UAE: Friends shave head in solidarity with bestie who got cancer

Stacey Fernandes Mathulla with a friend. — Supplied photo
Stacey Fernandes Mathulla with a friend. — Supplied photo

Dubai - Dubai resident says her disease made her realise the true value of friends and that they were her extended family

By Saman Haziq

Published: Fri 30 Jul 2021, 9:25 PM

When Dubai resident Stacey Fernandes Mathulla thinks about the love and support her family and friends offered her in what she would call the “toughest time” of her life, she chokes with emotion.

The 47-year-old Indian expatriate was diagnosed with breast cancer in January this year and had to undergo six chemotherapy sessions during which, she was told, she would experience hair loss. Even before the treatment started, Stacey said she decided to shave off her hair so that she doesn’t have to deal with hair loss. But what shocked her was the immense love and concern her group of friends showed in supporting her throughout the treatment, with two of them even shaving off their hair in solidarity.

On the occasion of International Friendship Day on Friday, Stacey said her disease made her realise the true value of friends and that they were her “extended family”.

It was on the first day of the year when Stacey felt a lump in one of her breasts while taking a shower. What followed was a number of visits to multiple oncologists who confirmed her worst fears after conducting the required tests. Stacey had stage 2 breast cancer.

From this point on, Stacey’s story could have been like those of millions plagued by the deadly disease but having a supportive family, doctor and an amazing set of friends helped her swim against the tide and stay positive throughout the treatment.

Pointing out how incredibly lucky she is to have an amazing circle of friends and family, Stacey said: “Right from ensuring that I am well stocked up to taking care of my seven-year-old son, my friends have been my pillar. Just a handful of people I am close with knew about my disease and that really helped me. While two of my friends shaved their hair to support me, another friend crocheted a beanie for me while one was always with me on my hospital trips. They made it so easy for me. We almost always had regular conversations and hardly spoke about my disease. They talked to me like a normal, healthy person and never treated me differently because of my condition. There was no pity-party.”

Her friends also arranged sound healing and meditation classes, which she said, helped her immensely to find her inner peace.

Important to keep things transparent

Not to forget the integral role her doctor played in keeping her positive about the whole treatment process, Stacey said: “From day 1, I am glad that my doctor, Dr Medhat Faris, consultant medical oncologist at International Modern Hospital, Dubai, kept things very transparent about how my treatment would be and what side effects I can expect. While he told me that I will lose my hair, he also reassured me that it will grow back again. This helped me prepare better for the treatment process.”

Stacey added, she was happy that she got all services under one roof.

Stacey has now completed six rounds of chemotherapy and is going strong. Her attitude and will power to fight cancer head-on will inspire many who are on the verge of giving-up.

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