The Power of a Pink Pom-Pom

Funny how life has a way of connecting complete strangers and transforming this connection into so much more! A few days following her guest talk at the Rose of Hope luncheon supporting the Norma Pfreim Cancer Center in Fairefield, Connecticut, One Wig Stand’s founder and managing director Loryne Atoui-Laham had the chance to bump into Alexandra Wallace-Currie of The Pink Pom-Pom Project at a local design fair (who it turned out had been at the luncheon a few days earlier and heard about our organization). The name alone is enough to draw you in, but wait till you hear how this charity is empowering (and keeping stylishly cozy) cancer patients within Fairfield and beyond:

  1. What inspired you to start “The Pink Pom-Pom Project” and where did the catchy name originate from?

I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer in October 2010 in London, UK. After the initial shock, horror and reality of my situation, I had to be a realist and get back to being a Mommy first. My kids were young and did not understand, let alone would not stand for mommy sitting or laying around the house. As cancer treatment goes, my chemotherapy sessions quickly started after surgery in November. My hair began to fall out in clumps everywhere I went: in the mall, in the shower – it was disheartening however, I had my three kids to look forward to, especially their beautiful smiles! Chemotherapy is not doubt horrible and sitting alone in the sessions is even worse. I am an eternal optimist and always try the find the good in every situation. So I would walk around the clinic trying to talk to people, but none were interested. I was so bored even catching up on sleep was boring! So I started to blog and knit hats and scarves for other cancer survivors.

One chilly afternoon in London and in my cozy room after chemo, I began to shiver. Women do not realize when your hair is gone, life can be freezing! So I started knitting a hat for myself.

“The Pink Pom-Pom Project” was named after I had knitted my own ‘floppy cancer hat’ and popped a huge pink pom-pom on top. My girls came into the room and cheered when they saw it. I asked if they would like to learn how to knit to help make hats and scarves for others. They both agreed and asked if we could call it “The Pink Pom-Pom”, I added the “Project” and three weeks later we were applying for a trademark!

Alexandra wearing the Pom-Pom that inspired her to launch this initiative. Image Source: The Pink Pom-Pom Project

Alexandra wearing the Pom-Pom that inspired her to launch this initiative. Image Source: The Pink Pom-Pom Project

I’ll say the PPPP came in the nick of time because my cancer treatment was a rough one. I had been hospitalized four separate times, other than surgeries even on Christmas morning and Valentine’s Day! We started the PPPP in London and we moved to the United States in December 2011. I opened my first physical shop in February 2012 and started our very first “Stitch & B*tch” group soon-after. These sessions take place every week on Monday and Thursdays. We try to help every woman we can in any way during cancer treatment and afterwards by providing art classes as a means of emotional therapy. In two and half years, we have connected with seven different organizations through Fairfield County and work with cancer survivors and inner-city youth. We teach arts and crafts and life skills, i.e. knitting and sewing to children ages 7 years+.

  1. What are the benefits of crafting for patients undergoing cancer treatment, or for cancer survivors, and what’s it like at one of your “Stitch & B*tch” groups?

When I was undergoing treatment – and I had mentioned before how boring chemotherapy can be – arts and crafts got my mind off my current situation. It helped me escape into a world of creativity.

xx

Everyone hard at work during a stitching session. Image Source: The Pink Pom-Pom Project

It was especially fun because between chemo sessions I would hold “Stitch & B*tch” parties at my home. We spread to crafting because a lot of people did not know how to knit. And I always provide instruction at all group sessions in case any one wants to learn, or has any issues. “Stich & B*tch* is fun and productive. We’ve also started introducing other projects, like lavender sachets as sleep aids and small quilts.

When women in need get together, it’s amazing how powerful just talking and sharing can be. Especially to someone who may have trouble expressing themselves or who is completely overwhelmed with fear by this disease.

  1. Your shop, “A Little Square” in Fairfield, plays a direct role in helping support “The Pink Pom-Pom Project”. Where do these two ventures overlap and how are they different?

”A Little Square” was started in London when I arrived pregnant with my second child. It was first a hobby. I would import hand-painted baby clothing and accessories by my twin sister, Shepherd. There were no cute preppy Americana gifts and baby stuff that was affordable for everyone to enjoy. Everything was too expensive, especially when you have to purchase ten gifts for all your new mommy friends! “A Little Square” has been in business since 2005 and was mainly a home-run/trunk show business for the first year. It then expanded to gift shows and became known as the Americana Chic Gift store – apparently I found a niche and it was fun while it lasted!

Now “A Little Square” serves an even bigger and better purpose. It currently underwrites “The Pink Pom-Pom Project” and provides supplies, materials, equipment, and instruction to the groups we work with all for free.

The PPPP prides itself on providing the same classes to under-privileged children. One of its many mottos is ‘Why take a child to K-Mart when you can take them all to Coco Chanel’ – the playing fields should be the same!

When you shop at “A Little Square” you are directly giving back to the local community. It’s a ying-and-yang kind of charity!

  1. The headscarves you make are not only beautiful with uplifting colors, but also very practical and comfy. How did you draw on your own experience to design them and what other items have you designed for patients?

I grew up in the 70’s and my mother’s hair started thinning after having six kids. So she made this amazing scarf that she would wear almost every day of the summer.

The design of our scarf is completely based off her own design with extra padding in front to give the illusion of ‘hair’ for patients. The crown part is slightly poofier too because when you are undergoing Chemotherapy, although you may be cold or hot, the skin on your head must breathe.

Because in spring it’s too hot to wear hats and beanies, we patterned our scarf in bright-colored fabrics designed by very talented textile designers, like Amy Butler, Heather Bailey, Kaffee Fassett and many more. PPPPImage_CraftSession1 In terms of designing other products, we make other things like Lavender Sachets, Prayer Shawls, Hats and Scarves, PPPP Pillows and now, thin Cotton Quilts for Chemotherapy.

  1. How many women do you work with/have you worked with on making these headscarves (and other products for patients) and what are some of the reactions of the patients who’ve received these lovingly-made gifts?

I would say from the time we started The PPPP crafting parties in 2011, easily 400+ people. We not only work with women undergoing treatment, but their families participate as well. We also work with The Girl Scouts of CT. We schedule GS Troops, many groups come between 13-20 kids, and they make Lavender Sachets for cancer survivors [to aid in sleep]. We also ask the children from our community centers to help make the Lavender Sachets.

My favorite part is the reactions from everyone involved. From the moment we start a project, I explain to groups about our charity and why they come together. When everyone understands the project, the excitement builds and goods get made faster! It’s really sweet.

We have a program called The Volunteer Of The Year (V.O.T.Y.) Quilt, which is made exclusively by cancer survivors for a dedicated volunteer in a cancer clinic. Their reactions are priceless because they never expect anything back!

PPPPImage_StitchSession2

Volunteers hard at work knitting to support cancer patients. Image Source: The Pink Pom-Pom Project

  1. You founded “The Pink Pom-Pom Project” while living in London and now you’ve expanded your reach to the U.S.A. Where do you see the charity heading next and what exciting projects can we expect in the future?

Well, that is a good question!

Because 1 in 3 will get cancer in the US, it is imperative we reach out into other communities and establish the PPPP as an optional therapy tool. I have always thought franchising was a possibility. I have been asked by other hospitals to come and share, that is on the agenda!

However, for the remainder of 2015, we have a very exciting project that will take The PPPP into a whole new direction. We are sponsoring Art Rooms within the inner-city youth community centers we teach at. Our very first Art Room will be at The Cardinal Shehan Center in Bridgeport. We will be redesigning their space, providing new options for art, especially offering Sewing Classes as an important life skill. Their current room is a little out-dated and needs a new bright look to encourage creativity. We are really looking forward to it!

  1. “The Pink Pom-Pom Project” donated more than 25 headscarves to our organization last month (June 2015) to be passed on to patients in Lebanon. We are beyond touched by this very kind and generous gesture. What message do you hope to send across to the patients who’ll be receiving them?
Our wig stand modeling the beautiful headscarves donated to our patients by The Pink Pom-Pom Project. Doesn't she look fabulous? Image Source: The Pink Pom-Pom Project

Our wig stand modeling the gorgeous headscarves donated to our patients by “The Pink Pom-Pom Project”. Doesn’t she look fabulous? Photographs by: Sally Mansour

There was an angel in my mist after I was diagnosed. After the initial diagnosis, I was in shock but I did not want to strike fear in anyone else. I could not walk, my legs would not support me. I was devastated and could not see the future, I could not see my life, I could not see my children. While I waited for the final results, a young woman walked in to the room I was waiting in. She was not a counselor or a Doctor: she was a Secretary in the Accounting Department. She said these two magical words to me “Six Years”. For a moment, I did not understand what she said. I assumed after diagnosis I was headed for the crematorium: life was over for me.

“Six Years I have survived from Stage 3 Breast Cancer. I am 27-years-old and know I have a future ahead of me,” she said. “You can do this my friend.”

So I stood up, wiped my face and tears away and said she was right. The fear subsided for the moment and I walked out of the clinic with a whole new perspective on life.

That young woman saved my life. Cancer saved my life as I watched the days drift away with frivolous activities that meant nothing to me or anyone else. Now I look at everything and live every day to the fullest. I pay it forward by working with people who need help.

This is my therapy and I hope you can help someone else in their journey back to health. others in their journey back to health. I would encourage women to make things for newly-diagnosed women because it would really help lift them up during this phase. Thank you and God Bless!

We’d like to take this chance to thank Alexandra, her team and everyone who’s worked on the headscarves through The Pink Pom-Pom Project for donating these gorgeous headscarves to our organization. The patients that have started receiving them as a result of this kind gesture absolutely love them!

Find out more about The Pink Pom-Pom Project:

* Feeling inspired to do something to help patients here too, but don’t know what yet? Or maybe you already have an idea but don’t know how to make it a reality? Get in touch with us and we’ll find a way!

Advertisements

The Un-accidental Accident

Written by Jennifer Kanaan

When I first decided to write this, I thought I would know exactly what I wanted to say, but it turned out, I didn’t. It has taken me a couple of trials to get it out on virtual paper but I kept trying because it is important for me that my message reaches the people who may need it most.

The story I would like to share with you started about two years ago when I had a terrible karting accident in the Netherlands.

Although the accident itself was minor and I was able to walk out of the car, I felt a pain in my ankle. I didn’t want to go to the hospital at first but friends and colleagues insisted to be on the safe side. I entered the ER and did not leave the hospital for the next 10 weeks.

Jennifer before the accident that would change her life.

Jennifer before the accident that would change her life.

The accident had resulted in a ruptured pancreas and a broken ankle. Although I was in indescribable pain, I had no idea (at the time) of the severity of the injuries I had encountered.

As I learned more about the impact of these injuries, I began falling deeper and deeper into an unwillingness to fight for my life.

I was really struggling to accept what was happening to me and kept asking myself: how did I end up here? what did I do to deserve this? This made me very angry – and mostly, at myself! It was so much harder for the doctors and everyone else around me to help me when I felt this way. After all, how could they help me if I was unwilling to help myself?

Accepting and getting over that anger was the first and most important step towards my recovery. The sooner you do that, the sooner you start allowing the treatment (any type of treatment) to work.

After two months of excruciating pain and many repeated medical procedures, I decided to return home (to Lebanon) with the idea that being surrounded by friends and family would help me want to get better. And that slowly worked out.

The next major step in the recovery process was accepting that I had to go through surgery. The type of injury I had was rare and the type of surgery that would help save me was even rarer. The surgery had to be performed by an experienced surgeon and under the most calculated conditions otherwise I could very easily end up with diabetes at the young age of 25.

Being home was helping me heal. I was getting much better than when I had been in the hospital in the Netherlands, to the point where I was told to start preparing for the surgery (mentally and otherwise).

And because I was not mentally-ready for this, I desperately wanted to find a non-surgical solution, which is why I sought out the best gastroenterologist in the country. However, by the time I got to his office, I was screaming of pain. I couldn’t even stand up anymore. After a few exams, we unfortunately discovered that my health status was back at square one. It was as if nothing had changed since I was being treated in the Netherlands. I had to be hospitalized, again.

I did not believe how strongly you could affect your own health until that moment.

For some reason, I did not want to get better and when they told me that I was finally medically ready for surgery, I subconsciously allowed my health to regress in order to simply avoid it.

Nothing happens by accident, not even accidents. They are there for you to learn what you need to from them and move on. They will keep on happening until you do.

I obviously needed to learn another lesson at this stage to be able to move on, and that lesson was that your mind can affect your body in ways you wouldn’t think possible. I generally fear change and believe it or not, I found a certain comfort in being sick and stuck in the hospital. My fear of getting back to a normal life made me realize that I was avoiding getting better because that would mean back to independence and responsibility – and that was scaring me.

The moment I was hospitalized this time, I had to stop eating food in order to allow my pancreas to rest. And this, under my doctor’s orders, was until further notice or until I was ready for surgery. Out of everything I had gone through up until then, that was the hardest thing I had to do. There I was: in pain gain, stuck in the hospital, and to top it off, not even allowed to eat!

At this point, you might be asking yourself: why is this article being posted on a cancer support blog?

Well, because besides the steps towards recovery being similar for anyone going through a traumatizing experience, a few of the experiences I went through actually helped me relate to some of the challenges cancer patients face.

The three months I had to spend without eating and taking nutrition from a bag took their toll on me. Needless to say, I was losing weight dramatically and my hair with it. Slowly, I started cutting my hair shorter and shorter until even the water drainage pipes at home got clogged. Just running my hand through my hair, I would wind up with a huge clump of hair within my fingers.

It was getting exhausting to do any kind of activity and I was starting to see my bones. At this point, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain so I decided to do what I never would have thought of doing: shaving my head.

Jenny03

The photograph Jennifer shared on Facebook after shaving her head.

For the first couple of days, I felt judgment in the eyes of others. Those who didn’t know me (or what I had gone through), thought I had cancer and were staring at me with pity. I would only leave the house to go to the hospital, but even there, people would look at you, making you feel empty of anything except the “disease” you were carrying.

I was feeling it, even though I did not have cancer.

At first, I opted to cover my shaved head until my friends convinced me that I actually looked good like that. To show my revolt against people’s judgement, I took a picture of myself and uploaded it onto Facebook.

The support I received from my friends was really heart-warming. From this point forward, I walked with pride – even along the corridors of the many hospitals I had to visit when I began looking for a surgeon qualified, decent and honest enough to operate on me. I was ready to go through with it.

I ended up getting the surgery done soon-after and I am now in much, much better health – even better than before the accident!

Jennifer boldly embracing her new look.

Jennifer boldly embracing her new look.

A very important part of the story, which I forgot to mention earlier, was what finally motivated me to get better and fight for my life: at the beginning of this experience, I saw the whole accident as a dark period in my life that was not going to get any better. I was convinced that everything in this world was evil and that there was no reason to put any hope in the goodness of mankind.. until I met a doctor who had faith in me and who also put up with my depression and mood changes. He was, and still is, one of the most humane, honest and dedicated persons I have ever met.

That was the moment I regained hope in humanity.

He prepared me for the surgery I was so-dreading, stood by me and walked all the way with me until he was sure I had the best possible surgery outcome.

Now, two years after the accident and one year after surgery, I thank god for making me go through this experience as it has changed me in so many ways and helped me know myself better. I am a much better person because of this and this is the only way you should see any negative experiences in your life.

Celebrating one year since surgery - she did it!

Celebrating one year since the surgery – she did it!

For someone who had no idea what she wanted to write, I think I have said enough and hope these messages stay with you. Let go of anger and fear, accept the pain as it is the only way for you to release it and, most importantly, forgive yourself because this is the only way to heal – both mentally and physically.

Jennifer now works as a Social Media Specialist in Beirut and blogs regularly about Nutrition and Holistic Health on New Trends in Nutrition. Follow her on Facebook too.

Lara’s Story

We had a chance to meet Lara Safar at the Bras for a Cause ME  fashion show in Dubai where she openly shared her inspirational story of overcoming the disease to all our guests, starting with the following simple yet very powerful introduction:

Two years ago, this is probably how I would have introduced myself: “Hi everyone, my name is Lara. I’m Lebanese. I’m 25-years-old and I work in advertising”. Today I say: “Hi everyone, my name is Lara. I’m a twenty-seven year-old breast cancer survivor.”

“Twenty-seven-year-old” and “survivor” in one sentence is not something you hear every day, but Lara has actively proven (and continues to do so) the importance of early detection – no matter how old you are. We took a few minutes to get to know this fascinating young woman a little bit better to spread her important message to all women across the Middle East:

1. How did you find out that you had breast cancer? 

I sensed a lump in one of my breasts but kind of ignored it at the beginning as I didn’t think it was anything abnormal. One day I could sense it, the next day I couldn’t. I thought it was in my head and that I was being paranoid until one day at the beach when a friend of mine felt it and encouraged me to get a doctor’s appointment (which I did). After that, I did some tests, including an ecography and a mammography before the doctor announced the news to me.

2. What was your first thought upon hearing the diagnosis and what was treatment like? 

I was shocked when I first found out because I was not expecting it. Given that I was only 25 years old at the time and that I didn’t have any family history, it came as a surprise for me.

My first reaction was that this is not possible; I didn’t believe it.

I thought the doctor was wrong until I did more tests and got checked by other doctors who also confirmed that I had attained stage 2 breast cancer.

The treatment varies case by case. Given my age and the stage of my cancer, I had to undergo chemotherapy for almost 1 year and 3 months. It was 1 session every 3 weeks. I also did a surgery whereby the tumor was removed from my breast, followed by daily radiotherapy treatment for almost 5 weeks.

3. Is breast cancer genetic in your family? If not, how were doctors able to explain why you were diagnosed with it at such a young age?  

No one from my family had been attained by breast cancer and it’s still a question mark as to how I was diagnosed with it at such a young age. No science so far has been able to determine the reasons behind breast cancer in general. It is said that the probability of breast cancer increases with age and if there’s a family history, but people tend to think that they can only be attained by it for those reasons – which is a total misconception. My case is the proof of that. It’s very important that people correct their conception with regards to this matter.

Stages of Recovery: Before, During and After (left-to-right) Photos courtesy of Lara

4. What helped you recover during and after treatment? 

Of course, what helped me was the support of my family, in spite of this being very hard on them. They never showed me that they were in pain and always kept a hopeful attitude with a smile on their faces. My friends were also always there for me and I was constantly surrounded by the people I love. Most and foremost, having an optimistic spirit was the key to surviving this episode.

5. Were you able to meet other survivors your age and how important is the support of others who’ve gone through the same thing? 

I haven’t met many people who were attained by breast cancer at quite the young age like I have – only 1 as a matter of fact and I met her at the hospital. She had discovered it after I had already started my treatment so my case was more advanced than hers at the time we met. She was still at the beginning of her treatment so I found myself helping her by telling her what to expect and the different stages she’d have to go through.

6. Did you wear a wig during treatment, and if so, why did you chose to do so? If not, what helped you to make such a bold decision? 

Before I started chemotherapy I had very long hair, which I loved. As soon as my hair started to fall, I went to a hair salon specialized in making wigs from your own hair. They cut my hair and used it to make the wig, but I never wore it. I felt as if I would be lying to myself as well as to others. It wasn’t right and it didn’t look nice or natural to me. So instead I resorted to wearing scarves which felt much more comfortable. I started matching them with my outfits and would constantly received compliments on them.

Given that I never wore my wig, my friends and family helped themselves to it instead. It was very funny seeing them in a new hairstyle – especially the boys!

Lara’s fabulous scarf style during treatment. Photos courtesy of Lara

7. How has breast cancer changed your outlook on life? 

Many people say that after rough experiences, their perception of life changes. To be very honest with you, that has not been the case with me. Like I mentioned at the Bras for a Cause event, I’m still the same person. I still like the same things and still have the same friends. Nothing has changed really except that maybe now I try to do more of the things I like to do (like eating out, traveling, etc…) and avoid doing the things that I don’t like doing (like exercising!). But that’s not because I think that life is too short; far from that! Rather it’s because I now feel that there’s no point in doing things that don’t matter to you.

8. What tips or advice would you like to give for other Middle Eastern breast cancer patients about to undergo the same thing? 

That there is no point in being sad or asking questions like “why me?” as this will not make the cancer go away. My advice would be to look at the bright side and look at all the good things that will come out of this experience as they’re countless.

Another important thing to bear in mind is to find the best doctors as they will give you the confidence you need and will provide you with the best treatment possible to increase your chances of surviving.

Lastly, dont spend too much time on the internet looking for answers. Most of the times they’re exaggerated and incorrect. Ask questions to the right people (i.e. doctors).

9. You’ve been very open about your experience, which isn’t very common in the region. What boosted you to do so and how has the public responded to your story? Do you find talking about your experience difficult? 

When I survived, I took a pledge to start raising awareness about early detection because I want other women to be able to survive this like I did – and early detection is key for that. More so, I believe there is no shame in being  a cancer survivor. On the contrary; after this experience, people have so much more admiration, respect and love towards me. So why to not talk about it, especially when it can help others and make a difference?

Lara sharing her story at the Bras for a Cause fashion show in Dubai (October 2011)

The public has been quite responsive to my story. I’ve done a lot of media interviews and have spoken at a couple of events. Following those experiences, I now get stopped by random people who applaud my courage and thank me for opening their eyes by sharing my story. I really hope that my message has resonated with others and that women will do regular check-ups religiously!

10. What did you think of the Bras for a Cause fashion show event [that you were also a guest speaker at]? What kind of campaigns would you like to see more of in the region? 

This is a brilliant event because although the core of it is breast cancer awareness, it was surrounded by other fun activities which encouraged people to attend and take part. If the event had been more focussed towards the cause and the medical side of it, then it probably wouldn’t have captured as much attention.

I really hope that more campaigns will take place in the region, and not just in October (breast cancer awareness month) but rather all year long.

Safe & Sound‘s activities, such as their walk-a-thon, annual survivor fashion show, book sale, and, most importantly, the 5,000 free mammography vouchers they give away to women who can’t afford to get checked are also good examples.

Lara celebrates reaching the “Finish Line” at the end of her treatment. Photo courtesy of Lara

Thank you Lara for taking the time to share your story with us. You’re a true inspiration and we applaud your commitment to spreading your message of breast cancer awareness. We wish you the best of luck in all you do!

UPDATE: Read the follow-up interview with Lara we conducted two years after this post here.

تسعة أشهر للتعافي

ما بين أول وثاني شعر مستعار ارتديته، هناك قصة غير مروية عن واحد آخر. إنه الشعر المستعار الذي يشكل حلقة مفقودة في قصتي ولكنني لم أتذكر ذلك إلا مؤخراً. لا بد من أنني أتقدم في العمر!

وكانت الحلقة المفقودة، أو الشعر المستعار كما أحب أن أسميها، الثانية التي أرتديها. إن انتقاله من إمرأة إلى أخرى يخلق رابطاً بينهن. تشير إلى أول امرأة في هذا المشروع، صاحبة واجهة عرض الشعر المستعار، كمصدر إلهام لها، والتي أجابتها على هذه الكلمات بالضبط كالأتي:

“فكري في علاجك كمرحلة الحمل. إنها تسعة أشهر صعبة ومن ثم ينتهي كل العناء. الفرق الوحيد هو أنك بعد الحمل تحصلين على شيء جميل، ولكن العلاج الخاص بك، يساعدك على التخلص من أمر سيئ”.

وكان من المطمئن بالنسبة لها أن ترى صديقتها، التي واجهت الحالة عينها قبلها، بصحة سليمة مع كامل شعرها الذي ينمو بعد انتهاء العلاج. تعلقت بهذه الكلمات طوال مدة علاجها.

كانت هي أيضاً شابة على غرار السيدة الثالثة التي أخبرتكم عنها. خضعت في الـ35 من العمر لأول فحص شعاعي للثدي بموجب اقتراح من طبيبها. لا أحد كان يتوقع أن تكشف النتائج عن وجود السرطان في صدرها. وبعد 9 أشهر، تم علاجها تماماً كما قيل لها.
أشد ما أعجبني فيها هو أنها لم تدع السرطان يخفف من عزيمتها. لم تتغيب خلال العام الدراسي بأكمله (انها معلمة للغة العربية في مدرسة ثانوية)، سوى يومين فقط. إنه لأمر مدهش حقاً. وما جعله أكثر إدهاشاً أن انفتاحها بشأن ما كانت تمر به دفع جميع النساء في المدرسة للخضوع لفحص للثدي الشعاعي. واستطاعت امرأة على الكشف عن إصابتها بالسرطان وبدأت علاجاً مبكراً نتيجة لذلك.

إنها منفتحة جداً بخصوص تجربتها، خاصة بعد أن شهدت التأثير الإيجابي الذي أثارته لدى نساء أخريات حولها. ومنذ ذلك الحين، عاشت ثلاث نساء في المدرسة من الحالة نفسها، بالإضافة إلى أستاذ تم تشخيصه بسرطان البروستات. وتجدر الإشارة إلى أنهم يشيرون بشكل غير رسمي عن بعضهم البعض باسم “نادي السرطان” — ناد للناجين يدعمون من خلاله بعضهم البعض عن طريق الخبرات المشتركة.

تشارك بعض النصائح مع نساء أخريات اللواتي على وشك الخضوع لعلاج سرطان الثدي. نأمل أن تساهم كلماتها في تذكيرهن بأنهن لسن وحيدات وتحثهن على الاستمرار في الصمود:

1 – كل الأمور لها بدايتها ونهايتها. فكري في الأمر كأنه مرحلة الحمل كما فعلت أنا. سوف تعيشين الألم لبضعة أشهر، ولكن بعد ذلك كل شيء سيعود إلى طبيعته.
2 – حافظي على الإحساس بالحياة الطبيعية. لم أكن أريد لأطفالي أن يشعروا بان حياتهم تتغير لأنني كنت مريضة، لذلك لم أتوقف عن إيصالهم إلى أنشطتهم والذهاب إلى العمل.
3 – لا تدعي آراء أخرى تؤثر عليك. فالناس لا يزالون يعانون من نقص في المعرفة حول مرض السرطان. السرطان لا يعني الموت! تبلغ نسبتة معدل النجاة 90 في المئة، خاصة إذا لم ينتشر السرطان في الجسم.
4 – يجب أن تبقي معنوياتك مرتفعة. وإذا كان إيمانك قوياً فستننتصرين عليه.
5 – ثقي دائماً بحدسك. فإذا شعرت بأن هناك خطب ما وطبيبك يقول بأنه ليس بالأمر الخطير، إستشيري شخصاُ آخراً.
6 –إيمانك سيقويك. شعرت بأن علاقتي بالله تتعمق وبأنه كان يمسك يدي أثناء العلاج.

وبعد نجاتك بصحة وتوهج، الشيء الوحيد الذي يبقى هو الشعور بالقلق. للأسف لا بد لهذه التجربة أن تترك بصمته. وقالت: “القلق لا يختفي. هذا الشعور موجود دائماً. ستقلقين من أن شيئا سيئاً قد يحدث وأنك قد تصابين مجدداً”.

نحن نأمل بالتأكيد ألا يحدث ذلك، ونرفع صلاتنا لتبقى سليمة. أنا متأكدة من أنها كانت، وستبقى، مصدر إلهام لغيرها من النساء من حولها.

[tweetmeme source=”@OneWigStand” only_single=false]

Only in Her Thirties

I’d never been to a chemotherapy session before today. American movies make chemotherapy treatment look like a visit to the spa – comfortable chairs, plenty of magazines, attentive nurses and other women to talk to.

Not here. The hospital I was at has no special section for cancer patients. They’re assigned a solemn room just like any other patient. Taboo and privacy restricts the development of support groups among the women enduring treatment.

Lady number three had the company of her mother – a strong Italian woman who couldn’t look at her 38-year-old daughter’s face as she took off her wig for the photo.

The cancer was not genetic (similar to the other women who participated in this project). She has two beautiful daughters who are too young to comprehend what their mother is going through, but bright enough to notice the signs of something wrong. Rather than keep them in the dark, lady number three sat with her 5-year-old (the older one) and explained why mom was sick and losing her hair. “Cancer” is too scary a word to tell a child, but it is important to be open with children when something like this happens.

**Our wig stand will be spending the next few weeks by her side. Chemotherapy treatment for lady number three ends May 31, 2010 and we wish her a successful, healthy recovery.


[tweetmeme source=”@OneWigStand” only_single=false]