NOGA Barkan was 16 and had been preparing to compete in the Rio Olympics as a rhythm gymnast. But the young Israeli awoke one morning with a swollen neck and knew something was wrong. She was later diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“My life was turned upside down in every way possible. My family and I were in a whirlwind of emotions, getting treatment at the hospital, studying as best as I can to complete 11th grade and take my final exams while feeling mentally and physically sick,” remembered Barkan.
It was then that Make-A-Wish entered her life. “I was lying in the hospital, all I could think about was my teammates who were going to compete in the Olympics, and I wanted to be with them,” she told The AJN ahead of her visit to Melbourne for the Make-A-Wish Australia and Israel Shared Appeal.
The Shared Appeal makes wishes come true for children battling life-threatening conditions in Australia and Israel. All donations are shared equally between both countries.
It was Barkan’s dream to join her friends in Brazil and cheer them on – and Make-A-Wish made it happen for her. “It was so exciting. I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life: thousands of people and flags and it was so colourful. And to see my teammates, and I was just so thankful that I could go and I was well enough to be there,” told Barkan.
Three years later, Barkan, 19, is now in remission, and will be visiting Australia and New Zealand to share her story where she not only survived cancer – but has flourished.
Despite being excused from military service due to her illness, Barkan went on to serve in the Oketz (canine unit) of the IDF. More recently, she led a delegation of senior Israeli businesspeople to scale the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. “I’ve learnt that the impossible is possible, and the sky is not the limit and that I can do anything,” she said.
Barkan spoke at a WIZO Teens event on Sunday, February 17, and at Kim Factor School of Dance and Edge Gymnastics. For more details about the Shared Appeal, contact Sarah Singer on 0458 133 280.