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Hanin Omar

Meeting the cancer stars

Syrian singer Noura Rahal [al-Araby al-Jadeed]

Date of publication: 19 October, 2014

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Celebrities who have recovered from breast cancer give hope to ordinary people.

Egyptian actresses Madiha Kamel and Nahed Sherif. Syrian-Egyptian singer Fayza Ahmed. Moroccan singer Rajae Belmlih. Breast cancer has claimed the lives of many Arab superstars, and, every October, we remember them during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

But it is those stars who managed to beat the illness who now offer breast cancer sufferers perhaps even greater inspiration.

Palestinian singer Rim Banna is, without doubt, a symbol of hope who will live on in the minds of many Arab women suffering from the disease. Banna was completely cured of breast cancer, and, showing her fighting spirit, said: "Cancer occupied my body like Israel occupies Palestine." She has now starting making music again, and is one of the main members of the cancer awareness campaign in the occupied Palestinian territories.

     Cancer occupied my body like Israel occupies Palestine.
- Rim Banna

Shadia's victory over cancer is probably one of the most famous triumphs over the disease. In 1984, cancer was found in the Egyptian singer and actress while she performed in the play Raya wa Sekina. Immediately stopping work, she underwent surgery in the United States, and returned the same year to act in the movie La tasalni man ana, directed by Ashraf Fahmy. She then retired from acting.

Syrian singer Noura Rahal was diagnosed with cancer in 2007. However, it was detected early enough for doctors to treat it and stop it spreading. Rahal did not need chemotherapy, and has since made a full recovery. "My illness has taught me how to deal with things patiently," she said in 2008. "Life is a lot simpler than we imagine."

Zahrah al-Kharji was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 at the age of 43. The Kuwaiti actress traveled to the UK for treatment, where she fought the disease for two years. She won the battle and is acting again.

A few days ago, Kharji shaved her head in solidarity with cancer patients while discussing her battle against cancer during a seminar. "Hair falls out and then grows back," she said. "The most important thing is to maintain a good spirit."

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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