Laura Penhaul By

Through my work as a Physio,  there are characteristics that I see in a select few that show the true meaning of mental resilience; the depth, determination and belief in their goal which seems to be drawn on when being faced with adversity. What continues to amaze me, is the fight that people have to overcome it.

Over the next few months, I plan to share with you the stories that are particularly close to me and those people that have truly made an impact on who I am today.


I met Rashid a few years ago when I worked in a private sports clinic & his bubbly, positive nature and love of sports and his family, meant that outside of the therapy room we had become friends. He had just got married and him his wife, Patricia, were expecting their first child. Thinking back to how they were then, I wish I could turn back the clock for them.


After spending a recent evening with Rashid and his son Yasin, it was the first time where he shared with me photos of his wedding day to Patricia, photos of the birth of their son Yasin and the most poignant of all, a video taken with Patricia just 2 days before she died. The overwhelming emotion that I felt isn’t even a scratch on what Rashid is going through and it highlighted to me that their story is one to be shared. This is one of the most heart wrenching stories that I’ve ever experienced and it’s the fact that it’s reality, it’s not a film or a fictional story, but this is a close friend of mines’ real life story.

2 years ago, nearly to the day, Rashid and Patricia couldn’t have been happier, they had reached where most of us dream of, to find true love in a sole mate, in someone that gets you, in someone that you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with. It was 2012 and they had just got married which was a beautiful family affair and was everything they had wished for. On the return from their honeymoon, they found out the exciting news that they were pregnant, and for them if ever ‘perfect’ existed, then now was the time.

However for Trish and Rashid, pure happiness was short lived. Just 3 months later, Patricia got the devastating news that she had an aggressive form of breast cancer and in order to treat it, she would need radical surgery along with chemotherapy and radiotherapy which wouldn’t be suitable for their unborn child. They had a tough decision to make, to save Patricia’s life or their unborn baby. A decision that you can never wish on anyone. However they were given a reprieve of a ‘2 week’ window which became to be quite pertinent in a number of situations, but those 2 weeks meant that their little baby boy  Yasin could be delivered by C-section at 28 weeks old, weighing in at a weighty 2 pounds!

patricia & faily

The delivery was the Friday and the following Monday Patricia commenced the arduous journey of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Their days/ weeks/months blurred into one, with Rashids’ days spent morning and night in the ITU with Yasin, then by his wife’s bedside, whilst still being dedicated to stay focussed as a school teacher at work in the day. Whilst he was doing that, Patricia who had just had a C-section, was going through all the chemotherapy and radiotherapy, followed by radical chest surgery. Yet Trish would take herself into ITU, to spend the day with Yasin, wanting to feed/ wash/ change him,  regardless of how weak she may have felt.

However this was the pinnacle reflection point that Rashid kept highlighting to me, both himself, the family and even Patricia herself were amazed at where she got her strength from. Patricia would openly say that she was a ‘girly girl’, loved her heels, her hair being immaculate and presenting herself & would previously have complained about any ache or pain or a small scratch on her knee. But yet during this, something just switched on, everyone around her saw this inner strength that just ignited, to the point where she’d even turned to Rashid to say ‘this isn’t me, I don’t know where this is coming from….’. When faced with the adversity of loosing the love of her life, the newborn gorgeous baby boy that she’d just carried, natural instinct and inner strength told her to fight. The astounding thing with Tricia, is that she did it all with a smile on her face & humour throughout, refusing to ever complain.


I have only ever loved watching films that have a happy ending, where regardless of what adversity people have faced you wish only the best to come out of it, for them to overcome it and live a happily ever after life, because to me that’s what people like Rashid and Patricia deserve.

However this was one of those cases that fate/ faith whichever you want to believe, had taken that opportunity away from them. After 3 months of treatment, battling against the odds, Patricia was diagnosed with secondaries in her spine. She was given 3 months prognosis to live which was cut short to surviving only a few weeks.

elouahabi family photo

The other night Rashid showed me a video that he took of Patricia by her bed side 2 days before she passed away. It was a video where she could barely open her eyes, she went through giving each member of the family a message, reminiscing of funny anecdotes fluctuating between moments of hallucinations to clear lucid strong messages, expressing her desires of Yasin to be cared for and brought up within their tight family with only memories of joy and happiness.

Whilst I sat trying to control the tears that were rolling down my face, not only did I feel the sadness for Patricia trying to fight for her life, for the life that she’d so desperately wished for and had in her hands for such a short period of time, but I’m sitting here watching it with Rashid. Her husband who is now left to care for their child after loosing the love of his life. To care for a beautiful child Yasin who is a spitting image of his mum, a reminder on a daily basis of her presence.  A man that has all these memories, these pictures and videos that he’s watching knowing how happy they once were and that he will never see or feel that happiness again.


If there was something we could do to bring Patricia back for Rashid, Yasin and their family, I would do it in a flash, but instead the only way we can help, is by keeping her memory and story alive.

By making this row a success, it gives a platform to share this story and many others that Breast Cancer Care provide the support for. This row is not about us, it is about those women & families that have had to face and fight adversity but don’t get a chance for their voice to be heard.

‘Live and laugh every day, spend time with your family and love your family, live with nothing left un-said or undone, knowing that if today was your last there would be no regrets.’ Patricia Elouahabi




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