Posted by on Apr 28, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

On August 23, 2014,  Sara Khatib checked off another achievement on her life list of hopes and wishes.  She spoke at a TEDx in Beirut, Lebanon.   The theme of the TEDx was ‘how would you fill a time capsule?’  So Sara brought along four items related to the lessons she learned while “battling cancer.”

“Sometimes giving up is the way to survive”

The first item for the time capsule was water wings.  When learning to swim, Sara’s family taught her that if caught in a whirlpool, it is best not to struggle but to let the current take her to the bottom where it is less powerful.  Then she was to use her energy to swim out of danger.

Her “personal whirlpool” started in 2008 with a benign tumor in her right elbow.  She let the current take her down through complications, surgeries, a change in her tumor from benign to malignant, chemotherapy and an amputation. In her talk, she describes where she hit bottom and what helped her swim.

“Do not let your obstacles define you”

Her physicians wanted to schedule her chemotherapy during the week.  This would have required that Sara quit school.  As a pharmacy student, she did not want cancer to be the center of her life.  “I didn’t want to live despite cancer, I wanted to live with it.”  As an amputee, she had to relearn to write with her left arm so that she could be a student.  Hence her second item for the time capsule was a writing tablet.

“Pain is inevitable, Suffering is optional”

Sara brought a wig as her third item.  She described the pain she experienced all the time.  Yet with pain, she decided to have fun. “What’s the point of missing out, if you are going to be in pain anyway?”  “Suffering is a human state of mind.”  “You always have the option to smile despite your pain and enjoy every second.”


“Do not postpone your dreams”

Sara had always assumed, before becoming ill, that she would have time to do all the things she wanted later.  After staying in the hospital for 3 months, she decided to start doing everything she had been delaying until later.  The first thing that she did was get a dog.  Her fourth item for the time capsule was a leash.



Final Thoughts

I learned of Sara from another young woman currently in treatment for a recurrence of  Hodgkin Lymphoma.  She shared this image on her Facebook timeline.  

Here is Sara’s Tedx video presentation.  On September 5, 2014, two weeks after making this presentation, Sara died.  Please watch her video and find out more about the lessons that she learned while “battling cancer.”

Look forward Association: Sara Khatib’s cancer and amputee association for youth is an organization in Lebanon created in Sara’s name to help young adults and their families who are facing cancer or amputation.