Sanad means “Support” in Jordanian.

I met yesterday with a coalition of sanad group leaders who were touring the United States as guests of the Department of State. Their mission was to learn as much as possible about how we conduct our cancer support groups.

We enjoyed one and a half hours of exchanging ideas and sharing stories with each other. The Jordanian delegation consisted of nine women, over half of who are survivors, and one man.

We discussed cultural differences and how they impacted our support groups. In Jordan men and women would not be comfortable in meeting in the same groups, so all of their support groups are segregated by sex. Not dissimilar to American men. Jordanian men do not like to talk about feelings or their medical concerns. Also, like American men, they often have to be led and sometimes forced by their partners and spouses to even attend support groups.

The delegation all came from the King Hussein Cancer Center located in Amman, Jordan. The King Hussein Center is the only hospital in Jordan that offers any support groups for cancer patients. When a newly diagnosed patient is admitted into the hospital not only does the hospital social worker visit the patient to tell them about their sanad programs, but a sanad group volunteer also visits. If the patient indicates they don’t have any interest in the group, their name, telephone number and their address is requested by the volunteer. The volunteer then periodically follows up to again offer sanad. How many of our hospitals are as open or encouraging of our support programs? Wouldn’t this be a great model for all of us?

As good as the sanad program is in Jordan, other then in Israel, no other country in the Middle-East