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It takes a fighter

Manama, Sept. 6 (BNA):  Life’s humps and bumps should not stop people with cancer from living their dreams with passion and going forward with their ambitions and aspirations.
 
Dayana Al Shaikh understood this naturally when she had to brave her first cancer.
"When I knew I had cancer, I made my choice. I was not going to let it beat me and reduce my life to a series of dramas. I was not going to hate my body because of cancer. I was not willing to compromise my way of living," she wrote in her book "The Three Medals."
 
"My character as a fighter and as a practical person told me that I should move forward with my life. There will be some changes, of course, but I had the mental, physical and moral readiness to go on."
The three medals in the book title refer to the three cancers she had to brave.
 
Today, she still refuses to define her life around cancer.
Her first major concern when she heard the news from her doctor was that the medical treatment would deprive her children of her compassionate care and genuine interest in their well-being.

"I did not want them to be affected in any way, to lose their focus and to get distracted. I decided to address this concern first. It is never easy to communicate with young minds and hearts about diseases, any diseases, let alone cancer. However, I wanted to do it.

I did not want them to learn about it from other people. I did not want them to become entangled in silent questions and intricate speculations. It was their right to be treated with regard and to have their sentiments respected."

In her book, Dayana narrates how she shared with them her sentiments and spoke about the way forward for the closely-knit family.
"I told them about my plans and the steps I would be taking. It was a frank and honest conversation and we all benefitted from it. Despite their young age, they were able to appreciate the various aspects of the situation. To their eternal credit and my immense fortune, they have been wonderfully supportive ever since."
 
The book, authored by Kuwaiti writer Eman Almousawi, is filled with situations of intense emotions and delicate sensitivities that Dayana lived as she engaged in the battle against cancer.

The idea of the book came to her as she felt the need to highlight the significance of support and the role of faith in dealing with cancer.

“I wanted to share with everyone that faith and personal strength were needed to fight and beat cancer,” Dayana said. “This was based on my own journey that I narrated in the book. In it, I shared the different stages I went through, the various moods I lived and the diverse situations I had to face following the diagnoses.”

She refused to allow herself to sink into depression and lapse into self-pity and thought that the best way to deal with cancer was to fight it and not to let it beat her, recalling that her first reaction to the doctor was she heard the diagnosis.

“The doctor was still looking for the softest way to break the terrible news. I smiled calmly and said: ‘It is clear that I have cancer.’ The doctor acquiesced. ‘Well, what is the cure plan? When do we begin?’ I asked,” Dayana said recalling the news.

To her, there was no time for passiveness, well aware that the time factor was often crucial, vital in such cases. 

“When I knew I had cancer, I made my choice. I was not going to let it beat me and reduce my life to a series of dramas. I was not going to hate my body because of cancer. I was not willing to compromise my way of living,” she said in her book.

“My character as a fighter and as a practical person told me that I should move forward with my life. There will be some changes, of course, but I had the mental, physical and moral readiness to go on. I did what I could do best: Deal with situations and not run away from them. I faced cancer and made sure that it would not defeat me or even frighten me.”

She insisted that her profound faith in God was the secret for her to accept her fate. “Devotion to God made me see cancer as an easily curable wound. I did not allow it to gain any redoubtable proportions in my mind or terrifying perception in my eyes. God willed it to be, so there must be a reason that I might not have understood. But I accepted it,” she said. 

“Despite the excruciating pains that were slicing their way to my bones, I was fully confident that the agonising moments were taking me closer to God. As my body was subject to unbearable suffering, my faith was taking me on a marvelous spiritual journey, feeling God’s compassion and mercy, enjoying His protection, relishing in His shelter. The more uncomfortable the pain was, the deeper my faith became, and the greater my strength grew.”
Dayana’s approach could be felt in the way she has been conducting her life since she was told about the cancer diagnosis.

“A strong sense of hopefulness overwhelmed me when I heard Dayana’s story. Her positively optimistic, faith-based and strength-driven approach can touch many lives, both young and old, as it did when she used her artistic skills to raise funds for young cancer patients. I do applaud her engagement in social activities to raise funds and boost inspiring messages based on courage and hope,” said Hassan, one of the dozens of guests who attended the book dedication ceremony.
Eman, who flew in from Kuwait especially for the event, said she was elated, humbled and inspired by Dayana’s story, which prompted her to author the book.
“I had the opportunity to spend great times with Dayana in Bahrain and to know about her character, fight and determination,” she said.
 
“I have always been fond of writing, and I thought that writing about her valiant journey was a momentous and passionate endeavour.”
The proceedings of the book were donated to the Child's Wish Society, a Bahraini charity that grants wishes to children suffering from illnesses.

F.K.N.