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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The Smile Factory

What is Ezer Mizion? In addition to its Bone Marrow Registry and many other services, it is a factory. And the product? The product is smiles. Sometimes the going is rough. We may not be able to cure the disease but we can ease the pain and bring a smile to a face that hasn’t smiled in days. Like little Rachel* who has seen more pain in her four years than most adults have seen in a lifetime. Chemotherapy has stolen her innocent childhood from her and now she is on the way to Vienna with her mother and twin sister to continue treatment. Her mother packed a suitcase of the basics and Ezer Mizion packed a suitcase of smiles. If there is something that can ease the pain of a sweet little four-year-old girl somewhat, it’s Hello Kitty and so loving hands packed up every imaginable Hello Kitty item… a suitcase of emotional strength for the grueling months ahead. 

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A Vacation from Cancer

Enjoying their vacation from cancer

Countless families are living under the horrific tension of dealing with the life-threatening disease that we don’t even like to mention. The occasional relief of tension does wonders for their psyche and revives the spirit enabling it to partner with the body in its battle for life. To provide emotional relief from the tension of cancer, periodic retreats are scheduled where the whole family can re-bond in a convivial, upbeat atmosphere.

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A Cancer Hospital Synagogue: Not the Typical Bar Mitzvah Venue

Cancer and Bar Mitzvah: Not a Good Mix

From Motty’s Mother

I am the mother of seven wonderful children. My oldest, Motty, was almost bar mitzvah. At the school where I teach, I was also the “Corona coordinator,” so my days were filled .

 I could hear Motty from the next room reviewing the haftarah (Portion of the Prophets to be read in honor of his Bar Mitzvah) . What an uplifting feeling! I couldn’t detect anything unusual about the way he was standing. Probably those complaints about his leg were just growing pains.

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The Only Thing that’s Impossible Is Saying No

“There’s nothing like Ezer Mizion!” These are the words of a grateful employee who…we’ll let her tell her story.

“On Friday afternoon, my niece’s little girl came home from gan with a high fever. She was put to bed but, only a few minutes later,  there in the thick of her erev Shabbos (pre-Sabbath) cooking, ‘something’ pushed my niece to check on her. As her mother stood there in the doorway, the child turned blue, then purple, then black. Terrified, my niece ran outside holding her daughter and screaming for help.  The end of part one is that the hospital diagnosed it as a genetic reaction to sudden high temperatures. The drama was over but now came the practical questions. If they were released on Shabbos (Sabbath) where would they go? My niece was expecting and traumatized. And, in addition, they would want to be near a hospital just in case. So I dialed the number that is often first on the list of every shaken family member. Within moments, I received a call back. A suite is reserved for her at Oranit, Ezer Mizion’s guest home for families dealing with cancer. A lovely suite with all the trimmings. My niece couldn’t stop thanking them. And me? I couldn’t be more proud to be part of the Ezer Mizion family.

She may be right, you know, when she says there’s nothing like Ezer Mizion. What would she have said had she seen Moriah enter Oranit to put smiles on the faces of young cancer patients. What’s unusual about that, you ask. True, it was Moriah’s regular day to come. She comes every week. But today was… her wedding day. Busy? Certainly. But she’s never miss her weekly visit with Ezer Mizion’s cancer kids.

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Holding Their Hands

Dreamotherapy: a visit to the Kinneret for Cancer Patients

A small child falls and is immediately enveloped in a hug to make the boo-boo go away. An adult? We expect an adult to manage the ups and downs of life his own. Usually he can. But there are times when even the adult needs that hug and a shoulder to cry on.

 Illness is like an earthquake for the family. From the moment of the diagnosis, Ezer Mizion embraces the family, encircling them in love and caring, assuring them that we are here for them at all hours of the day and night.

For more than a year, Eitan* has been undergoing treatments until that black day when he was told that the treatment was not having an effect and that he’d need to undergo a leg amputation. The news hit him like a ton of bricks. The one who stood at the side of Eitan and his family and escorted them through these difficult moments was Meir of Ezer Mizion Social Services department. “Due to corona, no one was allowed to visit him,” he relates. “They made an exception for Ezer Mizion staff. During the entire rehab process with the prosthesis, I was able to accompany him, helping him with the physiotherapy, passing the time with him, and raising his spirits.”

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What’s In It for Me?

Jumping on a trampoline cannot cure cancer but it can surely bring smiles enabling the spirit to enhance the body’s ability to fight its battle.

“What’s in it for me?” the average person asks. A new project…a new suggestion. How will I gain? Some will ask it outright. The more refined will ask only in their thoughts. But the ever—present ego accompanies our every move.

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Keeping the Eye Away from the I

Volunteering in spite of the heat and weakness due to fast

So very young but they have already learned an important life principle:  that one is so much happier if the eye is not focused on the ‘I’. These young people could have spent Tisha B’Av groaning about how hungry they are, how many hours are left, what they plan to eat when the fast is over…Instead they focused on others. On families living with cancer who are surely having a difficult time fasting as they continue to deal with the nightmare that colors every moment. On parents who are not even home  but are spending the day at what has become  their second home – the oncology ward of the hospital. These Ezer Mizion volunteers cannot cure the cancer but perhaps they can alleviate the burden by keeping the children happily occupied during this most difficult day. And so, in spite of the miserable heat, in spite of their own weakness, off they went – over 40 Ezer Mizion volunteers – to give those kids a fantastic time.

Of course, transportation was needed both for the kids and the volunteers but there was no lack of those who wanted to be part of this project. When a request went out, the replies poured in:

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We’re there When It Hurts – Now in Teveria

12 cool things to do in Tiberias for FREE - ISRAEL21c

People have problems and Teveria is no exception. Until now, residents have been serviced by the Ezer MIzion Haifa branch but now, thanks to the Ohana family, Teveria will have its own branch. Representatives of the Ohana family spoke in the course of the Inauguration event and elaborated on the tremendous importance of opening additional branches of Ezer Mizion throughout the country. “When Ima passed away, we had no doubt that the best way to eternalize her memory would be through a respected organization like Ezer Mizion. Ezer Mizion is there for those who need it and we are certain that there is no greater merit for Ima than the establishment of a branch here in the city.”

The new branch will provide support to patients and their families via a broad range of services, including ambulances, volunteer drivers, meals, loan of medical equipment, volunteering, light household help for families of patients, after-school clubs for special-needs children, and more.

Varied services for the ill and disabled have been an integral part of Ezer Mizion’s programs since its inception in 1979. Listen to some comments from Ezer Mizion staff and volunteers and share our pride in the accomplishments that you, our friends and supporters, made happen:

“I got a call from a woman crying so hysterically that I could hardly make out what she was saying. The next day I got a call from the same woman full of smiles and effusive thanks. ‘I married off my son last night. My mother has been waiting for this day for over twenty years. It was unthinkable that she would not attend. We thought we could manage the wheelchair but on the night of the wedding we saw how impossible it was. We struggled. We cried. My mother cried. We were about to give up when someone suggested calling Ezer Mizion. In moments, there you were at our doorstep. Like a knight in shining armor. My mother traveled in comfort and dignity in your ambulance set up for the mobility impaired. When she alighted, she was glowing with joy as the revered Bubby of the chosson.’ “

And this one – an emotional call from a volunteer right after he dropped off a hot meal for a cancer patient who would find it too difficult to prepare food for himself: “I can’t believe it. Till this second, I am still stunned and in shock. The man poured his heart out to me and said, ‘This cancer caught me. I don’t have food. This – this is all my food to this day. My money is all used up. There’s no money left.’ ” (Of course, appropriate Ezer Mizion departments got right on the case.)

The festive inauguration  and affixing of the mezuzah of the new Teveria branch was attended by Hagaon Rav A.D. Auerbach shlita;Ezer Mizion International Chairman Rabbi Chananya Chollak; Commission Chairman Boaz Yosef; Chairman of the Religious Council in Teverya, Yaakov Shitrit; Director of Social Services in Teverya, Rivka Ben Elisha; and Yossi Navah, Director of Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes Institutions. Also in attendance were Kobi Ben Akiva, NCO commander of the Chareidi sector; Shlomo Tausky, coordinator of Linked to Life Northern Region; and many, many public figures, social activists, volunteers, and residents of the city.

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The LegoMan and His Unicorn

For years Maor Cohen, aka the LegoMan, has been volunteering at Ezer Mizion providing lego workshops for those dealing with cancer. The lego projects are both distracting and able to give a feeling of a future to those who sometimes dare to wonder if they will have one. Frequently he shares the joys of remission with the families he has become so close to. And too frequently he also shares their sadness…

Recently, people have been calling and asking me to speak.

It seems that people think my work is something worth hearing about.

I don’t have an organized speech, not even a PowerPoint presentation.

When I speak, I speak from my heart.

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