Art Therapy Joins with Chemotherapy                  Part 2

Recap: Cancer. It depletes the body’s strength but it does so much more. It invades the very soul. The terror and helplessness destroy the self-assurance of its victims, leaving them floundering like a shaky, fearful rag doll. The spirit, a vital partner with chemotherapy in healing, is weakened.

Ezer Mizion has many methods of invigorating that vulnerable spirit with positive vibes. Art Therapy is a favorite.  Each year the Cancer Support Division’s Art Workshop presents an exhibit for the public in which cancer patients have expressed their innermost thoughts via visual art. The program empowers the patient to create and regain the self-respect he has lost in the bewildering maze of fear and horror. Two submissions were presented to our readers last week. Below is another one of the submissions:

Art Therapy for Cancer Patients

The illness shook up my world and caused me to lose control over my body and my life. I was helpless. I tried putting myself together but all I achieved was frustration. Life has ambushed me, setting a trap. I wasn’t ready.

And another:

Art Therapy for Cancer Patients

I reached out from within my prison with the crab that scientists call Cancer. I reached out but I could not get passed the unyielding walls. ‘Hand in hand, if you’ll just give me your hand. Hand in hand we’ll walk the whole way…’

We look forward to sharing more submissions with you next week. May each participant be blessed with a speedy and full recovery.

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Art Therapy Joins with Chemotherapy

Cancer. It depletes the body’s strength but it does so much more. It invades the very soul. The terror and helplessness destroy the self-assurance of its victims, leaving them floundering like a shaky, fearful rag doll. The spirit, a vital partner with chemotherapy in healing, is weakened.

Ezer Mizion has many methods of invigorating that vulnerable spirit with positive vibes. Art Therapy is a favorite.  Each year the Cancer Support Division’s Art Workshop presents an exhibit for the public in which cancer patients have expressed their innermost thoughts via visual art. The program empowers the patient to create and regain the self-respect he has lost in the bewildering maze of fear and horror. Below is one of the submissions:

Cancer Support with Art Therapy

Life is full of choices! What’s inside is already too far inside. It’s called habit. The easy line of thought.

In the project, I chose an image of myself, the mainstay of the family, in a state of 360 degrees. Question marks hang on every thought. Did I make the right decision? Say it right? And I ask myself again and again, “When will I learn to choose right?”

And another:

Cancer Support with Art Therapy

The broken and cracked shells symbolize the long journey. Every piece has meaning like a wave and another wave coming to the shore. So one piece and then another piece of me came apart with pain and tears. And from this place I want to grow, to blossom anew. Now I am picking up the pieces, the cracks. One piece and another, I try to join together, to rehabilitate with self-love and compassion. To be in a whole place. Not perfect, but whole. Like the whole egg which seems to have been built anew from the broken pieces that enveloped it. 

We look forward to sharing more submissions with you next week. May Hashem bentsh each one of these women with refuas hanefesh, refuas haguf. 

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They’re Everywhere

Bunny Joins Ezer Mizion in Cancer Support

Many people can hardly say the word. It’s so scary. It’s a word that reminds us that we are mortal. That someday life will be over. If we do say the word, we often add the phrase, ‘You shouldn’t know from it.’ But what if they do know? What if they hear the word countless times a day said by medical personnel with very serious faces? What if they have crossed the road from ‘not knowing’ to that word taking over their lives? And what if they are facing the dread…the terror…the horror…all alone?

That’s where Ezer Mizion comes in. Trained staff and volunteers are there to hold their hands when all they want is to run away from the nightmare but can’t. Ezer Mizion is everywhere. They are in the hospital room with a warm hug while you cry and cry. They’re back again every day with a hot meal, attractively served, as you sit by the bedside of your precious child. They’re in your home doing homework with your other kids. They’re in the stationary store with your son who needs school supplies so he can be a kid like all the other kids, at least in school. Where else do you find them? They’re in the clothing store with your daughter who needs a new dress for a school function. They’re on the phone coordinating the Bar Mitzvah for your son who thought he might not have one. You’ll find them on the road driving family members to and from the hospital for shifts and you’ll find many of them at Oranit offering psychological therapy for those who find it so difficult to cope. Many are in Oranit’s Petting Zoo providing Animal Therapy, or the Music Room of the Crafts Room or organizing trips and birthday parties. Yes, they are really everywhere.

Roni and her family have met many of them. Roni was so disappointed when she was told that the upcoming trip to Dubai for a group of cancer patients was not going to include her. Her medical condition would not allow it. It was necessary for her to remain in Israel. Missing the trip?!  After everything she had gone through?! Roni was inconsolable…until an Ezer Mizion volunteer put a smile back on her face. “You’ll have your own trip, Roni. Right here in Israel. You didn’t think we’d allow you to be left out, did you?!” For two days, she was pampered with breakfast and dinner in restaurants, ATVs, horseback riding, ninja, climbing walls and lots and lots of love.

Ezer Mizion: We’re there when it hurts.

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But I Feel Fine…

I felt fine but noticed a strange enlargement. I wasn’t worried. My brother had survived cancer and I knew what it was like. He had been sick. Really sick. And I felt fine.

I had a long list of things that any busy mother of five can relate to.    Trying to get it checked off my list so I can go on with life, I stopped by the doctor on my way to my other errands.  . One foot out the door, I waited for him to laugh and say it’s nothing. But he didn’t.  Instead he sent me for blood tests. I still thought it was nothing. After all, I felt fine. But when he saw the test results, I was quickly dispatched to the ER.I started to absorb the fact that this was serious. Until now, my life had been calm and routine. Suddenly, the earth was pulled out from beneath my feet.

Cancer is frightening!

. You can go crazy from the sense of helplessness, alone, with a million thoughts and fears. That’s when I made my first acquaintance with Ezer Mizion. A representative approached me and. gave me a clarity and an understanding of what was going on. I vividly remember the feeling that she gave me — how she cheered me up and encouraged me. She told me about Oranit, which eventually became a second home — the hotel-like accommodations, the clubs, the trips, the retreats. She said that we should be in touch and, I’ll enjoy everything that Oranit has to offer — and that is really what happened.”

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The Other Side part three

Recap: They were there. They lay in the hospital beds, or sat next to family members for long hospitalizations. They know exactly what it feels like — the paralyzing fear, the loneliness, and the helplessness.

Hospital patients and their families become volunteers

They know the importance of a sister’s outstretched hand, accompanied by a genuine sense of partnership and the knowledge that even though you walk in the darkness — you are not walking alone.

We turned to five volunteers who had been on the other side, on the dark, painful side, and who promised that the moment they were able to, they’d help others — and then carried out their promise.

Riva Levi, 39, married, with five children

Riva got to know Ezer Mizion through her father’s  hospitalization. Every day, the Ezer Mizion volunteers would bring her and her family tea, coffee, and pastries “I had no idea how significant this help is. And then, suddenly, I was in that position myself, on the receiving end. That’s when I decided to join to help people who were going through what we went through with my father.” When Riva’s father passed away, she decided to take upon herself to help others, l’iluy nishmato (for the merit of his soul). “I help bring clothing for ironing, drive patients to their doctor, and bring hospitalized patients things that they needs. “Sometimes, when you are in a situation of distress, the only thing you need is to know that you’re not alone.”

Batya Amsel, 35, mother of five sons and a nurse by profession

Batya came to know Ezer Mizion during her husband’s illness. Since neither she nor her husband had a driver’s license, they benefited on a regular basis from the Transportation Division who helped them get to the hospital and back. “It is hard for me to describe the relief and the heartwarming feeling given by the volunteers after a draining stay at the hospital,” she shared.

Over the years, she prayed to be on the giving end.  She learned how to drive and her first trips were for others, via Ezer Mizion. She’s been volunteering for over a year, with a sense of mission. “You cannot take away the pain of the hospital from patients and their families, but you definitely can ease and sweeten the experience.”

Ido Bennett, 25, from Raanana

Ido met up with Ezer Mizion eight years ago, when he was stricken with cancer

He calls Ezer Mizion “my second family.  During treatments, the volunteers were there with him at every given moment. During one of the summer vacations, he joined Ezer Mizion’s retreat, together with his family. “On the last day, Rabbi Chollak got on stage. He told us that his dream is to see us, the patients, coming to the retreat one day as volunteers.. “This sentence buzzed in my head like a bug. I decided that I was going to recover and go over to the other side and volunteer.”

Today Ido volunteers for Ezer Mizion. And this year, he joined the staff and volunteered in the summer retreat, precisely where he’d gone as a patient. His dream had come true. “I joined Ezer Mizion because I know that nothing else interests them beyond doing good. And I knew that through them, I’d be able to give to others, precisely as they gave to me. To know that you have the power to help others — there’s no better feeling than that.”

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The Other Side part one

A hospital stay: Loneliness, helplessness, fear

They were there. They lay in the hospital beds, or sat next to family members for long hospitalizations. They know exactly what it feels like — the paralyzing fear, the loneliness, and the helplessness.

They know the importance of a sister’s outstretched hand, accompanied by a genuine sense of partnership and the knowledge that even though you walk in the darkness — you are not walking alone.

We turned to five volunteers who had been on the other side, on the dark, painful side, and who promised that the moment they were able to, they’d help others — and then carried out their promise. We asked them to explain why it is so important to them to pay back everything they received.

Reut Hershko, 40, had cancer six years ago.

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Now They Hear the Cheers

Disabled? Yes. But Capable? Absolutely!

Self-esteem. A vital component to day to day functioning. At least as vital as the proteins and vitamins we consume, perhaps more. Some of us are blessed with a hefty dose embedded in our natural psyche. Some of us develop it by a series of successes in academics, in sports, or music or drama. Any area will do as long as we can hear the cheers from our imaginary audience. And then there are some that don’t. From early childhood on, they were the ones who couldn’t. Couldn’t do sports due to their physical disability. Failed academically due to feeling different than the rest of the class.  And didn’t feel confident to even try to succeed in any area.

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We’re There When It Hurts

Cancer support at Ezer Mizion encompasses the whole family

“But Ima promised. For sure shell be back! She told me before she left!!” Shevy’s young heart broke as she tried to absorb the news. She was only eleven, well, almost twelve, too fragile to handle the bitter disappointment. Too small to comprehend the big picture. Not to have her mother at her side for her Bas Mitzvah? To celebrate without Mommy’s support? It was unthinkable. Yet it was happening and Shevy was inconsolable.

Shevy felt a hand on her shoulder. A warm hand, a loving hand. The same lady who had been helping their family since Mommy went to America for treatments.   It wasn’t Mommy but it was someone who cared. “Your eyes are such a pretty shade of blue. Let’s go shopping for a Bas Mitzvah dress. Maybe we can find something to match your eyes.  Something really pretty. Would you like something with lace?” Bit by bit, the Bas Mitzvah party took shape through the efforts of Ezer Mizion.   Yes, there were tears but they were outnumbered by the smiles. A gorgeous dress! Balloons! Gifts! The fanciest sweet table in town! And hugs… and love. Ezer Mizion: We’re there when it hurts.

Cancer support with love

And even when it hurts us. When our efforts to offer support will tear our own hearts to shreds. When the thought of what we are asked to do leaves us limp and shaky but we know it will help a family who is undergoing a horrendous crisis that no one should ever know of.

Cancer support till the very end

When we are asked to transport a little girl from the hospital to her home and back again. Her last trip home. To enable her family to say goodbye. Before she leaves this world. Forever.

Shuki Becker, one of Ezer Mizion’s devoted Ambulance Division members, undertook the assignment. Equipped with an oxygen tank and the paraphernalia to monitor her closely during her stay and armed with a prayer book to give himself the strength to support this precious soul in her last hours, this angel began the trip that meant so much to her family. 

Ever so gently, she was brought to her favorite spots in her home. Ever so gently, her family spoke to her, caressed her. Over and over they talked of the funny stories they had shared, her favorite foods she always chose for her birthday supper, the time she won the game three times in a row.

They were scheduled to leave for the hospital at seven o’clock but the family couldn’t let go.

Another memory. Another fun time. Another ounce of love to add to the package she would be taking on her final trip.

Her numbers looked good and so the visit continued. Parents, grandparents, siblings. Each reaching out and giving of themselves. A lifetime of love condensed into a few short hours. And then it was time to say the final goodbyes. Final.

May Moshiach come soon to wipe away our tears.

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Ezer Mizion Summer Camps

Ezer Mizion Summer Camp for Special Children: Counselors stopping at snack bar to get cool treats for their charges and shouldn’t these 24/7 heroines get one for themselves, too?
Ezer Mizion Summer Camp for Cancer Patients and their Families: a vacation from cancer
Ezer Mizion Summer Camp for Cancer Patients and their Families: a vacation from cancer
Ezer Mizion Summer Camp for Cancer Patients and their Families: a vacation from cancer
Ezer Mizion Summer Camp for Cancer Patients and their Families: a vacation from cancer
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