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From a Devastating Diagnosis to a Rebirth

“Boobah,” (doll) Dr. Dina Lev affectionately called her patient, Liat IIkashi over the phone, “you need to come to the hospital with your husband.”

Liat had recently come to Assuta Ashdod for both mammography and ultrasound after discovering a lump.

“My friend was diagnosed with breast cancer a year and a half ago, so I was really on top of getting tested.

Even so, Liat was busy with a new job and when the administrative professional at Assuta Ashdod first contacted her, Liat requested that the results be sent to her primary care physician. Just the year before when the hospital called after her mammography and ultrasound, her results were perfect. With limited time, she figured that her regular physician could relay the positive news she expected.

But Dr. Dina Lev called Liat directly. She reluctantly set up an appointment.

“We sat with Dr. Dina. She held one hand and my husband held the other. She told me the lump was malignant and I would need chemo and radiation. She said it would be a difficult year.”

Liat was shocked that in just one year since her last clean mammogram, she was now faced with stage 3 cancer. She asked Dr. Dina if the cancer would kill her, and Dr. Dina promised her that it wouldn’t.

“I knew I needed to go into this war against cancer calmly. You can’t think about death every day.”

A week before Liat was supposed to begin therapy, she called Dr. Dina directly on her private number (which she gives out to all her patients). They discussed the possibility of surgery. Dr. Dina would not give a final answer until she spoke with her colleagues at their weekly committee meeting.

In the end, they chose surgery.

“Just before surgery, I panicked, and Dr. Dina held my hand. She promised that I’d wake up without cancer.”

Liat woke up clean. The 1.8-centimeter tumor was smaller than originally thought and hadn’t spread. She followed up with treatments and met with a psychologist to help her deal with the trauma and challenges that she experienced.

While it took Liat a long time to return to her former energetic self, she now understands how important it is to face cancer head-on.

“You can’t run from it. We don’t choose this, but still, it can and does happen. Very few kinds of cancer can be detected early so I don’t understand why women don’t get checked. It’s a question of life and death.” Liat is passionate. In fact, shortly after she recovered, two of her friends were diagnosed. They too went to Assuta Ashdod after hearing Liat’s story and fortunately, they recovered.

“I know this sounds crazy, but it was really hard for me to leave the oncology department after I finished all my treatments. It had become a home for me. From the secretary at reception to each and every nurse at every single stage. It's a family. When I rang that bell following the last treatment, on my birthday exactly, we had an incredible party and for me; it was a rebirth, really.”

Unfortunately, Dr. Dina Lev (director of the Breast Health Center and senior breast surgeon) passed away suddenly in 2020, but she left behind countless grateful patients like Liat.

“It’s hard to understand how special Dr. Dina was. I’d do anything for Assuta Ashdod and for Dr. Dina’s memory.”


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