Inside the Middle East
October 7, 2009
Posted: 1311 GMT

Special from iReporter Sally Shalabi

Last month I was asked to do an iReport for CNN about Breast Cancer Awareness. And as I was thinking about what to say it was clear to me that I also had to write and tell my story in a little bit more than 60 seconds!

Breast cancer and cancer in general is not a new or strange concept in our worlds. However if you are anything like me, it's something that is in the darkest corner of my mind. I know it's there I just pretend not to hear its voice saying “Shalabieh, you need to get checked, for your sake just make sure everything is OK and you are healthy.” I ignore the voice because I feel great, I feel fine but cancer doesn’t work like that.

Last year the voice got out of my head and went into the real world. I first heard about it on the radio, in a cab heading to the office. Then I saw a massive billboard, and flyers everywhere. It was a national campaign in full force: The Jordan Breast Cancer Program was launched. And it was only a matter of time before I responded to all those ads. I called the support line and learned about free breast exams, subsidized mammograms and where I can get them and how much they were and who the participating doctors are and where their clinics are located. I talked to my colleagues about it and my friends. We all knew the importance of getting checked, but we all managed to somehow put it off.

Our breasts, no matter how prominent they are, are often ignored- especially when it comes to their health. But after ignoring the health of my breasts for a long while (20 years of carrying these babies around), I FINALLY went to my gynecologist and asked her to teach me how to do a self breast exam. It was awkward and strange having my doctor play with my boobs, coz that’s what it felt like. But by the end of those 10 minutes I was cleared and I had gotten a tutorial! I can now do the exams myself and I get an excuse to play with boobs (not that one needs an excuse)! But on a more serious note I got some very good advice which included:
• The self breast exam should be done monthly
• The best time to do it is after a period
• It is best to do the exam standing up in front of a mirror. But If you have large breasts then you may want to do it lying down
• If you have a fast paced life and no time then you can check your breasts when you are in shower and soaping up
I won’t go into how to do the actual exam as I am not qualified to do so, but I will say this: it’s easy, it’s fast and it can save your life.

My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer and she is a survivor, she was lucky she caught it early and is recovering nicely. You can be lucky too, but you will never know unless you go that first time and learn about this disease, and learn how to catch it in its tracks. Don’t ignore your breasts, go play with your boobs and if you need advice then check the The Jordan Breast Cancer Program’s Website for more information. Be healthy, be safe and spread the word you may save someone else’s life too.

Check out Sally's blog here

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danthesensibleman   October 9th, 2009 2:04 am ET

I don't want to sound unsympathetic but why is their so much hype and support surrounding breast cancer when it is one of the most survivable forms of the dissease with a survival rating over 90 percent. I mean shouldn't we be researching leukemia and colon cancer that are extremely difficult to treat? I just thought that was a little strange since their are many more incidences of prostate cancer and colon cancer then of brest cancer.

Ariely   October 9th, 2009 6:15 pm ET

Not all Israelis want to see road blocks and army raids against Palestinians. A new generation of Israelis want peace with Arabs. Some of us would like to go further and share our lives with the Palestinians. Please discover more about a new Israeli solution to the middle east crises:

hopethesensiblewoman   October 10th, 2009 1:04 am ET


Well, when the happy testicles are willing to be screened by getting compressed-flattened between two heavy plates (waffle-machine) or mammogram machine..maybe then prostate cancer will achieve a 90% survival rate. No pain, no gain...

miriam   October 10th, 2009 5:41 pm ET


Are you serious?
Most Arabs use the fact that Israel has gay rights as another reason to destroy the state.

Ali Dahmash   October 11th, 2009 6:24 am ET

Lets not make this discussion political driven and look at the human side of the conflict. Lets see how similarities and not our differences. By that we can achieve Peace. There are many Arabs and Israelis who want Peace, lets make their voices heard.

Sally, thanks for sharing this story with us.

StephanJade   October 25th, 2009 11:40 pm ET

Interesting article as for me. I'd like to read a bit more concerning that topic.

Reham.S.Abu Abed   June 10th, 2010 4:27 pm ET

ummmmm .. interesting.. actually i'd never thought of doing such breast tests.. good idea to think about....

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