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Cancer is not a death sentence for these 6 cancer survivors in Dubai

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai
dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com Filed on February 4, 2020 | Last updated on February 4, 2020 at 07.51 pm
Cancer, death sentence, 6 cancer survivors, Dubai,

(Photo by Shihab)

The brave fighters chose to mark World Cancer Day by sharing their story of survival during an event at the Consulate General of India.

 Six cancer survivors in Dubai - one of whom was given only a year to live - came out on Tuesday to tell the world that cancer is not a 'death sentence'.

The brave fighters chose to mark World Cancer Day by sharing their story of survival during an event at the Consulate General of India.

Priyanka Gupta, a 59-year-old mum of three, was one of them. She was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer, but that did not stop her from becoming a professional golfer, going on a paragliding adventure, and becoming a painter, and a fashion designer.

"If you have good faith in yourself, everything is possible," she said.

Disha Motiyani, a UAE resident for 15 years and a former hip-hop dancer, was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in 2012, following the delivery of her second daughter. A rarest-of-the-rare form of cancer with no known cure, Ewing sarcoma is a type of tumour that forms in the bone or soft tissue.

"The tumour was in my left thigh and doctors had to perform nerve grafting. In 2015, cancer relapsed. I was diagnosed with fourth stage lung cancer," Disha said.

"At this stage, the doctors gave me a year to live. I refused to accept that. I was not ready to die."

The surgery in her leg took away Disha's ability to dance, an activity she vows to get back to one day.

'Attitudes towards cancer have changed'

The consulate event was all about hope. It was organised in collaboration with Hair for Hope, an unofficial community organisation run by cancer survivor Premi Matthew.

Hair for Hope raises awareness and organises hair donation events in the UAE and India.

On Tuesday, 40 women and young children, both boys and girls, donated their locks towards the cause. The hair will be donated to Friends of Cancer Patients, a non-profit society for the support of cancer patients in Sharjah.

Consul-General of India to Dubai Vipul said: "Attitudes within the Indian community and India have vastly changed over the years. People are more aware of the perils of cancer and are willing to talk about it more openly."

Disha added that people have become "far more supportive".

"In the early years, there was a lot of taboo surrounding cancer. It was like a death sentence. Today, people are more supportive. I also think it is because cancer has now become common, there is a patient in almost every household," she explained.

Support system

Besides people's supportive attitudes, the survivors said their support system, work environment and healthcare in the UAE have also been largely responsible for their recovery. Bushra Zaidi and Ingrid Valles, long-time residents of Dubai, working professionals and cancer survivors, have experienced it firsthand.

"Our management at work was very supportive." Valles said. "When I lost my hair, my colleague's son shaved his head in support of my cause. I received incredible support from all corners."

Nisrin Arsiwala, a 50-year-old teacher from GEMS Wellington School, Silicon Oasis, shared: "With cancer, I was forced to face my mortality. If it weren't for the teachers, principal, and staff at my school, I wouldn't be standing here today."

Students donate hair on World Cancer Day

Children as young as five years old donated their hair on Tuesday to mark World Cancer Day.

Schoolteacher Anupama S Pillai and her 5-year-old son Mahadev are among those who have pledged to give their precious locks. The boy first cut his hair for the cause at age three.

"He used to get teased for having long hair in school. They called him a girl. Now, everyone is aware about what he does," said Pillai.

A total of 40 women and young children, both boys and girls, donated their locks towards the cause. The hair will be donated to Friends of Cancer Patients, a non-profit society for the support of cancer patients in Sharjah.

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com

 

author

Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88


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