Saudi Arabia: American Bedu’s Cancer Story Featured on Arab News

One way towards not only spreading awareness but getting the word out that Saudi women who find themselves facing a diagnosis of breast cancer are not alone is by coming forward and speaking out.  This is exactly what I did in a recent interview with Arab News reporter, Amber Shahid.  Amber asked tough and candid questions about cancer, living with a terminal illness and the emotional aspects of how this disease has affected my life and feelings.  I answered!  Why, some may ask?  Because until more women who have experienced breast cancer (or any cancer) in Saudi Arabia begin to speak up so their voices can be heard, there will be so many more who will feel isolated and perhaps even shameful to have been the recipient of such a diagnosis.  A Saudi woman from a small village or a conservative tribe may feel that she has cancer because she is defective or that she had done something wrong.  She may refrain from speaking up about finding a lump for fear she would become an outcast and her husband would take another wife and forget about her.  Yet in the majority of cases, the earlier cancer is detected, the greater chance that a woman will have a full recovery.  The earlier cancer is detected, the lesser the odds of her having to undergo strenuous and painful treatment.

It is a fact that I must now live a life with cancer a daily part of it.  I accept that fact.  In fact, I’m glad that I am carrying this weight of cancer rather than a young woman who has not had a chance to live a full life, marry and bear children.  I’ve been blessed with a good life, in spite of trials and losses such as the death of my husband, Abdullah, to cancer.  My cancer has actually made me much stronger in a lot of ways and all positive.  My faith is deeper.  I’m not shy or hesitant to speak up.  I now have added experience which allows me to better help others who are struggling with a diagnosis of their own.  I’ve been a caregiver to a cancer patient (Abdullah) and can offer support to other caregivers.

October is breast cancer awareness month with a lot of pink out there.  My message is that cancer does not begin and end in October.  It can strike at any time and keep right on going.  We all can be daily activists in speaking out and initiating or taking place in programs towards raising funds for well known institutions around the globe which are actively searching for that elusive cure of the disease.  There is no reason to simply sit still and not take action.

In Saudi Arabia, Zahra has taken the lead.  In American it is the American Cancer Society.  YOU can make a difference wherever you are.

If you are struggling with cancer or are a caregiver to a cancer patient, contact me at anytime for virtual support.  If you want to know what you can do in your area or what facilities, groups or institutions are in your area, contact me.  If you would like to start up your own cancer support group either virtually or where individuals physically meet, contact me if you have questions.  WE can make a difference no matter where we are, what color we are, which religion we practice or what language we speak.

Carol Fleming (aka American Bedu)



14 Responses

  1. Bravo! Good job.

  2. Dear Carol,

    The article is very moving. I am so glad you are out there voicing your concern about breast cancer awareness. You are so special because, I think most , under the circumstances would be deeply depressed.
    Although I have not met you personally, you are in my thoughts.
    With a big hug from Bahrain—Jacey

  3. Frankie — you were missed today!

    Jacey — Thank you! Oh yeah…I will have those occasional moments of depression but then I realize things could be worse so I am grateful for what I do have!

  4. Carol,

    You and I are both old enough to remember how jaw-droppingly brave it was for Betty Ford to go public with her breast cancer in the 1970s. When I read this post, I realized you are the Betty Ford of Saudi – giving hope to thousands of women you will never know. Well done; you inspire!

  5. @carol & her interview elsewhere

    amazing inspiring and yes saddening too….
    brave and candid lady… a daredevil pilot staring death in the face with a smug grin.

    a lot of my patienst should read and imbibe what ever sustenance they can from this unique string of events.

    dr saadat
    consultant radiologist
    associated with the local breast cancer program

  6. Waw, Really good interview, really cool to have it in such a large paper, (and I never saw them using such a large photo before), and I really think awareness is going to make a difference!
    You are doing a great job!

  7. I read the Arab News article and shred it on Facebook. It’s a story worth spreading. Thank you for your willingness to discuss this important topic!

  8. Thank you all.

    I have no hesitation in speaking out about my own cancer and especially if it can help generate more support and understanding for women in Saudi Arabia.

    I know there may be some who feel that what was said might have been too outspoken or candid in view of Saudi’s tradition for privacy and reticence to speak out on illness. Honestly, I prayed before responding to the questions and just left it in God’s hands as I provided my answers.

  9. […] This is an emotional and very personal post.  The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today (a day earlier than scheduled no less) that it is withdrawing the drug Avastin from the market.  Avastin is the most common and popular drug administered to patients who have been diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC), like me. […]

  10. Thank you for sharing, Carol.
    If only more of us would take the blows dealt by life and use it to help others…generous, brave and difference making!

  11. […] since 2008.  I’ve taken readers step by step through the highs and lows of my journey.  I shared how my cancer was initially discovered and treated while living in Riyadh with my Saudi husband.  […]

  12. […] means my cancer is not curable but treatable to maintain and/or slow down its growth.  My initial journey with breast cancer started in June 2008 while living in Riyadh.  I had always been diligent about doing monthly self breast exams and […]

  13. […] I’ve taken readers on my blog step by step through the highs and lows of my journey.  I shared how my cancer was initially discovered and treated while living in Riyadh with my Saudi husband.  […]

  14. […] new readers of American Bedu blog and may not be aware, I’ve been battling breast cancer since 2008.  In 2009 my breast cancer metastasized to other parts of my body and in early 2010 I […]

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