"Some odd years ago, as a young researcher and physician, I received assistance from the Israel Cancer Association fellowships, and I got an up close look at the significant work that the Association does in promoting research, prevention, early detection, and improving treatment modalities for patients". Professor Aharon Ciechanover
, Noble Prize winner, used these warm words to describe the contribution of the ICA to the fight against cancer and the organization's support of his work as a young researcher.
In Israel, the Israel Cancer Association (ICA) spearheads the fight against cancer on all fronts. Professor Ciechanover is one of hundreds of researchers to have received grants from the ICA. Great resources are dedicated every year by the ICA to research scientists from 38 research institutes and treatment centers throughout Israel. The Research Committee comprised of the top scientists and physicians, selects outstanding research proposals. The cost of investing in research is relatively low in Israel and produces results that have a global impact. Every advance in scientific knowledge, like a piece in a vast puzzle, brings us one step closer to completing the picture. Today's research is tomorrow's treatment and investment in research knows no territorial boundaries, as the resulting treatments and cures benefit humanity.
The Israel Cancer Association (ICA) was founded in 1952. More than 50 years of involvement and a proud record of achievement have earned the ICA widespread recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a prime leader in the fight against cancer. According to Miri Ziv, Director General of the Israel Cancer Association, the ICA set its goal to reduce the mortality and morbidity rates of cancer by waging an encompassing fight: by promoting research, prevention and early detection, improved methods of treatment and rehabilitation and quality of life.
Quality of life has become more and more important, in view of the increasing cancer survival rates. The ICA focuses on the possibilities of early detection of prevalent cancers, such as: breast cancer, colorectal cancer, skin cancer and cervical cancer that may be prevented or diagnosed at early stages, thus enabling higher cure rates. As a result of improved detection rates survival rates have also improved, and there is a declining trend in the mortality rates of some cancer diseases (based on the National Cancer Registry Project reports).
The ICA is also there for the patients who cope with cancer. Leonid (17) was only 13 years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia. Since then he has been confronting the disease: not only by coping with the long and painful therapy procedures but also by trying to keep up with school studies "Ariela, (the ICA's social worker- T.D) called and asked if we want a tutor for this year, if we need help with school, and she said she could also assign my brother a tutor if he needs one," indicates Leonid. His mother adds: "I was with Leonid when he was hospitalized, for a long time, for many days, and my little son was alone at home. And the ICA helped me; they assigned a tutor to help him with his homework. The Association is like a family, like a real family, since they know what a long, hard, road we've been through, and they've helped us all the way." Apparently the investment in the future of a child, provides him and his family the strength to cope.
Leonid's story is only one example of many. In addition to the "Hope for Life"
program in which the ICA provides children suffering from cancer and their families with a tutor to keep up with school studies, and also purchases computers that enable these children to keep in touch with their schools and enjoy games and activities, even when confined to a bed. There are various programs, which are tailored especially for children, such as: the "Family Vacation Camp"
project with a range of activities and experiences that offer the child and all his family a welcome break from tense medical routines; "Give Kids the World"
program takes kids with advanced cancer and their families to the special Orlando Children Village in the USA for what is often their last happy time together as a whole family; The "Embarking on Life"
project is aimed at patients in their early 20s- too old for children programs but still too young for adult programs, These young adults start their independent life at a very problematic starting point. Embarking on Life offers recreational trips and dedicated support groups, while training these young adults for future work with other young cancer patients.
Not too many people know, but Israel is a goldmine for studying cancer genetics. A consortium of Israeli geneticists sponsored by the ICA focuses on BRCA 1/2 mutations relevant to breast and ovarian cancer. This effort, for example, resulted in a report published in the prestigious American National Academy of Science.
The ICA has been investing many resources in the fight against breast cancer
and conducts numerous activities to heighten woman's awareness of the importance of early detection of breast cancer. Israel has the highest screening mammography rates in comparison to European countries (based on World Health Organization data). The ICA has initiated the purchase of a mobile mammography unit 'Michal'
, and subsidizes its activity and special logistics. As a result of this project, the compliance rates among women residing in remote towns (e.g. in the periphery) have increased, as well as among women from diverse population sectors (e.g. Arab women, new immigrants, and women of a low socio-economic status.)
Furthermore, the ICA constantly seeks ways to improve cancer treatment and medical care
. The ICA funds professional posts in medical centers and communities throughout Israel and delivers professional training for multidisciplinary staff : oncology nurses and social workers and psychologists for adults and children; coordinators (nurses and social workers) for breast cancer care who provide counseling, instruction and support, and help women make critical decisions; colostomy specialist nurses for post-operative colostomy patients; speech therapists for patients following laryngectomy; dieticians, psychologists and more. Due to the ICA's endless efforts hospital wards have been renovated and state-of-the-art medical equipment is continuously purchased.
In addition, ICA supports cancer patients throughout their ordeal and strives to ensure their rights. The ICA's rehabilitation and welfare programs
are provided to patients and their families, in order to improve patients' quality of life and to offer a wide range of special activities. The ICA's wide range of rehabilitation and welfare programs include supportive home care by trained medical teams, and financial assistance for the families of needy cancer patients. The ICA initiated the establishment of the very first hospice and assists in running home hospices throughout Israel. Welfare and support centers have also been established for survivors, and the list goes on and on….
The ICA, like the country itself, owes its success entirely to the efforts of dedicated volunteers
, both in Israel and abroad, who devote themselves to their work with a determined single-mindedness of purpose. As a matter of fact, the ICA was awarded the Presidential Award for Outstanding Volunteer Organization during Israel's Jubilee celebrations.The ICA is Israel's largest, most prestigious and reliable national volunteer organization, reaching every sector of the population - Jewish and Arab, children and adults, women and men. The ICA activities are funded solely by private contributions making each donation even more crucial. The ICA works in collaboration with the health authorities but is financially independent. This independence enables the ICA to operate according to strictly professional criteria, while maintaining a global and national perspective and vision. The ICA is proud of the fact that its administrative expenses constitute less than 9% of the ICA budget.
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