It is easy to forget that there are women who dont have access to education for early cancer detection and timely treatment.
In Gaza City, on the West Bank, it can take months to get the results of a biopsy. The supply of chemotherapy drugs is unreliable. Hospitals cant afford to run radiation therapy machines. And patients have to wait for travel permits from the Israeli Defense Force to get to better hospitals in Jerusalem.
I recently saw a short documentary on YouTube called Women Die Waiting. It featured a woman named Najah, who lives in Gaza City and was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was struggling with the cost of treatment, which included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy away from home.
They told me I have to travel, but it will cost too much, Najah said.
The documentary is part of a worldwide effort to raise funds for the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, the only Christian hospital in Gaza City. The funding for this hospital comes from the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, of the Anglican church. Earlier this year, the United Nations reported it could no longer provide the hospital with funding.
Traveling out of Gaza remains challenging for breast cancer patients. Najah and her son had to get an Israeli Defense Force permit to travel to Israel to undergo 40 days of radiation therapy. While she received the permit, her son didnt.
I felt hurt and wounded by the condition I am in, Najah said in the documentary. I hug my children and think maybe the afterlife will be better than this life.
There is an urgency to help women like Najah. Anglican Church leaders around the world are urging their governments to help the United Nations fund the hospital in Gaza.
So many people are turning to us in desperation, wrote Fred Hiltz, a leader of the Anglican Church, asking the Canadian government to support the U.N. fund that was helping the hospital. Let us not be blind to their suffering, nor deaf to their cry.
Weeks after watching the documentary, I met Fanny Korn, a vivacious woman who lives in Sunny Isles Beach. Decades ago, Korn lived in Israel and was a member of the Israeli Army.
Now as a member of The Womens Zionist Organization of America and president of the Simcha Chapter of Hadassah, she is raising money for the Hadassah Medical Center, which operates two university hospitals and schools in Jerusalem.
She has been focusing on raising funds for the Marlene Greenebaum Multidisciplinary Diagnostic Breast Center at the hospitals Ein Kerem location. Breast cancer survivor Marlene Greenebaum, of Baltimore, donated $1.4 million to fund the center last year. But they need more aid, Korn said.
Hadassah has been a strong supporter in the advancement of womens breast health and the search for a cure for breast cancer, Korn said. The center serves as a one-stop shop for womens breast care needs. And no one, no one is turned away.
At Hadassah Medical Center, she said, religious or ethnic background does not prevent anyone from getting the treatment they need. In 2005, Hadassah was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for building bridges to peace by welcoming patients from Gaza.
We have Arab and Jewish scientists working together to find the cure, Korn said. They are not thinking about politics. They have a commitment to treatment and research for women all around the world.
Korn is organizing a Breast Cancer Walk-a-thon in Sunny Isles Beach in October to honor those whose lives have been affected by this terrible disease. I will be there thinking about women like Najah, who need a place of refuge like Hadassah.
Everyone is welcome. We dont care about race, religion or ethnicity. We need to fight breast cancer together, Korn said. If Hadassah finds a cure, everyone will benefit.