Guest Blog: Aly’s Story-
My name is Aly, and I’m proud and honoured to have been asked to write a blog for the Hadassah UK website. I hope that my regular updates can help to give you an insight into what truly makes the Hadassah Hospital tick . . . the building, the patients and the wonderful staff who fill it day and night
Just a little about me. . . I am 53 years old and we made Aliyah nearly 18 months ago. Around 4 years ago whilst living in the UK, I received a “double diagnosis” after an MRI where I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and they also discovered a tumour in my brain. The tumour, due to its shape, size and type, is inoperable, and I was always warned that at some stage it may change and need further treatment, whilst for the past 4 years I have used injections three times a week to control the MS and stop any further deterioration.
Having planned our Aliyah for nearly 24 years, and with the tumour not showing any significant change, we finally fulfilled our dream of moving to Israel in May 2015. Unfortunately the tumour showed some signs of growth and change in behaviour and after a biopsy earlier this year, I am now part-way through a course of chemotherapy following a 6 week intensive course of radiotherapy earlier this year. Patients with the two conditions combined are not common, but the professors treating me keep themselves at the forefront of research, and I am confident that together we will beat this!
It is difficult to put in words to those who have not yet had the opportunity to visit, what a truly overwhelming complex the Hadassah Hospital sits upon. It looks down over Jerusalem from the top of a hill, and although the road up is windy (and in common with most other roads in Israel, driven at twice the speed that perhaps it ought!), there is such beauty in the surrounding landscape that no matter how anxious you may be feeling, there is somehow combined a feeling of peace and belonging.
This feeling is magnified on arrival to the hospital, where you are greeted by what is to me one of the most inspiring sights of all, at the entrance to the Sharrett building, which houses the oncology department amongst others. The humbling words to me encapsulate what Hadassah represents. I have sat on the benches you see in the picture and used the time to truly appreciate the hospital, the care, living in Israel, and just life in general. I have also cried on these benches and got chatting to other patients and visitors.
Hadassah is like a small city populated day and night by such a massive team of staff, each one as important and necessary as the next. I thought over the course of these blogs, I would introduce you to some of these “unsung heroes״ … So my first intense exposure to the hospital was via the radiology department. I had a daily appointment for 7am, and tended to see the same patients each morning. We chatted about treatment, compared conditions and shared cake on my birthday! On my first visit I was introduced to Ruth, a Canadian nurse who gently explained what was to come, the symptoms I may experience and showed me how to tie a headscarf to cover my hair loss and protect my head, talked to me about looking after my body both internally and externally and truly helped to humanise the hospital and allay many of my fears and concerns. When I have bumped into her since, she always has a gentle gesture, a small piece of advice or just a smile and greeting by name – a great unsung hero.
Another unsung hero from the same department was the guy who cleaned the public areas. When he realised we were visiting daily and I always needed to fill my water bottle at a certain time, he changed his routine to be sure the fresh water would be topped up in time for me. We didn’t communicate verbally – he spoke only Arabic – but with signs I was able to thank and appreciate his gesture – another unsung hero!
And I’m just now sitting in the waiting room of the NeuroOncology Department, waiting to see my NeuroOncologist – I’m hoping I’ll get to go-ahead to restart chemotherapy later this month, and if not that we can discuss other options. Whichever way it goes, I know that the patient-centred and well researched decision will be made with my best interests at heart and I’ll update on my next blog 🙂