Faster healthcare helps save life of cancer patient in UAE

 

Faster healthcare helps save life of cancer patient in UAE
She said she's looking to get back to her work in healthcare management and her normal life.

Dubai - Her next step to full recovery, she said, is to undergo a bone marrow transplant to consolidate the treatment. The marrow is expected to be donated by her twin brother in the Philippines if he is a match.

by

Sherouk Zakaria

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Sat 20 Jan 2018, 8:28 PM

Last updated: Sat 20 Jan 2018, 10:33 PM

Miriam thought she would never live to see the New Year when she learned that she had to fight cancer.
Miriam, a 44-year-old Filipina, was diagnosed with a rare acute myeloid leukemia - a blood cancer that starts in the bone marrow - last May. 
"A strange tumour, about the size of a golf ball, started growing on my right arm. At first, I thought it was muscle pain, but it didn't go away for a few weeks. I got it checked and found that I had a rare type of leukemia," said Miriam, who has been residing in Dubai for 17 years and has no family history of cancer. 
She was diagnosed at the NMC Specialty Hospital in Al Nahda. They conducted an MRI scan, x-ray scan and a biopsy that was sent to Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA. The results confirmed the malignant lesion.
"The first thought that came to my mind is how long would I be alive? I thought I won't be able to live until 2018. I wished I had just one more Christmas to spend," she said as she broke into tears.
However, the early and quick diagnosis and treatment helped Miriam clear of cancer after nine months of treatment. Her diagnosis involved the NMC's local and international partners including UAE National Laboratory in Abu Dhabi and the newly-opened Advanced Care Oncology Centre (ACOC) in Al Furjan, Dubai, where she had two positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) scans.
After her diagnosis, she was immediately admitted to the department of oncology at Al Zahra Hospital in Sharjah. She stayed there for six weeks, undergoing one cycle of chemotherapy for seven days and a complete blood and platelet transfusions that have recycled all the blood in her body.
"I have been prescribed a 'pharmacy' of medications to take daily, together with weekly visits to the hospital for blood tests and scans," said Miriam. "I lost all my hair, but thankfully it's growing back again," she said with a tearful smile.
A few months later, Miriam was in recovery and remission subject to some final tests. "January 8 was the happiest day of my life. My doctor said that the biopsy tests were all negative and my PET/CT scan from ACOC confirmed the result. I still have a journey to be completely cancer-free but I am almost there."
Her next step to full recovery, she said, is to undergo a bone marrow transplant to consolidate the treatment. The marrow is expected to be donated by her twin brother in the Philippines if he is a match.
Miriam said she believes her speedy diagnosis and treatment were the main elements of her recovery. "Back home, the healthcare system isn't that advanced. To make it to the waiting lists would require months, which could've made all the difference," said Miriam. 
Norman Richmond, CEO of Emirates Hospitals Associations, said although Dubai healthcare sector is considered to be still maturing, its quick development and integration of the system significantly helps in a cancer patient's quick recovery. "In Europe, the diagnosis stage can take months during which a cancer patient may move from Stage one to Stage two. Time is critical for a cancer patient," said Richmond.
He added that speedy treatment is essential for a cancer patient's recovery. "If Miriam had gone abroad, she would've been placed on the waiting list for nine months, which is the time she took to fully recover here."
Richmond noted that being surrounded by family and friends makes a big difference to a patient's psychology, which plays a critical role in recovery. "When patients travel abroad for treatment, they are in a new place and environment away from their family, which impacts their psychology." 
He said while Dubai's healthcare system is reputed for being costly, the same applies to the healthcare sector abroad. "The difference is that in the UAE there is a magnificent integration between hospitals and partners, which helps in a speedy treatment and diagnosis that makes all the impact. Patients are also surrounded by a strong support system of family and friends. 
As for Miriam, she said she's looking to get back to her work in healthcare management and her normal life. "I will be attending the Arab Health Exhibition and Congress to see what's new in the healthcare market, and will try to speak to the people about the facilities we have here."
Despite being away from her family, Miriam said the team of doctors, specialists and nursing staff, made her "feel at home and helped grant a second life".

Early detection is key factor ?in treatment 

Bashir Abou Reslan, executive director of Advanced Care Oncology Centre (ACOC), said the most important notion to change among patients is that "cancer is deadly".
"If detected early, cancer is treatable and will require the least amount of intervention depending on the case," said Abou Reslan. He urged everyone to do regular screenings and consultations, especially when a strange symptom is felt in the body.
Abou Reslan further noted that the cancer treatment in the UAE is developing in the right direction. "Ten years ago, there was only one hospital that offered chemotherapies and treatments for cancer. Today, specialised centres for oncology are developing."
The ACOC collaborates with hospitals to offer different kinds of treatments and scans. "For many hospitals, it doesn't make economic sense to invest in a PET/CT scanner or linear accelerators that take up huge amounts of money and space. That is where our role comes in," he said. "While some hospitals don't offer chemotherapy, they send patients to us."
Abou Reslan noted that advanced technology is also making cancer cure more accessible. "In the past, there was a linear accelerator and many other devices, but today we are talking precision medicine." He also stated that devices are precise in tackling tumours and malignant cells in the most accurate measurements and sizes, which helps in targeted treatments.
sherouk@khaleejtimes.com
 



More news from