The programme, which at first will include breast cancer, matches patients with volunteers of similar age and cancer experiences Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: A new initative at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi will see cancer survivors supporting patients battling the disease.

The ‘4th Angel Programme’, which is already established at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA, has been brought to the UAE as part of its first international expansion, the Abu Dhabi hospital said.

The personalised peer support initiative was a brainchild of Scott Hamilton, a US Olympic gold medalist in figure skating, who recovered from cancer. He identified three “angels” who had helped him through his journey, including his oncologist at Cleveland Clinic as his first angel, his oncology nurse, and his family and friends. What he felt was missing, however, was a fourth angel, especially someone who had experienced something similar and would understand what he was feeling. This led to the creation of the 4th Angel programme, which connects cancer survivors and patients so that they can discuss their cancer experience.

The mentoring programme will be available free of charge, and the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is now encouraging registrations from cancer survivors and patients.

Compassionate care

“The 4th Angel programme is an extension of the compassionate care we provide. It aims to promote and support world-class research and quality care that will one day lead to a cure for cancer. The programme empowers patients and their families, via education and guidance throughout their cancer journey of treatment and survivorship,” said Dr Stephen Grobmyer, institute chair of the Oncology Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

Trained Angels

Cancer is the third most common cause of death in the UAE. The 4th Angel Programme, which will initially be rolled out to breast cancer patients, matches patients with trained volunteers of a similar age, and with similar cancer experiences. The programme emphasises one-on-one contact to best empower patients with knowledge. ‘Angels’ are trained volunteers who can answer difficult questions and provide helpful, positive and much-needed strategies, learned from their own experiences.

“Our 4th Angel volunteers make a real difference in the life of someone affected by cancer by providing knowledge, spreading awareness around what patients can expect, building hope, and providing a helping hand. We will initially be focusing on breast cancer patients, since breast cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer in the UAE. However, in future, we will be opening this vital service to all cancer patients,” Dr Grobmyer said.

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Similar experiences

Anyone diagnosed with cancer, or caring for someone with cancer, is eligible to become an Angel. When an Angel is requested, the patient will be matched based on similar experiences. The Angel contacts the patient to offer one-on-one support via phone, email or face-to-face meetings.

“We know that a cancer diagnosis for you or a loved one is a challenging time and can be a life-changing event. At our Oncology Institute, we offer expert, specialised treatment at every step of the journey, ensuring you receive the most appropriate and compassionate care you need,” Dr Grobmyer said.

4th Angels are empathetic cancer survivors or family members of patients with firsthand experience. They are positive, supportive and able to give their time and life experience to help put a new patient at ease.