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Swim for Life

Please read this inspirational story from Yigal Sela, Israel Office Director at the ZFA:

“Up until the age of 47 I was a long distance runner, running marathons and more, just for the fun. Then, in 1999, my left knee suffered a fateful blow. A malignant tumor had attacked the soft tissues within my knee and led to a nightmare scenario of chemotherapy, hospitalization, no less than seven major operations, and months of excruciating pain. My life was in the air until I arrived at the surgery of Professor Bickels, at the Center for Orthopedic Oncology at the Tel-Aviv Sourasky medical center. He saved me! The price? I don’t have a left knee anymore but a viable and functional rod of metal; a heavy price for someone like me who loved to run; but not such a great price for someone that also loves life and his family. Today, 13 years after recovering from my bout with cancer, I decided to celebrate a sort of “bar mitzva” to mark my personal miracle, in a very special way.

Make a note! on 24 July, 2014, I intend to swim 25 kilometers, 1,000 (yes, one thousand) laps of a 25 meter swimming pool, non stop, in one go! In that way I want to mark my own medical miracle that saved my life, but not just that.

This special swimming event can become an opportunity for all of us to save a lot more than just one person.

In order to do that I intend to turn my personal swim into an event for all of us,  that the aim is to raise money for a very special surgical microscope for the Department of Professor Bickels. This microscope has a key role in a new, innovative way to treat cancer tumors, such as I had. With this instrument and the new method developed by Professor Bickels, it will now be possible to treat such life threatening tumors without damaging the surrounding healthy soft tissue of the limbs, and thus not only save lives, but also reduce considerably the drastic surgery required in the past (such as I went through) and associated morbidity. There will now be a possibility to treat such tumors without the need for chemotherapy and radiation.

On 24th July I will stand on the edge of the swimming pool at the Country Club in Kfar Saba, who have kindly donated the site for the day. Together with me there will be many sportspeople, including those with disabilities or special needs. Soldiers from some of I.D.F.’s special units will also join me, as well as children, friends and supporters.  Before I set off on my “1,000 lap trek” I want to say a special thank you to three people…..

to Naomi Weinshtok, from NRspirit. Naomi volunteered her time and has been my trainer, coach, mentor, and more these past six months, since I dreamed my dream, and she believed in me and was fundamental in making this a reality.

to Professor Jacob Bickels, whose work I have already mentioned, and is at the forefront of all these amazing developments in the battle with Orthopedic cancers…

to Professor Isaac Meller, who was Head of the Unit during the years that I spent among the Orthopedic Oncology Ward at the Tel-Aviv Sourasky medical center and played a fundamental role in my survival and recovery

I have presented my personal story, but with your help this can become a success story of many many more people; people who have been found with the same cancer as I had, and who , with the aid of this revolutionary innovative form of treatment discovered by Professor Bickels, can go back to a normal life with relative ease.

Any sum that you can donate will go directly towards the purchase of this microscope, which costs 250,000 Euro.

If you would like to make a donation, my dear friend, John Searle has agreed to be responsible for the money collected in Australia, and after the swim will transfer all donations received to the dedicated Fund established here in Israel, by a group of volunteer Friends of the Orthopedic/Oncology Unit of hospital. If making an electronic transfer please add your name so that we can identify for receipts and in order that I can personally thank you. Also send an accompanying e mail to John Searle (jsearle@vicbar.com.au) so he can keep track. If you wish to pay by cheque or cash, please contact John Searle via his e mail address so that arrangements can be made.

For the purpose of donations, a dedicated account has been established. The account details are

Commonwealth Bank
BSB 063-009
Account No 1063 1527
Account Name: 
John Searle

Thank you for your attention and support.”