Meet Shani Avital, a four-year-old hero navigating the complexities of her illness against the backdrop of conflict and displacement. Her story is one of resilience and hope.

At just four years old, Shani Avital’s bravery has been nothing short of extraordinary. Living in Kibbutz Re’im with her family, Shani has been battling brain cancer since she was two. Her life, already marked by weekly trips to Safra Children’s Hospital at Sheba for treatment, took an even more challenging turn on October 7th. That day, as her father bravely fought off terrorists invading their community, Shani huddled in a safe room. The family was soon evacuated to Eilat, significantly lengthening the journey to her life-saving treatments.

The Early Battle: Diagnosing and Fighting Brain Cancer

Shani’s mother, Ayelet, recalls the early days of uncertainty. What began as a concern over Shani squinting unexpectedly led to a shocking diagnosis at Soroka Hospital – grade 4 Glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of brain cancer. The family’s world turned upside down as Shani was rushed into surgery to remove the tumor. Ayelet describes those moments with a heavy heart, the pain of the realization still fresh in her voice.

Despite the devastating news, Shani showed remarkable strength. She underwent two additional surgeries and underwent a novel treatment initially developed for lung cancer patients at Safra Children’s Hospital. Her routine settled into regular check-ups, scans, and weekly treatments, providing a glimmer of normalcy. Dr. Michal Yalon, a pediatric hemato-oncology specialist at Sheba, speaks highly of Shani’s infectious charm and her bravery throughout the treatments.

Navigating Treatment During Turbulent Times

On October 7th, Following the heinous attack and their miraculous escape, the family had to leave their home for a hotel in distant Eilat, disrupting their routine and making Shani’s therapy even more arduous.

In these trying times, a ray of hope emerged with United Hatzalah’s initiative to fly children with cancer from remote areas for treatment. The service significantly eased the burden on the family, as Shani could continue receiving quality care at Sheba.

Shani’s story is one of incredible bravery and resilience, not just in her fight against cancer, but also in facing the realities of conflict and displacement. At Sheba, her journey is a testament to the unwavering spirit of a young girl and her family and the relentless commitment of a medical team dedicated to giving their patients the best chance at life.

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