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Women Are Saying They're Getting Checked After A Famous Lebanese Singer Said She'd Had Breast Cancer

Elissa, one of Lebanon's most famous singers, released a video that detailed her diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

Posted on August 13, 2018, at 12:11 p.m. ET

Last week the Lebanese singer Elissa released a video sharing that she had been treated for breast cancer.

Mohamed Azakir / Reuters

The video and song went viral, with the YouTube video racking up more than 9 million views.

Elissa / Rotana / YouTube

Thousands of people shared #Elissa (اليسا#) and #To_All_Who_Love_Me (الى_كل_اللي_بيحبوني#), causing the hashtags to trend in Lebanon.

How beautiful is this #اليسا Trending Top 1 #الى_كل_اللي_بيحبوني Trending Top2 In Lebanon 🇱🇧 @elissakh We love you Elissa ❤️ https://t.co/LSk3D4BNgl

There was a massive outpouring of support for the artist, who, with more than 13 million Twitter followers, is among Lebanon's biggest stars.

Noha El-Nahass

Women in Lebanon started tweeting that because of the singer, they will go get checked for breast cancer.

"Not because of Elissa, but I always moved away from cancer. "I have a lot to do [but] because of Elissa's videos, I will stop looking away. I will do a thorough examination. If it is God's will, I might have a certain disease. [But] I will not be afraid."@elissakh [is] my inspiration."
Yanis Elissian

"Not because of Elissa, but I always moved away from cancer.

"I have a lot to do [but] because of Elissa's videos, I will stop looking away. I will do a thorough examination. If it is God's will, I might have a certain disease. [But] I will not be afraid.

"@elissakh [is] my inspiration."

"I am one of the people who was affected, despite that I wasn't speaking about it because the idea itself scares me. "I always feel the pain, and I was worried that because I was so afraid I didn't go to the hospital. But when I saw her experience I was very affected, and I went to check!"Some 'mentally ill patients' must treat their heads and treat the blackness of their heart!"
Marom Awbs / Twitter

"I am one of the people who was affected, despite that I wasn't speaking about it because the idea itself scares me.

"I always feel the pain, and I was worried that because I was so afraid I didn't go to the hospital. But when I saw her experience I was very affected, and I went to check!

"Some 'mentally ill patients' must treat their heads and treat the blackness of their heart!"

Women were supporting one another's decisions to be checked and acknowledging the stigma that still exists around breast cancer.

"Bravo Mona. I haven't been checked since 2008, and I am going to check in the two weeks and [pray]."What she did is not easy for any woman, especially in our society which fears this sickness and people talking about how they have breast cancer. It is something that is important for every female. "The hardest thing is that she is a famous artist and 24 hours her name is [being used] both negative/positive @اليسا_بطلة [Elissa]."
Bayude / Twitter

"Bravo Mona. I haven't been checked since 2008, and I am going to check in the two weeks and [pray].

"What she did is not easy for any woman, especially in our society which fears this sickness and people talking about how they have breast cancer. It is something that is important for every female.

"The hardest thing is that she is a famous artist and 24 hours her name is [being used] both negative/positive @اليسا_بطلة [Elissa]."

Other women said they respected Elissa for speaking out about her breast cancer.

"I remember the teacher said we were forbidden to say the name of the disease; they called it the 'slag's disease.'"Now the giants of the arts industry are talking about the subject so that the people of Lebanon will know about it. "If the disease is better known, we will be able to diagnose and treat it better."
Twitter: @ali_jules

"I remember the teacher said we were forbidden to say the name of the disease; they called it the 'slag's disease.'

"Now the giants of the arts industry are talking about the subject so that the people of Lebanon will know about it.

"If the disease is better known, we will be able to diagnose and treat it better."

The star was diagnosed with breast cancer in December but kept it a secret despite collapsing on stage at the beginning of the year — which she addresses in the video.

Elissa / Rotana / YouTube

Breast cancer remains a difficult subject for many in the Arab world.

In Lebanon and Jordan, a mix of social and economic pressures mean that early and regular breast screenings are often not available for the majority of women, Al Jazeera reported in 2014. Although breast cancer rates in the Middle East are lower than they are in the rest of the world, mortality rates are higher overall.
Elie Chaaya / Twitter

In Lebanon and Jordan, a mix of social and economic pressures mean that early and regular breast screenings are often not available for the majority of women, Al Jazeera reported in 2014.

Although breast cancer rates in the Middle East are lower than they are in the rest of the world, mortality rates are higher overall.

A World Health Organization report in 2014 suggested that a lack of regular checkups contributed to inability to catch the disease in its earliest — and most treatable — stages.

"There is a stigma attached to the illness here in Jordan," Suzan Murad, the director of the Al-Wa'ad Society for Cancer Advocacy & Survivorship in Amman, Jordan, said."Women are terrified of the possibility of a mastectomy and what outcomes this could have, many worry that their husbands will leave them."
Elissa / Rotana / YouTube

"There is a stigma attached to the illness here in Jordan," Suzan Murad, the director of the Al-Wa'ad Society for Cancer Advocacy & Survivorship in Amman, Jordan, said.

"Women are terrified of the possibility of a mastectomy and what outcomes this could have, many worry that their husbands will leave them."

People felt that by telling the public about it, Elissa had opened up the conversation and encouraged more people to get checked.

Madeline / Twitter
Bibi / twitter

The video ends with a message for fans in both English and Arabic that states: "I've recovered, I've beaten the illness, and I won... Early detection of breast cancer can save your life... Don't ignore it, face it... Do it not only for you, but for your loved ones."

Elissa / Rotana / YouTube

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