year, doctors also found a malignant lump in her left breast, and she underwent another mastectomy.
“The journey has been long and tedious. But with the great support and love of my family and friends, I have come out of it.”
One of the most important steps in the cancer journey is acceptance, she says.
“Embracing your condition and treatment is the biggest step toward recovery. There’s no point in fighting it or resisting it,” she adds.
Carmen – who has now been cancer-free for nine years – said the journey has had its ups and downs. “One day you might feel great. Another day you don’t feel great. But it’s fine, absolutely normal. It’s important to find a passion and an interest that keeps you busy and undivided.”
She added: “My husband and I live in Dubai with our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Two years ago we decided to come and live with our son and his family. It’s been amazing.”
Carmen spends most of her time at home with her grandson Nicole. She is also involved in various activities at Nicole’s school. “It’s important to find a passion, a hobby and immerse yourself in it. Keep your mind off unnecessary worries. Surround yourself with positive and caring people. Don’t be shy about asking for help. Majlis Foundation is not just for me but Great support for several cancer patients. So seek help and learn to be happy about the present,” she said.
Majlis Al Amal of Al Jalila Foundation is holding daily events to mark National Cancer Survivors Day. Discussions included topics such as “Finding Strength Through Altearah Bio’s Colors; Beating Cancer; Parenting During Difficult Times; Reinventing Yourself After Cancer.”
“Life’s Curve Ball”
Indian expatriate Goolcher Navdar couldn’t agree more. The 63-year-old cancer survivor is successfully cancer-free thanks to her treatment and alternative therapies, which she says have helped her a lot.
Even before her cancer, Navdar said, a series of challenging events in her life had left her mentally, physically, emotionally and financially exhausted.
“Cancer came to me in June 2010. I was exhausted by the curve balls life threw at me and people would think life had no choice but to go up. But that being said, sometimes you need to be completely broken to be whole again. That’s what it was meant to be,” Navdar said.
heal from within
“My body was already very weak, and chemotherapy was notoriously unbearable physically and mentally, so I decided not to go that route. I wanted to turn inward for healing. I was already on the spiritual path and wanted to pass Using phytonutrients and other holistic healing modalities to apply all my knowledge to self-healing. It was not a popular decision, many people did not have faith in it, and my own family was against it. But it was my choice,” Navdar said.
She said her oncologist had made a serious mistake convincing her family to avoid chemotherapy and that radiation was a must. “For the sake of my family, I underwent an intensive treatment of 35 sessions of radiation therapy, 5 days a week for 7 weeks, traveling daily from work to Abu Dhabi and back. The support of my dear children and sisters, my The prayers and well wishes of friends and loved ones have helped me to go through this period bravely.”
Thirteen years on, Navdar is cancer free. Since then, she has been on the path of holistic healing.
“With the help of alternative treatments, supplements, holistic natural remedies, some necessary changes in diet and lifestyle, and a will of steel, I got through this. I made it, and I have been cancer free for the past 13 years! All my tests have shown that, by God’s grace, I am healthier than ever,” Navdar said.
learning from cancer
She added that her cancer journey taught her to be present and to forgive during the darkest days of her life. “Living in the moment is key. Forgive yourself, and forgive those who have hurt you. Be grateful for what you have in your life. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.”
Navdar says: “My advice to anyone dealing with this situation is not to get overwhelmed by emotions. You can get through it with prompt treatment and a positive and strong attitude. This is the beginning of the journey of taking care of yourself, your body and mind.
“Don’t be intimidated by what you already know about cancer. Every case is unique. Don’t expect the worst. Give you Bring on the joyful stuff to boost your immune system.
“Remember – you can only spread love around you if you love yourself completely. Take care of your body and mind as if it belonged to your loved ones.”