Archive for the ‘Charities in Israel’ Category

Strike A Match

October 17, 2018

pr weddingAlone. In a virtual corner, separated from their peers, feeling ostracized, not quite as valued. One by one, their friends become engaged but they remain.

They have so much to offer. So much to give to a relationship. Yet people shy away from marriage. Fearful of the unknown.

Malky* has juvenile diabetes. She functions fine. In fact, better than fine. A popular girl throughout her high school years, she was head of the school newspaper in eleventh grade. Her diabetes is under control and she leads a normal life. Chavi* was born with a limp. Extensive therapy has brought her to a good place and she is fully functioning, as capable as anyone in chasing after a mischievous toddler but, so far, there is no toddler in her life. Her friends have several children but she has hardly had one date. Mendy* comes from a dysfunctional home. His maturity far surpasses his that of peers. He is a caring, stable young man who would make a wonderful husband.  Moishe’s* life was saved by a bone marrow transplant when he was three years old. For over twenty years, there has been no sign of the cancer returning. But people are scared. Avi* was diagnosed with a mental health issue but those who are with him day in and day out would never guess. Medication allows him to function completely normally and he is well-like and respected in his office.

The shaddchanim (matchmakers) are kind. Gently, they inform their client that, once again, the other party has said (s)he sounds like  a wonderful person but…And so years pass by. A decade. And the dreams of these truly wonderful people – totally functional members of our communities –  are stymied.

It was this situation that gave birth to Ezer Mizion’s Strike a Match Division, headed by Mrs. Reisner.  Each situation is unique. The actual abilities of the perspective groom or bride must be clearly determined based on a doctor’s assessment. The prognosis and likelihood of defective children must be understood well to be clarified to the ‘other side’. Extreme sensitivity must be employed in allaying the fears of the other side, fears that may be highly unwarranted yet loom large in the minds of the family. That same sensitivity must be able to determine which issue would be a compatible match with which and how to present each to the other side. Tremendous care is taken in researching family genetics to be sure the couple is truly compatible and capable of building a home together.

Rabbi Shimon Rogaway, Director of Ezer Mizion’s Medical Referral Unit, is often consulted as is Rav Chaim Kanievsky.

When the groundwork is done, Mrs. Reisner meets with 5-10 singles per week. Three hundred and fifty of these singles have met, many numerous times, and, to date, there have been 32 mazel tov’s! Half of those thirty-two were the suggestions of Mrs. Reisner, the other half those who sought her advice after the shidduch was suggested by another party. She spent weeks, months holding their hands, investigating, guiding, counseling, referring, consulting with rabbis and medical advisors, clarifying each issue as it came up.

An estimated 500 people consulted with Mrs. Reisner last year in her capacity as Ezer Mizion’s shadchanit (matchmaker). A young lady with epilepsy was brought to Mrs. Reisner who was involved every step of the way from suggesting a switch of medication since seizures were continuing to derive pride from a fully functioning young woman who is now successfully married.

A high functioning young man with ASD is now happy married to a high functioning special needs girl. The couple lives in Alei Siach (a sheltered home setting for adults with special needs) and receive all the support they need from both the home and their parents. They have both blossomed tremendously. The chosson’s mother describes her great joy: “I see my son sitting and schmoozing with his new wife for an hour at a time.”

For those who approach the shidduch scene with a strike against them,   Ezer Mizion’s Strike A Match is the pillar they lean on until they, too, join their peers with the sounds of joy at the wedding as they begin to build their unique home.

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.

 

 

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Lost??!!!

October 10, 2018

AirplaneThe logistics were endless. But the trip was important to him. Not that many years ago, before he became a victim of Parkinson’s disease, a trip would have involved not much more than packing a carryon the night before. He didn’t need much. Now things were different. Some members of his family didn’t want him to go. They were afraid. What if something went wrong? Arrangements were made for every detail. They planned and re-planned. He wanted so much to go and so his family rallied and tried to smooth out all the bumps.

 

“Goodbye. Have a safe trip! Goodbye! Goodbye!” They all gathered at the airport to see him off. They weren’t too worried. They had covered everything. “He’ll be fine,” they told themselves.

 

suitcaseThe trip was uneventful. It wasn’t until they disembarked that the bump came. A big one. He checked the monitor and made his way to the appropriate carousel. It was the first time he hadn’t used a carryon. The Parkinson’s made that too difficult.  “It’s the green suitcase with the black stripe,” he told the person helping him. Suitcases flew out. All colors. All sizes. But not his. He made his way to the agent and handed over his baggage papers. He waited while the agent checked his database, made some calls, checked again. “I’m sorry, sir. It’s lost. Please fill out these forms and you will be reimbursed.” He just stood there stunned. Lost? The shirts could be replaced. But his medication! His medication he must have! He only has enough for about half a day. All those pills. So many kinds. How could he ever replace them in a different country?!

 

Airport_Seating_SolutionsSuddenly he felt old. Too old to have made the trip. His family had been right. He never should have gone. He sat down on the nearest chair. Helpless. The ringing of his phone broke into his melancholy thoughts. “Hi. How was the trip? Everything ok?” Nothing was ok. “Wait, Tatte. We’ll work things out. You’ll see. Everything will be fine.”

 

He didn’t see how that could be but, having no emotional energy to even stand up, he remained there on the bench.

 

Meanwhile, his son got to work. One family member was sent to the pharmacy to procure a whole new set of medication, complete with all legal paperwork. Another was given the job to find someone who could take it from Israel to the US. Calls were made and many people suggested calling Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life Network.

 

The following post went up on Linked to Life at 8:32:

Urgent request! An Israeli with Parkinson’s disease flew to NY and lost his suitcase with all his medications! Family desperately looking for someone to bring new meds from Israel to NY.

At 8:35, just three minutes (!!) later: Delivery to New York has been arranged! A giant thank you to all our partners!

 

Still despondent, still sitting on his bench, he answered the ring on his phone. “What??? But how??? You say tomorrow morning???? Really???” With a spring in his step, he rose from the bench feeling ten years younger. It was going to be a great trip!

Like to join Linked to Life? Call Mrs. Miller at 718 853 8400

 

 

 

Dementia: Us and Them

October 3, 2018

pr-colorful_question_mark_vector_set_148455We all have met up, at some time or other, with people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Seeing their inability to function independently is frightening. We look at them and their family members with compassion. But that’s them. We are we. We are not members of that club. The Dementia Club. We chuckle a bit the next time we forget our keys but we know it’s normal. Certainly not a sign of the D-word.

And then one day, Chaya, a perfectly normal woman, your neighbor, the one you went shopping with a couple of weeks ago. The one who helped you out your washing machine broke. That neighbor whom you’ve shared your woes in raising your kids as you both waited for their school bus each morning  – she said something strange. It wasn’t the first time. You glanced up at her and were shocked to see that her face looked different – confused, helpless.

When you asked her to join you for a cup of coffee, she refused. Not even her favorite Danish to go with it tempted her. In fact, it seemed that she was frightened. Rivky, another neighbor, commented that as soon as she sat down on the park bench, Chaya jumped up, almost as if in fear, with a muttered excuse of having left the soup on the fire.

Chaya truly is scared. Spending time with a friend becomes humiliating. She feels vulnerable. She gradually withdraws from any social contact. Even her grocery orders are now faxed as she tells herself that faxing is so much more convenient than shopping at the store.  Anyways her lists are simpler these days. Not too many raw ingredients. Mostly prepared food. Following a recipe is draining. She complains about the complexity of modern cookbooks.

Can ‘us’ really morph into ‘them’?

People with early stage dementia comprise a significant segment of the population. They are in ‘twilight zone’, no longer able to fit into their former social circles yet cannot imagine themselves in a circle of senior citizens even though they are approaching or have entered the age of the senior world. Their cognitive abilities have somewhat declined but they certainly do not fit into a day care center setting for the mentally infirm.

The partial awareness that the patient has at this stage generates a sense of vulnerability and helplessness.  A protected ‘safe place’ framework is needed for those in the early stages. It is this issue that Ezer Mizion seeks to address with its Social Clubs for women at the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. These clubs serve to mitigate the withdrawal and introversion experienced by many.

Its goals are to create a program adapted to encourage the participants to engage in social interaction in spite of the disease. Equally important is the preservation of cognitive capabilities, as much as possible, via diverse multisensory activities in addition to strengthening a sense of meaning and self-worth and enhancement of participants’ quality of life. With emphasis placed on the preservation and enhancement of cognitive and social abilities, activities focus on multisensory and cognitive stimulation such as discussions on topics of interest, physical exercise, music, board games and crafts activities.

As the need is great, Ezer Mizion hopes to increase its scope of clubs in major cities throughout Israel, each one a protective haven for people experiencing the frightening trauma losing touch with the stability of day-to-day life as they had known it.

Alzheimer’s: Color Me Black.

September 12, 2018

elderly w companion
Alzheimer’s: The disease that destroys childhood memories

Malka* was enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee. Lunches were made for tomorrow. The laundry was in the drier and Malka’s father had gone to bed early. She was about to reach for something to read, a rare luxury, when the bell rang. It was after eleven. Who could that be? Coffee forgotten, Malka’s heart began to flutter. She pressed the intercom button and, her voice trembling, asked who it was. The voice was hesitant,   a bit embarrassed. A neighbor was just coming home from evening prayers and…She ran to open the door and there stood the neighbor with her father, dressed in pajamas, barefoot and looking very confused.

Alzheimer’s. It colored every moment of Malka’s days. Black.  This was her father. The one who had taught her to ride a two-wheeler, cheering loudly as she wobbled down the driveway. The one who held her arm tightly, offering emotional support ‘forever’, as he walked her down the aisle toward married life.

He had always been there for her. His soothing words and practical suggestions had made all the difference. Her father. Ten feet tall and all-powerful.

Now there he stood. A pitiful, old man. Helpless.    Her tower of strength had crumbled.

Truth be told, this wasn’t the first time. He seemed to be in his own world.   He often referred to her as ‘Mommy’ and her children by the names of his siblings. He would offer to help her scrub the laundry on the washboard or shovel the coal into the furnace.

Alzheimers-disease-and-dementia
Alzheimer’s: Can this really be my soft-spoken kindly father?!

The worst was when he shouted at her or her husband or the kids in such a mean, sarcastic way. He had never been like that. It hurt. Oh, how it hurt. She knew it was the disease, not really him. But each word was excruciatingly painful.  She tried to help him but felt so inadequate.

Malka’s case is typical. There are 130,000 cases of Alzheimer’s in Israel, many of them being cared for by  relatives. Relatives who are in desperate need of help.

As part of the goal to provide suitable responses for dementia-patient caregiving relatives, Ezer Mizion Tzipporah Fried Alzheimer Family Support Center runs support groups and workshops.

In these groups, the women have an opportunity to learn about the disease and ways of coping with it, drawing from the experience of the group facilitators and the other women in the group. The group serves as a “safe” place for engaging in discussion and bringing up the many emotional challenges that come with caring for the ill relative. At times, it is the only setting where caregivers feel secure and are able to speak openly about their struggles.

In addition, as part of the support system for caregiving relatives, music, physical fitness, art, and therapeutic gardening workshops are available, with a double goal: To provide women with a pleasurable experience and a hiatus from the draining role as caregiver for their sick relative and to offer simple, easy-to-implement tools for working with the patient at home.

Our goal?  To provide a supportive response and personal relief for women caring for a relative with dementia, empowering them as caregivers and strengthening the sense of self-worth in this excruciatingly difficult period of their lives.

 

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.

 

In Lieu of Mommy

September 5, 2018

pr bldgYona is the wife of a schizophrenia patient. Life hasn’t been easy for her. Dealing with mental illness is a frightening nightmare only made worse by the loneliness. Mental illness is not something you share with the neighbors. On the outside, she is a bubbly mother of a large family, discussing the woes of a washing machine breakdown with another mother as they sit on the park bench together. On the inside, however, she is slowly falling apart because of a different type of breakdown –   the breakdown of a strong, supportive husband, the breakdown of a family. Yona is a heroine, trying to go it alone but she worries how long she can go on. When will she herself break down?

Bravely, she had made her way to the Ezer Mizion office. Maybe.  Maybe they can help a bit. What she received was so much more than she had hoped for.

Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Program provides both professional services and practical support. The little things and the big things.

The Family Counseling Center works to provide families coping with a mentally ill relative with a variety of professional tools, information, and support. This includes individual counseling for family members, support groups providing information and coping tools in the form of weekly sessions, self-help groups, workshops teaching skills and coping tools, lectures on a variety of topics. Also available is a 24-hour crisis hotline for mental health crises such as suicide attempts or severe manic episodes.

Scheduled retreats for the whole family provide healing for strained family relationships and individualized practical support for a variety of circumstances complete the picture.

messy home
Ezer Mizion: the ‘family’ that stands behind yo in time of crisis

Yona shares her thoughts as she entered her home after an absence of an entire month. She wasn’t looking forward to walking in.

“The milk must be past its expiration date,” I thought, as I turned the key in the door. “It will take a ton of baking soda to get rid of the odor.”

And the dust! A month’s worth. The floor will be caked. Oh, and the linens. Ugh!

If my mother would know, she’d send me hot soup, polish the house to a sheen. And she wouldn’t forget to bring me her traditional cheesecake with the paper-thin crust.  What a comfort that would be! To be Mommy’s little girl and be taken care of again. How I would love that! I know I’m not a child anymore but I certainly feel like one. So in need of pampering. I lifted my head and tried to pretend that I was a capable, energetic adult. I tried but I couldn’t fool myself.

I opened the door. What?! What’s going on? Did my mother find out my carefully kept secret?

Could this be real? I couldn’t recognize the house. It was perfectly clean.

Freshly-washed linen emanating a fresh, orchid fragrance, hot food on the stove. I opened the refrigerator. Fresh milk and cheese, fruit and vegetables and even an assortment of creamy cakes. Everything was there.

And there it was, like a centerpiece:   a heartwarming note: “From us, the Ezer Mizion family, always here for you.”

My heart pounded. My eyes filled with tears. Someone thought about me!

Hashem, what a wonderful father You are. With one Hand, You strike, but with the other Hand, You embrace. A great, big hug, with all the love in the world. Thank you for helping me to connect to Ezer Mizion. How proud I am to be part of the Jewish people. One nation. One song. And one, special heart…

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.

When Their World Came Crashing Down

August 29, 2018

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Roni and Bar’ was written on the wedding invitations. The marriage was to take place in September. That was before. Before a leukemia sabotaged their every dream.

Roni had discovered small lesions on her face. Her neck muscles cramped, glands in her neck swelled, as did the roof of her mouth, and blue marks appeared on her legs. It didn’t look good and it was not long before the diagnosis was confirmed.

“This can’t be,” cried Bar. “Not now! Not when we were about to marry. Everything was ready. The invitations. The hall. The band. ”

“Don’t give up hope,” the doctor said. “A stem cell transplant can cure her, Bar. Your bride will be as good as new. We just need a genetic match for her. Someone of Yemenite or Moroccan extraction. But we need it fast. Within a month. if not, …”

And so the search is on. Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish bone marrow registry in the world, has close to a million registrants.  So far no one in the registry is a match but a drive was held in Israel and over 16,000 converged upon 36 stations throughout the country. Drives are being held in California and Florida and hundreds of swab test kits are being sent out by the NY office. Labs will be working overtime to complete the testing…before it’s too late.

Meet Roni. Share her pain.

“Someone will match. I’m sure of it! It has to happen!” Bar is optimistic and hoping to print new wedding invitations soon.

Each new registrant will be tested. The cost of each test is $50. Each registrant will remain on the database for decades, ready to save the life of any cancer patient in communities around the globe.

Moving Forward: Conquering Mental Illness

August 29, 2018

pr mental illness
Mental illness can be cured.

Mental illness, as the name implies, is an illness. And, again, as the name implies, it can be cured. But, unlike strep throat, a mental health patient harbors fears of facing the cure and rejoining the world. His rehabilitation can be greatly delayed due to his inability to take those frightening steps.

Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Program, with its versatile services, includes an annual retreat. The much anticipated retreat creates an atmosphere that can enable that which cannot take place in a standard client/patient setting. The retreat has the potential to empower the patient, connect him to normative experiences, create encounters with a broad group of equals as well as to recharge batteries for the continued process of rehabilitation and provide a hiatus for the rest of the family who is invited to join.

The retreat takes place once a year with full hotel accommodations. Activities include trips, swimming, boating, entertainment/performances, jeeping, workshops and skits. The patients are encouraged to participate in the planning of the retreat, a rehabilitation tool in itself.

talis
Leading the congregation in prayer: a giant leap forward in combating his mental illness

The informal social interaction that comes about in this safe, accepting environment can have far-reaching effects. At the retreat, the participants experience routine life alongside their special activities. There are daily prayers with the retreat leader. A few days after the retreat, the social worker got a call from the father of one of the participants. In a tremulous voice, he shared with us that his son had gone to daven (pray) in shul (synagogue) and had stepped up to the amud (lectern) to lead the Minchah (afternoon services) as chazzan (cantor). The elated father could not believe that his son, who was so withdrawn, had found the gumption to lead the congregation in prayers. “How did it happen?” he asked the social worker. “Your son served as chazzan (cantor) for Minchah at the retreat,” the social worker answered simply.

pr lk pix food
Working at the Rehabilitative Kitchen – a giant leap forward in conquering mental illness

Devorah* who receives coaching services at home to promote her household functioning was doing fine in running her home. The professional staff felt she was ready to begin to join the workforce obtaining a job at Ezer Mizion’s rehab kitchen. She would be fully supported by a staff mentor, working in a controlled environment but her fears did not allow her to take the step.    At the retreat, she met other women like her, raising children as she was and, nevertheless, going out to work at the Mental Health Division’s rehabilitative kitchen. A normative conversation with women like her accomplished what thousands of words from the coach and the professional staff hadn’t. Needless to say, today she works at a bakery and her rehabilitation process has taken a giant step forward.

Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Division provides many services including individual coaching in the client’s home to improve personal functioning, mentoring in the public expanse to enhance client’s interpersonal interactions.

Rehabilitation is enhanced by a range of occupational rehabilitation services, in keeping with the client’s functional level, with the goal of sharpening occupational skills. Included is mentoring in the open job market. Musicians can take advantage of the rehabilitation program for musicians, geared to enhancing their occupational skills while professionalizing their skills in diverse musical subjects.

Group social activities, including a variety of clubs and rehabilitative activities are available with the overall goal of improving social skills.

The division is constantly growing to provide both rehabilitation for its clients and support for family members in this frightening nightmare that has taken over their lives.

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.

Opportunity Knocked and They Answered

August 1, 2018

DNA 3

Mike E. was three and a half. The age of zoom-zooming his trucks across the floor. But Mike wasn’t zoom-zooming. The most frequent sound he emitted was a pitiful whimper as, once again, he was subjected to the painful and frightening hospital procedures. Mike was born with CGD, a disease that damages the immune system. His life was in danger and only a stem cell transplant could help. Finding a donor whose DNA matched Mike’s was vital. With a matching donor, he could live. Without…

Mike was one of the fortunate ones. From approximately 900,000 potential donors at Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry, Nimrod C. was that match. Mike is 5 and a half now and zoom-zooming with the best of them. Recently he and his mother, Anastasia, met Nimrod for the first time. Busy with his trucks, Mike couldn’t understand why his mother burst into tears as Nimrod entered the room. Both adults stood there in silence as the tears of joy flowed. “Because of you…because of you…” Anastasia cried out.

In recent times, a bone marrow transplant is not used too frequently. The most common procedure is a stem cell transplant, a much simpler procedure. There is no surgery involved for the donor, no pain, no recovery period. The stem cell transplant is not much more complicated than giving blood. Sometimes, however, due to the patient’s condition, a bone marrow transplant is necessary.

Mali Chen (21) was diagnosed at age three with a serious and rare blood disease called thalassemia major, a condition that impedes blood cell production. Throughout her childhood and adolescence, Mali required regular blood transfusions in order to survive, but, as a result of the frequent transfusions, she sustained serious medical damage. “They found that I had a surplus of iron in the body, which got worse and worse until it endangered my life. Ezer Mizion was contacted in the hopes that, being the largest Jewish registry, it would have a match for me.”

A match was indeed found. Omri ben Yakir was told that a young woman was in need of a transplant to save her life but, due to her condition, a stem cell transplant would not be an option. It was necessary to perform a bone marrow transplant which would require painful surgery to extract the marrow from his spine with a certain degree of risk. As his name indicates, Omri was indeed a ‘precious’ human being. “My family was a bit nervous but there was no question in my mind that I would do it. It was a somewhat painful and took awhile to recover,” he admits.  “It was only after the meeting that I really understood the significance of what I’d done. Suddenly everything that had happened had a ‘face.’ In spite of the difficulty, I have absolutely no regrets about what I did. When I see her, I understand that it was all worth it. If they’d call me, I’d happily donate again.”

Omri and Mali had been students in schools near each other but had not known each other. When they met, Mali was rendered speechless. “What words are there in the dictionary to thank someone for saving your life?!”

 

 

 

CP Can’t Stop Me!

July 25, 2018

Menachem Weiss, a “special” teen, reports on an angle of life that he alone can talk about

Shalom dear readers!

Remember me? I’m the one with CP – the one who doesn’t let the CP stop me from having fun. Well, not always but I try. There are a lot of things I can’t do in a wheelchair but Ezer Mizion has taught me that there are a lot of things I can do. And I try to take advantage of every one.

For the past few years I have not attended the Ezer Mizion retreat because I had an opportunity to be taken to Switzerland instead. I always had a blast at the retreats but, after all, Switzerland…This year, Switzerland is not going to work out but I wasn’t shy at all to call Ezer Mizion. It’s like a family and I knew I’d get a big welcome back.

Like always, I was worried who my counselor will be. Having the right person is so important. I need help with everything. And besides, no counselor can help me if he can’t understand me. My speech is not so great.  Well, great news! My cousin, Motty, will be one of the counselors and I’m going to ask that he be assigned to me. We get along great.  He understands me when I try to talk and he knows just what I need and how to manage everything. . So, I already registered and made up with my friend, Gavriel, that we’d be in the same session and in the same room. I hope everything will work out for the best and we’ll enjoy ourselves as we did in the past.

I’m really looking forward to it. I remember one year, we went to the ocean. I had never seen the ocean, never in my life, and the counselor was able to get the wheelchair all the way up to the waves. I could feel them! Wow! That was really something. One year we had a magician as entertainment who did some really cute tricks.  One of the days began with a performance about a king who searched for happiness. It gave us a lot of food for thought in a fun way. After lunch, we went out and there, outside, was an authentic Bedouin encampment. They even brought a real camel and walked him around all the time. They gave out drums and big darboukas and we tapped along energetically, together with the Bedouins. Leave it up to Ezer Mizion. What will they think of next?!  We also had a band and I danced, sort of. It was fantastic! We ended the day with slow songs, songs of yearning and prayer.

I had a fantastic counselor that year, Yehoshua, who looked after me with all his heart and never forgot to give me occasional chocolates so I would have a sweet, happy time.

I always start off with fears about any new counselor – whether he’ll understand me and know how to help me –  all kinds of nonsense and in the end, every counselor is great and I forget about it all and enjoy myself. But what can I do – I can’t overcome my worrywart habit. But this year, I’ll probably have Motty so I can skip my usual nervous session. I’ll let you know how it all works out.

Until next time,

Menachem Weiss

 

Flying High

July 18, 2018

pr L2L sick children on plane tour of Israel- coord by L2LCancer is hard. A child whose worst complaint should be ‘too much homework’ is suddenly confronted with what no child should ever know.   He finds himself in strange surroundings with his body doing strange things. He hears whispered fragments of his parents’ conversations. He witnesses children who shared the chemo experience with him suddenly disappearing and no one wants to tell him where they went.  He’s scared. Confused. Anxious about the future. Will he have a future? He tries to block such thoughts but late at night, in the dark, they come creeping out of their hiding places.

And his siblings do not have it much better. A bedtime talk with Mommy when the hidden questions can safely be asked is a thing of the past. Mommy is always at the hospital or talking nervously to doctors on the phone. Suppers arrive from strangers. No one is home to help with homework. And worst of all is the terror – that dark shadow that permeates every corner of their home.

And the parents? They’re consumed with worry and fear. They’re torn between the sick child and the other kids. Their personal needs do not even enter their radar screen.  Routine? There hasn’t been any in months. They’re adults but like they small children, they long for someone to take their hand. Someone to give their children what they are not capable of giving.  Someone to take charge of what used to be a smoothly-running home. Even someone to provide their kids with extras… to bring back that smile that has been missing from their faces for months.

One by one, Ezer Mizion adds to its roster of services for families dealing with cancer. There’s hot meals for whoever is staying at the hospital with the patient. Rides to and from the hospital both for the patient and family members. Someone is assigned to do homework with the kids every night. Someone takes care of laundry. Cleaning help is brought in. Lovely apartments are provided near the hospital to avoid traveling thrice weekly for chemo. The sick child and his siblings join therapeutic activities at Ezer Mizion Guest Home for Families with Cancer. Sand therapy… music therapy… animal therapy… and yes, those special times – the smile times – come frequently also. A birthday party, a holiday event, a jeeping trip and the exhilarating days of a dream come true. Those are the days that energize the spirit, enabling it to strengthen the body in its battle for life.

A group of children needed a pick-me-up. They didn’t dare to ask but a ‘little birdie’ made it known to Ezer Mizion that an airplane tour of Israel would be the ultimate in fun for them. Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life, a WhatsApp group, was contacted. One by one, the challenges were met by the Linked to Life network and their ‘heavenly’ day took place.

Over and over again, Ezer Mizion receives letters using the same phrase: We never could have made it through that terrible time without you! And who is Ezer Mizion? Ezer Mizion is you and me! All the professionals, the 25,000 volunteers and those caring people around the globe that contribute so generously.