Getting a hook on cancer

Ankita Chaturvedi
Filed on June 16, 2016
Getting a hook on cancer
Lina Sharif with husband Ramy, and their son

Lina Sharif knitted her way through a battle with cancer, and now helps other patients with the proceeds from her crocheting

dubai - Cancer, the life threatening invasive disease is a bane of modern life that is on the rise in the UAE, no thanks to our high rates of obesity, sedentary lifestyles and other factors. But with the increasing incidence of cancer, a growing fighting spirit is also on the rise among the country's residents.


Leading one such fight is Lina Sharif, a 31-year-old Palestinian lady who has take the initiative to lead and support cancer sufferers. In an interesting twist, her love and talent for crochet is her primary means of raising funds for medical treatment, for those who cannot afford it.



A fighting spirit


Lina also went through her own struggle with the disease. Diagnosed with breast cancer shortly her son was born, she bravely took on the challenge of fighting it, instead of crying over her fate. Recalling the time when her cancer was detected, Lina said, "Last year, on Valentine's day, I had gone for a massage, and immediately felt there was something wrong with my body. Thanks to the company I worked for at that time, and the awareness campaigns that they used to conduct, I was able to detect the cancer early."


The dreaded news hit the family hard, initially.


"My husband was in denial mode initially, but then he accepted it," said Lina. Then came the side effects of the affliction.


"There was a time I started losing my black, long and beautiful hair, which my husband was particularly fond of. To get him and my son comfortable with my new look, we had a small 'party' at home, and I asked him to shave my head himself," Lina reminisced.


Then came the stares and comments from people. But her supportive husband and extended family gave Lina the courage to face it; her sister, particularly, was a big source of strength who saw her through the difficult times and chemo sessions, Lina recalled. But her family faced the emotional brunt of her cancer too. "It was a time of turmoil for me," Ramy Tolba, Lina's husband said. Additionally, his father had just passed away from cancer too. "But I decided to be there for her to combat this. And Lina proved she's has the strength to face any challenge."



Knitting for a cause


Hearteningly, it was during her own struggle that Lina rediscovered her childhood passion for crochet. "I wanted to engage myself in something positive and keep myself busy, rather than just wait for my turn for chemotherapy. So I took up crochet again and used the time to knit mug warmers, hats, bookmarkers. That led to the idea of starting Instagram and Facebook pages, to start my project 'Hookin Good', to sell the items I crocheted. Then, I went into partnership with the Al Jalila Foundation, to donate the proceeds from my work."


In the proces, Lina has not merely set a perfect example for all cancer fighters, but is also fighting on their behalf.



Road to recovery


Lina leads a healthy, cancer-free life today. A burger lover, she has cut down on junk food, started exercising, and said no to smoking. "These little lifestyle changes can do wonders. I have also sorted my priorities now, spending more time with my family instead of hanging out with friends and colleagues. Also, I prefer doing my crochet when I have time, because it gives me happiness and satisfaction. I am just trying to contribute towards saving lives, and so can you," Lina said.


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