Moving and Impactful Beyond Our Wildest Expectations

Spring 2023

The global telethon on December 22, 2022, was, as President Fadlo Khuri noted in a message he sent to the AUB community the next day, “moving and impactful beyond our wildest expectations. ” Thousands of people from around the world came together to raise more than $5 million for the Cancer Support Fund (CSF), a charitable initiative at the Naef K. Basile Cancer Institute at the AUB Medical Center. “Fewer than a dozen adult cancer centers in the world could have pulled that number off. The emotional impact? In this country? It is incalculable,” said Khuri.

The outpouring of emotion on December 22 was prompted by heartrending stories from cancer patients like Shawki, who is just 19 years old and recently had an above knee amputation. The son of a bus driver, he is one of five siblings. The family sold everything they had, including their property, to pay for the expensive treatment that Shawki needed, but it was not enough. Fatmeh, a 39-year-old mother of four children, spoke about her experience receiving treatment for breast, colon, and lung cancer. Adnan, who needs treatment for multiple myeloma, talked about the challenges that he and his wife are facing as they struggle to take care of their three school-aged children.

Thanks to the money that was raised during the telethon, which was organized in partnership with Sar El Waqt and MTV, Dr. Ali Taher, CSF cofounder and director of the Naef K. Basile Cancer Institute, and his colleagues will be able to treat even more patients. “We are offering cancer patients exceptional medical care, ” said Taher. “What we lack is financial resources so we can secure the treatments we require and assist even more patients, too many of whom cannot afford the lifesaving treatment they need.”

The CSF was launched in March 2018 to assist cancer patients throughout their medical treatment journeys. The fund is led by founder and president Hala Dahdah Abou Jaber, who spearheaded the December 22 telethon to increase public awareness of cancer while providing financial assistance, emotional support, and advice to patients who need help. Since it was established, the CSF has helped more than 1,200 patients. The need continues to grow. “The number of adult cancer patients requesting support has increased dramatically, ” said Dahdah, noting that 30 percent of cancer patients cannot afford to pay their hospital bills.

“The AUBMC administration and physicians are doing their utmost to care for our community, but the challenges are immense, ” said Dr. Raymond Sawaya, the Raja N. Khuri Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs. “We are deeply grateful to everyone who supported the telethon—and to our many other donors as well.”