Shaden’s Story – Social Support for Cancer Patients

Shades lives with her family in Amman, Jordan.  At 13 years old she has already endured years of treatment and recovery from childhood Leukemia.  Through children’s palliative care she has found strength and connection with others.  Shaden loves to sing and activities with the Jordan Palliative Care and Pain Management Society have given her opportunities to perform in public.

“We know that the people who are trained for palliative care are very few in Jordan. Palliative Care has been defined as a medical approach for patients who are facing chronic illnesses such as cancer and other diseases. Palliative care believes that it is the right of the patient not to feel pain, or lonely or afraid, at all stages of their disease, it actually a holistic approach for patients with chronic diseases” Dr Mohammad Bushnaq- Pain and Palliative Care Doctor

In Amman, Jordan we meet Shaden. Shaden stared chemotherapy with she was 8 years old and diagnosed with Leukemia.

“It was a hard period. The first years we were going to the hospital every day, as for Shaden the hardest thing was the hair falling out.” Shaden’s father Suhail Abu Shbayek tells us.

The psychological well being of palliative care patients is paramount to those working in the field. But it is not an easy road, especially when there are over 4500 new cancer patients each year in Jordan.

“Only 10 per cent of cancer patients who need palliative care actually go to palliative care. One of the main challenges we have in Jordan is that we have very poor awareness when it comes to palliative care among health workers and among people.” Dr Mohammad Bushnaq

Shaden was one of the lucky ones , she was sent to the recently established initiative of the Jordan Palliative Care Society. At the start she was very depressed , frustrated and sad.

“I was isolated before and I didn’t talk to anyone” Shaden tells us.

“When she first came she stayed close to her mother, she wasn’t very social, you had to ask her to come and play she would just talk to her patients and sit with them” Lina Flaifel – Social Worker

“The institution supported her and the other children, they get them out of their isolation, she was isolated, the institution helped her a lo- thank God.” Shaden’s parents tell us.

“I became more sociable in the institution, I started going out and became sociable.” Shaden tells us.

One of the many programs the institute initiated are family days. But these events are much more than just a fund day out.

“The event is basically playing, entertainment and doing some games, but actually it was all carefully focused to give the kids some tips to talk about their feelings, how can they reflect, how can they share their experiences, they can take some practical solutions, so they can face their disease in a much more positive way.” Dr Mohammad Bushnaq

“There is a goal behind each game we play , like raising their self confidence or team spirit, how to share” Lina Flaifel

“I feel I’m talented in singing, I always love to sing” Shaden

“She likes to sing and make everybody happy she loves to do something in Mother’s Day party or Ramadan or National Day, she prepares a song for that day.” Lina Flaifel

“The Institution feels like home, they’re like my sisters and brothers, I feel I’m with my family.” Shaden

“Now you see Shaden she is full of joy and energy, she is now telling stories to others and you can see her full of energy.   And this demonstrates actually the spirit of palliative care, we are not adding days to life, we add life to days.” Dr Mohommad Bushnaq

Please consider supporting the important work of the Jordan Palliative Care and Pain Society



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