Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

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

 

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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

 

 

 

 

A Journey We Didn’t Plan from Nechama Spielman’s Diary

November 8, 2017

I remember exactly where I was sitting.diary Nechama Spielman

I remember the curious sunray that peeked inside to see our new house, slid gracefully across the table, jumped down, gave the floor a luster, and flashed me a warm smile. Maybe it was trying to stroke my cheek, even before we ourselves knew that, just a few moments later, we would be needing just such a comforting embrace.

I was writing something in my notebook, when the phone rang. It was Yigal. I waited to hear an update on the test he had done. What I heard were strange words. Words not part of my vocabulary at all.

My thoughts galloped forward at the speed of light.

Cancer.

Tumor.

Children.

To tell?

Not to tell?

To tell!

But what?

And how?

And when?

Death.

Loss.

My mother. She was also so young.

Mom-m-m-my!!!!! Where are you, Mommy?   I so much want to talk to you now!!! Answer me!!!  Answer me!!! Not again! It can’t be… Isn’t one bout with cancer enough? Yigal is 41! Even younger than my mother? A quick calculation – how old was my baby sister when Mommy got sick… when Mommy died… Our children are even younger… But Yigal? Hashem? Yigal? Why him? He is my supporting pillar in this world…. I have an unwritten agreement with You not to take Yigal, remember? I can’t manage without him… And people die of cancer! Die! People die of cancer. It’s just a matter of time. Will I have to go through all this again? I can’t. Yes, I can. Maybe this time, it’ll be different? Maybe he’ll live?

I go outside, where I can connect to the sky…to the infinite. I talk to Hashem. No, I scream to Hashem. Then I begin to plan the first talk- the first time we will tell someone. Interesting how it sounds when you tell it to someone else. I think of my friend, who is like a sister to me. In my mind’s eye, I call. I tell her. I listen to myself, to the totally illogical words that leave my own mouth. Yigal has a tumor. Yigal? What do you mean? What do you mean? Yigal???? Unit commander in the army, farmer, young, full of energy, strong, what do you mean???

For two days, we are in a bubble. We don’t tell anyone before first breaking the news to the family. We tell the children, each one on his level. We call parents, siblings; each call takes emotional energy. We become depleted. We can’t continue. How will we handle the day-to-day living? And the ups and downs of this journey we’ve been signed up for? We have to be there for the kids…for each other. We’re running on empty. Help me. Hashem, help!

I begin to see how enough emotional energy can carry you but when you run out, you can’t go further. Ezer Mizion has known that secret for years. They know how ‘keeping up the spirits’ is not just a phrase. It’s the building blocks of living in the planet called Cancer. It’s the vitamin that’s added to every ride to the hospital as the driver dispenses his ‘pills’: the blue one is sympathy, the green encouragement. Those same vitamins are tucked into each meal delivered to me at the hospital by caring Ezer Mizion angels. Fun trips for the family, a day of pampering with every extra to remind us what it feels like to laugh, to be happy…Ezer Mizion doesn’t miss a beat.

We’ve met wonderful people at Ezer Mizion. Hashem is holding our hand and sending us such beautiful shlichim. We’ve become so close to Hakodesh Boruch Hu and we’ve learned what life is really about. Our Father, our King, You sent us to this world so that we would grow in it and from it. Help us be written in the Book of Good Life. Not just “Life,” but a “Good Life.” Because man can live in this world and entire lifetime, without ever really living.

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

 

 

 

 

They Were My Legs

November 1, 2017

pr hospitalChanah wasn’t feeling well. Even though she had a busy schedule that day, she walked to her doctor to see if he would have any advice or medication that would enable her to function better as she went about her myriad of activities. That was the last walk she was to take for a very long time. The doctor wasn’t sure as to what was wrong and sent her to the Emergency Room. She was soon to learn that she was suffering from cancer which affected her abdomen and spine. The next day, she was unable to walk at all.

As difficult as her physical state was, her emotional state suffered greatly too. In no time, she had gone from an independent, active woman to someone dependent on others for every need. The hospital became her home for the next three months.  It was then that she realized the full extent of her illness and just how much a person’s legs can determine one’s quality of life. If she woke up from a nap and wanted to continue reading a magazine, she needed someone to bring it to her from the table a foot away from her bed. For decades, she had begun her day with a steaming cup of coffee. Preparing it was such a simple task but now as impossible as climbing Mt. Everest. Of course, a nurse could make it for her but in Israel, nurses are overworked and often have to limit their assistance to medical needs. Coffee, magazines? These were for family members who spend hours at the bedside to provide ‘ the little things’ … those little things that make all the difference in a patient’s mood and comfort.

And if there is no family member? If the patient does not have family in Israel? Is she then to remain alone, miserable and discouraged? Is she to do without the refreshing shower? Does she skip the morning pick-me-up that will lift her spirits? Does she just lie there depressed, helpless?

Chana was one of those who had no family in Israel. She could expect no assistance other than medical. So she thought until nine o’clock one morning when a smiling angel walked in, “Hi, my name is Penina. I’m here from Ezer Mizion. I’m going to be here all morning so tell me, what can I do for you?”  Penina was followed by Rivka and Daniella and Rochel Leah and Esther, by Linda and Lily and Vicky and Leah Miriam and so many more. For three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening, an Ezer Mizion volunteer sat at her bedside. Did I say ‘sat’?  They did very little sitting. In Chanah’s words: “They made me coffee, helped me in the shower, went to the fruit store to purchase the fruit I loved, helped me to the bathroom, went to Yad Sarah to pick up medical equipment, did my laundry, picked up this and that from here and there. Nothing was too much trouble. Those Ezer Mizion malachim were my legs! And we talked and talked. It was like having family. They got to know what I liked. One would bring me smoked salmon on Fridays so I would have for Shabbos. Another would bake a cake especially for me. Some would walk in with a bag of fruit. Not one of them every accepted payment for whatever they purchased for me. Of course not. Family members don’t charge each other.”

Many studies have shown that a patient’s spirit will greatly affect the body’s ability to do battle with the disease. A cheerful mood brought about by the feeling that someone cares can significantly affect the outcome. Chana’s newly found Ezer Mizion friends certainly did care. It was they who rejoiced with her when the day came for Chana to be released walking (!) from the hospital.  Now that she has regained most of her independence, they still continue to come…partly to help, partly to visit a new family member that they have come to love.

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.ezermizion.org    5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219         718 853 8400

 

Their Role/ Our Role

October 25, 2017

Womn Driving A CarI’ll admit it. I had a negative thought there for a moment. I picked up a woman at one of the major hospitals and drove her miles to the city in which she lived. For an instant, I couldn’t help wondering why she called for a volunteer. Couldn’t she have gone by bus?  She looked fine, spoke in an upbeat manner, even joked a bit. I’m happy to help people out. After all, that’s why I joined Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life but from what I could see, I wondered if she really needed help.

 

That’s when I realized what was going on. It was an act. An act for her children and her husband who joined us for part of the trip, for her elderly mother who was waiting at the doorstep and perhaps… even for herself. It was an act she put on after every chemo session to convince those around her that everything was fine. She did it so well that she almost fooled even me. But I saw the in-between times. From my rear view mirror, I could see when she let down her guard, not realizing that anyone was there to see. I saw the fear in her eyes, I saw the tear that was immediately wiped away in the privacy of the back seat. I saw her clenched fists as she got ready to leave the car and I heard the catch in her voice as she brightly asked her mother how the babysitting had gone.  I heard her mother joke about little Moishe who ate everything but his peas which he used to paint the kitchen wall. For one tiny instant, her mother’s smile faltered but it was immediately put back in its place…that brave lady. Mother, daughter: each one trying to be strong for the other.

 

I’m told that her compromised immune system does not allow her to use public transportation but even if she could, she is far from healthy enough to do so, in spite of her wonderful act. We at Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life can’t cure the cancer patients that we meet daily. But we can certainly make things easier for them and relieve their suffering at least a little bit. As we provide practical support, we also keep the conversation supportive, offering the proverbial shoulder to lean on. It gives them a feeling of being taken care of which strengthens their spirit and enables them to better fight the battles ahead. We get a lot of feedback about how cared for they feel when riding with us so I guess we’re doing a good job. And so, my dear fellow Linked to Life members, when we hear that beep on our phones, that’s our cue to join the drama and play our roles, offering our own strength and compassion, our arsenal of weapons in the war against a monster named Cancer.

 

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.ezermizion.org        5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219       718 853 8400

 

October 18, 2017

Moriel MatalonMoriel Matalon is Managing Partner at Israel’s well known Gornitzky Law Office. In addition, he is chairman of Unicef- Israel, the local branch of the UN’s International Children’s Emergency Fund. He had climbed high on the ladder of success but his position did not intimidate the fiend named Cancer who arrived uninvited as a nightmare set to destroy Moriel’s life and that of his family. They were devastated. The doctors held out only one ray of hope: a bone marrow transplant. Would a genetically matching donor be found? In time? Before…? Mr. Matalon was among the fortunate ones. Avi Cohen, one among over 850,000 potential Ezer Mizion donors, was that match. It’s a year and a half later and a healthy Moriel met Avi for the first time. “It was exhilarating to find myself in the same room with a man whose life I personally had saved,” exclaimed Avi. Moriel hugged his benefactor in a wordless expression of gratitude for the gift that can never be paid back. As grateful as he and his family were, there remained the ‘missing piece’: the feeling of no possible way of repaying the unrepayable.

pr bmr machine w bags 1489_ne_photo_stories2_e8667
Stem cells being removed from blood of donor to be transplanted into patient

All that changed recently when Moriel re-entered the hospital doors, a place of so many memories. This time it was not with the trepidation of a very questionable future but to accompany his nephew who would be on the  donating  side, whose marrow will save the life of another Jew. The unrepayable was about to be paid back. The circle was being closed.

Rochie Meth, a key Ezer Mizion employee, writes: My everyday reality takes me through Ezer Mizion’s various departments and branches. There, I encounter a large number of sick people ­– people with physical maladies, mental illness, mobility impairments, and mental disabilities. Many days, I come home and cry over everything I’ve seen over the course of the day – the unending struggle that these patients and their family face! Their fear and anxiety over the future! The pressure of having to function in the midst of this volcanic eruption…

For many of them, illness knocks at the door as a totally unexpected surprise, interrupting rosy dreams and a marvelous life routine. For others, illness is a long, drawn-out agony, what people call “an unending chain of troubles.”

helping hands
Giving…receiving…giving with love

For all of them, it hurts, causes an upheaval, and is very, very difficult! Yet, in the midst of all this suffering, there are wonderful individuals among Ezer Mizion staff and volunteers, who have joined as one, warm, embracing family to envelop these people with love, with physical and emotional support, a family that thinks constantly how to make it easier for people to better deal with their health challenges.

Our greatest difficulty here at Ezer Mizion is when we are forced to say a final “good-bye” to those dear people, whom we loved very much…those that, in spite of all of our efforts, didn’t make it to the happy ending we had envisioned for them

However, our greatest joy is to see others who emerge from the sea of pain and come join us now as healthy volunteers to be on the giving end. Thank G-d, there are many of them!

Bone marrow recipientsbone marrow donors…people in need…people who give…receivers who regain their health and become givers…Ezer Mizion:

Staff Guidance

September 19, 2017

golden-despair-in-rocking-chairCancer is devastating. For the patient and for the whole family. A typical scenario involves a young mother. Her husband is traumatized. His world has collapsed. He is too young to even fathom the possibility of death. His wife is – was – vibrant, full of life. He can’t even utter the D- word. And amid the horror of grappling with what cannot – please, Hashem, please –  will not happen, he also has to cope with homework, laundry, the full gamut of running a home.

 

And the kids? They are utterly confused, terrified to leave their home each day. Some will sleep in the hallway outside Mommy’s door somehow feeling that their presence will ensure Mommy’s being there in the morning. Others are afraid to step outside on the ground for fear of stepping on someone who has died. Guilt, anger, terror, dread, confusion all entangled inside a vulnerable, bewildered child.

 

The staff at Ezer Mizion has long known that it is not only the patient but the whole family that is in need of guidance and support. Periodic fun-filled retreats enable the family unit to be strengthened in a structured environment geared to their physical and emotional needs. The Guest Home for Families with Cancer allow the family to live together in a lovely apartment during treatment to avoid lengthy and tiring traveling from various parts of the country to the treatment centers. It is there that they and local families are able to benefit from the many forms of therapy available. A favorite of the junior set is Animal Therapy at Ezer Mizion’s Petting Zoo where even the littlest can help care for a cuddly puppy or a furry rabbit. Many of the teens gravitate to Music Therapy where they can join Ezer Mizion’s lively band. Parents, teens and youngsters all find security in the Emotional Therapy available to help them cope.

 

It is certainly understandable that the family members are in need of support. What is less understood are the needs of the staff members who witness and accompany the families in their struggles on a daily basis. They are driven by a sense of mission to ease the plight of .these suffering people. They really care. For the staff, their encounters with patients and families can harbor a constant threat to the personal and professional-self experience. They are in intense daily contact with patients and their families and exposed to difficult experiences connected to coping with serious illness, uncertainty, anxiety, death and profound loss.

 

Exposure to such threatening and traumatic situations requires ongoing intensive guidance and support, geared primarily at strengthening staff coping modes and averting formation of secondary traumatization. It is with this goal in mind that Ezer Mizion has established weekly Staff Guidance meetings.

 

The goal of Staff Guidance is to create a “safe space” where issues can be raised, a place to gain tools for dealing with these ongoing intensive encounters, which combine coping with the illness and its ramifications in the present, while addressing ingrained responses and life experiences that impact the staff from their own past.

 

In the course of our Staff Guidance sessions, we engage in reaching an understanding of processes, expand ability to accept and empathize with the patients and their families, develop solutions to match needs, promote staff-level thinking, unite the staff and enhance their capacity for collaborative work. The most significant contribution that emerges is the development of the staff as a working team and empowerment of their ability to provide a professional, empathetic, and humane response for these fragile victims of life’s most challenging crises.

 

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