The Most Courageous Saudi Woman


Dr. Amoudi, an obstetrician, gynecologist and assistant professor at the King Abdulaziz University, was the only Saudi woman to receive a prize and was among another eight women who were described as being the most courageous women in the world.

Last Monday, Amoudi was again congratulated and given an honorary souvenir by King Abdulaziz University (KAU) in a ceremony attended by Dr. Adnan Mazrou’, dean of KAU’s medical school, and other medical college professors.

The eight women were selected among 82 from around the world, who were nominated by US embassies around the world. “I felt honored and thrilled, but yet scared because it’s becoming a bigger responsibility,” said Dr. Amoudi.

Honorary prizes were given to women who have worked hard for the betterment of society and served to inspire people. Dr. Amoudi’s story began last year when she diagnosed herself with breast cancer. The first thing she thought about was to tell her children about her disease.

Telling Arab News about her story, Amoudi said that the disease made her a stronger woman. “The disease did not only make me a stronger woman, it also made me more capable of dealing with life’s crises. It added to my faith and made me see my life differently,” she said.

It was Friday, April 7, 2006, when she first felt her life was going in a different direction. She calls it “a date that has a special place in my heart and the hearts of my children, family and my loved ones. It was the date when my life and my priorities took a whole new direction.”

She by chance touched her breast and felt a lump. “In a single moment, all my medical instincts sharpened up. I began to feel the lump and checked the tumor and the lymph nodes under my arm,” she said, adding it was bad luck that she is a doctor and knew the lumps were tumors.

The first thing she was afraid of was telling her children. She has two biological children. Abdullah is at intermediate school, Israa is at elementary school, and her step daughter Suzan is a university student. She considers Suzan her own because she brought her up and stayed with her even after she split from her father.

The mother decided to tell her children about the disease step by step. She let them sit around her and told them about a friend, who lives in the US and discovered she had cancer. She asked them if she should tell her children about her disease. They answered yes and that she must tell them. Then she started telling them that she has to undergo some tests at hospital because she has sensed a tumor in her breast.

Abdullah asked, “Could it be cancer mother?” She answered it might be but she will wait to see what the doctor says after examining the lump. She told them that having cancer does not mean she will die. “I told them that God tests people who He loves and then rewards them in the afterlife,” she said.

Breast cancer affected her life as a person, a woman, a mother and as a working woman. She says she feels she is too busy to have cancer. It makes her deal with her patients differently and allows her to understand their suffering and agony in a better way.

She said it was a tough period when she started chemotherapy and her hair started to fall. “As physicians, we write prescriptions for patients without knowing what happens afterward. When I began my chemotherapy treatment, I experienced firsthand the complications and side effects every other patient feels,” she said.

Dr. Amoudi believes that all of this becomes easier once a Muslim remembers God and the Day of Judgment. The person is happy that God has chosen him or her and expedited his or her forgiveness in order to go to God clear and pure.

When her hair started to fall, she brought a shaving machine to get rid of the rest of her hair. In order not to turn it into a painful memory, she held a party and invited her best friend Dr. Nadia Ghannam. She started shaving off her head with Israa and her son Abdullah joyfully helping her. Suzan filmed everything with her camera. Abdullah also shaved his hair a few days before when he went for Umrah and told her that she looks like him now. Suzan told her that she looked like Demi Moore in G.I. Jane.

Other women, who are not doctors, may not realize they have breast tumors. Amoudi used her experience of cancer and her knowledge of medicine to hold awareness campaigns and programs to help women discover whether they have cancer at an advanced stage. She is also very concerned that her 10-year-old daughter does not go through the same when she grows older.

Amoudi wrote a series of articles about her experience with cancer in her weekly column that is published in the Al-Madinah newspaper. She also has a daily program held at 5:30 p.m. (Saudi Time) entitled “Message of Love” on Iqraa TV.

“Having breast cancer is a love message that I want to tell every woman. Don’t ignore or delay early examinations and look after yourself,” she says.

Amoudi was among the first group of doctors to graduate from the Medical College at King Abdulaziz University in 1981. She is also a former vice dean of the KAU Medical College.

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