The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

From Serbia, through cancer, student begins again on South

By Mona Lisa Tucker/south news editor

At the end of 2005, South student Lora Skinner’s four-year position at the United Nations in Kosovo ended, but her battle with cervical cancer had just begun.

Over a three-month period, she was given five inner-radiation treatments where a device was placed in her stomach. Then she endured almost 24 outer-radiation treatments that came from a machine, she said.

Skinner said radiation was extremely hard to deal with because it made her body feel heavy, like lead.

“I lost all energy. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t do anything. You are just poisoned,” she said. “I felt like I had a wire in my brain, which worked on electricity. I didn’t have chemotherapy, but that was enough.”

Subsequently, she started her recovery process by taking yoga classes while in Belgrade, Serbia, where she was living at the time, she said.

“I was like a newborn. I couldn’t do yoga, I couldn’t move,” she said. “I fainted two times there, and my teacher bought me honey and water. She told me, ‘You have to proceed.’ It was so hard, but after two years of yoga, I can say now I feel better.”

In May 2009, Skinner and her family moved to Fort Worth. Currently, her husband is in Afghanistan, and her daughter, Dina Aburiash, went back to Serbia to study languages at the University of Belgrade.

Aburiash said she was 13 or 14 when Skinner revealed her cancer diagnosis. Aburiash said Skinner was smiling as if cancer was something everyone should have.

“I believe she did that in order to protect us. She didn’t want us to feel scared,” she said. “However, as the cancer progressed, I did get scared. My mom started to look worse and worse. Eventually, she was barely able to walk. She was also bleeding enormously.”

Those events made Aburiash feel  depressed. Her grades dropped significantly because she couldn’t focus in class. She started spending less and less time at home, she said.

“I simply couldn’t look at her like that,” Aburiash said. “Spending time outside the house helped me a lot, but I also remember that my mom never asked for anything. She never complained. I think that’s very noble of her. She basically dealt with her cancer on her own. She is an amazing woman.”

Sanya Birac, Skinner’s eldest daughter who never left Belgrade, said at first she couldn’t digest such news. It took some time for everything to sink in, she said.

The siblings weren’t aware how serious their mom’s illness was and had no idea what they were about to go through. Nonetheless, their mom kept a good attitude and focused on solving the problem, Birac said.

“I believe that that very attitude had influence on me and my sister dealing with our mom’s cancer process,” Birac said. “I often say to my mom that she’s like a phoenix, a consummate fighter and survivor. I’m so happy she’s healthy and living her new life in a new country.”

Skinner is retired but desired to do something else with her life so when a neighbor told Skinner about associate professor of psychology Triesha Light’s Women in New Roles courses and how much they helped her, Skinner started the courses in September 2010.

She enjoys Light’s courses, but it’s not easy for her, and the hardest part is vocabulary, Skinner said.

“I love her classes. She is amazing. She is full of energy and a perfect example for all of us,” Skinner said.

Light said Skinner is a remarkable woman, and it has been an honor to know her through WINR courses.

“I enjoyed listening to her talk about her work at the U.N. It was very interesting,” Light said. “She is a student of the global community.”

 

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