About Dance For Life
Back in the year 2000, a young Israeli dancer in London developed breast cancer. Every year, the lives of many people at dancing are touched by cancer amongst their family and friends, as well as personal ill health, but this time people were particularly shocked as she was only 29 years old. Whilst close friends, family and all the medical staff involved with her care could offer her support, there were many people at dancing who wanted to do more than just send cards and flowers.
A group of friends got together and decided to form a charity to raise money for cancer-related charities through the Israeli dancing community. In 2001, the first Dance For Life Israeli dance party was held. Since then, the event has developed into an all-night marathon and has become a highlight in the calendar, with attendees from all over Europe as well as the UK and supported by guest teachers from Israel.
Across the UK, hundreds of people take part in Israeli dancing activities each week. They enjoy the exercise, the music, the connection to Judaism and to Israel and the company of people who share that enjoyment of dancing. Even more than just dancing, they share each other's celebrations and offer support to each other in difficult times. It is especially poignant to be able to raise money through such an energetic, vital activity.
It was decided to donate the money to two charities each year - one 'scientific', research based, and one pastoral - as it was felt that tackling cancer requires both approaches. To date we are proud to have donated over £60,000.
Cancer is a term covering a whole range of diseases characterised by abnormal and uncontrolled tissue growth, most with potential to spread around the body. In order to fight cancer, research is needed into causes, prevention, detection and treatment. As scientific knowledge advances, cancers can be prevented, for example with the new vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer; or detected earlier, such as with the new screening test for colorectal cancer or with mammogram screening for breast cancer. Treatments - including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy - have been and will continue to be refined, to improve effectiveness and reduce side effects. Due to these advances, many people now survive cancers that were once incurable, such as acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children (ALL) which is now 80% curable. Cancer Research UK is the UK's leading charity dedicated to cancer research.
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, it affects not only the individual but their family as well. It can be an overwhelming time, not just physically, but accompanied by all sorts of emotional and practical challenges. Chai Cancer Care in Hendon, North London, is a charity offering support to Jewish cancer sufferers and their close relatives. It provides help in a number of different ways, including counselling, religious, legal and financial advice, complementary therapies and holistic classes. Everyone who has made use of their services has been impressed by their care and supported, during and after treatment. Dance For Life has been particularly impressed with their valuable contribution, which offers a community-based local assistance alongside hospital, GP and hospice services.
As for that young Israeli dancer, she has made full recovery and in 2008 gave birth to her first baby boy.