Each month American Bedu blog has a feature called “Use your Imagination.” American Bedu will begin a story which encompasses some aspect of Saudi Arabia and then, you, the reader, get the opportunity to either finish the story or simply take it to the next level for someone else to pick up. October was international breast cancer awareness month but I believe this is a disease that needs to be highlighted more often than one month a year. Breast cancer is the number one cancer among women in Saudi Arabia which is not caught in time and therefore fatal to them. That is a tragedy because if breast cancer is caught and treated early it is among the most curable of all cancers. Breast cancer is also perceived as the “Woman’s Disease” in Saudi Arabia. So with a slightly new twist, I look forward to how you contribute to this month’s “Use Your Imagination” with the story of Khalid below.
Khalid had not been feeling well for several months. He was lethargic, losing more energy daily and had noticed he had a strange lump which he felt on his chest. Or to be more specific, he could feel this strange lump in the area of his breast. He was hesitant to tell anyone or see a doctor for to do that was to openly acknowledge his fear that something was not right. He also could not understand why as a man he would have this hard lump which felt like a small pebble under his breast. The prospect of cancer never occurred to him for he was a man. And after all, breast cancer was exclusively a woman’s disease, something a Saudi man would have little to no involvement with. The women took care of each other for those “female things.” Yet he could not deny that the lump was slowly becoming bigger.
Khalid was a married man in his early 40’s with four children. He and his wife, Munira, had a typical Saudi relationship. His days were spent working as an engineer for Saudi Telecom Corporation (STC) while Munira stayed at home taking care of the children and overseeing her housemaid. Most evenings he would drop Munira and the children at one of her family member’s home to visit and he in turn would join his male friends at a local coffee house or estraha and pass by the time.
Khalid and Munira had a close and loving relationship but only privately behind the closed door of their bedroom. They would never think of embracing or sitting side by side with hands entwined in front of their children. That was not typical of them or their extended family to make such public displays of affection.
However one night while laying side by side in bed, Munira remembered something she had wanted to ask Khalid and to get his attention placed her hand on his chest. It just happened that the placement of her hand was at the exact spot of Khalid’s lump which had continued to grow even larger. Initially Munira removed her hand in shock wondering what had she felt. But as any concerned spouse, she then insisted that Khalid remove his shirt so she could see exactly what it was she had felt.
Although Munira was a traditional Saudi woman who did not have an education beyond high school, she quickly recognized that something was not right. After all, her mother and several of her sisters had battled breast cancer which had been identified by similar looking tumors like the one on Khalid’s breast. But could a man get breast cancer? Wasn’t that the woman’s disease?
When Munira suggested Khalid see a doctor his initial reaction was to scoff at her which was actually a ploy designed to mask his own fear. Yet Munira’s reaction further scared Khalid. While he would not admit it to Munira, he knew there was something very wrong.
And now it is your turn to continue the story. What does Khalid do? What does he learn? How does Khalid’s experience change his views about breast cancer?
Filed under: breast cancer, cancer, culture, gender, Health, Saudi Arabia, Saudi culture, Saudi customs, Saudi education, Saudi Living, Uncategorized Tagged: | breast cancer, cancer, culture, culture shock, customs, gender, gender issues, KSA, places, Relationship, Saudi, Saudi Arabia, Saudi customs, travel