As the cancer epidemic continues to rise, we continue witnessing all kinds of motivational stories. We’ve seen and heard many stories revolving around positivity, societal support and ease. However, we rarely hear the stories of female cancer patients who have faced societal problems and obstacles before being able to rise as great inspirations for others. Sometimes these obstacles and these struggles become what feed the fuelling fire of inspiration found at the end of the experience. Such is the case of cancer survivor Yasmin Yousri.
Like many cancer bearers, 35 year old Yasmin discovered her first cancer by pure coincidence in July 2007. Little did she know that she would be in an on and off process of curing her cancer for the following 4 years. At the time, she was engaged and about to start working at her dream job. Upon presenting her medical checkup to her new job – before the discovery of her cancer – she was informed that something seems off in her medical checkup and to go “get cured then come back.” This would mark the start of her struggles with society. Right after it, upon further medical checkups, the cancer was discovered.
“She began to be looked at, as an ill human who shouldn’t be approached.”
Her first cancer was found in her neck, lungs, pelvic area and in her stomach. “I was informed that due to my age at the time, the healing process would be much easier than other patients,” Yasmin says. Although that was good news and although her parents were extremely supportive and by her side, all kinds of problems began to surface.
She lost her new job, her social life got affected, and her fiance at the time left her. She began to be looked at, as an ill human who shouldn’t be approached. She went into a stage of denial, and began seeing a face of society she hasn’t seen before. When her hair began to fall, she started wearing a wig. “Strangers would laugh and say ‘she’s wearing a wig!'” Yasmin says, adding that after four months, she finally got the courage to face anyone who mocked her. She began going up to those who would laugh, and confidently inform of them of her condition, clarifying her situation. Even then, people would be repelled by her confidence in speaking about her condition.
On August 2008, her cancer came back. Although she initially refused, she was obligated to go through chemo-therapy again after a failed attempt at radiotherapy. “I was informed that I will be doing my chemo therapy at the Nasr Institute, and this to me was a shock!”, Yasmin says, pin pointing the difference in societal levels. However once she began her chemo there, she got a wake up call. At the Institute, Yasmin began seeing all kinds of people. “I saw that in illness we are all the same. Rich people, middle class people and poor people were all here in the same place, with the same side effects, being treated from the same illness,” Yasmin explains. She became more down to earth, learnt how to deal with the less privileged.
“Eventually, her relatives stopped asking about her, and began suggesting that she stay at home and not go out, for reasons related to her social image.”
During her stay for chemo, she became the source of blood for many less privileged people at the hospital, met an old woman who inspired her, and went through a phase where the only thing she could swallow is the Islamic Zamzam water. “I finally saw why God had brought me here, he was trying to tell me something. I became so spiritually connected” she says.
The second cancer stage, which at one point included a wrong chemo dosage that left her between life and death, ended with a bone marrow surgery which left her isolated for 3 months at the hospital. The bone marrow was meant to cure the cancer once and for all. After the cancer cured, she began facing society again. Although she wasn’t ill anymore, the societal approach remained the same. Eventually, her relatives stopped asking about her, and began suggesting that she stay at home and not go out, for reasons related to her social image. People began treating her as if she is just a living human, who will never get married, never have kids, never have a good job and never be fully ok. Her old work that initially took her in, treated her like an incapable human, refusing to give her tasks. Upon confronting her boss she was told to feel lucky that she was taken in to begin with, and informed that she would not be able to grow with them. It was a stage of dullness. However after two years of getting herself back on her feet, things began to change up.
In 2011 she got a job, and the employees and boss were very welcoming. When she informed them of her previous cancer, explaining that there is a chance it could reappear, no one thought anything of it and she was accepted as she is with open arms. Then in December 2011 she got the cancer again. When her hair began to fall again with the treatment, her work was very supportive and made her feel comfortable. She got cured once again end of 2012 and On January 2013 she removed her wig for her first big event. “My colleagues were inspired by me and I was inspired by their support. I was finally away from anything negative.”
The positive change did not end there, and in 2015 she met her now husband through mutual friends. After a few dates together, she came clean about her past and her present situation to him. “His response to me was ‘let us be together in this journey'” Yasmin says. They got married shortly after. But even then, people began shockingly questioning how a man accepted her, wondering how in the world she was able to get married. However her life now was finally starting to shape up beautifully after years of struggles, lost hope, mockery, shame and lack of support and none of that negativity mattered or affected her anymore. “As I turn 35 years old, I mark a new stage in my life with my husband, family and new job that puts an end to the struggles of the previous years,” Yasmin concludes.