Pink-themed prevention campaigns are taking over the world this October, marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month yet again.
The month aims to push women to get early detection screenings which can lead to excellent prognosis. October also serves to reminds us of the courageous battles millions of cancer patients have fought, and are fighting, everywhere in the world.
In the face of adversity, some Arab women have gone public with their stories and battle against breast cancer. By sharing their personal journeys with the disease, they have inspired and empowered people across the region. Here are eight of the Arab world's most inspiring breast cancer fighters:
1. Mayssa Raad (Lebanon)
Mayssa Raad is a wife and mother who battled breast cancer over 10 years ago. Last year she suffered a relapse and was told the illness was back and had spread to her liver. Today, the mother of one lives with metastatic cancer and will have to be on chemotherapy for the rest of her life.
Battling cancer twice and going through grueling treatment hasn't stopped the courageous woman from living life to the fullest and inspiring others in the process.
Through her page on Instagram, Raad spreads awareness and shares personal insights on the matter, always advising women to keep their health in check.
2. Elissa (Lebanon)
In 2018, Lebanese superstar Elissa sent shockwaves across the region after revealing her silent struggle with cancer in a music video for her song "Ila Kol Elli Bihebbouni" (For all those who love me).
Rather than a fictional plot, the video depicted her fight against breast cancer and revealed that the star had overcome the illness after undergoing treatment. In the weeks after her song's release, the singer became an outspoken advocate for breast cancer prevention, speaking at key events in Lebanon and abroad.
She has since opened up about her personal struggle with the disease. In a recently aired sit down with Egyptian TV personality Mona Al Shazly, Elissa spoke out about dealing with her diagnosis and regaining her strength after treatment.
3. May El Ghety (Egypt)
Egyptian actress May El Ghety revealed her battle with breast cancer after walking the red carpet of Cairo International Film Festival in 2018 wearing a V-neck dress.
At the time, people attacked the actress for wearing a "revealing dress." She shut them down explaining that she wore it to "show off" her scars after undergoing breast cancer surgery.
In an Instagram post at the time0, the courageous young woman wrote:
"Always wanted to wear a V-neck dress that shows my chest so part of my scar from my breast tumor removal operation would be visible. I wanted to wear this dress specifically because it did make me look like a warrior princess, so I don’t mind that people are saying I don’t have cleavage to show off, I meant to show off my beautiful unique scar because I’m proud of it. Peace out."
4. Amal Dabbas (Jordan)
Amal Dabbas is a well-known Jordanian comedian, drama actress, and popular singer who is known to be one of the best performers in Bedouin-themed series.
The celeb was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. She battled the disease and overcame it within three years, during which she had one of her breasts removed.
She has always been outspoken about her battle with the disease and continues to raise awareness across the region.
"Cancer is like everything that causes death, but it is not death," she once told Al Araby. "Fear and surrender make the disease lethal," she added.
5. Yasmine Ghaith (Egypt)
Yasmine Ghaith who rightfully dubs herself "wonder woman" took the Arab world by storm when she debuted her acting career in the hit Ramadan series "Halawet El Donya" in 2017.
At the time, the fashion designer and English teacher - who was still undergoing treatment while shooting the series - took on the role of a character named Heba, who also suffered from cancer.
The young mother had been diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer just months before being cast for the role. She has since recovered from the disease and continues to star in Egyptian TV and film projects. Ghaith is also an outspoken advocate on cancer prevention and constantly reminds her 151,000 Instagram followers to undergo early detection screenings.
6. Laila Ajam (Lebanon)
Laila Ajam is one of the most inspiring and well-known breast cancer advocates in Lebanon.
In 2006, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and went public with her illness at a time when it was still quite rare to hear women speak about the disease so publicly. She has since made a full recovery and continues to be an outspoken advocate who takes part in annual campaigns, encouraging women to get their annual mammographies and ultrasound check-ups.
7. Zahraa Al Kharji (Kuwait)
Zahraa Al Kharji is a well known Kuwaiti actress who launched her career in theater before moving on to film and television. She is most notably known for her role in the 1988 Kuwaiti series "Madinat Ar-Riyah" ("Wind city").
The veteran actress was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, prompting her to seek treatment in the United Kingdom. With the support of her family and fans, she overcame the disease in two years, after which she returned to show business, starring in several productions.
In 2014, Al Kharji shaved her head in solidarity with cancer patients while discussing her experience during a seminar.
8. Awatef Alhoshan (Saudi Arabia)
It's not very common for women in Saudi Arabia to speak out about their battles with breast cancer, but some of them have been opening up about their experiences in recent years.
Speaking to Vogue Arabia, Saudi mother and wife Awatef Muhammad Alhoshan went public with her diagnosis last year.
During her interview, the woman spoke of the way Arab societies sometimes discourage cancer patients.
"Cancer scares people, and especially so here in the Middle East. People think that cancer is hereditary, and that if a girl has a cancer patient in her family, it will stand in the way of her getting married. It is so terrifying that we avoid mentioning ‘breast cancer’ and instead call it, ‘the dreaded disease,'" she said.
The mother of five was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 45-years-old and only went to see a doctor after her daughter and sister insisted she gets her breast lump checked out. Medical tests confirmed she had cancer. Her full recovery took an entire year and she was declared cancer-free following her battle.