Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

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.

 

 

 

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Nightmare: the Common Denominator

June 27, 2018

pr special sunIt’s 1:30 on a long summer Friday afternoon. There are twelve vehicles parked in the parking lot of Park Enav in Modi’in.  The doors open and fifty-eight (!) children burst out of the cars ready for an afternoon of fun. Who are they?

Each one has a different story but the common denominator is that each one is living through a nightmare that no child should ever know. One has lost a parent to cancer, another is battling cancer himself and a third came home one day to find that his mother had gone on a simple shopping trip never to come home again due to a terror attack. (more…)

Celebration?

May 9, 2018

tfillinA young mother in Rechasim is battling cancer but that doesn’t stop the date of her son’s Bar Mitzvah from coming closer and closer. What the family had looked forward to for years promises to be a day of despair. Celebration? How does one celebrate when…when…? And so the days on the calendar rolled on and the Bar Mitzvah was scheduled for a Sunday in mid-April. Bar Mitzvah? One hundred people were invited but there was no joy. Both finances and mood precluded ordering any amenities including food! A bleak celebration indeed.

Is this what the boy would remember when he looks back at his Bar Mitzvah? The plans, if we can call them that, were set until Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life came into the picture. It was only days till the Bar Mitzvah when the Rechasim and Haifa Linked to Life directors heard about the situation. With a network of hundreds, they weren’t worried. Sweet tables, festively decorated, would add a gala aura to the event. A boy is about to take on the responsibilities of a Jewish man. Happiness will permeate the drab hall. Smiles will abound. Song will burst forth.

The Rechasim and Haifa Linked to Life networks were contacted and responses poured in. The directors were not surprised.   “We knew they would! They’re people of compassion!”

Nirit: I’ll prepare two trays of petit fours.

Estie: One round cake and maybe one cut cake, depending how much I get done.

Avraham: A gigantic elaborate Bar Mitzvah cake in the shape of a Sefer Torah. I need to know the boy’s name.

Nirit: My daughter will also make a tray of Jello cups.

Devorah, Haifa: I’ll prepare two cakes, b’ezrat Hashem

Oshrat: I’ll prepare a tray.

Breuer family: Individual mousse cups.

Sara: A cake.

Rachel: A three-layer cake.

Brachie, Haifa: I’ll prepare two chocolate pies, b’ezrat Hashem.

Brachie, Haifa: And my co-worker, Chanie, will prepare 20 cups of mousse, b’ezrat Hashem

Haifa: I’ll bring a bowl with candies, like marshmallows and sour sticks, etc. nicely arranged.

Haifa: I’ll bring rum balls, a round cake, and a big rectangular cake.

Chanie, Haifa: Peanut butter pie and a special drink with small cups.

Sharvit, Haifa: Bli neder, I’ll bring chocolate “salami” rolls with all different toppings: coconut, sprinkles, and so on

Levana, Haifa: I’ll bring 10 bottles of soft drink and some bottles of mineral water. They should just be well and the place should be imbued with joy!

Osnat: Ten bottles of soft drink.

Adina Tivon: I would like to set up the sweet table with pretty tablecloths, napkins, and disposable dishes and flatware. If you’re agreeable to this, please let me know the exact place and time.

Haifa: What other possibilities are there. Give us ideas!

Sharvit, Haifa: Maybe a fruit platter, cut up nicely.

Haifa: I’ll bring a fruit platter.

Haifa: I’ll prepare three cakes, iy”H.

Vaknin, LTL Haifa: 10 bottles of soft drink.

The leaders were overjoyed and Heaven smiled, so very proud of those who know how to give!

 

 

 

Yair Wins the Lottery

March 28, 2018

bmr Yair MoznonSome people buy lottery tickets every week and sit by the phone waiting for Arela to call. I didn’t buy any ticket but I got the call anyway. Or so it seemed. In fact, it was even better. Better than winning the lottery. I got a call saying I was the only one in the world that can save the life of a thirteen-year-old boy with leukemia.  Can you imagine what that felt like? Saving a life. That’s the ultimate in goodness, in honor. And it was awarded to me!

 

My name is Yair Moznon. I am 21 and from the Otniel Hesder Yeshiva. After the call, the procedure was explained to me. First came deeper genetic testing. They warned me that this testing may show that I am not as good a match as they wished so I wouldn’t get my hopes up but, as it turned out, I was a great match for this boy. We weren’t allowed to meet but I felt very close to him as we both prepared for the transplant. I was given injections that stimulated the production of stem cells while he underwent a strong chemo treatment. I can’t believe that a 13-year-old kid has to go through this.

 

Then came the big day. My blood was taken from me, the stem cells removed and the blood returned to me. The procedure was repeated until there was enough stem cells for the transplant. I would have loved to hug him as my cells were going through his body, giving over my wishes and prayers into his being, but we aren’t allowed to meet for a year. Every registry has to follow those rules. And so I daven for him every day that my cells will cure him and allow him to grow up like every other boy his age.  In a year we’ll meet and I look forward to it like I’ve never looked forward to anything in my life. It’ll be like having a younger brother, a brother that I never met.

 

Ezer Mizion, with its close to a million registrants has facilitated 2700 life-saving transplants, 307 in 2017 alone. Due to its agreement with the IDF, a very high percentage of new registrants are between the ages of 18-25. Studies show1 that younger stem cell donors result in better patient survival rates. Overall survival decreases with increasing donor age, making age – after tissue type matching – the most important factor in choosing an unrelated stem cell donor. In addition, younger registrants will remain on the database for more decades than their older counterparts. See charts below.

 

Father and Son: A Special Moment

February 9, 2018

pr pix bmr cells168_ne_photo_b90aa

 

 

 

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Every father knows the feeling of sharing a special moment with his son. With some, it may be a hole in one at the golf course. With others, the first time drive in the new family Lexus.  For the Katz family, their special moment was very special indeed. They each saved a life.

Itamar is 21 and had registered several years ago with Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry. He never expected to actually be called but the call did come and Itamar rose to the occasion. Yes, he was nervous about the procedure but when he thought of what would happen if he refused, it was a no-brainer. “It wasn’t as bad as I envisioned. Somewhat draining but nothing in comparison to what I achieved. I actually saved the life of another Jew!” He was still riding high on the waves of his achievement when another call came on the family phone. “I’m calling from Ezer Mizion. Is Professor Gideon Katz available?” The professor was abroad at the time but things moved fast and contact was made. Back home again, he and his son would glance at each other. No words were necessary. Father and son would be sharing an experience that defies description.

 

Professor Katz is   head of the State of Israel Studies department at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva.  Gideon had registered with Ezer Mizion ten years ago during a recruitment drive at the university. His name was placed on the database and there he assumed it would remain… just one of the close to a million registrants that make up Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry. A Jewish cancer patient had been told that her only chance to live is a transplant. If a genetic match could be found, she would be cured. If not, … That’s when the Registry database of 885,264 potential donors was searched.  Like a lottery machine, the computer stopped at the file of Professor Katz. Gideon was that DNA match. If he would agree, he could save her life. Not for one moment did he hesitate and so, for the first time in the history of Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry, father and son each merited to save a Jewish life.

Bone marrow transplants are used as therapy for about 100 different illnesses, including leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, diseases of the blood, and enzyme deficiencies. These diseases destroy bone marrow, which contains the stem cells responsible for manufacturing blood cells. For people with diseased or damaged bone marrow, a transplant from a genetically compatible donor is often the only hope for recovery.

Transplant recipients must be nearly identical matches with their donors for tissue-type markers known as HLA proteins. Although close family members offer the best chance of an HLA match, only 30% of patients find matches within their families. Because the number of possible HLA combinations is incredibly vast, the likelihood of two unrelated individuals matching each other is very low. Bone marrow transplant from unrelated yet HLA-matched donors is possible due to the existence of large computerized international registries of potential bone marrow donors.

Chances for a match increase significantly if the patient and potential donor share the same ethnic background. Because Jews in the past lived in isolated communities, they are today more genetically related to each other than to non-Jews. There are over 10 million potential donors registered in the International Bone Marrow Registry (BMDW) based in Holland, but only a very small percentage are of Jewish descent.

Ezer Mizion established its registry in 1998 to increase the pool of Jewish potential donors. Israel, home to an entire spectrum of Jewish communities and ethnic backgrounds, is the natural location for a Jewish bone marrow registry.

Today, the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Donor Registry is the largest Jewish registry in the world. Because Jewish patients generally require Jewish bone marrow donors, the registry is a vital resource for thousands of sick Jews and serves an insurance policy for worldwide Jewry.

 

45 Years of Tears

December 6, 2017

pr-phoneAt Ezer Mizion’s busy office, the phone does not stop ringing. At times, it is the ubiquitous telemarketing call. Other calls are requesting information. Some calls can be as brief as several sentences but leave the staff member stunned. Like this one received by Chani :

“Where were you 45 years ago? When my son needed a bone marrow transplant? I took my two daughters to be tested at UCLA but they were not a genetic match.” Then her voice faltered, “Before we could try more people, my son— my son—- my son died.” Her voice broke but she tried to continue speaking, “I want to give you a donation. Your organization is so important.  I only wish it had been in existence 45 years ago. Perhaps he could have been saved.” She was overcome by tears and hung up the phone.   The pain of losing a child does not disappear, even after 45 yrs.

That’s why Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry was founded. For people like this lady’s son. Jewish people who need a DNA match to save their lives. Ezer Mizion receives calls from oncology clinics around the world   and has saved over 2600 lives with genetically matching donors from its 850,000 registrants.

Matan was only ten years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia. A diagnosis of MDS soon followed. By age twelve, his bone marrow was deteriorating and it was soon obvious that without a transplant, he would not turn 13. Would a DNA match be found? In time?

Matan was one of the fortunate ones.   Yifat was a newly married young girl.  Years ago, she had registered with Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry, never expecting to actually be called. But the call did come.  It was she who could save the life of Matan, a young boy who would later mature and marry, producing his own children. “I went insane with joy,” she describes the day she received the call. “Of course I said yes.”

Yifat, now expecting her first child, met Matan for the first time recently. “I’m feeling great!” Matan fairly shouted when he was asked. “Of course, I plan to go to the simcha when Matan’s baby is born. We’re sister and brother now. Her blood is in me.”

It is no longer 45 years ago when patient after patient died while waiting for a DNA match to be found.  Matan had a lovely Bar Mitzvah celebration. It was tears of joy that were shed by his parents as they thought to themselves, “What if there had been no Ezer Mizion?”

For further info: 718 853 8400     5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219         http://www.ezermizion.org

 

Hole In One

November 23, 2017

2017 Golf Closest to the Pin AK7X9484 (1)

Winner of Closest to Pin

Eight times! For eight years, Ezer Mizion has held its annual Thanksgiving Day golf tournament at Caesaria Golf Club in Israel. Golf aficionados gather for a day under the azure skies, each stroke being a strike against cancer. Many travel to Israel from abroad to join in the camaraderie of the event.

Israel 2017 Golf Gold 1st AK7X9501

Winners of First Place Gold

The committee works for months to ensure the success of the event, knowing that Jewish lives depend on raising sufficient funds. All proceeds benefit Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry, creating a pool of potential donors whose DNA testing has been funded by the Hole in One Donor Pool. From this group of potential donors, twenty seven transplants have taken place! That’s twenty-seven lives of cancer patients around the globe. Twenty-seven families whose anguish was overturned to joy when a DNA match was found!

2017 Golf Gold 2nd AK7X9497

Winners of 2nd Place Gold

One hundred and seventy revved up for the 2017 event. A heartfelt Thank You Committee Members:

Committee Heads: Simeon Chiger, Mark Hasleton, Ran Sahar, Stephen Weil, Herman Weiss

2017 Golf Gold 3rd AK7X9496

Winners of 3rd Place Gold

Committee: Eitan Arusy, Iris Barak, Jonathan Binke, Sandra Brown, Ami Elkus, Alan Feinblum, Jaques Garih, Daniel Goldman, Mark Hasleton, Jonathan Klahr, Jeremy Lustman, Yehoshua Shpunder, Adam Snukal, Laurie Spieler, Josh Wolf

Congratulations to the winners:

 

GOLD Division, 1st Place Didi Golan Limor Sidi Kent Paisley
GOLD Division, 2nd Place Alex Wayman Andrey Stotsky Simon Berkeley Yossi Miller
GOLD Division, 3rd Place Gary Bell Bradley Ellerine Alan Feinblum
SILVER Division, 1st Place Mark Tobin Scott Tobin Stu Schrader Seth Cogan
SILVER Division, 2ndPlace Eliezer Shkedi Tzvika Baron Roi Ben Yami Meir Shamir
SILVER Division, 3rd Place Nachum Goldstein Neil Rubinstein Barry Korzen
Longest Drive, Women Limor Sidi
Longest Drive, Men Stu Schrader
Straightest Drive Avi Alter
Closest to the Pin Simmie Chigger
Par 3, 1st Place Gadi Dolinsky Liav Salomon Nir Shain Nimrod Avraham
Par 3, 2nd Place Jeremy Lustman Bini Maryles Mark Rosenbaum Jacob Katz
Par 3, Putting Champion Paul Freud
Par 3, Longest Drive Jacob Katz

 

 

 

Why Is this Tournament Different from All Other Tournaments?

November 23, 2017

golf 2017 Israel Nimrod-member of team of cancer patients who won first prizeThey won!

Each year, like many organizations, Ezer Mizion holds a golf tournament with proceeds to benefit its major programs. Ezer Mizion’s Eighth Annual Hole In One Tournament took place on November 20 at the Caesaria Golf Course in Israel to benefit its International Bone Marrow Registry which has, thus far, saved the lives of over 2500 patients around the world.

But this year was different!

Not only will the monies raised help cancer patients but the tournament itself created a tremendous lifting of spirits for a small group young men whose daily lives have been clouded over by the anguish of a future unknown. For the first time, a group of cancer patients were invited to create one of the teams competing for the many awards.  A day of fun under the sunny, blue sky was just what ‘the doctor ordered’.  Worries shrunk. Smiles appeared. Jokes. Camaraderie. The spirit was strengthened to better partner with the body in its battle for life. It was a delightful day. But the best was yet to come.

They won!

  1. and his team of cancer patients were the winners of Par 3, First Place. N. was not able to remain for the post-tournament dinner to receive his award as he was scheduled to return to the hospital but Chananya Chollak, founder of Ezer Mizion, made sure that he didn’t miss out on the glory. Rav Chollak personally delivered his trophy in a ceremonious display of tribute. There in his hospital bed, N. was infused with encouragement. Emotionally he felt ready to continue to engage in battle in the Major Tournament for Life. May you, there too, be a winner soon to be holding in your hands the Trophy of Remission.

 

A Journey We Didn’t Plan Part 3 taken from the diary of Nechama Spielman

November 22, 2017

diary Nechama Spielman

Recap: Nechama has been dealing with her husband’s cancer

Hodu La’Shem. The radiation treatments have helped a lot. The tumor has shrunk which qualifies us for surgery. The remarkable precision of the timing gives us a special feeling. We are slated to go in for surgery right after Rosh Hashanah and to come home for Sukkot. We especially love the mitzvahs of Sukkot, and Yigal was really bothered by the thought that he wouldn’t be able to build our sukkah, the very first year in our new house. With superhuman effort and a lot of help (Help? Yes, there is such a word! We are trying to make friends with it, to learn it, to give ourselves over to it…), Yigal builds a sukkah that will wait for us patiently until we come back. We make our way to Shaare Zedek. Here, all eight of our children were born. We are used to passing through the doorway of this hospital and taking the elevator straight up to the delivery rooms. This time, it’s so different…

Operation. Major. Complicated. Challenging.

Hours of waiting. Tehillim being said in all corners of the country. From “plain Yigal,” he has become “Yigal ben Yaffa.” This name rolls off the tongues of so many people, who, with their prayers, have become a part of us. Eighteen books of Tehillim had been recited by the time the doctor came out to tell us that everything went well. Shvach l’Borei Olom! We experience a very special Yom Kippur in Shaare Zedek. The bet knesset is full of people, of flaming prayers: “Remember us to life, O King who desires life, and seal us in the Book of Life… Our Father , our King! Send a speedy recovery!… Listen to our voice, have compassion on us! … Answer us!”

Hot tears, so, so close to the Throne of Glory. He Who hears the sound of our cry – will You make Your voice heard, He Who knows all hidden things? Healer of all flesh, Father of mercy, will You have mercy on us?

The heart soars. The body is weak. We’re going home. Our sweet, holy sukkah greets us. Yigal goes into it and does not come out for seven days. “Spread upon us the sukkah of your peace, a sukkah of mercy, of life, and of peace.”

Ezer Mizion is everywhere. Meals. Advice. A pat on the shoulder. Rides to and from the clinic. Babysitting. Cleaning help. A volunteer to take the kids on a fun trip. A big brother for the kids to share their feelings with. Fun events for the family to remind us what family time is like…

The body gradually convalesces from the operation, gets stronger, prepares itself for the next objective. Chemo! A half year of it…

Again, trips to the hospital. Again, we leave brave children behind. Again, the body is weakened. Very. The journey looks longer than ever. How fortunate that we have our togetherness, we have each other, and a big, supportive family to fill us with strength.

The Ezer Mizion driver – he’s so much more than a driver –  picks us up, imparting his own brand of strength. He drops us off at Ezer Mizion’s guest home where anything we can possibly want is available including therapy to help us cope. There we recuperate until the next round. Again and again and again…

To be continued.

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

For further info: www.ezermizon.org                   718 853 8400                          5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219

 

 

A Journey We Didn’t Plan Part 2 taken from the diary of Nechama Spielman

November 15, 2017

diary Nechama SpielmanWe’ve landed. We’re now officially residents of the planet called Cancer. For the next few days, we move quickly from one test to the next, trying to obtain a clearer picture. We encounter the state of uncertainty and try to slow down the rapid beating of our heart, the heart that wants to know, to know right now – will he live or will he die? A ton of thoughts are running around inside my head, spinning out of control.

And Yigal – is weak. All at once, he feels very sick. As if his body had finally gotten the “go-ahead” for what he’s been feeling and repressing for such a long time. “Yes, you’re allowed. It’s for real. You’re sick.” He is hospitalized for a full week. A week that helps him – us – digest the situation and become needy – a word so foreign to us.

It takes a month and a half until the radiation starts. Yigal loses 55 pounds. He is basically fasting, drinking only natural organic juices, together with gallons of natural extracts, at the recommendation of a healer dear to our hearts, who thinks that there is a good chance that this treatment could reduce the tumor. The radiation treatments begin. Thin and tired – both of us – , we sit on the armchairs at Tel Hashomer. A huge room, packed with people like us who have come to avail ourselves of the kindness of the healing rays awaiting us behind the scary door – the one with the “skull and crossbones” sticker.

One day follows another. From radiation to radiation, the body gets weaker. Thanks to Hashem, we’ve found ourselves an island of pure good, where we can put down our tired heads: Ezer Mizion’s Oranit guest home, which saves us the difficult drives home and pampers us with comfortable beds, a spacious suite, and good meals. It gives us a place to rest the aching body, to have some quiet time together, to recharge our batteries, to try and catch our breath. We encounter an entire world of chessed that works tirelessly with one goal in mind: to ease our plight as much as they can. They drive us back and forth to the hospital and even provide psychological therapy to help us come to terms with the new reality.

And at home – the children. We thought we could protect the children, isolate them from the challenges of this world, wrap them in soft cotton, put off as long as possible the encounter with the tough side of this world, enable them to cavort in their childishness and not to grow up too fast. So we thought.

All at once, their strength comes out, little and big. Calm, cheery mornings are recorded in photos that they send to us, trying to conquer the distance from the hospital to our home. They gladden our souls and fill our hearts: Lively shouts from the pool, the table set for supper, hugs, funny faces, a cup of hot cocoa…all sent electronically enabling us to share in their lives. A special togetherness that they created in our absence.

Sharing with us from afar, they come close, close to our hearts, moving, amazing, sharpening and reframing our view of their capacities, of how much they are capable of doing. We realize that we have no real way of controlling what happens with them or with us in this world. If so, perhaps it would be better for us to let them fly, grow from the challenges, learn about themselves, become aware of the tremendous strength within them. We are really awed by them.  We see them on rare moments. They are growing.

We are beginning to see that this unexpected journey is taking us and our sweet family to places we never saw before. The Driver is HaKodesh Boruch Hu, his employees are the angelic Ezer Mizion messengers who arrive at our doorstep to do what we are no longer capable of doing: homework with the kids, shopping for shoes, a fun trip here and there, Ezer Mizion’s summer camp for the whole family to re-bond together. We accept it all, knowing that it is Hashem’s plan for us now. Someday we hope to be on the giving end. Please, Hashem, please, Hashem, please…

To be continued.

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

For further info: www.ezermizon.org                   718 853 8400                          5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219