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Cancer patients and survivors at the iftar hosted by FOCP in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP), a UAE-based civil society organisation, hosted an iftar for more than 100 cancer patients and survivors providing UAE’s cancer community a key opportunity to connect, share and socialise. The event also highlighted FOCP’s pivotal role in combating cancer with the support extended to beneficiaries and their families.

The event was attended by Sawsan Jafar, chairperson of FOCP’s Board of Directors; Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, vice-chairperson of FOCP’s Board of Directors; Dr Sawsan Al Madhi, director general of FOCP; in addition to government officials, business leaders and members of the UAE medical community.

In her keynote speech, Sawsan Jafar said: “We are gathered tonight to celebrate the resilience of cancer patients and survivors under our care, and highlight FOCP’s role in supporting them as we continue to raise community’s awareness about the disease. Since its establishment 23 years ago, FOCP’s efforts have brought notable results, evident in the number of patients who benefit from our services each year and the strong bond of trust we have established with the cancer community and health care institutions in the UAE and beyond.”

She added: “The unique vision of Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and Founder and Patron of FOCP, inspired us to establish FOCP, and today, the inspiring stories of our beneficiaries who defeated cancer are a testament to the importance of our role in supporting them and raising their morale. All this has been achieved, thanks to the tireless efforts of the FOCP team and our partners.”

Building a legacy of continued triumph over cancer

Speaking about FOCP’s unwavering support throughout her journey, cancer survivor Lina said: “FOCP was the first to stand by me when I was diagnosed with malignancy. The non-profit organisation continued to help me through the monitoring and treatment of my case. FOCP was a pillar of strength not only while I was undergoing treatment, but well into my recovery period. They continue to be an integral part of my life.”

“The cost of treatment would have been a major financial burden for me and my family. However, with FOCP’s help, I was able to face the challenges head-on and hope that I would live a full life,” she added.

The civil society organisation has successfully rallied the support of public and private sector entities as well as individual members of community to get behind their mission of cancer prevention and care. In 2021, FOCP’s Ramadan Zakat campaign raised Dh2.2 million, serving 354 patients with 29 chemotherapies, five surgeries, four radiotherapies, 17 scans, 53 pieces of medical equipment, 20 medications and 206 food coupons.

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Another iftar guest and FOCP beneficiary, Rafah, shared with the gathering her story about how the civil society organisation was a pillar during one of the most trying times of her life. “I experienced a period of depression when I was diagnosed with cancer. I even suffered side-effects during my chemotherapy treatment and had to undergo surgery. A vulnerable financial state added to my misery. My cancer journey is not over yet, but my heart is at ease — thanks to FOCP’s unwavering moral and monetary support. Above all, they are a major source of hope.”