Through faith and family, Nuha Arabo overcame both non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and breast cancer.
BY ASHOURINA SLEWO
When Nuha Arabo was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, her first thought was her family and what the diagnosis would mean for them. Then again when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Arabo thought of her family and how they would be heartbroken that she was sick again. Arabo knew, though that if she stuck with love and faith, she would prevail. And prevail she did.
Arabo was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in March 2002. Following her diagnosis, Arabo had to undergo rigorous treatments including chemotherapy and radiation at the Karmanos Center in Detroit.
“The second after hearing ‘you have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer’ I immediately thought of my children and husband and what I could do to get better for them,” Arabo recalled. “To be honest, I was not scared for myself but I was scared for my family.”
A year and a half after her diagnosis, Arabo was in remission. She had held on to her faith and family throughout the entire process and she had come out the victor.
“When my mom told me she had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I felt very angry at first,” said Tabetha, Arabo’s oldest child. “I was so scared for what my family was about to go through and I was angry because we did not deserve this and how our life was [going to be] turned upside down just from an illness. After seeing that anger was not going to help myself or my family I realized I had to be strong. I had to step up for my family and younger siblings and be able to provide.”
Arabo was in remission for approximately eight years when she received another round of bad news. In 2012, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Once again, Arabo was not scared of her diagnosis; she was steadfast in her faith and believed wholeheartedly that she would overcome this illness, too. “After going through vigorous treatment like chemotherapy and radiation the first time, I knew I could handle anything,” Arabo said. “When hearing my diagnosis of breast cancer, I knew I [would be] able to battle through another one.”
Following her breast cancer diagnosis, Arabo had to undergo additional treatment. This time around, however, surgery was necessary.
“As treatment for breast cancer I had to go
through a double mastectomy and then eight months later reconstruction surgery,” Arabo said. “The entire process of treatment and recovery was about a year and a half.”
With each diagnosis, Arabo had to come to terms with the changes the physical changes that she would go through as well as the mental and emotional changes.
“Mentally, I knew I had to stay strong and always think positive because God was by my side during this entire process,” Arabo said. “I felt if I was not mentally strong, then I wasn’t putting on a strong front for my family, which is what I knew they needed.”
Emotionally, Arabo felt drained. She believed that the emotional aspect of cancer was far harder to deal than any of the treatments. This was largely because Arabo knew the toll her sickness was taking out on her family. “Seeing my family suffer when looking at me, thinking that any moment could be “the” moment made me feel hopeless and depressed.”
Nevertheless, Arabo and her family continued to hold onto their faith and did all that they could do make the journey a little more comfortable for everyone. When her mother was in the process of chemotherapy treatment, Lexi, Arabo’s youngest daughter, recalled a day in which her mother was feeling especially ill. “My entire family stayed home from school and work because we didn’t know what to expect,” Lexi said.
Feeling her family’s vulnerability, Lexi wore one of her mother’s wigs and got dressed up in an attempt to calm her family’s nerves. “My family hadn’t laughed so hard in so long,” Lexi said. “I remember seeing my brother crying from how hard he was laughing. From that day I knew my mom was going to deal with this head on and my family was going to get through it.”
With each diagnosis, the outpouring of love and support never ceased and is what helped Arabo stay strong as she endured a slew of treatments, surgeries and the long road of recovery.
“The amount of support I had from my family made me feel like I could beat it and I did,” Arabo explained. “Staying hopeful and knowing that the power of prayer during my time of chemo, radiation, and getting prepped for surgery helped me in a way of knowing I was going to be able to see and be in my children’s future. That picture is what pushed me through the years.”