Cancer is frightening. It’s a nightmare that even Mommy’s hug can’t make go away. The child, and often his siblings, are often paralyzed with fear. A relaxed, happy frame of mind, so vital to the battle he must wage, seems so far, far away. Even an itty bitty smile becomes a distant stranger to the tiny face that mirrors only terror and pain.
Ezer Mizion cannot cure the cancer but we will move heaven and earth to create a giggle. Professional staff and volunteers spend hours creating programs that bring happiness to the cancer patient and his whole family, to lighten their burden both practically and emotionally. Ideas abound. Birthday parties, trips, story hour, music clubs, lego sessions, even a petting zoo. And recently balloons.
Barak Dagan is a balloon artist. Not only can he twist those balloons into fantastic shapes but he can also twist the saddest face into one of joyful laughter. Children who haven’t smiled in weeks sit spellbound. As the jokes come forth, the balloons become giraffes and peacocks, fire engines and boats. A few twists from his magical hands and the room is filled with astounded gasps. His talent revitalizes the spirit enabling it to better partner with the body in the desperate battle for life.
He comes frequently, the Ezer Mizion Balloon Man, injecting fun and merriment into every moment. And even when he is not there, the fascination of balloon sculpting remains in the form of a …motorcycle. Yes, a motorcycle. A magnificent motorcycle sculpture, donated by Barak Dagan, is the piece de resistance of the lobby of Ezer Mizion’s Home for Cancer Patients and their Families. Children are invited to sit atop this masterpiece for a photo shoot. The pictures become treasures to show off to cousins and classmates, chasing away the ogres that have been inhabiting their psyche and replacing them with feelings of triumph. The triumph of having climbed to the top of the giant motorcycle joins hands with the optimistic thoughts of triumph over a monster named Cancer.
Cancer therapy treatments take place in hospitals on an outpatient basis, whenever possible. In Israel, several major children’s oncology units are located around the Tel Aviv area, so young cancer patients who live in other parts of the country have to travel hours every day for brief outpatient treatments. Children who have to endure the ravages of chemotherapy and radiation are further exhausted and debilitated by the hours they spend every day on the road to and from the difficult treatments.
This all changed in 1996, when Ezer Mizion, with the generous assistance of the Bracha & Motti Zisser Foundation and the Rosinger Family, opened Oranit, a home away from home for young cancer patients and their families. Located in Petach Tikvah, near Israel’s major pediatric oncology centers, it spares families from exhausting daily trips for brief treatment sessions. These families are referred to Oranit by doctors, nurses or social workers at hospitals where they are undergoing cancer therapy.
Oranit provides an escape from the world of chemotherapy and aggressive treatments into a haven of comfort, caring and cheer. In addition to the spacious and comfortable suites of the Andrew and Margaret Rosinger Residential Wing , Oranit boasts a cafeteria, an auditorium, a synagogue, the beautifully landscaped Malka Lazarus playground, The Rinat Bakshi Wildlife Pavilion and an extensive program of recreational activities at the Donald Berman Rehabilitation Center . In contrast to hospitals, Oranit is a beautiful, happy place where families can relax and enjoy spending time together.