NAT 240129 Arab Health General VSAKLANI-9-1706538930593
Elissar Zakaria Khoury (R), popularly known as Elissa, and Dr Shamsheer Vayalil (L), founder and chairman of Burjeel Holdings, launching Burjeel Medical City’s ‘Ring for Life’ at Arab Health in Dubai on Monday Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The inaugural day of the Arab Health Exhibition 2024 on Monday witnessed Arab pop sensation Elissa ringing a bell to unveil a new initiative that spreads the message of hope and triumph to cancer patients and survivors.

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The singer, who recently launched her Netflix series ‘It’s OK’, became the face of the ‘Ring for Life’ initiative by Burjeel Medical City (BMC), the flagship healthcare facility of Abu Dhabi-based Burjeel Holdings

Commonly known as Elissa, Elissar Zakaria Khoury, is one of the most successful singers from the Arab world to hit 1 billion views on YouTube.

A cancer warrior, the Lebanese pop star launched the initiative by ceremonially ringing the bell at the BMC booth at Arab Health, becoming an inspiration to those navigating a cancer diagnosis.

Ringing a bell traditionally celebrates the joyous moment of the completion of treatment in cancer patients.

Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, founder and chairman of Burjeel Holdings, and senior executives and doctors of BMC, attended the launch.

Addressing the challenges posed by the projected $25.2 trillion global cost of cancer from 2020 to 2050, Ring for Life seeks to raise awareness and promote solidarity among patients, healthcare professionals, and the broader community. The initiative propagates the latest developments and advanced care that are reshaping the landscape of oncology.

Awareness is crucial

Interacting with her fans and other visitors to the booth, Elissa shared words of encouragement for cancer patients. She emphasised the importance of raising awareness about cancer in the Arab world, particularly given the high incidence rates, especially for breast cancer.

Recalling her journey with cancer, she said: “Considering my own history, along with my sister and father, who succumbed to cancer, I firmly believe that this disease can be successfully treated if detected early. Regular screening for women with breast cancer is incredibly important, given the significantly high cure rates compared to other types of cancer.”

Elissa considers herself fortunate to have discovered her cancer early, even though she went through a challenging time upon learning about her diagnosis. Initially, as a public figure, she chose to keep her illness private. Only after completing her treatment and recovery did she decide to use her experience to raise awareness about the disease within the community.

“Psychological support from family and friends for cancer patients is very important. Strength and encouragement from loved ones play a crucial role in helping individuals overcome the challenges of the disease,” said Elissa.