Breast Cancer Awareness Month: “I’m proud to be a survivor at the Dunya Centre”

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is celebrating the outstanding work of our partner the Dunya Women Cancer Centre, the only clinic in the West Bank to specialise in gynaecological and breast cancer care.

Based in Ramallah, the centre provides specialised cancer diagnostic services including mammography, ultrasound and biopsy, as well as holistic services for women both during and post treatment, including psychological counselling and physiotherapy. Dunya’s team also works in the community to improve public understanding of the disease and encourage early diagnosis and self-checking. The clinic, run by women, for women, is incredibly busy and serves around 1,900 women each year.

MAP recently met with women from Dunya’s breast cancer survivors’ group, to learn more about the centre’s psychosocial support and the difference it is making to women’s lives. The survivor’s groups meet once or twice a month and provide an important opportunity for patients and survivors’ voices to be heard, as they come together to share their thoughts, concerns and experiences.

Aida, a breast patient from Abu Dis, described the compassion and understanding she receives in the survivors’ group: “Sometimes you have energy and you want to talk to people but not just anyone, people who listen to you and can understand you. All of us breast cancer patients face problems with family and the society; people are always feeling sorry for us and telling us about people that died of cancer instead of supporting us and giving us hope.”

Leen, a breast cancer survivor from Beit Rima, Northwest Ramallah, stressed the importance of psychosocial support: “Attending the chemotherapy sessions was the most difficult period of my life. I was vomiting all the time and was extremely tired. My journey to Jerusalem and crossing the checkpoints was more tiring than the radiotherapy sessions themselves. Mental health is very important while sick, Marah the social worker helped us a lot. We learn from each other and share our experiences, which is a great idea. I consider Dunya to be my second home, it is more than excellent. We go home after a session with positive energy and we transfer this energy to our houses. We see Marah as a sister and not a therapist.”

Social worker Marah facilitates both individual and group counselling at Dunya. She explained the importance of the survivors’ group: “These group sessions help the women become more positive in their thinking which in turn affects their lives positively. Those who are less resilient learn from the ones who are more resilient, and over time you notice that they all become more resilient together. I always feel happy when I see how happy the women are after a group support session”. 

Dunya is sharing its experience and knowledge of working with breast cancer survivors with other local organisations so they too can provide similar support.

Safieh, a breast cancer survivor, emphasised the difference the survivors’ group has made to her life: “I am proud to say that I am a survivor at the Dunya centre, I am proud that we have such a centre in Palestine. When you are talking to the social worker you feel like you are in front of the mirror talking to yourself, you are sure that everything that you tell her will be confidential. Before joining the survivors’ group, I was very shy to talk to people about my disease, but now I share my story with everyone, I talk on the radio and the TV because I want other women to hear my story and not to be scared of breast cancer. We Palestinian women shouldn’t be scared because we are patient and resilient in everything in our lives.”

If you would like to support MAP's vital breast cancer care work, please consider making a donation today:

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