I met Farah in the lobby of the Hospital. A frail little adolescent girl who seems to be a fan of matching the color of her clothes to that of her costume jewelry. Farah is a very mature, assertive, humorous, and determined young girl who is accurate and precise when detailing her experience with cancer. I first had a very long conversation with her over the phone. The following day she insisted to meet me to rectify a small detail in her testimony and to bring me her photos 4 years ago when she was still being treated from a brain tumor.
Back then, Farah was forced not to take her last chemotherapy session, because her physician discovered she had contracted Virus C—a dormant fierce disease which can remain undetected for years and is widespread in Egypt. The effects of Virus C were multiple: Farah lost her appetite, had a deficient immunity and her overall recovery was slowed down. We are therefore very grateful for the recent initiative by our hospital management to screen all staff for Virus C and for allocating a space in the recently donated building for a hospice care center precisely for the screening and treatment of Virus C. We are even more grateful that Farah is on a path of steady recovery from both diseases with periodical follow ups by her doctors.
This is in Farah’s own words, the story of her journey at 57357:
I was 12 years old when unexpectedly, my left eye developed a squint. My parents took me to several eye doctors who advised to go to Hospital 57357. There, I was assigned to the care of Dr. Hanafi and examined by Dr. Beltaguy, head of the neuro-surgery department. The tumor inside my brain caused pressure and the formation of water over the left eye which caused the squint. They inserted a shunt lengthways from behind my ear to my stomach to drain the water. Farah insisted to show me and make me feel the ends of the tube still inserted in her body when she came to meet me. The squint disappeared right away. The doctors, then scheduled me for a surgery to remove a brain tumor.
Where you afraid before going into the operating room? Farah answered with a lot of humour:
Not at all, when coming to 57357, I was persuaded that cancer like any other disease, for example the flu, was very easily curable. My parents had hidden from me the fact that I could come out of surgery paralyzed or blind. I went inside the OR very relaxed. I even asked my mom to cook me my favorite dish. Upon exiting the OR, as I was still on the movable bed, I was extremely bothered and perplexed at my parents’ concerns: are you able to see?: can you move your leg? can you move your arm?
Luckily, I was not blind, nor paralyzed and all the tumor was removed. The treatment which lasted one year required both radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The chemotherapy sessions were very painful because with each session, my stomach would hurt so badly that I would not be able to eat. My temperature would rise and my immunity would decline, so much so that I had to be taken to Hospital. When the time came for my last chemo session, liver analysis revealed that I had Virus C. They gave me the treatment for Virus C and now after 4 years, I am recovered and being followed up every six months for the brain tumor and every month for the Virus C.
I am really grateful to everyone in the hospital, they all took excellent care of me, the nurses, the physicians, even the nutrition specialist who visited me often to inquire about my favorite kinds of food.
Farah, what are you interested in studying at university?
I want to be a Media specialist. This is my last year in school. I intend to start studying way before the start of the school year, maybe by the end of Ramadan.