“It will never happen to me”
This is how we, “un-paranoid” regular human beings, like to to think about disease. We create a safe imaginary distance from diseases we do not even like to pronounce, and in that safe place lay all our bad habits. In saying that, I like to emphasize that disease is not solely the result of individual habits, but an accumulation of several factors – or maybe none at all.
In Lebanon, a certain unspoken disease is always referred to as “المرض الخبيث” or that “malignant disease” as if just uttering the word “cancer” would summon it. Who knows, maybe that’s true, because that would irrationally explain how 14 million adults worldwide were diagnosed with cancer in 2012 alone (source). Imagine further knowing that 30% of these cases are preventable. (more key facts about cancer here)
Today’s post is not a tedious lecture on numbers and lifestyle changes – it is a story about your friend. She is in your class and her energy is contagious, much like her smile. You almost don’t notice the missing arm, because with a spirit like hers, the body becomes superfluous. Today’s post is about my friend’s sister, whose story is being shared by hundreds of runners tomorrow at the Beirut Marathon, under the fitting theme of “Peace, Love, Run”.
Sara El-Khatib lost a courageous battle to cancer on September 5, 2014 at the mere age of 22. In that battle, she shared 4 lessons for us to carry and live by. No one can tell you her story as well she does in this video.
It is not only her smile that is infectious, but her dream of starting a support group for amputees in Lebanon is as well (click here to join this movement). Many are running to honor her memory, and make her dream a reality .
Cancer is not selective. It does not differentiate between you and me. Therefore please, do not sweep it under the rug like yesterday’s dust – acknowledge it, educate about it, support preventing it. If the statistics tell us anything, it is that cancer will not happen to you, because chances are, it already has.
I am only sorry that I could not be in Lebanon for this year’s marathon to support Sara’s cause, and to salute runners like my good friend Elissar Mezher and #TeamWalid that are going to donate 100$/runner to the St. Jude Cancer Center.
In honor of Sara and anyone to have battled, or continues to battle cancer, please do not ignore the urgency of regular medical checkups and dietary/lifestyle recommendations. It is not about wearing pink in October, or growing a mustache in November – it is about you and me: getting tested, getting educated, and getting active.