Cancer is frightening. It’s a nightmare that even Mommy’s hug can’t make go away. The child, and often his siblings, are often paralyzed with fear. A relaxed, happy frame of mind, so vital to the battle he must wage, seems so far, far away. Even an itty bitty smile becomes a distant stranger to the tiny face that mirrors only terror and pain.
Ezer Mizion cannot cure the cancer but we will move heaven and earth to create a giggle. Professional staff and volunteers spend hours creating programs that bring happiness to the cancer patient and his whole family, to lighten their burden both practically and emotionally. Ideas abound. Birthday parties, trips, story hour, music clubs, lego sessions, even a petting zoo. And recently balloons. Continue reading Cancer Support with a Vro-o-o-m
“His face lit up” – a phrase so often found in stories of someone who received something he never expected. What does it mean? How does a face light up? Surely it is the spirit inside him that is generating the electricity.
If that is the case, then joy would be the prescription to raise the spirits of those demoralized by serious illness. Rx: fun. Happiness and chemo working in tandem. Body and spirit together engaged in the battle for life.
Ezer Mizion’s Cancer Support Division incorporates this truism into its Battle Plan with fun days for mothers, trips for kids, birthday parties, make-a-wish outings and so much more.
Harel was a case-in-point. Close to his father, the two enjoyed doing things together. One of his father’s favorites was running. Feeling the wind, the rush of adrenalin, the flush of reaching the finish line. Pure joy. And sharing it together was the icing on the cake.
The Annual Petach Tikva Run was scheduled. His father was one of the first sign up. But this time, there’d be no young son beside him, sharing the elation. Harel longed to be there. Oh, how he longed to be there. But a monster had taken over his life in the form of an illness, curable only with a bone marrow transplant. The transplant had taken place recently and Harel was beginning to mend. But running? Out of the question!
Out of the question but feelings don’t ask questions. They just feel. And Harel was feeling miserable. An emotion not very conducive to strengthening his body.
Enter Yumi, one of the most beloved members of the Cancer Support team. Yumi never sees ‘no’. He just sees ‘how’. How can it be made possible for Harel to join the race together with his father? Nothing is simple when it comes to a transplant. But Yumi is used to that. He met with Harel’s father. Tossed out possible plans. Brought the plans to a meeting with physicians. Changed, refined, re-did. Met with the race organizers. Back to the physicians. And soon. There it was. A real plan. One that he hoped would work.
The day arrived and there is Yumi. As excited as Harel and his father. Video camera on hand, recording every moment. Cheering, cheering, cheering! The lanes are filled with runners. And there is Harel’s father also running, pushing a wheelchair in front of him. Grinning behind his face mask sits Harel absorbing the excitement in the air. They’re almost there. The finish line is in sight. They stop and Harel exits the wheelchair, stands behind it and begins to push. The wheelchair supports him. His father’s shouts support him. And Yumi’s continued cheering supports him. There he is crossing the finish line with the rest of them. Way to go, Harel!
Keep running, young man. Keep running until you reach the finish line, until you reach perfect health and can do all the things you long to do. We’re all behind you, cheering you on, Harel. Keep running!
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
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
DIVISION OF CANCER SUPPORT. What does it mean? What does it mean to support a victim of cancer? Some answers are obvious. Helping out with the kids, providing meals, transportation, offering therapy to patient and members of the family that are finding it difficult to cope – all these will certainly be included. And then there’s the not so obvious. Continue reading What Does it Mean?
He was ten years old. Every child knows that after ten comes eleven. It is as certain as night following day. For a small number of children, though, it may not be. These children, too mature to have the devastating information hidden from them, yet oh so young, oh so pure …these holy souls … have risen to levels unimaginable to their peers.
The cancer had almost paralyzed him. His breathing was weak and oxygen was necessary to keep him alive. He lay there, more soul than body. But what a soul! This young child, whose thoughts should be on collecting stamps and his latest chol hamoed trip, had one wish: to daven (pray) at the kotel in order to come closer to the Creator of the world, perhaps for his last time as a human being of flesh and blood. Continue reading A Soul Comes Home
What happens when the pillar holding up the structure begins to wobble? And the walls that had lost their prop fall to the floor? The building that had appeared to be solid now topples, breaking into smithereens.
The Berger* family was such a structure. Mr. Berger was the strong parent whom everyone leaned upon. His wife was his helpmate, relying on him to make decisions, small and large. Emotionally, she was not capable of playing the leader and that was just fine as long as the status quo remained. But then cancer entered the family structure and Mr. Berger was no longer able to offer his strength. His condition was grave and, without the pillar that she depended on all of her married life, his wife could no longer lead the family.
A sick husband, a traumatized wife, bewildered children were left to each fend for himself with no support at a time when it was so desperately needed. But not for long. Ezer Mizion was notified of the situation and they took charge. Various departments were brought onto the scene to provide for both practical and emotional needs. Rides to the hospital, hot meals, someone to do homework with the kids, someone to hold the house together, fun days for the kids, retreats for the whole family to raise their spirits, professional therapy for each member of the family and so much more.
Ezer Mizion became the new temporary pillar with its staff of caring people whose only goal was to ease the plight of a Jewish family in trouble. Heavily involved in the details of their life, it was only natural that they soon heard about Malky* who was soon to be twelve. No Bas Mitzvah plans were in the offing. Who had emotional energy to even think of such things? But Ezer Mizion staff did. They pictured the smiles. They pictured the family togetherness. Both so rare these days. And they got to work.
With so many joining in with their specialties, the result was fantastic. It is not likely that any girl ever had a Bas Mitzvah as nice as Malky*’s.
Ezer Mizion cannot cure the patient but, with the help of all of you, our supporters around the world, we can be there for them when it hurts.
Dr. Agustin Yigdal Zbar, president of AMIA, the association of Jewish communal services in Argentina, together with Mr. Diego Emilio Salem, Deputy President of Argentina’s Jewish School Federations, recently visited Israel. The purpose of their visit was to rally Israeli government funding for a teachers’ training project in the Jewish communities in Argentina and for development of a new Health Services Division, to be housed in the AMIAJewish Community building in Buenos Aires. Continue reading AMIA Leadership Mission Visits Ezer Mizion
We speak of it as being a ‘battle with cancer’. Like all battles, it requires an army, each division with its special task, each soldier with a mission to which he devotes his heart and soul. Each ‘soldier’s very being becomes linked to those he helps. Help comes in many different forms. Therapy, living quarters near the clinic, meals, rides. The list goes on and on. This is no 9-5 job where work-related info disappears from the employee or volunteer’s radar as he exits the office.
Shopping for his family at the supermarket, Avi, an Ezer Mizion Linked to Life volunteer, spots a candy bar that little Yossi likes and, with an unmanly sob, he adds it to his cart. (Yossi’s Mommy used to buy him that candy every Sabbath but now Yossi’s Mommy is …) His phone rings and the shopping cart gets shoved into a corner. The store manager will understand. It’s happened before. His wife will surely understand. She had been tearfully praying when he left the house. It’s Moshe. He needs a ride to the hospital. Now. They just called. His wife has only hours to live. He knew it was coming but when it does…oh, it’s so hard. He will be needed for much more than the ride. He and his fellow Linked 2 Life members had supported the family in so many ways for months. “Hashem, give him strength,” he fervently prays as he rushes to his car.
Many weeks are filled with joy like when a child wins his battle with leukemia and L2L members drive the family and accumulated paraphernalia home from the hospital. Soon the child will join his friends in their games, a boy like any other boy. A celebratory parade as they enter the home, each one carrying packages, almost dancing up the stairs. Or when we’re invited to a bris by a young father who had been afraid his baby would be named after him. He’s cured now. The nightmare is over.
Other weeks are not so. Like this past one. Ora died this week. She had been part of the lives of so many Linked to Life volunteers in Rechasim and Haifa. Her conversation was never about her pain, her anguish. It was only about how grateful she was to each person for everything done for her family.
“Mere words cannot express my thanks to you for all your help and support. Hashem, in His great compassion and immeasurable love sent me such special agents as yourselves. I bless you all from the bottom of my heart that Hashem should repay you in kind, grant you health, happiness, and success in all your endeavors and nachat from the children. May good and kindness pursue you your entire lives.”
These words were written to Ezer Mizion just a few months ago by Ora a”h.
We rallied. We tried to smooth the way for them, do the little extras to bring some sunshine into their numbered days together. The medical staff fought hard. We fought hard to keep up their spirits. And we lost. Ora is gone. Ezer Mizion will be there for the family, with the practical, with the emotional as long as we’re needed. We’ll be their cushion, their pillar.
It was a hard week. There was a family at Ezer Mizion’s Summer Camp whose mother spent the time in bed on pain killers, under the supervision of medical staff, coming out for meals and some low-key activities. How gratifying to have been the catalyst for fortifying the family as they shared an enjoyable time together… their last. A day before camp ended, the mother was hospitalized. The children stayed on to finish camp. Ezer Mizion was with the children when they were told the bitter news of their mother’s demise. The younger ones hugged each other in a bundle of grief and said: “Ezer Mizion will help Abba and us. They never leave us to be alone!”
It was a hard week. A single mother of young children. Another young mother. And a sixteen year old boy with a brain tumor. Four young mothers and one young boy in one week.
Hashem, please give all of us at Ezer Mizion strength to be their strength. And Hashem, please hold them tight in Your embrace. Hug them. Comfort them. And wipe away all their tears.