President of the State of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres, kicked off this year's ICA 2013-14 Activity 'for the Patients and against the Disease', and in keeping with tradition, addressed ICA "Door Knock" Fundraising Campaign participants. The annual event held at the Presidential Residence was attended by Israel's Minister of Health, Ms. Yael German; ICA's Chairman, Prof. Eliezer Robinson; ICA's Vice Chairman, Mr. Leon Recanati; ICA's "Door Knock" Campaign Chairman and Chairman of the Automotive Equipment Group, Mr. Tzvi Neta; as well as childhood cancer patients and survivors and their families, and scores of ICA volunteers. The guest of honor at the ceremony was Mr. Cary Adams, CEO of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), boasting over 700 member organizations scattered worldwide.
The President of Israel delivered greetings during the ceremony, stating: "The fight against cancer is an arduous battle, but not a winless one, and we must not surrender in this war. The Nobel Prize awarded to a kibbutz-born U.S.-Israeli citizen constitutes one step further on the brave journey toward eradicating this disease. Each year, about 28,000 patients are diagnosed with cancer in Israel, 400 of whom are children. These are harsh statistics which should be a top concern to society as a whole. The cost of treatments and medication that play a crucial role in combatting the disease may amount to tens of thousands of shekels each month. We cannot reconcile ourselves to the fact that the right to life be left to chance, or be granted solely to those who have the financial means. I call upon all Israeli citizens to open their hearts to the ICA Door Knock Campaign and lend their generous assistance to instill renewed hope among individuals who are in dire need of our unconditional support".
Mrs. Miri Ziv, ICA Director General, who moderated the ceremony, cited ICA-Ministry of Health joint cancer control initiatives and programs launched throughout the years, which have led to impressive accomplishments in early detection screening compliance, significant declines in mortality rates for some cancers, as well as improvement in overall cancer survival rates.
Prof. Eliezer Robinson, ICA Chairman, spoke about cancer survivorship in view of the fact that the number of cancer survivors has been steadily increasing from year to year; additionally, he enumerated several ICA-led projects initiated and developed to assist survivors to get back to a normal routine, while contemporaneously enhancing their quality of life.
A glass award trophy was presented to Prof. Bella Kaufman, Head of the Breast Cancer Unit at the Institute of Oncology at Sheba Medical Center, who received the prestigious American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Humanitarian Award, which recognizes an oncologist who goes beyond their daily acts of service to provide outstanding patient care to otherwise low-resource patient groups.
Israel's Health Minister, Ms. Yael German, called upon participants to do everything in their power to maintain a healthy lifestyle and get themselves screened, as early detection has a potentially life-saving effect.
Assaf Gad-Hanun, a former "The Voice 2" (singing contest) contestant, moved the audience with one of his two renditions, in which he played a recording of the voice of his late mother, Miriam Hanun z"l, who battled cancer until her unfortunate demise. Assaf incorporated a playback of his mother's voice in the song, and she could be heard blessing him and wishing him every success in life in general and in music in particular.
The President spoke with many childhood cancer patients and survivors who took part in the ceremony, and heard about how they had coped with the disease. 13-year-old Gonen Cohen of Holon who recovered from lymphoma just two weeks ago, after a two and a half year battle with the disease, addressed the President and told him: "Cancer awareness is very important, and the "Door Knock" campaign is especially significant; the ICA helps us cope. I hope that everyone will contribute". Gonen, who recently took part in the Family Vacation organized by the ICA, and has been keeping up with his schoolwork with the help of an ICA tutor, promised that he would go door-to-door to collect funds for the ICA with his fellow classmates.