Name: Nadia Metwalli
Marital status: Widowed
Profession: Retired teacher
Nadia Mitwalli’s cancer journey began eight years ago in 2011 – the same year Friends Of Cancer Patients launched the inaugural edition of the pan-UAE breast cancer awareness campaign, the Pink Caravan Ride (PCR). Unfortunately, Nadia had already lost her husband to breast cancer, and knew something was wrong when she felt a lump in the breast. A friend, who knew about the free screenings and medical examinations being offered by PCR, recommended that she consulted their medical experts at once.
Upon being suspicious about the presence of a tumor, PCR’s medical team referred her to a mammogram test. After the presence of a tumor was confirmed by the mammogram and a following biopsy proved it was malignant, Nadia underwent immediate surgery and a 23-day chemotherapy cycle. Her treatment costs were supported by PCR, as well the emotional and psychological requirements of cancer treatment – including her family’s – have been offered by the campaign’s comprehensive support programmes.
As of today, Nadia has fully overcome her disease and been declared cancer free.
1) Can you tell me a little about your background Nadia? Children, employment, marital status and where you live now?
My name is Nadia Metwalli, I’m 63-years-old retired Egyptian teacher from Egypt
I have 3 children, the oldest is Riham, 38, a medical laboratory specialist, Randa is 35, works as a secretary and my youngest is Ahmad, 32, and works at a call center.
2) It was mentioned that your husband already suffered from breast cancer. Can you talk about that experience? How much of a shock was that and how did it impact your life? What was your husband’s name and occupation? When did this happen?
My late husband Mohammed Mahmoud, was a PR manager, in 1999, he experienced some health issues and was diagnosed with breast cancer. This news came as a shock to me and my children, as we had no family history with cancer in both his and my family. I was devastated and in constant crying mode. The doctors have told us that breast cancer in men is typically aggressive, and there needs to be immediate mastectomy and treatment. Throughout 3 whole years, our family was living in bleak conditions due to the fact that my husband was the sole breadwinner for our family, and we had to stay afloat during his treatment.
My husband passed away 3 years later, and our lives have changed since then. I had to work in order to raise my children and provide them with a decent living conditions while they are growing up.
3) How did you become aware of the Pink Caravan Ride and what made you decide to get checked?
In 2011, I felt a lump in my breast, and through a friend of mine, I was informed about the Pink Caravan, which was in its inaugural edition launched by Friends of Cancer Patients.
The Pink Caravan medical team referred me to a mammogram test. After the presence of a tumor was confirmed by the mammogram and a following biopsy proved it was malignant, I underwent immediate surgery and a 23-day chemotherapy cycle.
4) Can you describe what you felt when you were diagnosed with breast cancer? How did you feel? How did your friends and family react?
I was like a rock. Unlike the time when my late husband was diagnosed. I knew I must fight this through and come out whole because I had children to raise and a family to support. My family were shocked and saddened, my eldest flew out from Egypt and stayed with me for the duration of my treatment.
My friends and work were very supportive, the school where I used to work accommodated me during my treatment and when I returned back to work and continued my treatment.
5) Living with breast cancer must have been an unimaginable ordeal. How long did the treatment take and how much did it cost? How did it impact your life?
The financial cost was way above my means, and the Friends of Cancer patients covered my treatment costs, as well the emotional and psychological support to me and my family. I never would have imagined that such a campaign and an organization would go above and beyond to support cancer patients like this. I can’t thank them enough for all the help and support they provided me over the years and during my treatment.
I began treatment in 2012, it was intensive over a period of 6 months where I underwent surgery, chemo and radio therapy. My treatment continued until 2018 when I stopped taking hormones. Now I do check-up on a yearly basis.
Throughout my ordeal, I stayed strong, although the physical toll is big, I had to keep a positive outlook for myself and my family and those close to me.
6) Now you have fully overcome the disease how does it feel? How is your life different now you have gone through all that – both personally and with your husband?
I feel fine, although I’m suffering from diabetes and blood pressure, I appreciate every day and try to achieve as much as possible. During my husband’s cancer journey, I was scared and in constant mode of thinking about him, our family, how can we survive this ordeal, how can we manage financially and afford raising our young children.
7) What advice would you give to people about checking for breast cancer?
Cancer is treatable, especially if detected early. It does not matter what gender you are or how old you are. Everyone needs to get tested today. And if someone has cancer, treatment is available and accessible. It is not that dangerous any more, it is treatable. Men and women should get screened regularly to stay healthy and stop cancer in its tracks at an early stage if detected early.