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An Open Letter to My Egyptian Grandmother Who Beat Cancer at 80 Years Old

October 26, 2023

Two years ago, my then-78-year-old Egyptian teita (grandmother) was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. Today, she is not only a survivor, but an inspiration to every person in our family and beyond.

To my teita, your resilience has empowered me to persevere in the face of adversity, your faith in God is ever awe-inspiring, and your dark-humor has instilled in us laughs when worry was a default.

My family and I learned about teita’s diagnosis in October 2021 — ironically enough during Breast Cancer Awareness month. I still remember that day incredibly vividly and still can’t find answers to the questions I pondered. Yet, while everyone was overwhelmed, anxious, and unsettled; my teita was hopeful, faithful, and brave — at least to our faces she was.

There are many ways I can describe teita: but fearless and faithful exceed any other adjectives. Perhaps this is why she went, all alone, to do the mammogram when she felt something was off in her breasts. She had a dream that she was doing an operation, and booked an appointment to do a check-up, without telling a single soul. This is how she always was and is — an independent, brave, and bold woman who burdens no one around her.

As a single mother, teita was always resilient, even when life gave her every reason not to be. She is like the threads of a quilt, the family glue, the cornerstone that has always kept us together and afloat. When I think about her diagnosis and all she had to endure — from breast removal surgery to chemotherapy and radiation — I think of this saying: “you were given this life because you are strong enough to live it.”

For nearly a year and a half, teita went through countless chemotherapy sessions, radiation treatments, check-ups, x-rays, and consultations in Egypt — the home she vowed to never leave and to love for all her life. So without further ado — this is for teita, and every woman who has survived cancer: you are nothing short of warriors.

Dear teita,

You faced one of the toughest battles with so much grace and boldness. Nothing about the diagnosis or the treatment — and the couple of mishaps and hiccups along the way — was easy, but you made it feel easy. Your spirit and faith never wavered, and I will spend my life taking your story as a testament of hope.

You are a shining example of someone who has so much faith in God, even though the circumstances begged for you to feel differently. You’re not just a cancer survivor: you are a fighter and you conquered a terrible illness — at 80 years old.

Your steadfastness has left an indelible mark on all those who have had the privilege of knowing you or hearing your story. Thank you for being a light to us — even when you didn’t have the energy to move a muscle. Your journey is a fount of motivation, not only for those who’ve weathered akin trials but for everyone facing life’s hardships.

Baheya Hospital offers free screenings and services for Egyptian women, which include all the necessary devices for early detection and treatment of breast cancer. Detecting breast cancer in its early stages significantly increases the chances of successful treatment, with a healing rate exceeding 98 percent.

Get in touch with them through 16602 or email them through [email protected].

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