A mother’s legacy: a lesson in courage

2 Comments 06 March 2011

By Niveen Dabaja
Unis Middle School

Farida Hatem fought lung cancer for almost six years. What got her up in the morning was the hope of a cure. She lost her fight on Feb. 26, 2011.

There are a lot of people dealing with this disease. Cancer affects families and friends the world over. Each year, more than 150,000 people in the United States die from lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Before her illness, Hatem used to work for ACCESS, the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services in Dearborn. Six years ago, Hatem developed cancer of the breast. A few years later, a CAT scan revealed that she also had lung cancer.

I knew her because my grandpa had moved into a new neighborhood and Hatem was his next-door neighbor. My mom used to always keep me at my grandpa’s house and in the summertime Susan, Farida Hatem’s daughter, used to always play with me. Now that I’m older, we realize we have spent so much time together.

Farida Hatem has helped me a lot with school, like when I had problems with homework or when I did not understand what my teacher assigned me to do. She helped me find what was wrong with the math questions so I could figure out the riddle.

Cancer made her unable to cook or clean up after herself. So, her husband and kids have to clean the house. Because Hatem had body pains at night, she was not able to sleep.

What helped her a lot was her vegan diet. Hatem cannot have meat at all, only fruits and vegetables. “Nothing else helped but my vegan diet and medication,” Hatem said. “After chemo, a lot of harsh things happen to my body. My nails go yellow and I have hair loss.”

Susan Hatem, now 12, helped her mother a lot. Susan cleaned the whole, entire house with help from her brother and dad.

“My mom thinks like this: ‘No matter what, I’ll be happy because I am a part of this world with a wonderful family that never lets me down.’”
– Susan Hatem

Farida Hatem said, “Even though I have a very hard time with my life, I keep my head up and think positive because I know one day doctors are going to come up with a cure.”

Farida Hatem has made me feel like I have to be strong about everything in life. She was a very strong woman to feel what she felt and did not give up on her family and herself. I have learned that you should never give up and and be really strong at all times.

Your Comments

2 Comments so far

  1. nour eidy says:

    I feel so bad.I can’t imagine what the kids are going through. Its soo hard losing someone your close to let alone your mom.

  2. linda dabaja (niveen's mom) says:

    May her soul RIP. We all miss you dearly. The neighborhood feels so empty without you. :(
    Great job, Niveen.
    Love you, my angel.

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Unis Middle School

Unis School serves grades K-8 in the Dearborn Public School District. The school principal is Heyam Alcodray. These are its beliefs about education:

  • A student's highest potential includes improvements academically, artistically, emotionally and socially.
  • Student achievement requires a cooperative effort among parents, teachers and the community to provide encouragement and reinforce core values.
  • Good instruction is assessment-driven, outcomes-based, active, and engaging.
  • Effective instruction touches the world of each student providing for different learning styles and needs.
  • Education is a life-long process that prepares students to be successful, contributing citizens in a changing world.

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