Sahar Jarrar Story
Diagnosis: Breast cancer
Sahar Mifleh Jarrar, 49, is an educated woman with a master’s degree in social sciences and population studies. She is a mother and an employee at a government institution. She is one of the women who took care to undergo annual early detection screenings at the King Hussein Cancer Center. In 2004, while conducting an early detection test for breast cancer, a lump in her left breast was discovered. Sahar says she received the news calmly and dealt with it rationally. “My brother-in-law was the first person to learn of this news, because he is a surgeon, I also told my best friend”, says Sahar.
After discovering the lump in her breast, Sahar underwent a biopsy taken from the diseased area to be tested for cancer. While awaiting the results, Sahar knew she had cancer. The tests confirmed her suspicions.
Sahar says: “I was eager to know what treatment plans my doctors would follow. When this was initially discussed with Dr. Yasar Qutaiba, the head of the early detection clinic, I lost my nerve and began to sob inconsolably, but Dr. Yasar was ablr to calm me with her humanitarian and caring manner. She explained the matter to me while discussing the small details and options for treatment. She explained to me that the doctor would conduct a partial or full mastectomy, in either case, the lymph nodes under the armpit would have to be examined to restrict the spread.”
On her second visit, Sahar met with Dr. Mahmoud Al Masri, a surgeon, who discussed her case with her and informed her that she was in the early stages of the disease. As such, he preferred to conduct a partial mastectomy. “I insisted on a full mastectomy to guarantee a higher chance of recovery, regardless of the loss of a member of my body. I disregarded the affect it may have on my psychology as a woman, due to the threat to my feminine appearance. I was completely convinced of the importance of giving priority to recovery. After several sessions, my doctor agreed and supported my point of view, which comforted me and gave me great hope of recovery.”
Sahar underwent the operation and her left breast was removed. “The surgery was followed by four sessions of chemotherapy as a preventative measure, although the doctor insisted I did not need it. I also insisted on the chemotherapy in spite of its negative side effects. My mother had colon cancer, and her treatment was supervised by Dr. Adnan Abu Rajab, a doctor I deeply trusted. The chemotherapy was my choice, although post operation tests showed the lymph nodes under the armpits to be disease free, even the removed lump itself was small at the size of 1.5 cm.”
Sahar’s chemotherapy treatments were not easy. She says, “I could hardly endure the third session and during the fourth, I started to fall apart and cried hysterically before any needles were put in. I was in a very difficult psychological state. I still suffer from the negative effects of the chemotherapy, as I feel a weakness in my joints and an increase in my weight due to the hormone treatment. I also have fits of nervousness and anxiety. However, exercise and volunteering with the “Sanad Support Group” program helped me overcome such negative effects.”
Sahar remains confident, saying: “In spite of the psychological, physical and social suffering I or any patients goes through as a result of this disease, the support of my husband, family and friends helped me overcome my ordeal and recover. I also had to maintain an emotional balance after everything I went through. I remember that my thirteen year old daughter was the reason for my enduring the disease, treatments and ultimately my survival. She used to say: ‘Mom you have to live to see my children when I grow up. I want to get married and bring them to visit and play with you. Mom, I love you as you are, with or without a breast, with or without hair. The important thing is that you are still alive and that you are beside me, talking to me and holding me close.’”
“It is not an exaggeration to say that I received wonderful health and psychological care, from the reception staff to the medical team, including doctors and nurses at KHCC. They supported me until the very end. I cannot forget the social team which alleviated the burden of treatment among the patients. My volunteer work at the Sanad Support Group allowed me to in turn, help others as well as offer the necessary psychological and moral support.”
Today, Sahar has resumed living a normal life, playing all the roles required of her as a wife, mother and effective woman in society, without problem. She admits that battling cancer taught her the importance of love and loved ones in our lives through their continuous support for in moments of weakness and disease.