Changing the Cancer Landscape in the Developing World
Sitting Down With… HRH Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, President of the Union for International Cancer Control, humanitarian, and health activist
Luke Turner | | Interview
What brought you to cancer advocacy?
Growing up, we had one cancer hospital called the Hope Center (notice the omission of the word “cancer”). We walked past it every week, but we always ignored it because it was so easy to think that we’d never be the people who needed it. At that time, there was such a big taboo associated with cancer that nobody would talk openly about it – and that was my experience throughout childhood. I never even considered cancer advocacy until our son, Rakan, was diagnosed with leukemia in 1997 at the tender age of two. I didn’t choose cancer; it chose my family.
Our battle with leukemia was long and challenging. After Rakan was treated in the UK, we moved to the USA and the cancer returned. My daughter donated her bone marrow and we were lucky – not only that she was a good enough match, but also that we had a strong network of supportive friends and family. When our time in the USA came to an end in 2000, we were dreading going back to Jordan because cancer treatment and care was below average; the Hope Center was tantamount to a morgue. But we had to return and resume our life – and that’s when I was asked to join a new effort to transform the hospital. As a member of the Jordanian royal family, it’s important for me to fulfil my title with public duty; that, and being the mother of a survivor, is why I wanted to join the fight against cancer. I became Director General of the newly named the King Hussein Cancer Foundation.
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