Aisha Al Mulla, Director of Friends of Cancer Patients, opens up about the biggest cancer awareness drive in the region, available year-round. Here’s everything you need to know, from where to get screened to what to do if you or someone you know needs help
Tell us about the Friends of Cancer Patients?
Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) was established in 1999 under the directives of HH Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. Deeply inspired by the dedication of HH Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, the founder and patron of FoCP, we have successfully achieved everything we set out to do throughout our 24-year journey. We empower families, children, young adults, men and women with the knowledge they need to catch early signs, lead healthy lifestyles, and focus on their wellbeing.
How many people has FoCP assisted since its inception?
I am proud to share that we have covered the treatment expenses of 2,037 cancer patients in the UAE, and offered a total of 31,114 clinical breast examinations, 8,166 mammogram screenings and 1,848 ultrasound examinations. We support all members of the UAE community, giving equal importance to all types of cancers, and we make no segregations based on gender, faith, ethnicity or socio-economic background.
What is the criteria for beneficiary selection?
FoCP’s beneficiary strategies have always been inclusive and non-discriminatory, simply because of our founder and patron’s vision to benefit the maximum number of people possible in the UAE and beyond. Cancer does not discriminate and neither do we. That said, we prioritise aiding and assisting individuals who are either single mothers or fathers, people who do not have stable incomes, big families who do not have enough earning members and individuals of determination and those who have special needs.
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How does the Pink Caravan Ride reach people all over the UAE?
FoCP launched the Pink Caravan Ride (PCR) in 2011 as a pan-UAE breast cancer awareness initiative. It traditionally runs for seven days annually, and covers the entire length and breadth of the nation with its awareness-raising efforts. Last year, PCR delivered thousands of free early detection screenings including 2,197 clinical breast examinations, 1,019 mammograms and 208 ultrasound tests.
How can corporations get involved in order to benefit their employees?
The only one of its kind in the UAE and the region, FoCP’s medical mobile clinic can be booked throughout the year by filling the Pink Caravan Mobile Clinics Booking Form as part of the Corporate Wellness Day offering, to benefit their employees with free breast ultra sounds, mammograms and cervical cancer screenings. We have confirmed 90 corporate partnerships for our Corporate Wellness Day initiative for October. The enthusiastic participation of UAE-based corporations reflects their commitment to social responsibility, as well as the UAE’s overall focus on human-centric sustainable development.
How can individuals faced with a cancer journey reach out to FoCP?
Cancer treatment is expensive anywhere in the world and treatments may mean a different financial burden, one that hits during prime income-earning years. FoCP welcomes all individuals who are being treated for a malignancy or are supporting a member of their family undergoing cancer treatment to fill out the beneficiary form on our website, to be considered for financial support. Follow the Pink Caravan Instagram account for updates on screening locations
- Interview by Odelia Mathews