A beautiful mind

  • Joan Hunt founded Cudeca in the early 1990s after her husband died of cancer

The title of this article perhaps takes us back to that fantastic film from 2001, directed by Ron Howard and starring an excellent Russell Crowe, which tells the story of John Forbes Nash, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994.

Today that title is directed at another “beautiful mind”.

In the early 1990s, I had the great pleasure of meeting Joan Hunt, the founder of Cudeca.

Joan and her late husband Fred were my neighbours and even back then I could tell that behind those expressive and lively blue eyes was an extraordinary woman, full of intelligence, humanity, tenacity and passion for life.

After Fred died of cancer that impression proved to be right. Joan was determined to build a hospice in the province of Malaga, where she lived, a place that she loved.

In 1992 the then Asociación Cudeca started its difficult journey, opening the doors of a small day centre for patients. Hard work, determination and a great deal of intelligence made it possible for Joan, along with the doctor Marisa Martín, to start the activity that so many people and institutions recognise and are grateful for today.

In 2002 Joan Hunt received an OBE for her work to develop palliative care for cancer in southern Spain. Our “beautiful mind” has also received all kinds of recognition and distinctions, on a national, regional and local level. Among them is the Gold Medal awarded by the Malaga provincial government in 2013.

Now Fundación Cudeca has celebrated 25 years of providing medical and psychological care to more than 13,000 patients and their families in the province of Malaga. I have no doubt that the success of the Foundation is due principally to the spirit of its creator, to the fusion of two cultures, from the highest level of healthcare professionals to our biggest asset: the volunteers, who now number 900.

This “beautiful mind” chose our country to live and imported, with her immense humanity and generosity, a new form of caring.

Now Joan Hunt is 88 years old; and every time I see her she smiles at me with boundless vitality, and I say, “I hope you live longer than the Queen Mother!”