CT: In 2002, the Al-Amal Center was
renamed the King Hussein Cancer
MIRED: We had people going there who
didn’t even know they had cancer. That
was how strong the taboo was. Our late
King Hussein [he died in 1999] was the
first public hero to say he had cancer. He
appeared without his traditional headdress
to show his bald head. He was treated at
the Mayo Clinic [in Rochester, Minnesota],
but it was his dream to have a great cancer
center in Jordan.
CT: What were your goals as foundation director?
MIRED: When I started, we had no
programs, nothing. I started with one
secretary. I would write grants and then
I’d go put a dress on and go into princess
mode. The foundation now raises $30
million annually. We have about 4,000
new cancer patients each year.
CT: Does the center see patients from
MIRED: We see people from Palestine,
Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Egypt and Iraq. So
many people knock at the door because
they either have no proper cancer care
in their country or their country is decimated by war. We recently raised money
to build a new center next to the original
one. The expansion will allow us to treat
more patients from other countries. We
were at capacity.
C T: How do patients pay for care?
MIRED: We fundraise to do many things,
from providing therapeutic and supportive programs to offering financial support
for patients. We started a fund called the
Goodwill Fund. It is Islamic custom to
always give a percentage of your income to
help poor people, and we use those donations for people who can’t afford treatment.
We started a transportation fund after a
child who had leukemia stopped coming
to treatment because his father could not
afford a taxi to go back and forth. After we
heard about a Palestinian woman who was
receiving treatment through the Goodwill
Fund and sleeping on the floor of mosques,
we made an agreement with nearby hotels
so that our patients can get a clean place to
stay near the center.
C T: Why did you want to be president
of the UICC?
MIRED: I felt that my next chapter should
be to share what we’ve done at the foundation. I’ve heard people at UICC conferences
say, if Jordan could do this, we can do it too.
I know that you have to roll up your sleeves,
know what you want and don’t want, and
know your obstacles. —SUE ROCHMAN
“I’ve heard people
at UICC conferences
say, if Jordan could do
this, we can do it too.”