Death as a form of Creation


Internship… Internship… Internship… Following is the letter I was asked to write addressing my interest in working with the Support Group Sessions for Cancer Patients.

I am hoping that through my experience as an intern, my graduation project would be able of introducing a glimpse of a different perception to “death”. This will be achieved through a disease that is normally correlated to death. However, any other chronic and death-leading condition may be included to the equation.




Frida Kahlo, Thinking about death



To whom this may concern,

The fragility of our existence in this world has constantly been one of my interests as an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology. The diversity of this fragility, in all its forms, from the love of being to the fear of death and detachment has inspired me to explore more about the human existence and mind.

I am engaged in research that may not belong to the professional world of scientific discoveries, but to the personal zone of growth, understanding and insight. One of the phenomena constantly related to death and existence is Cancer, a medical condition classified by a class of diseases characterized by out-of-control abnormal cell growth.

Cancer has always been, specially recently, the concern of so many elderly and nowadays, the younger generations. Many preventions and techniques have been implemented to avoid and prevent this outrageous monster. I have also witnessed a number of people directly going into chemotherapy to treat what is known to be a medical and biological condition, however, ignoring the psychological wellbeing of the patient. Moreover, the stressful environments that in many ways have set the foundation to the growth of uncontrollable abnormal cell.

I constantly wonder if chemotherapy is actually a cure or a silent treatment? Whether it should be replaced with support group sessions, music, play therapy and time spent with loved ones? Or whether these elements should go hand in hand with the chemotherapy as a medical intervention?

“Death as a form of creation” is also what captures my attention. Cancer is perhaps significantly feared because it is highly correlated with the concept of death, loss of a loved one or detachment. From this point on, through a transformation in the natural state of death and through the direct observations and research recollections, through which I hope to gain from my experience with cancer patients in Support Groups, I wish to take this opportunity of the coming three months of internship to enhance my humble understanding of the phenomenon, advance in future projects from there on, in addition to contributing what may be helpful and supportive to the area.


Kindest Regards,

Fatima Al-Banawi

3 responses »

  1. Salams sister Fatimah.

    First off I want to commend you for the content in your blog. Had I not joined twitter, I may have never found out that you were indeed the ‘infamous’ colored abaya girl from MTV True Life! Mashallah props to you and ur whole ‘crew’ I must say, including that girl Lama and Ahmed, both in the documentary, for trying to bring about change in my beloved and missed city of Jeddah. (Unlike the others in the doc lol) Reading your poetry and the vision you have is fascinating too. I myself am a poet or ‘spoken word’ artist, lol, so I’m able to appreciate other poetry that much more. But this piece ‘Death as a form of creation’ really hit me and I’ll tell you why in a second, and the fact that u so appropriately titled it. I can see that you are indeed about helping people and giving back to the ‘community’, I’d like to say in broader terms.

    I’m studying medicine and personally want to specialize in Oncology, cuz it fascinated me for the longest time (and I know its needed in Saudi inshallah). Recently a Muslim girl I went to university with passed away from Melanoma that just spread visciously. She was only 25. Subhnallah. And having studied all that stuff, it just blows your mind how as a doctor you can only do so much and the rest is in the hands of Allah. For you to be taking up this task of consoling people and giving them support is just one step of the process in long ‘fight’. Moreover, the hardest thing for any doctor to do (and I hope that I will be strong in the near future) is to give any patient bad news. Medical Ethics is a big part of treatment and support legally and ethically in America. Wallahu 3alam if in Saudi, some of these core ethical principles would apply. Few examples are ‘Beneficence’ and ‘Nonmaleficence’, and my bad if these are over the top of your head, but you seem like you would appreciate the insight :). The two terms simply stating that we have to act in the patients’ best interest (meaning they ultimately have the right to decide) and to do no harm, respectively. With that being said, if giving bad news to a patient is going to be a risk factor for more harm, then the approach has to be with ‘open ended’ questions. Simply stating that scenarios are presented to get them aware of the situation. In the end, if they refuse treatment or surgery, then its their right to do so.

    I had another friend, who grew up with me in Jeddah, but died of a Lymphoma 3 yrs ago. So I have personally been affected by ‘Sarataan’ (that’s the arabic term for Cancer, right lol). On a side note, I must compliment you on your grammatical/English skills. I taught English in Jeddah after I graduated from undergrad in America, but I couldn’t delay medicine! So, I have an extensive background in helping the Jeddawi boys become better speakers and writers lol. From ‘Azooz’ to CBA to I don’t know how many Ma7hd’s lol. And I can’t even bare to tell you how ‘Jeddah’ got taken away from me and my family…that’s a whole different issue. So, I’m stuck in America till I finish med school, etccc….hamdulillah my younger and only sis is married happily and has a kid who’s half saudi half american lol. I guess through them I’ll be livin my Jeddawi memories. Born and raised Jeddawi in Khaldiyya and can’t even go back now, sad story, but unfortunately true.

    I apologize for going off for so long. All this stuff about Saudi/Jeddah, just had to get it off my chest. So thank you for baring with me. If you need any more insight about cancer/med psych etc, please don’t hesitate to hollar at me. I would highly appreciate it if you’d follow me, @SheikhBizzle is the addy and the name’s AbdulBasit. Watever I can do to help my fellow Jeddawi’s succeed! Hope we can share knowledge and I can see a different light about how Jeddah is progressively enhancing. I leave you with a link about the sister who recently passed away. Subhanallah the irony of it all is how you posted this blog, seeking to help those inflicted with cancer and how this sister lost her life from the very thing you were concerned with. And she never got to see a free Libya, as her father is a Libyan activist in America. Allah yer7amha!

    Wa Salam, AbdulBasit (AB)

    • Dear AbdulBasit,

      Many Thanks for your kind remarks and encouraging feedback.
      All from the colored abayas, women rights and the MTV appearance to the breast cancer patients’ support and many more initiatives brought by the Saudi youth are but trials to push towards what humans strive for and aspire to achieve.

      P.S. I apologize for the late response

      My prayers and wishes for the best,

  2. What you wrote about is very interesting. I am actually eager to learn about your experience with ‘death’ through your experience with the internship (doctors, family members, and patients). After reading ‘the power of now’ I made a conscious decision to think about death through observing daily life; e.g. I came across a dead fox on the pavement last Sunday. It looked so real, so strong, yet dead. So I am on a journey to further understand ‘death’. It’s very enlightening and spiritual. I am enjoying it!

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