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Cancer: Not a lonely journey

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“In dealing with my cancer, I know that I am not alone. It is not a cul-de-sac because there are other people living with it and it is a curable disease.” These were the words of Masoeda Abass, just one of many cancer patients sharing their words of motivation and upliftment on Pink Hijab Day on Tuesday 28th October.

Donning pink and white in support of cancer, some 1000 women came together to recall their journeys with cancer, while giving messages of hope to friends and family members also affected by the disease. The occasion was a comfort to people that cancer does not have to be a lonely journey as they can seek support.

For Shariefa Hendricks, who lost a friend from colon cancer, the day was enlightening. She hailed the event as significant in informing the community. She believes that cancer survivors need to realise that they are not alone.

“I think it is important to have cancer awareness drives as there is a lot of ignorance regarding the topic. It is important to know about things like chemotherapy and that one can seek support in many places,” says Hendricks.

“Pink Hijab Day is phenomenal as we are not all exposed to the right information regarding cancer. I have learnt lot from this event” says Amina Rajee.

Supporters not only showed their solidarity by wearing pink scarves but some displayed grand gestures to spread awareness. Soraya Adams not only tied a pink bow to her windscreen of her car but also shaved her head for the initiative. Adams has lost many loved ones to cancer.

“One particular friend had lost all her hair due to radiotherapy or chemotherapy and that was her main worry losing all her hair. I told her you know what I promise you that I will gather all our friends to shave all our hair off when that day comes. When I went into her home to show, her she cried bitterly and told me that is what you call true friends,” says Adams.

She  feels people only wake up to the reality of cancer until it affects them. Adams, whose sister is a pancreatic and liver cancer survivor, believes it is important to make survivors realise that they are not alone.

“You don’t take much notice of cancer until it hits one of your closed loved ones. When my sister was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and liver cancer it was a wake up call because she is the only sister I still have alive,” says Adams.

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Breast cancer survivor Fatima Sadie describes her experience as humbling. She finds it comforting being aware of others with the disease.

“Some people have travelled so far to get here and just hearing their stories is humbling. It makes one realise that there are people who are very sick. I have similar experiences at the hospital,” says Sadie.

Sadie remembers the Groote Schuur Hospital’s waiting room being a daunting place when she first discovered she had breast cancer.

“I waited to see the doctor and you hear the people screaming in the surgery when hearing they hear their status. It really instils fear in one,” says Sadie.

No two people with cancer are alike – just as no two friends or family members are alike. Everyone has their own way of coping with cancer. But most believe that living a healthy lifestyle, seeking support and receiving treatment are extremely important.

“A lot of my people died of cancer. We must just believe in Allah. Eat the right thing but believe in Allah. Our duas are very good,” says Gaironessa Ariefdien.

For cancer patients, seeking support does not exist in isolation. The most fundamental form of coping is through strengthening the relationship with one’s Creator. One has to make dua and keep the faith in Allah (swt).

“I have a sister in-law that is in her fourth stage. May Allah guide her and protect her,” says Fatima Ajam.

“It is all in Allah’s hands and Allah knows best. I just wish the best for everyone who has cancer. They need to hang onto Allah swt,” adds Mariam January. VOC (Nailah Cornelissen)


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