Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Thank You from Italy

May 16, 2018

map of ItalyDear Sirs,

My name is Annalisa T. I am writing from Italy to thank with all my heart the Israeli donor who will try to save the life of my husband Mr Luca B: he will receive a bone marrow transplant between the end of April and the beginning of May at the hospital of Santa Chiara in Pisa, Italy. He is fighting, since May 2017, against a LLA (Leukemia).

Could you help me, please, to get in touch with this beautiful person? We don’t know the name, but we only know that he/she is in Israel. I really would like to talk or hug him/her. Possibly inviting him/her to come and visit us in Italy.

If it is not possible, please, forward this email to him or her.

I would be very grateful to you in this desperate research.

Thank you with all my heart and all my love from Italy to you and Israel,

Annalisa T

Wife of Patient Luca B

BOLOGNA, Italy

people helping people around globe
Lives of cancer patients saved in Jewish communities around the globe

When Annalisa and Luca were told the shocking news, they were devastated. Leukemia! Their worst fears! Family members were tested to determine if one was a DNA match but, one after the other, the answer was no. No. No. No.  Their world turned black. A bone marrow transplant could cure him but if family members did not match genetically, then who would? And even if there is some stranger somewhere in the world who does, how can they find him? And why would he be interested in inconveniencing himself for the sake of a man whom he never met? The Jewish community in Italy is small. Other places like the US and Israel have much larger communities but Annalisa and Luca had no contacts in those countries. The chances of curing Luca seemed infinitesimal. Logically, they were correct. But logic has no place when it comes to saving a life.

A tiny flutter of hope. They were told of Ezer Mizion, a Bone Marrow Registry in Israel, the largest Jewish registry in the world, with close to a million people registered, people whose only purpose in registering is to save a life of another Jew, anywhere in the world.  They were told that Ezer Mizion had an extremely high per capita rate of registrants, much more than other countries.They were told of the many success stories, thousands of people whose lives had been saved. And then one day…they were told: Yes! We have a match!

bmr tubes
New registrants to be genetically tested to remain on stand-by to save a life

The donor was contacted by Ezer Mizion. It never occurred to him to refuse. True, he would have to put is personal schedule on hold for a short while. But to save a life?! What’s the question! Ezer Mizion did all it could to make things easier for the donor and soon it was ‘all systems ready to go’.

Yes, Luca and Annalisa were right. Logically his chances were small.   A matching donor was not easy to find.  He lived an ocean away. He didn’t know them personally. In the normal course of events, it would take a miracle to find him. But that’s what Ezer Mizion is all about. Miracles. A caring chessed organization.  Where statistics have no place.

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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!

 

 

 

When the Phone Beeps…

April 18, 2018

people helping people around globeMazel tov’s were resounding in room after room as newborns arrived to the joy of their families. But one room was quiet. A new baby was born but something was wrong. It seemed to be a heart defect. The doctors conferred.   Top Israeli pediatric cardiologists were called in for consultations. The defect was a rare one and none of the specialists had any experience with it. A solution had to be found soon. Rabbi Shimon Rogoway, Director of Ezer Mizion’s Medical Referral Department, was brought into the picture. “Yes, I do know of a doctor who has experience in this type of defect but he’s in Boston. We need to get Meir Quinn involved.” Meir Quinn is the Director of Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life, a WhatsApp group that networks to produce emergency rides to the hospital, get vital meds from here to there etc. etc. Linked to Life has members in almost every Jewish community on the planet.  In moments, a posting went out: Urgent! Need to get medical disc from Haifa to Boston for consultation. Phones beeped and responses came in. Sara from Haifa picked up the disc and delivered to Naftali who was traveling to Bnei Brak. Naftali passed it to Shmuel in Bnei Brak who delivered it to Ronnie who was flying to Boston. Leah picked it up from Ronnie and within hours delivered the precious disc to the doctor.  Soon cautious mazel tov’s will be heard in the infant’s room as a course for treatment is set up. As this tiny human being matures to adulthood he will never be aware of how many people around the globe rushed to his aid, each one playing his part in saving the life of a fellow Jew. 

pr L2L Meir Quinn

Meir Quinn, director of Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life

Ezer Mizion, whose logo incorporates the words: “Choosing Life” and whose  prime division, its Bone Marrow Registry,  has been saving lives since 1998, is always happy to cooperate with other organizations in facilitating a life-saving procedure.

We were grateful for the opportunity to do so when a call came in to the New York office from Renewal, a non-profit dedicated to assisting people suffering from various forms of kidney disease. A patient was desperately in need of a kidney transplant. A potential donor had been located in Ashdod but further testing was needed before the transplant could take place. Blood samples had to be drawn and delivered within 24 hours to the lab in New York. Various entities in Israel had been contacted but none were able to do so even though full payment for expedited service was offered. That is when the anxious call came from Renewal to the Ezer Mizion NY office. Can we help?

With Ezer Mizion’s Linked2Life program already in place, helping was simple. Even the 24-hour framework was a challenge but not insurmountable.  Ezer Mizion’s  “Linked to Life” knows how to get things done, with the help of the volunteers’ huge hearts, even in cases where financial and bureaucratic ‘bumps on the road’ abound.

Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry provided the specialized blood tubes and complex paperwork for international transport. A volunteer, a nurse by profession, responded to the first request to draw the blood in Ashdod right after Shabbos was over. A second volunteer made a special trip to Ben Gurion Airport to deliver the test tubes to a third volunteer, who took them to New York. Within less than 24 hours, another international Linked to Life campaign was crowned with success.

Of Meds to China and Preemies Going Home

April 11, 2018

pr L2L Meir QuinnPeople care about each other. It’s part of being human. We’d love to help out when another person is need but so many times we are not aware of the need. Perhaps he needs a ride from here to there and I am going from the same ‘here’ to the same ‘there’ but I never find out about his need until it’s too late. That’s what Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life is all about – a What’s App group of thousands, both in Israel and around the world, who are anxious to help when another is in need. With extensive networking, a vital item may be passed from hand to hand until it reaches its destination halfway around the globe. Life-saving medication, vital medical equipment, MRI’s, blood samples for asap testing – they’ve all made their way via the L2L Train. Here is one of the many thank you letters received.

 

Shalom!

My name is Hila. I am a cancer survivor. I currently take a preventative medication called Tamoxifen on a regular basis.

Less than two weeks ago, I left for a trip to various places in the Far East for about a month and a half. After the first few days, I discovered that, due to some miscommunication, I did not have a sufficient supply of the medication with me for the rest of my stay. I wrote a post on Facebook asking for help with sending the medicine from Israel. Of course, people really tried to help but no one knew anyone flying from Israel to Saigon. So I called Idit Sever, Ezer Mizion’s cancer support social worker and she immediately came to my assistance. She contacted Meir Quinn, director of Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life What’s App groups. Miraculously, within a very short time, he networked among the thousands of Linked to Life members and found someone who was coming to Saigon and was willing to deliver the meds to me directly. I couldn’t believe it! I never imagined, that it would happen so fast.

So,­ to Idit Sever, Meir Quinn, and Levi Friedman ­–­ the angel who brought me the medicine – and to everyone who took part in this project, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your help!

Sometimes it is people in your neighborhood that you never knew but helping them in their time of need, you become like family. Every L2L member in the town rejoiced when a notice was posted about the young couple that they had been helping for a year. Their baby girl was born at 700 grams. Daily rides for the parents were found to and from the hospital. Rides were found for other family members who came to relieve them. Deliveries were made to them. Anything to ease their plight during this difficult time. And now the members were notified that the baby has reached 9 kilo and is being released today! What joy! Each one walked around that day with a happy smile, sharing the family’s elation from afar. One member merited to be part of this parade of happiness when he responded to the request for an SUV to transport the parents, the baby and all the equipment needed for the next step of Life at Home with Mommy and Tatty.

Anyone, wherever you live on the planet, who would like to join Linked to Life: SMS: 011 972 52 580 8936

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

 

Behind the Scenes at Ezer Mizion with its Founder, Chananya Chollak Part 2 of a Three Part Series

March 14, 2018

 

Rav Chollak - child brocha

Rav Chananya Chollak chuckles when he recalls the modest beginnings of Ezer Mizion in 1979 during his shana rishona.

“Everything was done out of our little apartment. The “receptionist” sat in the kitchen or the children’s bedroom. I sat in a cubicle of sorts at the entrance, and in the half-room sat the people waiting for consultations. Volunteers came to us to work on meals for distribution and they organized themselves in the bedrooms. The medical equipment that we gave out was stored in our home, although how it fit, I cannot imagine. The house was wide open to everyone – people in need, volunteers –  all the time.

“Three years later, we felt that the apartment had become too small to accommodate the needs of Ezer Mizion and that the time had come to expand the work of the organization in an orderly manner. We moved to a larger apartment but the organization quickly outgrew that, too. A philanthropist helped us buy the apartment next door. Later on, we rented a few more such places around the city and Ezer Mizion continued providing services for its existing departments and developing further, without a stop. We’ve come a long way, baruch Hashem.”

 At the start, meals were delivered by the Chollaks and their friends to a handful of families. Today, hundreds of meals are delivered each day to family members spending their days at the bedside of a loved one in the hospital. Meals are also provided to afternoon programs for special children, and to families whose exhaustive attention to a patient does not allow them to cook for the rest of the family.

Today, Ezer Mizion works from a countrywide deployment of 57 branches. In addition to the original departments, Ezer Mizion now includes the loan of medical equipment, a hydrotherapy pool, a center for medical counseling and referrals, a division for social services, day nurseries for special needs children, a child development division, assistance for families dealing with mental health challenges, programs for the elderly and more. The organization has a network of over 25,000 volunteers throughout the country. The Bone Marrow Registry, the largest Jewish registry in the world, has close to a million registrants and has facilitated 2700 life-saving transplanted around the globe.

Twelve and Four Equal Sixteen

Not only are Rav Chananya Chollak’s  work hours, which include nights, Shabbos, Yom Tov, geared to chessed but even his personal life He is the father of 16 children, four of them adopted.

“I met them in the course of my work at Ezer Mizion. There was a family of immigrants from Iran. Adjusting to a new country can be hard enough. This family found themselves to be living in a nightmare when the mother was stricken with cancer. There were four little children. I came for a home visit and saw the terrible poverty in which they lived. The refrigerator was totally empty. We brought volunteers to help with the child care and delivered daily hot meals for the family that had been living on almost nothing. We provided medical advice and referrals regarding the mother’s treatment. But, sad to say, two years later, she passed away. Things could not get worse, or so we thought until   half year afterwards when the father also died of a brain tumor. The four orphans remained all alone.”

“After the shivah, the oldest daughter, who was then 13 years old, came to me,” he says, and in spite of the many years that have elapsed since, his voice trembles with emotion. “She cried when she told me that they were informed that the plan was to split them up among different institutions. Suddenly, she looked me in the eye and asked, “Maybe you could adopt us…?”

“Let me ask you, can anyone  ignore such a plea?”

“I spoke with my wife and said to her: ‘It is entirely your decision.’ My wife, Leah A’H, the tzaddeket, agreed to take them,” he said with visible admiration.”

Rav Chollak relates very naturally to the four orphans and explains that they are his children in every respect. “They were little orphans who had simultaneously lost father and mother. True, the beginning was not easy as you can well imagine. But our natural children received them with a lot of love and they became an inseparable part of the family. Today the four are already married and we have grandchildren from them,” he says proudly. (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.

 

 

The Boeing Corporation Saves Lives

February 21, 2018

ivry_david_bio_pic_400x300
David Ivry

Can one even begin to imagine the helplessness of being in a plane thousands of feet in the air when the plane is no longer responding to the control mechanisms? You  – a tiny speck in the vast sky –  and the hitherto dependable controls now no more than bits of disconnected metal and plastic… alone… exposed…powerless. David Ivry, former Israel Ambassador to the United States, the ninth commander of the Israel Air Force and the first director of the Israel’s National Security Council was a man used to being in control. Yet, he tells of his experience in the scenario described above. “It seemed to be all over. Then I remembered I had one chance: the ejection seat. I used it and I was saved.”

 

Mr. Ivry compares his terrifying experience with the situation of a patient diagnosed with cancer. All the usual forms of treatment have been tried and have failed. There is only one more chance. That is a bone marrow transplant. But it can only be performed if a DNA match can be found. It probably exists somewhere in the world but how does one go about searching among millions of Jews around the globe? And even if it can be done, will a match be found in time? Before the patient’s condition deteriorates and it can no longer be effective? Before it’s too late?

The Boeing Corporation is committed to community responsibility and has invested in many worthwhile charities. Moneys are given each year and, by the end of the year, used up. That is the way of the world. Money is used and no longer exists. “Giving to Ezer Mizion is different,” says David.  “When our financial outlay funds a life-saving transplant, the money isn’t used up. The investment continues to grow. A life is saved. A child will mature. He’ll marry, produce children of his own. Generations. Eternity.”

pr bmr Boeing donor w child - triumphant - EM background
The Boeing Donor Pool has saved 8 lives including that of little Ivan.

It was under Mr. Ivry’s leadership as President of Boeing-Israel and Vice-President of Boeing International that Boeing invested in a donor pool in Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry. What is a donor pool? For a sum of $30,000, a pool of 600 potential donors is genetically tested. The information remains on the database for decades and is available when a search request comes in for a desperate cancer patient whose last chance to survive is a transplant. When a transplant takes place using a donor whose testing was funded by the pool, the contact is notified with the electrifying words: You have saved a life! The Boeing Donor Pool has already saved eight lives. When the news arrives, an email is sent out and the Boeing office is buzzing with employees running to one another, “Did you hear? Did you hear?”

 

pr bmr boeing donor w child - thumbs
The donor’s genetic testing was funded by the Boeing Donor Pool and saved Ivan’s life.

One such notification to Boeing told of a small boy – only three years old.  A little boy who, like little boys around the world, has plans, perhaps of becoming a fireman or a policeman when he grows up. But this little boy was afflicted with a life threatening autoimmune disease and was being treated in Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.  It never crossed his tiny mind that he may not grow up at all. But his parents knew.  Each time he spoke of the future – when I’m big can I cross the street by myself? – his parents smiled on the outside but cried rivers of tears inside.

 

David Ivry’s face glows as he tells of this child. The Boeing Donor Pool funded the genetic testing for Oded Zand, a young man in Israel, and it was he that was found to be the perfect genetic match for little Ivan Woloktyok. Because of the generosity of the Boeing team, Ivan will cross the street by himself one day, he’ll learn to ride a two-wheeler and he’ll grow up and become an adult like all little boys should.

 

Ivan is five now. He’s a healthy, mischievous ball of fire.  He recently was the star of a meeting between his parents, Oded and 2 key Boeing staff members. While the adults embraced with tears of mutual gratitude, Ivan zoomed around the room, not understanding what all the excitement is about. He’s secure, our little Ivan. Secure in the certainty of the future that awaits him. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

 

Today, Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry numbers 889,956 potential donors, thanks to whom 2,711 lifesaving transplants have taken place to date. One of the Registry administrators’ most substantial challenges is raising funds to finance tissue typing of the collected samples, a procedure that demands major resources.

 

Dr. Bracha Zisser, Director of the Registry: “On the one hand, the Bone Marrow Registry enables everyone to be a partner in saving lives, and, on the other hand, it acts as insurance policy, increasing the chances for anyone we know to obtain a transplant, should the need arise. Mutual responsibility is the essence and guiding principle of Ezer Mizion. Thank you to the Boeing Corporation, to all the personalized donor pools at Ezer Mizion’s registry and to all our individual contributors for their noble partnership in our efforts to save lives.”

A Holocaust Survivor Reaches Out to Others

February 14, 2018

holocaust - yellow starAs one who went through the nightmare, Tziporah Abramowitz (77) is more capable than anyone else to connect to the depths of the souls of the holocaust survivors in order to to help them with the emotional challenge of coping daily with the horrible memories, which do not leave them alone for a moment. She has become a beloved volunteer at Ezer Mizion’s social club for holocaust survivors. Her encouragement, her compliments, her ability to engage the members and her weekly presentation on the Parsha all serve to bring that elusive smile to the faces of these elderly victims of a horror that defies description.

Tziporah was one of those saved by Raoel Wallenburg. She was hidden, together with hundreds of children, in the cellar of one of the many buildings rented by Mr. Wallenburg. In the 17trh century there had been a terrible fire in London that killed many. When the “Pest’ section of Budapest was built, it was required that from every building, there would be a way to escape to another building. This area was thus blessed with a network of secret underground escape routes of which the Germans were not aware. When the Gestapo would come to one building, the children were quickly smuggled to another. The escape routes also proved invaluable at the end of the war. The Russians has surrounded Budapest for two months but were afraid to enter the city due to street fighting that would end in death as they were threatened by Hitler. When they were informed of the escape network, the problem was solved. They surprised the Germans and took over Budapest.

We were so weak. I couldn’t walk. My older brother asked a Russian soldier for food and he kindly gave us a loaf of bread even though the soldiers didn’t have much themselves. We lived on that bread for a week. I was so sick with ringworm. The skin all over my body was eroded. The doctor said I needed penicillin to live but there was none. Only in the black market. My father had escaped from the camp and joined the partisans. He was caught and was beaten till his teeth were knocked out. Now that the war was over, he laboriously made his way back to our little village. With him, he brought two things: meat and a gun. With those, we could obtain all our needs. Now my father went to the druggist and told him that he must obtain penicillin for me. If he would, he would receive lard from the meat. If he wouldn’t, he’d receive a bullet. The threat frightened the druggist. When my father returned that night, the druggist had obtained a generous supply of penicillin which saved my life.

“Even though we could have gone to America, my father did not want to live in what he called a foreign land,” continues Tziporah.   ‘It took a long time to reach Eretz Yisroel but Eretz Yisroel was home. Right after the war, people had come to my village and were fed by my mother who prepared huge pots for all the starving Yidden. This is how I was brought up. My home was always a place of chessed. Now it is my turn to give.  I am gratified to be a part of Ezer Mizion, an organization that accomplishes so much.”

 

 

 

 

Strangers or perhaps…

December 27, 2017

people helping people around globeImagine having an airplane view of the entire world. Not only the world but of generations. What would you see? You’d immediately notice the hubbub in America as Ezer Mizion launches a nationwide campaign to raise funds to sponsor genetic testing for thousands of new potential donors to register at its Bone Marrow Registry. The money pours in. You all give so generously.  The funds are transferred to Israel to pay for the cost of the testing. The genetic data of these young men and women is entered to remain on the database for decades.

Now your eyes flit to the right and you see sadness. Such sadness. Jonathan, a young father in South Africa has just been diagnosed. His children are not even grown yet. There are weddings to dance at. Grandchildren to read stories to. Up until now all this has been taken for granted. But no longer. They will happen but he might not be there. The doctors have tried many treatments. There only remains a bone marrow transplant which cannot take place until a DNA match is found. Right now the procedure can be successful. Later may be too late. His siblings are not a match. Will a match be found among strangers?

There’s a loud buzz. You glance to the left. In Israel, a search is being conducted at Ezer Mizion’s Jewish Bone Marrow Registry.  Emergency. A genetic match is needed for a young father in South Africa. Tension. All eyes are focused on the computer. Then smiles. Excitement. Joy.   Liron, one of the new registrants, is a perfect match.

The news is quickly relayed. The joy spreads across the ocean. Jonathan and his family dance. Once again, happiness reigns in this young home.

And they question.  His siblings were not a genetic match but a perfect stranger is? Is she perhaps not a stranger after all?

From your view above the skies, your eyes travel back…back…back. You see Jonathan’s grandparents living in Latvia, in Lithuania. They have large families. Their children marry and raise their own families.

You spot a young woman in France dissolved in tears. She is Liron’s grandmother. The child she has carried for nine months has died. Or so they tell her. She strongly suspects that the hospital staff is lying. But she is helpless. Was the child alive? Did he grow up and marry a girl whose family originated from Eastern Europe? So many questions. The answers lie hidden in the mysteries of time…

And so Liron, a perfect stranger in Israel – or maybe not such a perfect stranger after all – saved the life of Jonathan in South Africa. It’s twenty months later. His blood counts are perfect and have been since the transplant. He’s planning a vacation in Israel together with his family this Pesach. The highlight will be meeting Liron. The two will talk. They’ll share family history. Perhaps more light will be shed on the mystery then. If so, we will certainly share it with you, dear reader.

But most important, Jonathan’s life has been saved. Liron couldn’t be happier. It is her blood that is flowing through his veins. Perhaps they were strangers before but now they are strangers no longer.

 

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