It Was a Hard Week

candle
Losing the battle

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.

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An Island of Holiday Joy

The scene: Schneider Hospital in Petach Tikvah

hospital 5
Cancer support to uplift the spirits and soothe the soul

Baldheaded children, solemn doctors, the smell of sadness and suffering suffusing every corner…

Everyone here is busy battling for life, sometimes against all odds.

Who has time to think about the approaching Yom Tov? The thoughts wander from upsetting test results to grueling treatments and no further.

Shavuot? A far-off dream of some previous life…blintzes frying, tiny tots singing Little Torah, an atmosphere of joy and excitement.

This year? The ambience of a holiday would do wonders for their wounded souls but no one has the emotional energy to even smile. Will Shavuot 2018 just pass over, hardly noticed ?

Unbeknown to these suffering Jews, there was a small group who understood. They understood that these families were incapable of creating their own Yom Tov but how desperately they needed the feeling of holiness, the feeling of being part of the Jewish nation.

pr Shvuous pix 2
Cancer Support: an island of holiday ambience

And so there, with the very air at Schneider’s laden with despair, they took time off from their own preparations and broke through the hopelessness, bringing light and happiness to these suffering Jews.

In the midst of this sea of sorrow and unimaginable pain, Ezer Mizion Petach Tikvah Linked to Life volunteers set up an island of holiday joy and tranquility.

Dozens of cancer support volunteers did everything to give seriously ill patients and their families a hiatus of calm and compassion. Holiday delicacies were prepared and attractively served and individual needs were met so that each family felt, “Yes, it’s Yom Tov today.”

As one volunteer described it (translated):

I link up to you, we all link together

And in just a matter of minutes

One cake is added to another

One dessert joins the next

Kugel after kugel is baked

And families of seriously ill patients will be able to enjoy delicacies this Shavuot too!

 

Allow us to dedicate the following to you, our precious volunteers:

“Rav Zeira (an ancient sage)said: This megillah (Ruth) – why was it written? To teach you the great reward of those who do chessed, loving kindness”

 

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The Journey We Didn’t Plan – Conclusion – taken from the diary of Nechama Spielman

diary Nechama Spielman
Diary of the anguish and terror permeating the planet called Cancer

So it goes, until April. The last treatment for  the cancer providentially comes out exactly on Yigal’s birthday, the second of Nissan (April). One more little note from Hashem (G-d) showing us that He is holding our hands.  Simply and unceremoniously, the old birthday links up with the new birthday, as we plead to live and rejuvenate and truly grow…

Enveloped by parents and all the loving siblings, who have surprised us and come, we take leave of the room that has become so familiar to us over the last few months. Together, we emotionally sing, “Even behind the tough things that you go through – I am standing there.” There are no mistakes in the world. Even when it is concealed from our view – we are being closely watched and cared for… Continue reading The Journey We Didn’t Plan – Conclusion – taken from the diary of Nechama Spielman

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