Saving Assaf’s Life

When Assaf started experiencing pain in his ribs, he underwent an MRI. The test results were disastrous; they showed that Assaf had cancer – osteosarcoma in his ribcage.

March 28, 2019 23:18
2 minute read.
Assaf is only 9 years old and has already had to face life-threatening cancer

Assaf is only 9 years old and has already had to face life-threatening cancer. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Assaf is only 9 years old and has already had to face life-threatening cancer – not just once, but multiple times, now that his cancer has recurred. Assaf needs immediate treatment with Keytruda, the only therapy that is likely to save his life. Assaf is asking you: “Please help me beat this cancer!”

About two years ago, Assaf was hospitalized for a severe asthma attack. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, treated and discharged to recover at home. However, when Assaf started experiencing pain in his ribs, he underwent an MRI. The test results were disastrous; they showed that Assaf had cancer – Osteosarcoma in his rib cage.

Assaf underwent complex surgery to remove the tumor and received extensive chemotherapy designed to wipe out the cancer completely. After 18 months of treatment, Assaf celebrated his recovery with his family and returned to his routine, his school, and his friends, with hope for a healthy life. Unfortunately, after a number of months, during a follow-up visit, the doctors discovered a new tumor in his ribs.

“It felt like the sky was falling,” explains Israela, Assaf’s mother. “We thought that Assaf was healthy, free from this disease, and suddenly, we had to endure this whole trauma again, from the beginning. It was just devastating, but we were not ready to give up. We were – and we are – willing do everything we can to save Assaf.”

Assaf underwent surgery a second time, and the surgeons were able to remove the tumor entirely. The doctors recommended sending a tumor sample for genomic testing in order to develop personalized therapy for Assaf’s type of tumor.

From the test results, doctors determined that the medication Keytruda could be used as breakthrough treatment for Assaf’s cancer. This pioneering treatment exposes the tumor to the patient’s immune system, enabling the immune system to halt cancer advancement and possibly even eradicate it completely. Assaf’s treating physicians emphasize that based on cases similar to Assaf’s, his chances of recovery are high.

The cost of Assaf’s testing and annual treatment is $61,000 (220,000 NIS). This medical therapy for Assaf’s type of tumor is not included in the basket of services provided by the Israeli Ministry of Health, and Assaf’s parents cannot afford this therapy. Assaf’s parents are turning to you to help fund his treatment.

Assaf’s teacher explains, “Assaf is a brave child. He likes to get together with friends and play video games. He dreams of being a successful soccer player. I was surprised to discover that Assaf’s favorite song is ‘Hero,’ by Harel Scaat. It happens to be the same song that played in the Pediatric Oncology Department when I volunteered there with Rachashei Lev. Assaf has told his classmates that this song empowers him to be brave and undergo all his treatments. I am turning to you to help give Assaf the hope and strength he needs to beat this disease.”

The Rachashei Lev non-profit, which has been guiding Assaf’s family from the moment that his disease was discovered, has established a special fund (with legal oversight) for raising donations for Assaf’s medication. Shimi Geshayed, the CEO of Rachashei Lev, says, “I have no doubt that if each person who reads this article opens their heart – Assaf can receive this treatment and recover.”

Donations can be made by clicking here via Rachshei Lev's website. 

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