Cancer survivors inspire hope, unity at hospital event in Abu Dhabi

Posted on 27-06-2023

Marking cancer survivors month, event served as platform to celebrate extraordinary journeys of survivors, who shared their inspiring stories, offering hope

A private hospital in Abu Dhabi hosted more than 150 cancer survivors, including those in their 80s to teenagers, during an event honouring their strength and resilience.

Marking cancer survivors month, the event hosted by Abu Dhabi’s NMC Specialty Hospital served as a platform to celebrate the extraordinary journeys of survivors, who shared their inspiring stories, and offered a beacon of hope to those currently battling the big C.

Joan Tria, a 40-year-old Filipina, narrated how she fought a “notorious” soft tissue sarcoma to become disease-free and lead a normal life.

It was in early 2018 that she noticed a painless swelling in her left thigh. Clinical examination showed a large mass of 15cm by 10 cm in the upper part of the thigh. A biopsy confirmed liposarcoma – a rare type of cancer developing on fatty tissue. This type of tumour can spread to other parts of the body. Fortunately, in Joan’s case, it was confined to her left thigh. She underwent treatment at NMC Specialty Hospital under Dr Balaji Balasubramanian, consultant surgical oncologist. A surgery was performed to remove her tumour. Additionally, radiation and chemotherapy were done to avoid a recurrence. By the end of the year, Joan finished treatment and boldly overcame side-effects. After a follow-up for the next five years, she is free of cancer and inspiring others to fight the disease.

“Being a cancer survivor has taught me the importance of resilience and the value of a supportive community. The expertise of Dr Balaji and the entire surgical oncology team at the hospital played a pivotal role in my recovery. Today, I stand here stronger than ever, grateful for the opportunity to celebrate life alongside fellow survivors,” Joan said.

Another story of triumph was shared by Amy John, a breast cancer survivor. In June 2019, she detected a lump in the right side of breast. A biopsy confirmed stage 2 breast cancer. After an initial shock, the 38-year-old Indian woman started her treatment for a triple negative breast cancer – a rare and aggressive type where tumour grows faster. Her chemotherapy sessions were effective. In January 2020, she had a mastectomy and sentinel node biopsy, which were followed by radiation. She became free of disease and is on regular follow-up now.

“As a cancer survivor, I am a testament to the power of medical treatment. The care and support I received from the medical team at NMC Specialty Hospital gave me the strength to endure the toughest times. Let us embrace hope and encourage others battling cancer, assuring them that they are not alone in their journey.”

During the event, patients from diverse countries and age groups were recognised. The oldest survivor is 88 years old and the youngest 14 years old. Patients who had been in follow-up for more than a decade received special recognition. The event highlighted the exceptional courage of individuals who battled and triumphed over cancer while pregnant, honouring both the patients and their families, including their children.

The hospital aimed to create awareness about the disease and assure patients that cancer is curable.

Dr Cherian Thampy, consultant medical oncologist, said: “Cancer is not an insurmountable obstacle. With advancements in medical treatment and the resilience of our patients, we have witnessed countless success stories. Together, we can conquer cancer and restore hope.”

Dr Balaji added: “We believe in a comprehensive approach to cancer care. Through surgical interventions, we strive to remove the disease and give our patients a chance at a healthy future. We celebrate the triumphs of our survivors and reaffirm our commitment to fight cancer with all our expertise and compassion.”

The event united more than 150 cancer survivors and their relatives, along with medical professionals and support organisations, fostering a sense of community and togetherness. Participants connected with fellow survivors, gathered insights from healthcare providers, and engaged in educational sessions covering topics such as cancer prevention, latest treatment advancements, and effective coping strategies.