The 18th anniversary of the Charter of Paris Against Cancer was celebrated under the auspices of UNESCO on 5 February 2018 – one day after World Cancer Day – at Versailles, Paris, where the Charter Awards were also presented. The awards were given to individuals and organisations whose work supports research in the fight against cancer and which provide aid to strengthen hospital and social infrastructure to improve patients’ qualify of life.
The event was hosted by Professor David Khayat, founder and president of the International Institute of Oncology in Paris, and the initiator of the Charter of Paris and the global campaign against cancer. Prof. Khayat and his wife, Jocelyne Khayat, were there to offer the guests a warm welcome.
The event was particularly important for Greece, as Greek Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO, Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, received an award for her great contribution to children suffering from cancer, through the ELPIDA Association of Friends of Children with Cancer.
The award represents international recognition for Greece in the area of science and the fight against cancer, social participation and humanitarianism, and was presented in the heart of Europe in the presence of prominent figures of science and letters, representatives of international organisations, politicians, entrepreneurs and renowned personalities from all over the world who support the fight against cancer.
A video featuring the important work of Mrs Vardinoyannis and her 28-year involvement with the ELPIDA Association was shown at the award presentation, which took place at the Chapelle royale at Versailles, and was addressed by Prof. Khayat: “I would like to introduce you to an extraordinary woman, a woman I love very much, who, thanks to her financial and personal commitment, has changed the fate of a great many children with leukaemia, Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis… I visited the hospital that she built with her own means and it is the only bone marrow transplant unit for children in Greece and the only chance for Greek children who need transplants… We offer our warmest thanks.”
Prof. Khayat presented the award to Mrs Vardinoyannis, along with a check for €50,000, donated by the International Institute of Oncology in Paris in support of the ELPIDA Association’s work.
Mrs Vardinoyannis, who had also received a Charter of Paris Against Cancer award in 2014, emotionally thanked him and expressed her gratitude for his valuable support. She emphasised the great importance of the solidarity coming from France in the struggle of ELPIDA’s children to regain their health.
Also honoured at the event were:
- The Department of Immunology at Pitié Salpêtrière Hospital, which was represented by Prof. Patrice Debré.
- The Cosmetic Executive Women Foundation, providing beauty care for cancer patients, represented by Françoise Montenay.
- The Everest Association, represented by Christine Janin and Anna-Véronique El Baze, which provides assistance to children stricken with cancer or leukaemia and to women with breast cancer in remission in order to help accelerate recovery.
- The HORG Association providing training and research in oncology and radiation therapy and improved communication and information between physicians and patients, represented by Dr Hanah Lamallem.
- The UDRI Institute for radiation therapy, represented by Dr Didier Bonnel.
- The Institut Rafaël, which assists patients in preparing to return to a normal life, represented by Dr Alain Toledano.
The evening also held symbolic importance for the organisers, as it marked the beginning of a new phase in the activities of Prof. David Khayat; he announced the termination of the AVEC Institute he founded 22 years ago to support cancer patients and cancer research.At the same time, he announced the founding of the International Institute of Oncology in Paris which will continue the effort against cancer with the same humanitarianism and same values set out in the Charter of Paris Against Cancer. The AVEC Foundation funds were contributed to organisations conducting important work in research and fighting cancer, and to provide support for cancer patients.
In a moving speech, Prof. Khayat looked back over his career and previewed his new plans, while also providing statistics on the threatening aspects of cancer, but also of new hope. He said cancer is the main cause of death in the world. It kills more people than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. In France, it affects 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women. More than 400,000 new cases are recorded in France each year, and 150,000 deaths. “The challenges are huge,” Prof. Khayat said, “but at the same time, hope has never been stronger, because in the last two to three years, we have discovered new treatment strategies that give us cause to hope, mainly in immunotherapy.”
The evening included a musical program and dinner in the famed Galerie de Batailles at Versailles.
The event was attended by: Princess Léa of Belgium; the Prince and Princess Constantin Mourousy; former Education Minister of France, Luc Chatel, and his wife, Mahnaz Hatami; former Culture Minister of France, Jacques Toubon, and his wife, Lise Toubon; President of Versailles Catherine Pégard; the great philanthropist, Maryvonne Pinault; the president of “Regine Sixt Children’s Aid Foundation-Drying Little Tears”, Regine Sixt; Lord Michael Anders Cavendish; Belgian politician Alain Zenner; Italian Ambassador to France Giandomenico Magliano; Chilean Ambassador to France and Monaco Marcia Covarrubias; author and pianist Chow Ching Lie; Μichel and Veronique Boss-Drouhin; and many others.