It’s hard to smile when you hurt. It’s hard to smile when you’re scared. It’s hard to smile when a monster named Cancer has taken over your life and nothing is the same as it used to be.
My friends are in school, all together, following a normal routine…feeling safe. And me, I’m lying on a hospital bed tense – scared that a lady in a white coat will come in again to do a painful IV and scared, very scared, about something that I cannot even say, can’t even let myself to think about. Continue reading Rx: Fun on Mt. Hermon
You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but that is what makes everything so much more amazing.
Some time ago, I received the most thrilling phone call, informing me that I was found to be a match for a stem cell donation to someone who needed my cells to live. I was beyond words, in the clouds.
Two years ago, I had received a similar call to save the life of a 23 year old man. But unfortunately, the patient weakened and he was in no condition to undergo the transplant. I had been devastated. “This cannot be!” I thought to myself.
To my great joy, I received another call and this time it was about you. Today, I had the opportunity to donate my stem cells to you. For this privilege, I am forever grateful!!!
Throughout this process, I didn’t stop thinking about you for a moment.
I thought all the time: How are you feeling? Are you happy that a matching donor was found for you? Are you optimistic, in spite of the great difficulty involved in such a daunting challenge?
When, occasionally, there was pain or fears at some stage of the process, I immediately thought of you and instantly knew that I had no right to complain, when it was you who are fighting for your life. It had been insanely important to me, and I stubbornly had insisted that they pass on to you and your family that you should not be worried about the donation; I was willing to donate, no matter what would be involved.
To everyone involved, I want to send you tons of “likes” for the ability to accept and deal with this, each in his own way, and to embrace me with a big hug from afar.
I intentionally chose to write to you by hand, so that you could become familiar with at least one personal aspect of me in this long and discreet process.
I pray and hope that my stem cells will be absorbed in your body in the best possible way and that, with G-d’s help, you should recover and regain your strength so that you will once more stand on your own two feet, raise your head, and, above all, be proud of yourself for emerging victorious, in a big way.
Your anonymous donor
The letter writer is just one of over three thousand caring Jews who cannot believe their good fortune to have been chosen to save a life. In a year or two, donor and patient will be permitted to meet. Can you imagine the joy as they embrace…brothers in blood, their souls entwined!
There are close to a million potential donors in Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Registry, the largest Jewish registry in the world. But even the largest is not large enough. Our goal is to expand so that virtually every request is met with the exhilarating words: Yes! We have a match!
Nissan sat opposite his doctor, his fists clenched in tension. Read on as he tells his story.
“I don’t want to sugar coat it. You have leukemia and it doesn’t look good.”
“These were not the words I was hoping to hear. The hardest part was informing our entire family.
After two rounds of chemotherapy, I was told to contact my brothers and sisters immediately as I needed a bone marrow transplant. “I don’t have a brother or sister,” I whispered in a barely audible voice. “I’m an only child.” Continue reading Your Friend in the Sky
It was a normal day. Just like every other Wednesday. Miriam* got the kids off to school, straightened out the house, put in a load of laundry and then left for her volunteer job delivering hot meals to families spending hours at a hospital bedside. Continue reading A Small Drink…A Big Thank You
Stigma — one of the more difficult aspects of mental illness that patients and their families encounter again and again — is the subject that took center stage at the annual seminar held by the Ezer Mizion Mental Health Division’s Family Counseling Center, together with Israel’s Health Department.
The well-known authority in the field, Professor Avraham Weizman, head of the Mental Health Center research unit at Geheh and director of the Flossenstein Center for Medical Research at Tel Aviv University is deeply involved with people in this sector and is in constant contact with Chananya Chollak, Ezer Mizion International Chairman. Prof. Weizman discussed the effects of stigma in the overall protocol when dealing with mental health patients. The statistical data and studies he presented were intended to refute many of the common stigmas regarding people with mental illness.
Chananya Chollak spoke about the damage that concealment causes by preventing people from obtaining the appropriate treatment in time. He called upon the public to display responsibility and get help as soon as possible, so as to increase the chances of optimistically resuming life routine. How many times have professional staff members cried to him, saying, “If only he had come to be treated earlier! The prognosis would have been so much better.”
Prominent community leader, Rabbi Moshe Stein, a dayan on Rav Wosner’s beis din, discussed the halachic (Jewish Law) issues relating to mental health. He emphasized that it is important to present the true story to the Rabbis who will be discreet in advising when and how much should be revealed and to whom.
Rabbi Avraham Rubinstein, mayor of Bnei Brak, greeted the seminar attendees and lauded the tremendous contribution of Ezer Mizion in general, and particularly their Mental Health Division, to the Jewish people. Ezer Mizion offers a variety of psychological support services and rehabilitative programs for people suffering from psychological disorders, emotional issues and mental illnesses. These services include:
A Big Brother/Sister Program that pairs individuals suffering from mental illnesses with trained mentors who provide companionship, offer assistance with basic daily function, and teach the skills necessary for independent living.
Rehabilitative employment centers that provide mentally handicapped people with basic vocational training and employment, and ease their integration into free market employment.
A psychological referral team that recommends appropriate psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors to people grappling with emotional disturbances, mental health issues or difficult relationships.
A network of psychiatrists and psychologists throughout Israel who provide their services at a discount to patients referred by Ezer Mizion.
A 24-hour crisis hotline for non-medical emergencies, including mental health crises such as suicide attempts or severe manic episodes.
As the seminar closed, the hundreds of participants expressed great satisfaction at having received so much knowledge and empowerment in the subject of mental health as a whole, and specifically in the area of stigmas. Attendees hope to have more similar lectures which will gradually affect public opinion and look forward to a time when mental illness will present no more of a stigma than any medical condition.
Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.
No adoring Grandma and Grandpa took a turn to snip off a bit of his sweet, little curls. There was no hair to sweep up from the floor. No peyos (sidelocks) adorned his little face. But there was a yarmulke and tzitzis and there was joy. The family celebrated his upsherin (celebration of first haircut) , his first milestone, with joy, with hope and with prayer that there would be many more milestones to celebrate in the future. Continue reading Rx: Smiles