Komorebi Post– I found out that I had breast cancer the end of 2017 during a routine examination. It was a shocking surprise for me, I did not expect it to happen to me. At first, I didn’t comprehend it and I thought I was in one of those nightmares- but I had to confront reality, with many questions without clear answers. We started asking questions; where to have my medical tests, such as biopsy? and what hospital can I be admitted to? the biggest question that kept me awake at night was why me? I was looking for answers everywhere, blogs, medical pages and books but I could not find an answer to this impossible question.
We started the complicated procedures. We do not have the possibility of taking the biopsy in Ramallah and in the West Bank. The closest place is Hadassah Hospital in West Jerusalem, which means crossing the Israeli military checkpoints that require permits and the Israeli security approval. The suffering of the Palestinian cancer patient is complexed suffering, where the patient is forced to resort to the military occupation authorities, and this is tough psychologically.
I was alone and very frightened and worried, I could not separate my feelings of hostility towards the occupation which continue to carry out repression, occupation, killing and arrest amongst my people, and the need to be examined by Israeli doctors. I did not understand Hebrew; those moments were the hardest. We had to wait a long time to see the results, and once again I had to go see my Israeli doctor. The doctor was committed to surgical treatment. We returned home in Ramallah and started thinking about where to go for treatment? where and how? The answer was required quickly.
After my experience with the biopsy at Hadassah Hospital I was excluded from going to an Israeli hospital. I spoke a lot about my fears and feelings with Dr. Nayef Kasbari at the Dunya Cancer Center in Ramallah. The doctor was so understanding and reassuring also spoke Arabic and he played an important role in dealing with my cancer. The treatment of this disease is fraught with myths especially in our Palestinian society, but I decided from the beginning to deal with science and medicine and did not give any attention to the societal prejudices related to cancer. I think that this made me stronger in the face of this dreadful disease. I started reading and connecting with friends and other women who had cancer, and I learnt a lot from their experiences.
At that time, I had to choose the type of operation, complete mastectomy and a silicone fill or partial resection. The choice was very difficult, but I finally decided to completely remove my right breast. I remember the last shower I had and how I said goodbye before the operation, I remembered how the same breast was the source of food and comfort for my two beloved children. I then decided not to think too much because it caused me depression and anxiety.
Just after the operation, I began feeling the place of my lost breast, which made me think about femininity and a very sad sensation of loss. made me lose and sadness, but what alleviated my sense of loss is the solidarity of my family and the solidarity of a circle of friends. I felt that life deserves to be fought for, “we have on this earth what makes life worth living”, as our poet Mahmoud Darwish said.