Discover how Anna’s search for advanced cancer care brought her all the way from Siberia to sunny Israel. This is her breast cancer story.
It was September 2020, and after a very stressful and difficult time in my life, during which I’ve lost both my brother and father, a mammogram revealed a lump in my breast. When the doctor said that the tumor was probably malignant, I wasn’t surprised – many of my family members had died of cancer, including my mother and grandmother, who died of breast cancer. Since I was diagnosed with the BRCA1 gene, which indicates an increased risk for breast cancer, I always took my health seriously and was careful to get regular check-ups.
After receiving the cancer diagnosis, my husband and I decided to act immediately and were considering treatment in either Germany or Israel. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic made getting treatment abroad complicated, but Sheba Medical Center responded to my request very quickly, and my son and I were already there on September 29. Soon after arriving, we met Vera, my medical coordinator, with whom we have since become close friends.
The doctors at Sheba presented me with treatment options, and together we chose the treatment plan that was best suited to my needs and condition. First, I had to undergo chemotherapy along with immunotherapy, followed by surgery and radiation therapy.
I was very nervous before my first chemotherapy session. Even though I knew that not much could go wrong and that the treatment would help my condition, I was still scared. What if there are strong side effects? What if I feel bad? What if it doesn’t help?
Fortunately, I was surrounded by kind people who understood my fears and supported me along the way. Ultimately, I believe it is normal for people in my situation to have these kinds of fears, and in the end they actually made me stronger, not weaker.
The chemotherapy went very well, and I felt completely normal. After the chemotherapy, tests showed that my tumor had shrunk, so it was time for the surgery – which also turned out well. As a result, I was released from the hospital the following day.
My son and I spent almost eight months in Israel and absolutely loved it: the sea, the fact that it’s always warm and all the beautiful places. I come from Siberia, where it reaches -40 degrees Celsius in winter, so it was a pleasant reprieve. My son and I were also delighted with how kind and caring Israelis are: when you ask someone on the street how to get to a place, they will explain everything and make sure you know exactly where you are going. Not only that, but we made friends during our time In Israel, including Katya Kunavina and her son Veniamin, who also underwent treatment at Sheba.
To anyone facing similar challenges, I would like to say that the most important thing is never giving up and maintaining a positive outlook: stay strong and believe that everything will be okay. Positive thinking has a very real effect on our lives, and in my opinion, is an essential part of the recovery process.