Survivors turn ‘angles’ for cancer patients in Abu Dhabi


‘Angels’ are trained volunteers who can answer difficult questions and provide helpful, positive and much-needed strategies, learned from their own experiences.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has launched the 4th Angel Programme, a personalised peer support initiative, aimed at empowering those affected by cancer and its treatment. The programme has been extended from Cleveland Clinic and brought to the UAE in what is its first international expansion.

The 4th Angel idea came forward when Scott Hamilton, a US Olympic gold medallist in figure skating, recovered from cancer. He identified three angels who had helped him through his journey. Scott’s oncologist at Cleveland Clinic was his first angel; his oncology nurse was the second; and his family and friends were his third.

What he felt was missing, however, was a fourth angel — someone who “had been there” and would understand what he was feeling. This led to his idea to create a programme in which cancer survivors and patients could talk to their peers about their cancer experience, bringing about the survivor-to-patient mentoring programmes.

Dr Stephen Grobmyer, Institute Chair of the Oncology Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said, “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.”


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,” added Dr. Grobmyer.

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.

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.



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