Doaa Abouelseoud, 31, was told had stage three breast cancer and Hodgkin Lymphoma in June 2016.
A flight attendant who faced a battle to survive after she was diagnosed with two different cancers in the space of 10 days has spoken of her relief after being given he all clear. After suffering several rounds of gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she was told by doctors that she had beaten both cancers.
Doaa, from Cairo, Egypt, admits she struggled to cope with her diagnoses, becoming depressed and had lost hope that she would overcome the illnesses.
However Doaa then realised she needed to change her attitude and said feeling grateful for all she had and thinking positively helped her to stay alive. Her mantra became ‘every day is another chance’.
Doaa Abouelseoud was told she had a benign breast lump and had surgery.
She had another operation within a week and was told she had a second, rare type of cancer.
She said: ‘I feel so free and I feel like myself more than ever; it’s like I’m unleashed from all my fears and I’m just happy to be here now and enjoying life.
‘The hardest part was to survive and carry on. My advice would be to enjoy today because this is all what we have.’
Hodgkin lymphoma is an uncommon cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, which is a network of vessels and glands spread throughout your body.
Around 1,900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in the UK each year. It can develop at any age, but it mostly affects young adults in their early 20s and older adults over the age of 70.
Most women diagnosed with breast cancer, the most common type of cancer in the UK, are over 50.
SIGNS OF BREAST CANCER
Most breast lumps aren’t cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked by your doctor.
You should also see your GP if you notice any of the following:
- A change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- Discharge from either of your nipples, which may be streaked with blood
- A lump or swelling in either of your armpits
- Dimpling on the skin of your breasts
- A rash on or around your nipple
- A change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast
SIGNS OF HODGKIN LYMPHOMA
The most common symptom of Hodgkin lymphoma is a swelling in the neck, armpit or groin. The swelling is usually painless, although some people find that it aches.
However, it’s highly unlikely that you have Hodgkin lymphoma if you have swollen lymph nodes, as these glands often swell as a response to infection.
Other symptoms include:
- Night sweats
- Unintentional weight loss
- A high temperature (fever)
- A persistent cough or feeling of breathlessness
- Persistent itching of the skin all over the body
Doaa first realised something was wrong when she lost almost two stone (12 kg) over the space of three months.
‘I went to the doctors for a random check-up, when I found out that I had a mass (a small one) and the doctor said I shouldn’t be worried as many girls have this especially in their thirties,’ she said.
‘I had to have surgery to remove it; I was very concerned, especially since I have a family history of cancer. Once the surgery was over I thought that was it and I will be able to work and continue with my normal routine.
Doaa suffered several rounds of gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
She now says the ordeal has given her a completely new positive outlook on life.
‘It was very difficult living with my stitches on my left breast with so many restrictions, as I never really get ill and it’s rare for me to even get the flu.’
But 10 days later, the oncologist called Doaa and told her the lump was not benign, but was a third stage breast cancer and that she would need another operation.
‘The stitches didn’t heal yet and it had to be opened again. Within just a week I had to undergo another surgery, then after the second time I had bad news again – they found another cancer; Hodgkin lymphoma.
‘So, I got diagnosed in ten days with two different types of cancer. And all of this a year before I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer.’
Doaa says going through chemotherapy was ‘the best and worst thing’ that’s happened to her.
‘It was painful, it was aggressive, I lost my appetite for food, which made me lose 12kgs, my skin became dehydrated, my social life also was effected,’ Doaa said.
‘The best part about it was that I appreciated things that I took for granted, such as tasting the flavours of food; I lost that sense during the treatment.’
The 31-year-old admits she struggled to cope with her diagnoses, becoming depressed and had lost hope that she would overcome the illnesses
Now she is speaking out about her gratitude for being alive and she says that ‘every day is another chance’
She said that she now looks on the bright side of life.
‘I couldn’t think of anything after I got diagnosed as I was in shock. I had many questions in my head, I got depressed for two weeks until I realised that I shouldn’t be sad or depressed.
‘I am still alive, and every day is another chance; also, science and technology had improved a lot and my oncologist and chemotherapy doctors were very reassuring.
‘I found out that I was so lucky to have been diagnosed and have had the surgeries done, since some other people can’t afford it or they don’t even know that they have cancer.
‘My best friend Fatima has been the biggest supporter during the worst times and she was always there; she’d have done anything to stay next to me and never made me feel that I was ill or tired or too heavy.
Doaa with her best friend Fatima who she says was always there for her during her diagnosis and treatment
Doaa has overhauled her lifestyle and stopped drinking and smoking and eats healthier.
She says she has removed all the negativity from her thoughts and avoids negative people
‘The process has changed everything; from my appearance to my diet, I don’t think that I have complained about life and I have become more positive and optimistic; I’ve lost all of my fears.
‘During the recovery process I had to stop drinking and smoking, then I started a new diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
‘I also started to exercise more and go for a walk by the beach, but most of all I removed all the negativity from my mind and my heart which helped me a lot to recover. I also stayed away from negative people.’