An Ethiopian housekeeper has shared her celebration after being able to return to work following her recovery from breast cancer.
Aynalem, 45, is now thriving and continuing to support her family after she was first given the terrifying diagnosis in October 2021.
A loyal and reliable domestic worker, Aynalem had been working in the UAE for 8 years when she noticed an unusual symptom on her breast.
After alerting her employer at the time, a mammogram and biopsy confirmed that she had stage three breast cancer, which would require immediate treatment.
Living and working thousands of miles away from her siblings and niece in Ethiopia, Aynalem shared that she had initially thought she would need to return there due to medical costs.
However, after speaking with her family and employer, Housekeeping Co, staff explained that the company could assist with the expenses of treatment.
Understanding that a return to Ethiopia would mean little chance of treatment, Aynalem chose to remain in the UAE – a decision which would save her life.
Due to the severity of the cancer, Aynalem braved through six rounds of chemotherapy and targeted therapy, which took a difficult toll on her health. Affecting her energy, skin and even her appetite, she shared that the most “difficult part of treatment” was losing her hair.
Despite the effects of chemotherapy, Aynalem bravely continued treatment, and finished her final round in March 2022.
From there, the journey was not over, and Aynalem then underwent a full mastectomy, which required checkups every three days for some time.
Although she was unable to work, Aynalem was given full support from Housekeeping Co, who organized the logistics for her appointments, and followed her diet and treatment plan in every detail. Despite not having her family close by, the team ensured Aynalem always had someone to support her or confide in.
Finally, in September 2022, doctors gave Aynalem the incredible news that she was fit to work again, and she now remains a part of Housekeeping Co as their company housekeeper in Dubai, continuing to support her family back in her hometown of Addis Ababa.
Still attending checkups every three months, her health remains closely monitored by professionals, which would have never happened if she had left the UAE when diagnosed.
For Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2023, Aynalem has encouraged other domestic workers to ensure they check for any abnormalities and urged women to get their symptoms examined as early as possible. She added:
“I am very grateful to the people around me and Housekeeping Co, they gave me strength and full support. They helped with everything and saved my job.”
Speaking about Aynalem’s journey, Housekeeping Co’s Training Vice Principal, Ariel Mar Tun, said:
“All our staff love Aynalem, as she has carried herself with dignity and grace and never complained. She has been a great team member ever since she joined us. She is very attentive to all staff requests and brings positive energy to work, which we all admire.”