Cancer survivors to get benches dedicated to their survival as part of charity campaign
A Scots woman who was diagnosed with cancer only weeks after returning from honeymoon has had a park bench named in her honour to mark her survival from the disease.
Sabah Ghani was just 23 when she was forced to put all her dreams on hold last summer when with the support of her husband Zain Khan, 26, she faced a fight for her life. Now she’s looking forward to spending time on a special bench dedicated to her by Cancer Research UK.
In a twist on the usual plaque dedications which are normally placed in memory of a loved one, the engraving on Sabah’s bench in Bellahouston Walled Garden, Glasgow reads: “Sabah Ghani loved sitting here…and still does thanks to everyone who Stands Up To Cancer.”
Sabah’s bench is one of a series being placed around the UK as part of Stand Up To Cancer.
A joint fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4, Stand Up To Cancer raises money to fund vital research to get better treatments to cancer patients faster.
Sabah, who is now cancer free, said: “I thought I was too young to get cancer but my husband has been my rock.
“Even when I’ve been crying and scared, my husband has been so calm. He’s always there for me and kept saying I’d be fine.
“He told me I was beautiful, even when I lost my long hair during treatment. My mum and all my family kept me fighting too.”
And although former finance student Sabah is looking forward to spending time sitting at her bench, right now she’s urging everyone to join her and Stand Up To Cancer.
She said: “I’m delighted this fantastic bench has been dedicated to me. It’s a great way of showing that people can survive this devastating disease.
“I hope everyone who sees it will be inspired to help create more tomorrows for people like me and my family by getting involved in the Stand Up To Cancer campaign and raising money for life-saving research.”
Sabah, now 24, recalls vividly how unwell she felt as a bride to be. Chest pains, a cough and feeling constantly exhausted was at first dismissed by her GP as pre-wedding nerves.
But after finding a lump under her arm and suffering night sweats after she returned from her honeymoon in Dubai she arranged an emergency appointment with her GP.
“By that time I had lumps in my neck and my collar bone,” she continued. “I remember the doctor saying, ‘there’s something wrong with you Sabah. It could be something severely wrong so I’m going to send you to hospital immediately’.”
Former finance student Sabah endured a battery of tests including surgery for a biopsy and an agonising wait before results revealed she had a cancer of the white blood cells. It had already spread in to her upper diaphragm.
I’m delighted this fantastic bench has been dedicated to me. It’s a great way of showing that people can survive this devastating disease
Sabah started on a six-month course of chemotherapy but hit a low point when after fighting an infection her hair started to fall out.
But as the lumps disappeared, Sabah started to feel stronger and tests revealed the treatment was working.
Sabah said: “I feel I’ve been given this second chance and I’m determined to make the most of it.
“Every day has to be special and there’s no point in settling for second best. Cancer has made me stronger and more forgiving.
“I’ve missed out on so much after my wedding day. I don’t have time to miss out on anything more. To anyone going through cancer I’d say stay strong,fight against it and never let it beat you.”
As part of the Stand Up to Cancer campaign Scots of all ages can sign up for the first March on Cancer which is in Edinburgh on Saturday 11 October starting at 7.30pm at Holyrood Park, below Arthur’s Seat.
The 45-minute sponsored walk will take in landmarks including the Scottish Parliament and St Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile. There will be inspiring stories from Scots who have overcome and are fighting cancer as well as live music. Edinburgh has been chosen as one of only 15 cities to host the March which will take place simultaneously around the UK.
Stand up to Cancer will culminate in a live TV fundraiser on Channel 4 at 7.30pm on 17 October, hosted by Davina McCall, Alan Carr and Dr Christian Jessen.
The trio will front a star-studded night of television, jam packed with programming from entertainment and science to documentaries. It will feature some of Channel 4’s and the UK’s best loved talent as well as respected cancer researchers.
Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK’s spokeswoman for Scotland, said: “We are used to seeing benches dedicated to people who have passed away so we hope this unusual inscription will encourage people to think and reflect on the incredible progress that’s been made in the last 40 years. More people are surviving cancer than ever before.
“We have the technology and the knowledge to conquer cancer. We just need the funds to turn it into real-life treatments.”
To get involved with Stand Up to Cancer register for a free fundraising kit bursting with great ideas on how to raise money.