x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Expatriate cancer patient hopes his luck holds

The Dubai Government paid for the lung cancer sufferer's second course of chemo. His worry now is that he might need a third course, as coverage for treatment ends.

Abraham Samuel, 49, had begun his second course of chemotherapy before the Dubai Government ruling.
Abraham Samuel, 49, had begun his second course of chemotherapy before the Dubai Government ruling.

DUBAI // When Abraham Samuel began coughing up blood about a year ago, it did not occur to him that he might have lung cancer.

Mr Samuel, 49, had quit smoking for good only six months earlier, but the Indian national soon learnt of a small tumour on his right lung and that chemotherapy would be an inevitable part of his treatment.

He had his first chemotherapy session in India.

"I spent six months there, without my wife and kids, and no one to take care of me," Mr Samuel said. "It was a very difficult time."

At the end of his treatment he returned to Dubai, where he has lived for 26 years. His employer had continued sponsoring him and his family in the UAE and Mr Samuel, a sales executive at a stationery firm, returned to work.

Four months later, he was told his cancer had not gone and another course of chemotherapy was needed.

"I didn't want to do it in India again, far from my family, and it cost us too much money there," Mr Samuel said. "So I registered with the Dubai Health Authority since I don't have insurance and I was told I can do the treatment for free at Dubai Hospital."

He began his chemotherapy course last month and heard from other cancer patients that his treatment would cease to be free starting from this month.

Fortunately for him, the information was not correct.

"Thank God that they decided to let patients who already started their course to continue, because otherwise there is no way I would have been able to afford it," Mr Samuel said.

His worry now is that he might need a third course.

"I don't want to go to India alone to get the treatment and my family have to stay here because the children have school and my wife is working, so I have to find a way," Mr Samuel said.

The company he works for is small and does not provide health insurance for its employees, he said.

"God knows what I will do if I need more chemotherapy. I have begun contacting charities to see if there is someone who can help us because I am not working right now while taking the chemotherapy medicine."

Mr Samuel said that it was "luck and God's greatness" that allowed his treatment sessions to continue uninterrupted.

"I hope I will be lucky again if the time comes to pay," he said.

hkhalaf@thenational.ae