x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Breast cancer survivor had her prayer answered

A breast cancer survivor finds renewed faith during her battle with cancer.

Amel Boukhris says the offer by a Dubai hospital to provide free follow-up treatment for breast cancer was a miracle.
Amel Boukhris says the offer by a Dubai hospital to provide free follow-up treatment for breast cancer was a miracle.

ABU DHABI // After Amel Boukhris gave birth to her third child, her breast milk turned green.

A few months later, when she was pregnant with her fourth child, she felt a cyst in her left breast.

Mrs Boukhris, now 38, went to three different hospitals and received three different diagnoses.

One of the hospitals said she was too young for a mammogram.

After her fourth baby was born, she did not go back for further examinations, dedicating her time to the care of her children.

But during Eid Al Adha that same year, something strange occurred.

"I dreamt that my kids were telling me that they need me," Mrs Boukhris said. "And the lamb we had slaughtered [for Eid] had a cyst filled with water."

Taking that as a sign from God, she scheduled a mammogram for the next morning and the results were shocking - she had stage-three breast cancer.

"I was told I was in a bad situation and that I needed treatment immediately," Mrs Boukhris said. "I asked them, 'What if I chose not to do the treatment?'

"I still remember the words of the doctor. She said, 'You will die, my baby. Your children need you'."

Mrs Boukhris, a religious woman, did not want a male doctor to operate on her breasts so she flew home to Tunisia where she knew a reputable female surgeon.

After a double mastectomy, Mrs Boukhris was told her follow-up treatment would cost US$200,000 (Dh734,600).

"I wasn't doing financially well and I was not insured in Tunisia because my husband was working in the UAE," she said.

At that point, Mrs Boukhris said, she left her destiny in God's hands and looked to Him for strength.

"Every day I would pray," she said. "I would ask God to cure me, for he is the one who created the disease and can cure it."

Within 24 hours, Mrs Boukhris received a call from her husband with good news - a Dubai hospital had agreed to treat her at no cost.

She said this "miracle" strengthened her faith in God. Her resilience was evident throughout her two years of chemotherapy.

"I lost my hair and my breasts were gone but I never cried," she said. "I always kept a smile on my face."

Despite the trials she has faced, Mrs Boukhris holds no resentment.

"My illness has relieved me from the loneliness I've been enduring all these years," she said.

"Through it, I have met loving, sincere and caring people.

"It has made me pursue my inner passions, including writing and trading."

But life has taken another turn. After a routine blood test it was discovered that Mrs Boukhris may now have liver cancer.

She shows no fear.

"The same way God has given me strength the first time, I know I will find it again," Mrs Boukhris said.

mismail@thenational.ae