The butterfly: “I’m surrounded with people who love and support me in my fight against cancer”

Photo credit: Abeer Qashlan

Rania* describes the many difficulties she has faced as a breast cancer patient in Gaza and how the women’s health centre in Al Bureij refugee camp, which is run by MAP’s partner, the Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA), has supported her through this difficult journey.

I call myself the butterfly as my life has been coloured with hope and joy.

I am 37-years old; I live with my husband, four sons and one daughter. We live in the north of Gaza City in Jabaliya town. My husband works as a Blacksmith, and we depend on aid assistance.

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went to the Augusta Victoria hospital in Jerusalem, where I received chemotherapy treatment. I later had a mastectomy and received a prosthesis from CFTA. I was disappointed and felt extremely vulnerable. Then, I heard about the services provided by CFTA, so I went to the centre in 2016 desperate and with no hope. I had sad and painful thoughts: Am I going to die? Who will take care of my children? Will I be sick forever; will my husband remarry and abandon me?

I had many distressful days due to our harsh economic situation. Everyone around me was looking at me with sympathy, and wondering whether my husband would remarry, or I would die?

When I joined the centre, I participated in different activities. First, I received psychosocial support through group therapy and individual sessions. I came with no hope, but after receiving these services I became stronger and felt ready to face the negative attitudes of the community. The social worker supported me in my roughest days; her continuous support made a real difference. Her support made me a stronger and more aware, I now feel I can face any challenge or obstacle in my life.

I have received proper health care and medicine throughout my treatment, including since the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

The social worker regularly talks with me, and informed me about the free hotline, which helps to mitigate the stress I feel during those hard days. She gives me all the support I need to solve my problems. This continuous support makes me feel that I am important,  and I am not alone; I am surrounded by people who love and support me to face this disease.

My advice to all women is to take care of yourself like you are the centre of life!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart; stay safe.  

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*Name changed to protect identity

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