Support groups for Arab and Russian-speaking women with metastatic breast cancer in Israel

Support groups for Arab and Russian-speaking women with metastatic breast cancer in Israel

Information and support gap

According to the Israel Cancer Association (ICA), breast cancer is the most common malignant disease in Israel. About 5,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Israel each year. Throughout the year, the ICA Rehabilitation and Welfare Department runs support groups for early stage breast cancer patients as well as metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients. These support groups provide emotional support and aim to increase self-confidence, share information and help breast cancer patients develop effective coping skills. To reach other important linguistic communities, this initiative was expanded to Arabic and Russian speaking populations in Israel.

The Israel Cancer Association (ICA) was established as a voluntary organisation in 1952, with the aim of reducing cancer morbidity and mortality and to improve the quality of cancer patient's lives.

Orit Spira, Head of the ICA Rehabilitation and Welfare Department

“The SPARC Project enables metastatic breast cancer patients and their partners to work through their emotions around their complex diagnosis, to share their deepest fears, thoughts and concerns – issues they cannot share with others, and help them formulate an open dialogue with their children, so the family isn’t left to cope alone with this difficult challenge.”

Orit Spira, Head of the ICA Rehabilitation and Welfare Department

Project description

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In 2015, ICA was awarded a SPARC MBC Challenge grant to expand the support they provide to MBC patients to the minority groups of Arabic speaking (approximately 24% of Israel’s population in 2013[1]) and Russian speaking (approximately 17% of Israel’s population in 2017[2]) women living in Israel. This project consisted of several components including recruiting Arabic and Russian speaking volunteers, translating education materials, developing an information hotline in both languages, and adapting the existing support groups and workshops to include these minorities. Importantly, they also organised additional activities for Hebrew, Arabic and Russian speaking MBC patients to come together, such as a seminar for women dealing with MBC, leisure activities such as "A Day Filled with Nothing but Good" ("Yom Shekulo Tov"), and a film screening event.


These support groups provide a platform for patients to share experiences, discuss issues and clear out misconceptions. Through these group discussions in their native tongue, MBC patients speaking Arabic or Russian are encouraged to get back to their daily routines and return to an active life as much as possible.

During the project year from 2015-2016, nine support groups, eight workshops, and one seminar for women dealing with MBC were organised. It was estimated that about 1,000 MBC patients were reached through these groups and events. Moreover, at least 350 participants attended the "A Day Filled with Nothing but Good" ("Yom Shekulo Tov"), MBC seminar and film screening event.

Following the project, ICA continues to fund and run the support groups dedicated to MBC patients in all three languages, all year round throughout Israel. Their goal is to continue facilitating these multi-lingual groups due to their vital importance.


Organisation's website: Israel Cancer Association (ICA)

Webpage: ICA volunteer group of women diagnosed with breast cancer

Video interview: "Israel Cancer Association - SPARC MBC Challenge Grant Awardee", with Orit Spira, Head of Welfare and Rehabilitation Department at ICA


(Information from the project description and context is compiled from the SPARC reports) 

Last update: 
Friday 7 January 2022
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