Today everything is fine and we expect tomorrow to be the same. Often it is but sometimes it is not. Mrs. Jaffe* was expecting and experiencing what she thought was just the normal aches of a pregnancy. Then it got worse. The pain was excruciating. The doctors were at loss as they did not want to do extensive testing until the baby was born. It was then that the horrific discovery was made. Tumor. Her condition worsened and, before long, she became paralyzed, unable to walk. How does a large family, including a newborn, function with Mommy unable to move?! It seemed as if things could get no worse. Until they did. A few months later they were stricken another terrible blow – the father became ill and he, too, was diagnosed with a complex tumor. Imagine a house full of children, with all their myriad needs. One day, this parent goes to the hospital and the next day – the other needs to go for an urgent treatment. All the while, the newborn needs care. Meals for the family have to be prepared. Laundry. Shopping. Homework. The full gamut of family life.
They needed everything. Ezer Mizion brought in its entire support system. The Advocacy Division made sure they received whatever they were entitled to in services and stipends. Medical Referral was on constant call to be sure both parents received optimum care. The Cancer Support Division provided varied therapy for parents and children to help them on this difficult journey. The whole family was invited to fun trips and programs to keep their spirits up. Groups of volunteers did homework with the children, took them shopping for shoes, did laundry and cleaning. The Food Division provided hot meals always accompanied by a warm, comforting pat on the shoulder as they were delivered both to the family and to whoever was at the hospital bedside of the patient. Transportation pitched in with rides to the clinic. And somehow, the family held together.
It wasn’t until months later that we saw the results. It was at a retreat organized for families with a member afflicted by cancer. The atmosphere was electric with joy. It was their vacation from the battlefield and the retreat had empowered them with optimism and encouragement. Someone in a wheelchair called out to Rabbi Chollak, the founder of Ezer Mizion, “Chananya, come dance with us!” At first he did not recognize the man. Without his beard, he looked different. And the set of his shoulders. He looked confident, not defeated as the last time they had met. It was him. The father. There he was dancing with his sons.
Tears welled up in the Rabbi Chollak’s eyes. Ezer Mizion had rallied with all the support they could muster and the family had made it. Medically, there was still a long road to go but they had the spirit to fight. And, with G-d’s help, they would win. Another Jewish family intact, flourishing. Supported on the shoulders of thousands of Ezer Mizion staff and volunteers, they would pull through.
What joy, what strength and stamina! What a privilege to be able to help and support such a wonderful family! What a marvelous partnership we all share – the financial supporters, the many volunteers, and the recipients. Hashem, these are Your children!
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.