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Saudi breast cancer survivor: A story of hope and faith

Saudi breast cancer fighter and survivor Reham Afandi is a 33-year-old mother of two children, and a Zumba coach, based in Jeddah. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
JEDDAH: A woman’s power lies in her hope, love, faith and gratitude for life. Women are always stronger than their tears and skin. But when it comes to facing cancer, a woman can choose to be a real fighter or a weak soldier in life.
Rubaiyat participated in Breast Cancer Awareness Month by hosting “Pink Week” in Jeddah from October 3-7.
Pink Week is five days of pink-themed activities that included motivational speakers. In collaboration with Zahra Association, Rubaiyat department store offered a quiz on breast cancer.
On October 5, the third day of the organized activities Rubaiyat hosted a Saudi breast cancer fighter and survivor Reham Afandi, who gave a motivational speech and told her story to the audience. She brightened the stage with her nonstop smiling face.
Reham Afandi is a 33-year-old mother of two children, and a Zumba coach, based in Jeddah, who was one day a normal healthy mom, and then: “I was sleeping and all of a sudden I felt a solid ball in my breast. It was unusual, I started to worry after I asked my husband to check if he thought it felt odd as well,” Afandi said.
Afandi went to the doctor, and “after I had the test, I had to wait for the result— one week of nightmares. The day I learned that I was a breast cancer victim was a shock. I am still so young, I didn’t want to die— my kids! I can’t leave them like this and go. What about my work and husband?”
Afandi was strong, so she dealt with the disease as a challenge where she decided she could either be a loser or a winner.
Hope and patience
“When I started to receive my chemotherapy, I started to feel the pain running in my veins; I was so worried about losing my hair,” Afandi said.
Dealing with such a serious issue intelligently and bravely is one way to get over it, and this is what Reham did.
“I used to have very long and healthy hair; I went to the salon to choose a nice short style that I could wear during my normal days, but I was not courageous enough to cut my hair.”
Reham cleverly convinced her kids that she had a kind of virus called breast cancer that would make her look “ugly for a while.”
The laughs of her kids made it much easier to accept the hair loss. “When my hair started to fall out, I could not bear it. I decided to shave it all off, and with the help of my husband, we choose to make it a joke among ourselves in order for the kids to accept the matter.”
“Sitting alone in a small room for more than six hours, receiving the painful treatment was the hardest part,” but Afandi stressed that “the room was never empty” because of the moral support she received from her family and friends.
“After my first breast was removed, for the sake of healing, I changed.”
Afandi became more ambitious to live with new goals and love for those who showed how much they cared for her.
“After the doctor told me that I was healing, I felt the power of hope and I realized the meaning and blessing of being a normal healthy person.”
After her inspiring speech, Afandi bravely answered the audience’s questions. Her story was so touching and her struggle was real because she wanted to continue living with hope and keep up the spirit of believing in the goodness of life.
After listening to reactions from the audience regarding Reham’s story, a writer at Al-Hayat newspaper, Bascal Abu Abdulla, told Arab News: “Seeing Reham shining on stage with a smile, you realize that among the audience there were women in full health who can’t even draw a smile on their faces. This tells us that cancer is not only a physical disease but also a psychological one. So, if you have faith and hope just like Reham, you deserve applause.”
Afandi told Arab News: “The power of healing lies in hope and positivity.”

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