Olha’s two fights, against cancer and to bring back her husband, a prisoner of the Russians

If many Ukrainian women saw their partner go to the front, Olha, at the same time, had to face alone a cancer detected just before the start of the war.


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Olha shows the photo of her marriage to Ruslan, before the war and cancer.  (AGATHE MAHUET – RADIO FRANCE)

After more than two years of Russian invasion, Ukraine is redoubling its efforts to hold on in the war. Again on Friday April 5, at least four people were killed in a Russian missile strike on the large city of Zaporizhzhia, in the south of the country.

Holding on, an even harder challenge to face when life requires you to face both war and illness. In kyiv, Olha fights to free her husband, a prisoner of war, but also battles cancer at the same time.

Pink sweater and big smile, this 24-year-old young woman removes her scarf and reveals her very short hair. Olha, 24, has Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has already undergone twelve chemotherapies. Treatment that she must manage without her husband, a prisoner of the Russians since his capture in Mariupol two years ago. “All I know about him is that he is not in good health and has lost a lot of weight.”confides Olha.

Olha and Ruslan before war and cancer.  (OLHA ARCHIVES)

Shared concern

A concern on each side of their relationship since he does not know the progress of the treatment for Olha’s cancer, diagnosed shortly before the war. She was only able to speak once with Ruslan, her husband, this fall, during a video call. “He saw that my hair still hadn’t grown back and he realized that something was wrong. But of course I lied to him and didn’t tell him that I had to redo all these chemo. He is in such conditions of detention that I told him ‘Don’t worry, everything is fine’. I think he understood anyway, but at that moment I wanted to support him as much as possible.”.

Olha says that everything is harder without him: “Just cooking. It doesn’t seem like much, but when you’re sick it’s difficult.” She still finds the energy to keep going. “Will if I sit and cry will it bring him out of captivity? No. Will it make me healthier? Neither.”she reasons out loud.

“I agreed with myself from the start: ‘You have to be strong! You have to get through everything and your husband will come back’.”

Olha, 24-year-old Ukrainian

at franceinfo

Stay alive

Displaced from Berdyansk, Olha is today with other prisoners’ wives and it is from them that she also now draws her strength. Because in her husband’s 501st battalion, 277 soldiers were captured in total. These women have also launched a page on social networks: Union of prisoners’ wives of the 501st battalion.

Olha and the other wives of soldiers of the 501st battalion taken as prisoners of war.  (AGATHE MAHUET – RADIO FRANCE)

“My daily life is a fight against illness, to free my husband and to alert the rest of the world to the situation of our prisoners of war”, explains Olha, also showing her most beautiful memory with Ruslan: the photo of their wedding. A photo in which Olha had long hair. Soon, a bone marrow transplant awaits him in kyiv. “I don’t know what our future will be”, she concludes. But Olha made her husband promise to stay alive. He agrees, on the condition that upon his return they have three children together.

source site-25