For me, the battle against cancer in the Arab society began when my dear sister, Mariam, passed away from cancer.
Mariam, the young and tender girl, who battled cancer with acceptance and great power, taught us a great lesson with her passing away; power and hope.
I remember those days very well, the faces around me were etched in my memory, as I escorted Mariam to the hospital; scared faces, confused, ashamed, worried and lonely.
Medicine was not available at that time, neither an accepting surrounding, nor any available information in my mother tongue, Arabic, let alone support which was nearly non-existent. All these obstacles together made me feel and acknowledge how in need, as a society, we are for support from an independent Arab anti-cancer foundation with one clear goal: fighting cancer. I came to know very well how in need we are as a society for the Arab Mariam Foundation, to fight our social cancer too.
During these days, and I mean no generalization, we were trembling with fear just from uttering the word “cancer” to the extent that some people even nicknamed it as “The bad one” or “The vicious sickness”. Unfortunately, a lot of people still link cancer directly with death, and with shame. Even after getting over cancer, the experience of sickness is usually engraved in one’s memory all his life. In Mariam Foundation and by raising awareness by many activities and honoring our Heroes-people who got over cancer and people who are bravely fighting it- we constantly seek to instill our message: acceptance and support are half way through, and cancer doesn’t stop our lives.
We, Mariam Foundation personnel, are fully aware that whoever suffers from cancer needs the feeling of acceptance and belonging to society. He needs love not pity, to be contained in society not mercy, a strong back not a weak one, and for a hope giving smile throughout his journey.
Each and every one of us, is capable of smiling in life’s face, even those of us who have previously suffered from cancer, for what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so we can all, as a society, fight and win the battle against cancer. Crisis gives birth to the gift of power and hope, and from sickness we draw our motives, to push forward for a better future.
There is no doubt that fighting cancer requires a big financial investment, and we find ourselves slammed in front of a very repetitive scene of families panting for financial assistance to secure treatments which are, very often, out of the medical coverage of health insurances.
We believe that a great deal of efforts and energies must be spent by the our society and surrounding people in spending the most possible time with cancer patients, giving them all of the moral and emotional assistance they need, love and security, to the patient and his or her family.
That said, it is not realistic, nor profitable, investing in individuals and leaving society behind. Mariam Foundation tirelessly continues its efforts in raising awareness and urging people to adopt a healthy preventive lifestyle, while introducing the great benefits of early diagnosis through educational lectures, and social projects and events.
Uniqueness is all about excellence, and excellence draws attention, consequently, fulfilling our main mission in raising awareness. For example, in October 2013, as a result of lighting the Salesian Church in Nazareth with pink color, we succeeded in saving the lives of seven Arab women from Nazareth and surrounding areas, due to early diagnosis featured and that was urged to be done in the ceremony.
Pink color, as known worldwide, is aimed for breast cancer awareness, reminding us with the extreme importance of undergoing through early diagnosis check-ups, which greatly contribute in saving lives, and that’s exactly what happened in October 2013.
We are continuing tirelessly our awareness projects and investing in the human being, whoever he or she was and wherever he or she is. And for this journey of life, we need your support.
Together we are stronger. Together we can fight cancer and lead the revolution of life.