My Mom, The Woman Who Beat Cancer

There are a lot of things that one could wish in the days leading up to their birthday. Mine is tomorrow. People tell you the best thing you could ask for is health. I got the best early birthday gift today.

My mom, Jinane, is officially cancer free.

It was a long and winding road that I saw her take. And she has reached the finish line. It was one tough year.

I saw people talk around the disease like an entity whose name shouldn’t be mentioned. And I saw her hurting every time they did.
I saw people look at her with pity and I saw how it killed her every time they did.
I saw her lose her hair and still fight.
I saw her become bed-ridden after chemo.
I saw her become one of those people you see in movies with a scarf around their heads.
I saw her face next to a bucket for more days than I can count.
I saw her look at herself in the mirror and reminisce at the woman she was.
I saw her fight.
I saw her never lose hope.
I saw her keep that spark in her eyes.
I saw her pray. I saw her love. I saw her become more amazing, more beautiful.

Breast cancer awareness month is in October. But cancer is a year-long disease.

There are a lot of things that make me proud about having that woman be my mother. But if there’s one that beats them all, it’s the sheer courage with which she faced her predicament and the bravery with which she came out triumphant.

Mom, I love you. I wish I were home to hug you. Now I’ll just have to wait on some neighbor to read this and go down to tell you how lucky a woman you are to have a son who loves you. That’s not true. I’m lucky to have you.



This is for Lucy who lost her cancer fight today. May you rest in peace you brave, brilliant woman.

The Bravest Person I Know

As she ran her fingers through her hair on that cold December night and was sad to see that the chemicals had started to sink in, she knew it wouldn’t be long before she would have to make a decision she never thought she’d have to make.

To let the hair go on its own? Or to take it all off?

We told her what the right decision should be. But it’s always easier to preach when you’re not the one cringing as you look at yourself in the mirror.

She decided that she wanted to cling to it more. It kept her warm, she said. She felt safer with it, she said.

So the hair kept falling. And she kept trying to hide it.

I remember the day well. I got back home from class to see her wearing a wig. I smiled. I knew she had taken the plunge. I was proud of her. I was strengthened by her courage. I was happy by her resilience.

As she took the razor to what was left of the hair on her head, she also took the decision to strengthen her fighting of those few cells that threatened to take her life away. Today, as I see her smile, I smile as well. And I see her radiating despite something being missing.

We keep her feeling good about it. But I realized we don’t need to. We joke about how my brothers and I are sure to lose our hair now that both our parents are bald. She’d smile and give us the “I’m not impressed” face. For the first time since she started chemotherapy, I can see her really happy. I can see her relieved.

My mother was beautiful before. My mother is gorgeous today. And I want to show you how brave she is. Because hair doesn’t matter.

Mother Cancer Chemotherapy

Pink – A Short Movie by Lebanese High School Students Inspired by This Blog

Little did I know back when I wrote about my mother’s cancer diagnosis in October that it would inspire a couple of Lebanese students from Batroun to turn my post (click here) into a short movie of sorts.

But Rita Assal and Steve Khattar, helped by a few of their friends including my brother, did. Rita Assal and Steve Khattar are senior (terminale) students at St. Joseph School – my old school – in Batroun. They both want to get into movie-making and I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.

They will also be hosted on LBC this coming Monday on the show “Helwi el Hayet” (or whatever it’s called nowadays) whose producers were very impressed with their work.

The video itself is not perfect but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the ambition behind it – the fact that with limited equipment and expertise, students who had never learned movie-making before were able to shoot, edit and have voice overs done. I am also flattered that mom’s story was the catalyst that led to this.

I leave you with Pink:

A Collection of Timeless Pictures

Following my post about some of the best pictures ever taken, a reader started sending me her collection of pictures that she’s amassed over the years.

Some of them were part of the previous post in question while others were totally new. All of them are still striking, amazing and haunting.

So without further ado, I commence.

1957 – The first day of Dorothy Counts at the Harry Harding High School in the United States. Counts was one of the first black students admitted in the school, and she was no longer able to stand the harassments after only 4 days.

1963 – Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist priest in Southern Vietnam, burns himself to death protesting the government’s torture policy against priests. Thich Quang Duc never made a sound or moved while he was burning.

1965 – A mom and her children try to cross the river in South Vietnam in an attempt to run away from the American bombs.

1966 – U.S. troops in South Vietnam are dragging a dead Vietcong soldier.

1975 – A woman and a girl falling down after the fire escape collapses.

February 1, 1968 – South Vietnam police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan shoots a young man, whom he suspects to be a Viet Cong soldier.

1980 – A kid in Uganda about to die of hunger, and a missionary.

1987 – A mother in South Korea apologizes and asks for forgiveness for her son who was arrested after attending a protest against the alleged manipulations in the general elections.

1992 – A mother in Somalia holds the body of her child who died of hunger.

1994 – A Rwandan man who was tortured by the soldiers after being suspected to have spoken with the Tutsi rebels.

1996 –  Kids who have been affected by the civil war in Angola.

2001 – An Afghani refugee kid’s body is being prepared for the funeral in Pakistan.

2003 – An Iraqi prisoner of war tries to calm down his child.

Congo: A father stares at the hands of his five year-old daughter, which were severed as a punishment for having harvested too little caoutchouc/rubber.

1902 – location in the United States not specified.

July 7, 1865 – Washington, Lincoln assassination conspirators Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, David Herold and George Atzerodt shortly after their execution at Fort McNair.

July 1913 – Gettysburg reunion, Veterans of the G.A.R. and of the Confederacy, at the Encampment.

March 1941 – Planting corn on a plantation near Moncks Corner, South Carolina.

May 18, 1914, Washington, D.C. – Washington Post records the passing of one John A. Eaglen, 3 years.

200 Km/h

I woke up today to the news that a friend of mine had passed away at 4 am on Sunday, June 12th.

Age? 31. Cause of death: Car accident. Approximate car speed: 200 km/h

The man’s neighbors woke up to the sound of his mom weeping and shouting. So the next time you and your friends decide to race on a Lebanese highway going at a ridiculous speed, at least have a flashback to your mother’s face and how devastated she would be if you were no longer there to speak to her, hug her or kiss her cheek.

My friend’s car went into a collision with an SUV. It was a convertible BMW and he didn’t have his seat-belt on. He got propelled over forty meters on the tarmac, out of the car.

So a word of advice for the next time you decide to turn your car into a space shuttle wannabe: don’t. Or at least put the seatbelt on – unless you’re experimenting with human projectiles.