Giving Hearts to Support Survivors

Oct 10, 2019

One in eight women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer. That means every two minutes a woman in the U.S. hears the words no one ever wants to hear. They have cancer.

Fedaa Al Sammak was that one in eight. Her life changed in 2018 following her diagnosis. Though she, like many women, was able to find it at an early stage, when the cancer is most treatable, it still took its toll on her.

Unable to work while undergoing treatment and surgery, she was looking for help. To make matters worse, her husband’s health also took a turn for the worse around this time. He passed away on June 29, 2018, leaving Fedaa with an uncertain future and two pre-teen children to raise.

In her search for answers and support, she looked to the Chaldean Community Foundation for help. There, she found a guardian angel in the form of Vivian Esshaki Shouneyia.

While Vivian tragically lost her battle with breast cancer, her family has ensured her legacy lives on as a support system for people suffering from life-changing health issues.

Following her untimely death, Vivian’s family established the Giving Hearts Fund administered by CCF. The fund helps those with a cancer diagnosis by providing financial support during times of duress due to health and medical reasons.

As Vivian would say, “There are blessings all around us.” Or, as Fedaa said, “If you look for angels, you’ll see angels.”

Through CCF’s affiliate Giving Hearts, Fedaa received assistance for her living expenses during her treatment. Given the loss of her husband and her inability to work at the time, Fedaa was incredibly grateful for the program’s support.

That didn’t fully alleviate her worries about the treatment. Thankfully, good news was on the horizon for Fedaa. Her treatment was successful. She joined the ranks of breast cancer survivors and was ready to get her life back.

Following surgery to remove much of the cancerous cells from her body, Fedaa began to look for work. She had to adjust to her new life not only as a widowed mother of two, but as one of more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. Thanks to the Career Services department at CCF, she was able to find a new job and get back to work.

Her new situation in life didn’t stop her from continuing to move forward. She was recently approved for a car loan through the Chaldean Loan Fund to make getting to and from work easier. Now she’s embarking on the next part of her remarkable journey, enrolling in CCF’s citizenship preparation class that started October 7, 2019, to prepare for the next chapter in her life.

For most, the combination of losing their husband and fighting cancer would cause someone to become angry. Not Fedaa. She continues to have a positive outlook on life, eternally grateful for the help and support she received while undergoing surgery and treatment.

As Fedaa’s recovery continues, she’s looking to take another step forward. Beyond finishing her journey to become a U.S. citizen, she’s also looking to move her family into a bigger living space.

Through all the turmoil she’s experienced over the last year and a half, Fedaa has remained positive and grateful for those who provided a helping hand in this fight.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year alone, more than 41,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Early intervention has been proven to help improve survival rates. Find resources through the National Breast Cancer Foundation for early detection.


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