Medical cancer research has proven that bone marrow transplants are a most effective form of treatment in helping children with cancer. The transplants help leukemia patients go into remission. Bone marrow transplants are also one of the most expensive treatments for treating cancer. ICCF helps fund bone marrow transplant programs in six of Israel's hospitals and medical centers. ICCF works with families who are unable to afford bone marrow transplants and assists in alleviating their financial concerns. This treatment provides these children and their families the priceless gift of hope and life.
According to a recent study nearly three-fourths of childhood cancer patients go into remission. Those who do survive childhood cancer require regular follow-up care to prevent a reoccurrence of the disease. Survivors may experience congestive heart failure, ovarian failure, hearing loss, and secondary cancer in addition to other health problems. The health of pediatric cancer survivors remains unstable for the rest of their lives. Despite this reality, medical reports indicate that less than twenty percent of survivors receive follow-up cancer care. The ICCF recognizes the fragility of cancer patients as well as cancer survivors and has set up Long-Term Survivorship Clinics at four of Israel's largest hospitals and medical centers. For the past 15 years, since ICCF's founding, Israeli cancer survivors have benefited from the ongoing medical treatment at the Long-Term Survivorship Clinics.
Close to 80% of Israeli children with cancer will be cured of their disease- unfortunately 20% will die.
In order to make their last weeks or months as comfortable as possible, ICCF is providing grants for hospice programs in the hospitals, as well as in the homes, in order to make the last days of their lives as painless as possible.
For these unfortunate hospice patients, we are providing trained medical clowns, as well as other programs, to make their final days as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
As a cancer patient, a child not only experiences physical trauma, but emotional and psychological trauma as well. Just as ICCF aids pediatric cancer patients in their physical battle against cancer, ICCF also aims to support patients in their emotional and psychological struggles. The ICCF art therapy programs provide pediatric patients with an opportunity to heal in ways beyond physical illness by nurturing the personality and spirit of each individual child. The patients are encouraged to express their feelings through various activities including yoga, puppetry, drawing, sculpture, computer design, and photography. Art therapy makes each transition from one treatment to the next and eventually into mainstream society smoother and more manageable for the child. Through the ICCF art therapy program children are able to understand and express how they are feeling and become active participants in their own healing processes.
The art therapy program has been especially successful at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. The program currently treats patients varying from age four to twenty-one and is modified according to each patient's specific age and condition. "I have noticed how they become aware of their own strengths and how their ego gets reinforced while discovering new talents and expanding their creativity," says AnaLia Magen, a Registered Art Therapist at the Rambam facility. The non-verbal environment provides patients with the safety and comfort to express their innermost, least spoken of, concerns and anxieties. The program not only allows patients to communicate their feelings to themselves, but also to the medical staff and their parents. The program does not only serve a reactive purpose to cancer, but also allows for social, physical, and the intellectual development. ICCF is proud to help pediatric cancer patients who find the strength and hope to live within themselves.
ICCF is involved in convening a conference regarding the establishment of a nurse-practitioner program in Israel, similar to programs that are currently in place in the United States.
This program will help free-up the time that the pediatric oncologists and hematologists can spend in treating their patients. It has been shown that these nurse practitioners can relieve the physicians from much of the preparatory and paperwork, thus allowing them to devote more time to their patients.
If successful, this program will be an important step in helping to improve the level of patient care for Israeli children with cancer.
Entry-level pediatric oncologists and hematologists, because of their low starting salaries, work part-time each day, and then leave to "moonlight" at one of the government health facilities to make ends meet.
To help ameliorate this problem, the ICCF is working on a plan to provide stipends to these young doctors so that they can put in a whole day at their respective hospitals thereby allowing for improved clinical care for the youngsters afflicted with the dreaded disease of cancer.