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.
She’s married, with three children, When she grasped the severity of her illness, she was consumed by fear and uncertainty.
Vered, her friend who was working at Ezer Mizion, made the connection. From that point, Reut’s family became a part of the big Ezer Mizion family. That summer, they offered the Hershkos the opportunity to participate in the summer camp earmarked for families with a member who has cancer. “To this day, the summer camp is the experience my children remember most from this period. It was simply amazing. Already then, as a participant in the summer camp as a cancer patient, I knew that I’d recover and return to the camp as a volunteer. My son, too, who was 9 years old at the time, said that he would want to be a camp counselor. B’ezrat Hashem (with the help of G-d) , next year, he will be joining the volunteer staff.”
For Reut and her family, Ezer Mizion was a safe expanse allowing for happiness and laughter. “I know how much strength lies in Ezer Mizion’s embrace. I decided that I want to pass it on further.”
And today, that is precisely what Reut does. The moment she got better, she decided to recruit Kolmobil, her workplace, to join her in the volunteering. She drafted jeeps for the camp jeep trip, and since then, she participates in that trip every year. The first time, three vehicles went out, and for the most recent retreat, 12 of the company’s ATVs joined, taking cancer patients and their families out for a day of fun and “extreme.” They filled the vehicles with gifts and Kolmobil made sure to indulge them also with shake and ice-cream stations. The feeling of giving fills Reut with genuine pride. “It reminds me that I won the battle with cancer, and now I am here for others. I’m proud to be a full giving partner in this superpower that goes by the name of ‘Ezer Mizion’!”
Like to meet more of our volunteers who came from the ‘other side’? Stay tuned for next week’s article.