piano keys 88.
(photo credit: )
Twelve-year-old Michal Emuna, a gifted pianist, had been looking forward to playing the piano for President Shimon Peres at this year's launch of the annual Cancer Door-Knock campaign. But it was not to be.
Michal, a cancer patient, succumbed to her illness and died shortly before she could give her recital on Sunday evening. She had already been blinded by the disease, but had remained hopeful until the end.
Peres asked all those attending the opening of the campaign at Beit Hanassi to stand in silence in memory of Michal.
Ohad Hitman, the nephew of the late songwriter, singer and guitarist Uzi Hitman, was chosen to play in Michal's place. Ohad, only a few years older than Michal, has twice conquered cancer, and one of the songs he sang to his own piano accompaniment was his own composition "Man, listen to yourself," which tells the story of how he triumphed over the disease.
The evening's special guest was Prof. David Khayat, a leading French oncologist and president of the French National Cancer Institute. In 2000, he said, 10 million people developed cancer and six million cancer patients died.
"It is becoming the first cause of death in many countries," Khayat said.
Yet there is cause for optimism, he said, because today, 85 percent of breast cancer cases can be cured, and the number of kidney cancer cases cured has increased.
Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri said 450 children join the ranks of cancer patients each year. Under ideal conditions, he said, a large portion of the fight against cancer would be the responsibility of the government, but the burden has fallen on nonprofit organizations.
Peres said, "We don't pay sufficient attention to global warming, and we don't care enough for our bodies." "The war against pollution must be total," he added, because pollution is a contributing factor to cancer.
Among those in the front row were Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit and his wife Ruth, who lost their eldest daughter, Miri, to cancer just over 15 years ago. They set up the Miri Foundation, which sends child cancer patients to Orlando, Florida, in her memory.