Not all heroes wear capes - 3 inspiring stories of these breast cancer survivors

51-year-old Mary fought cancer with her extreme optimism and positivity

Not all heroes wear capes - 3 inspiring stories of these breast cancer survivors
  • The Nigerians Okebugwa Osinachi, 26, and Nwerenda Wobia, 45 searched their way to treatment via the internet

Abu Dhabi: The past year has posed a challenge to just about everything in our lives, and breast cancer prevention is no exception. Although owing to the pandemic, we saw setbacks in screenings and early detection, yet we are rising to the challenge together. Global cancer incidence in women

Breast cancer was the most common cancer in women worldwide, contributing 25.4% of the total number of new cases diagnosed in 2018.

Michael Brenden Davis, the CEO, NMC Healthcare, said, “Battling cancer is an arduous journey yet the patients don’t have to walk the path to recovery alone. Treatment is difficult, but there is always hope. I was so glad to learn the stories of Mary, Okebugwa, and Nwerenda, and their resolute fight to defeat cancer with the support of our doctors, their families, and other caregivers. God bless them and the clinical staff.” 

A Grandma Hero from the Philippines

A ticketing officer working as a Senior Supervisor in Expo2020, Mary Joy Villanueva Balagot, 51, was a happy grandmother to 2 children from her 32-year-old, home-maker daughter living in the Philippines.  Since the median age of 50-55 years to have breast cancer was fast approaching, she was cautious and careful and gave up smoking – the habit she had practiced for the last 30 years.

In one such self-examination routine last year in June, she felt a lump in her left breast.

“Mary was diagnosed during the pandemic’s lockdown period of March/April 2021 after ultrasound and biopsy, with stage 2 breast cancer. She was referred to me for chemotherapy sessions after she had undergone a mastectomy – a procedure to remove the cancerous breast,” said Dr. Sai Babu Jonnada, Consultant Oncology, NMC Royal Hospital, Sharjah.

Mary was advised for 16 chemo sessions spanning a year of treatment. Unfortunately, her insurance was suspended midway as she had crossed her insurance limits. Good Karmas played their part as help came by from local charities and foundations to complete the remaining of her chemotherapy cycles.

Mary is happy and cancer-free today as she maintains a monthly follow to keep an eye on her cancer. “Dr. Sai helped me with my journey of treatment and recovery all throughout. Most importantly he helped me deal with my stress as I became emotionally drained in-between. And I am grateful to him for his understanding of not only the disease but also of emotions playing behind the scenes of a troubled soul,” said Mary.

“Whenever a person is diagnosed with breast cancer or any type of cancer, the world turns upside down for the patient and their family. But it is not the end of the world. With the right attitude and positive approach coupled with excellent medical expertise, we can beat cancer. I thank Mary for being such an inspiration to one and all,” said Dr. Sai.

Mary requests the readers to start exercising and pay attention to health and a healthy lifestyle.

The Nigerian Superwomen

The stories of Okebugwa Osinachi, a young 26-year-old pharmacist working in a local hospital in Nigeria, and of Nwerenda Wobia, a 45-year-old homemaker wife to a real estate promoter in Nigeria are inspiring in more ways than one. They both were diagnosed with the cancer of the left breast in their home country after self-examination raised suspicion in them. Through an internet search, they found out the concerned doctors, reached out to them, connected them with their caregivers back home in Nigeria - since they could not because of the restrictions on their travels owing to the pandemic.

Dr. Ahmed Awad Salim EL-Hakeem, Consultant General Surgery, NMC Royal Hospital, Sharjah, said, “We collaborated with their doctors to reach the conclusive diagnosis and line of treatment. Their chemotherapy sessions were started in Nigeria and the plan was to remove the cancerous breast here and send them for radiotherapy and call them again for breast reconstruction.”

Both finished their 6 chemotherapy sessions each in Nigeria and resumed their travels to the UAE to undergo radical mastectomy – removal of the breast. After her surgery on Jan 12th, 2021, Okebugwa remained in the UAE for 2 months and returned to Nigeria for her radiotherapy sessions and hopes to be back for a breast reconstruction soon. 

“Everything went smoothly as per the plan and as per our expectations. UAE is becoming popular in my country as a destination of choice for medical treatment. We are happy at the outcome of my treatment,” said Okebugwa.

Ms. Osinachi, mother of Okebugwa said, “Despite all the research work and confidence of my daughter, I was scared whether or not I will go back with my daughter. But I am really happy now that the surgery was done very well. The physiotherapists were excellent while the nurses were caring and were prompt at all times regardless of night or day.”

The maiden Okebugwa’s story is of grit and determination as fought the battle bravely all alone from the very start. She, although, had a healthy lifestyle yet having contracted cancer doesn’t let her discontinue her quest of pursuing health and fitness.

While the young girl Okebugwa fought it all alone, her countrywoman Nwerenda Wobia, left her three children behind as she traveled with her husband for her surgery on June 12th, 2021, and also stayed for two months in the UAE.

Her journey to treatment and recovery had been extremely emotional given the fact her children were away from her for a long time during the treatment. Incidentally, their wedding anniversary was celebrated in the hospital and it was their testament of love and support for a lifetime of togetherness.

She also returned to Nigeria for her radiotherapy sessions and hopes to be back for breast reconstruction.   

None of the above three patients had any family history of cancer.

About NMC Health

NMC is one of the leading private healthcare operators in the Gulf Cooperation Council ("GCC") with an international network of multi-specialty inpatient and outpatient clinics and hospitals, specialised maternity and fertility clinics, and long-term care homes across nineteen countries. NMC also ranks as one of the top two in-vitro fertilisation operators globally. The NMC Health Group is recognised as a leading provider of long-term medical care in the UAE through its subsidiary ProVita. NMC has a total capacity of 2,207 licensed beds across its network

NMC Health Plc was placed into administration by the High Court of Justice, Business and Property Courts of England and Wales on 9 April 2020 and Richard Fleming, Mark Firmin and Ben Cairns of Alvarez & Marsal Europe LLP were appointed as Joint Administrators. On 27 September 2020 a number of the entities of the NMC Healthcare Ltd were placed into administration under Abu Dhabi Global Market Regulations. Richard Fleming and Ben Cairns were appointed as Joint Administrators. For full information regarding these appointments please redirect to this web page: 

For more information:
Anurag Kashyap
VP Marketing and Corporate Communications
NMC Healthcare Ltd.

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