Profiles in Courage – August 2017

This month we are paying tribute to the husband of a breast cancer patient and a group of volunteers who are helping this family with the gift of cooked food. A. is a young mother from Azerbaijan, living in the center of the country with her husband and three children, ages 7-14. A.’s breast cancer has spread to her brain and her husband quit his day job and took on night work, so that he can care for his wife himself, during the day. A social worker called us to ask if we could help with cooked meals, as there was no one preparing food for the family. Within ONE HOUR of posting the request on our website and Facebook page, 2 months of every other day dinners (including delivery) were covered! The family is overwhelmed by the kindness that they are witnessing. The children now have cooked food and the husband is a bit more at peace. This is a powerful way to give.

The Lemonade Fund wants everyone to know that charity can come in many forms. Emergency financial grants are always needed, and we welcome your donations to allow us to continue our standard mission, but know that people in rough situations often need more than what money can buy.

You are welcome to sign up to be part of the “mealtrain” list, currently in the Sharon area. Because we have so many volunteers, most people do not have to cook more than once a month, if that.

We would love to expand our reach to other areas of Israel. The meal delivery schedule is run by a remarkable computer program and it is very little work to set up a calendar that sends reminders and has all the delivery info for volunteers.

If you’d like more info about starting a Lemonade Fund meal delivery effort outside of the Sharon area, or to sign up for our list in the Sharon area, please write to:

shari@lemonadefund.org

To donate to the Lemonade Fund:

https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

 

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Seven Years of Plenty

IMG_20161211_133042.jpgEach year, at about this time, I come here to write a more personal note. On Tuesday, July 31st, Tisha B’Av, the Fast of the Ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, I’ll mark seven years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Seven years! 

I’ve changed in the seven years, since I heard the words, ‘you’ve got cancer.’ I enjoy numbers and the number “7” reminds me of the book of Genesis. In a way, recovering from cancer parallels the seven days of creation.

In the beginning… there is terror, an explosion of fear. Silence and complete blackness. One is deaf and blind to all but the question of a future. Will I survive? Is this the end? There is nothing but emptiness and a deep void. All is chaos. All is darkness.

And then the next day hope takes hold in a crevice. There is a dim sliver of light in the fissure that has formed. Darkness still reigns and nights are long and hard, but they are shooed away by the dawn, by morning. And one can begin to see the separation between darkness and light. Positivity is encapsulated in a sunrise. One reaches beyond the darkness, toward hope.

Once there is light,  the earth appears beneath one’s feet.  One can stand again; footing regained. Slowly there is clarity. The sky is above, the earth and water are below.  And with new focus there appears a plan for moving forward, one step at a time. A method for walking the earth once again. The course is rough at times, but with the ability to stand comes healing and recovery. Family, friends and community accompany and offer support along the way. And God is there, always there.

Even then it takes a while to learn to breathe. To believe that life is normal again. Only it isn’t normal and it never will be as it was, before cancer. There is what others call  a ‘new normal.’ There are scars, painful scars, but also an awakened strength and elegance. Everything is different because the stars, the moon, the sun never looked quite so exquisite as now. Life itself sparkles because our eyes have been reopened, wider this time. Nature, the greenery, the creatures that crawl, fly, swim and walk are so very beautiful as if we have all been born anew. 

And then the next few days fly by and here we are at seven, a full week of years. Over the years work is rewarding and the bonds of friendship and love tighten. Children mature, graduate, finish the army, graduate again, get jobs, get married. Families grow up and there is plenty of joy in all of this creation. New possibilities, opportunities, loves and beginnings. Life is bittersweet, too. Older grandparents pass away. Though very sad, this is the natural course of life. Wars are fought, too, young people are killed, on the battlefield, in the streets, in their homes. A twist of fate that is not in accordance with nature. Health is precarious at times; there are scans and scares. Last year I mourned the death of my mother, and this year we are celebrating the marriage of a child. Life is a complicated cycle, life is rich, but overall it is very good and we are here. Years of plenty.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on the solemn fast of Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish year. I never saw this as a coincidence, choosing instead to hear the whisper of what was being conveyed to me. In the midst of fasting and mourning for the destruction of Jerusalem and the other Jewish tragedies that occurred on 9 Av, I was suddenly contemplating my own demise. Why such sad news on the most desperate of days?

Over the course of the first year post-diagnosis, the connection became came clear to me. On the Ninth of Av, we study the causes of national defeat and try to learn from history so as not to repeat mistakes. Sages say that the primary cause of the calamities on Tisha B’Av were from internal strife, not outside enemies. We were wretched to each other in business dealings, in politics, in social settings and in private relationships. We lost our holiness, our health as a nation. We became sick and ugly until it all fell apart.

When illness strikes, our bodies give out. We cannot always pinpoint causes, but we suddenly turn our attention to caring for the vessel in which we live, as never before. As we contemplate mortality, we learn to value what is important, things that we may have neglected in our busy day-to-day lives.

Upon recovery, our mission can be to understand what leads to devastation, whether as a nation or in one’s body. In both cases, for real recovery and reconstruction, compassion is needed. We need to work to SEE the other, and to reach out to them.  As a nation when we are tolerant of each other, we are united and strong.

Likewise, when people are ill they are weak and in need of support. The most fragile among us cannot help themselves and it is our duty to help them. With medical, communal or financial help, we gift them the fortitude to get treatment and heal.

Lemon_tree Allen Timothy Chang

Having breast cancer showed me how expensive it is to be seriously ill. The ESRA Lemonade Fund (the Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund,) was founded in 2011 in order to help indigent breast cancer patients with basic non-medical expenses. The ESRA Lemonade Fund, a registered charity, gives one-time emergency grants to needy Israeli breast cancer patients, in treatment, so they can focus on recovery.  (Though this letter is not intended to be a fundraising appeal, contact us to donate, apply for help, or volunteer:  www.lemonadefund.org )

One story: A recent applicant, A., 35, is a former make-up artist and model. She has 3 children and Stage 4 breast cancer which has spread to her brain. Her husband quit his day job and is delivering newspapers at night so that he can care for his wife during the day. The family is living on the mother’s disability payments and the father’s meager salary. The Lemonade Fund awarded them an emergency financial grant. In addition, a group of amazing LF volunteers are delivering home-cooked meals to the family several times a week.

This is a small step toward tikun olam, repairing the world. Just as bodies can heal, societies can be bettered through acts of kindness. Tisha B’Av is a great opportunity for all of us to go from mourning destruction, to rebuilding connections through compassion.

“You have turned my sorrow into dancing. You have removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may sing to you and not be silent. My God forever will I thank you.”  

-Psalm 30

I am ever grateful for years of plenty, full of life and learning. Wishing all of you an easy and meaningful fast, and many years of peace, health and happiness.

Shari

 

Who’s Watching the Kids While Mom Gets Chemo?

mom getting chemo w kids

Important question. Not as much of an issue during the school year, but childcare can be a real problem during the summer months when school’s out. Camp can be expensive and beyond the means of needy breast cancer patients. This summer, Myisrael, a supporter of the Lemonade Fund, is sending a group of children of breast cancer patients to summer camp!

Here’s are stories of some of the Moms with breast cancer who now have summer childcare thanks to Myisrael:

L., married with a 3 year old, has stage 4 breast cancer. She is getting chemo and is too sick to work or care for her daughter. Her husband was about to start his own small business when L. was diagnosed. He had to put his plans on hold to care for his wife and during the summer, his daughter as well. Now their daughter is going to be able to attend kaytana (summer camp,) and this will help L. and her husband a great deal.

Y. is divorced, living alone with her 14 year old daughter. She used to work in several part time jobs, but has been unable to work since being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Her main concern is her daughter, who has been lonely and at home because they don’t have the money for a town camp. It will give Y. tremendous peace of mind to know that her daughter can now attend a city sports camp.

To donate to Myisrael’s summer camp initiative for Lemonade Fund recipients (needy Israeli breast cancer patients):     http://www.myisraelcharity.org/project/view/375

To donate to the Lemonade Fund:  https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

 

Profiles in Courage – May 2017

H., 37, married and the mother of a toddler, is from Jerusalem. Her husband, completely blind from a degenerative disease, is employed by a non-profit organization. H. worked as a teacher until she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She can no longer work due to her illness and the side effects of her treatments. The family has expenses that now exceed their income and they have little support from family, (H.’s mother is also being treated for cancer.) Their neighbors pitch in but they can’t provide as much assistance as this young family needs right now. The Lemonade Fund awarded H. an emergency relief grant which we hope will ease her financial pressure during this difficult time. Our wish is to lighten the load on seriously ill breast cancer patients so that they can concentrate on health and family.

D., 60, lives in the south with her husband and one of her five adult children. This son has been living at home with his parents since he was injured in a terror attack. D. was diagnosed with breast cancer and has used up all of her sick days from her work and is now waiting for her disability payments from Bituach Leumi, National Insurance, to come through. In the meantime, the family is living on her retired husband’s small pension and is having trouble making ends meet. They were awarded a Lemonade Fund grant to tide them over while D. is undergoing treatment.

Please help alleviate the financial pressure of disadvantaged Israeli breast cancer patients. Please donate to the Lemonade Fund:

https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

Reaching Out to One Another on a Painful Day.

Memorial Day in Israel (beginning at sundown tonight, April 30th,) is a somber time that is almost universally observed. Most people know someone who has been touched by loss in this young, small country. Businesses will shut their doors tonight, and a siren will sound throughout the land at 8:00 PM, during which all traffic will stop and people will stand still, heads bowed, at attention. The wail of the siren reaches down deep, sounding like a visceral cry. In this Jewish country it brings to mind the shofar, the ram’s horn, that is blown on the holiest of days. The shofar is meant to focus our thoughts and the siren does the same in a unique, simultaneous, national way. In our unity, honor is paid to those who have lost their lives, on the battlefield of war or in an act of terror.

We at the Lemonade Fund are currently helping several women who are battling breast cancer while their children are serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF.) In Z.’s family, Z’s son, a soldier in an elite unit, is our only family contact, as his mother is too ill to speak or provide information. He calls us during his breaks and we are touched by his dedication to his mother. We often are in touch with families who are juggling army service and a difficult home life. A., a divorcee in her mid-forties has end-stage breast cancer and is in hospice. Her daughter is in the army, with special conditions. Our assistance gives A. and her daughter peace of mind. Recently we gave a grant to a woman whose son had been badly injured in a terror attack in the 1980’s. The stress of caring for him for many years led to her precarious financial situation and poor health. A Lemonade Fund grant helped stabilize her family while she underwent chemotherapy.

By helping breast cancer patients who are in financial distress, we are helping their families as well. We are grateful for your donations, allowing us to contribute to the support of our country’s soldiers and their families.

May we all merit peace and good health.

To donate to the Lemonade Fund:

https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

 

April Profile in Courage and Some Passover Lemony Recipes

A. is a 60 year old single woman, originally from Morocco, currently from Beer Sheva, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She is, like many of our applicants, living on a small, fixed pension, in subsidized housing. Breast cancer patients like A. are often referred to the ESRA Lemonade Fund by hospital social workers because they have little money and no support systems. No family, no friends, no community. They live solitary lives and can manage on society’s margins until something tragic occurs. And then it all falls apart. That’s where the Lemonade Fund steps in. We are here as in financial emergencies for Israeli breast cancer patients, to get them through crunch time, so they can focus on recovery.

During this season when most of us will be celebrating holidays with our family and friends, it is hard to imagine that people exist in our midst, who are very alone. One of the oft refrains we hear from our grant recipients is that receiving our grant made them feel cared for, made them feel less alone.

This season, may our doors be open to invite all who wish to come celebrate with us. May we be in a position to always help each other.

Please make a Passover Donation to the ESRA Lemonade Fund. Thank you and Happy Passover!

To Donate: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

 

LUSCIOUS LEMONS AT PASSOVER

Lemon roasted chicken FLICKR PHOTO
Lemon roasted chicken 

If life gives you lemons, sweeten them with honey and cook with them! Your taste buds will jump for joy from the juicy lemon and honey tanginess found in the savoury dishes that I am presenting. Serve the three dishes together if you are a real lemon fan, or mix and match them with your other favourite dishes. This Passover is going to be extra luscious.


CRISPY LEMON ALMOND BROCCOLI

o 2 tbsp. oil

o 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced

o 1/2 cup unsalted almonds

o 1 tbsp. lemon zest

o 4 garlic cloves, minced

o 1/2 tsp. salt, plus additional salt to taste (optional)

o 1 large broccoli, cut into flowerets

o 2-4 tbsp. water

o 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

o lemon slices for garnish

Process almonds until they resemble a coarse meal.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat for 90 seconds. Add 1 tbsp. oil and the ginger. Sauté until soft. Add in the almonds, lemon zest and garlic. Continue to sauté, stirring often, until mixture is toasted. Remove from heat and mix in 1/4 tsp. of the salt.

Place mixture in a bowl and wipe out the pan. Heat the pan again and add in the remainder of the oil. Raise the heat to high and stir fry the broccoli, drizzling the water, 3-4 minutes or until cooked through but still crunchy. Dust with remaining salt.

While the pan is still on the heat, put almond mixture over the broccoli along with the lemon juice and mix together. Sprinkle additional salt to taste (optional). Pour onto a serving platter or bowl and garnish with lemon slices. Serve immediately.


LEMON ROASTED POTATOES

o 12-14 small potatoes, uniform in size

oil spray

o 4 tbsp. Passover vegetable oil

o 2 tbsp. margarine

o zest of one large lemon

o juice of one large lemon

o 2 tsp. honey

o 2 tbsp. fresh chopped tarragon or 2 tsp. dried tarragon

o 1 tsp. salt

o 1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Prepare a baking sheet with foil and spray it with spray.

Peel potatoes and immerse immediately in cold water. Mix together lemon juice, honey, tarragon, salt and pepper, set aside.

Heat a small frying pan and heat the oil, margarine and lemon zest; continue to stir until mixture turns golden brown. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry. Toss potatoes with lemon mixture and place them on baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes. Baste potatoes with lemon juice mixture. Bake for 15 minutes more or until potatoes are golden brown and fork tender. Serve immediately.


LEMON AND ROSEMARY CHICKEN BREASTS

o 4 lemons

o 3 tbsp. honey

o 1/2 cup of water

o 5 skinless/boneless chicken breasts

o 1 tbsp. dried rosemary

o 2 tsp. kosher salt

o 1/4 tsp. pepper

o 1/4 cup lemon juice

o 2 tsp. honey

o 1 tbsp. olive oil

o large Ziploc baggie

o extra olive oil or spray

Mix the rosemary, salt, pepper, candied lemon zest, lemon juice, honey and olive oil together in a small bowl. Pat the chicken breasts dry.Using a zester with five holes, remove the zest from the lemons. (A vegetable peeler can also be used, remove zest and then slice it very thin.) To prepare candied lemon zest, place zest, honey and water in a small pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until zest is translucent. Strain and cool.

Brush the mixture onto the chicken on all sides. Place the prepared chicken in the Ziploc bag and pour in any remaining marinade mixture, seal and place in refrigerator for 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 450 and put the rack in the middle position.

Prepare a baking dish sprayed or greased with olive oil. Place the chicken breasts onto the prepared pan, along with the remaining marinade. Bake for 15 minutes then turn the chicken breasts. Reduce oven temperature to 350. Continue baking another 30-35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Profiles in Courage – Feb/March 2017

This is the story of the son of a breast cancer patient. F. is a young Israeli soldier in the Golani unit whose mother was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. She is having trouble coping with the disease physically and emotionally. As she is a widow, F., the oldest son, is tasked with all manner of caring for his mother. The family is in desperate straits financially. (They live on disability payments and F’s army salary.)  The Lemonade Fund called the telephone number listed on his mother’s application, and we were surprised to reach F., in the field. Whenever he has a break he deals with his mother’s paperwork, doctor appointments, etc. We often see how caregivers in indigent families of breast cancer patients need help, too. We are happy to send a grant to F.’s mother and we hope it brings the entire family some well-needed relief.

To donate to the Lemonade Fund:

https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

Profiles in Courage – January 2017

A., a 52 year old immigrant from Georgia, lives alone in a housing project in the south. She is divorced with older children with whom she has lost contact. She has long-term issues with drug abuse and mental illness and now she has a new diagnosis of breast cancer. She is very fearful about breast cancer in part because of the financial burden. She lives completely on her small disability pension, with little money to spare. Her hospital social workers reached out to the Lemonade Fund on her behalf, requesting a grant to help A. with extra transportation and basic living costs during the challenging period ahead of her. We hope this grant gives her some peace of mind.

R. has a similar story, divorced with no family support, except that she is older than A., and her breast cancer has advanced and is now terminal. She lives in the center of the country on a small pension. R. is asking for a Lemonade Fund grant to help pay for extra household and nursing help beyond that which is provided by National Health Insurance. She prefers to stay home as long as possible, only moving to hospice care at the last possible moment. Additional financial help will help her achieve this wish.

To Donate to the Lemonade Fund: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

Thank you.

Profiles in Courage – November 2016

F., a 52 year old woman from Sderot with Stage 4 breast cancer, applied to the Lemonade Fund with an unusually straightforward request. “I just need a break so I can rest and gain some strength. My son is getting married soon.” F. is in a great deal of pain from metastases to her bones; it is hard for her to walk. Despite this she has been running her household as her husband is disabled. The family is living on disability payments alone and this isn’t enough to pay for extra household help. The Lemonade Fund was created to give one-time grants to help breast cancer patients and their families weather crisis moments during treatment. We are happy to help F., and her family during this difficult time.

B. is a 49 year old divorced mother of three. Her youngest child is 14 and she lives with B. full time. B. was diagnosed with breast cancer in April soon after declaring bankruptcy of a small business. She had been working in temporary jobs to repay her debts but hasn’t been able to work since starting chemotherapy and the small family is struggling to pay for even basic needs. In addition, B. has a long commute to the hospital and her transportation costs are high. The Lemonade Fund awarded B. a grant to help with basic living costs so she can focus on the important work of recovery.

Please remember the Lemonade Fund on GIVING TUESDAY:

https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

Thank you.

Profiles in Courage – September 2016

D. has a noble story. She is 51 and she lives in a central town with her elderly mother and her college-aged daughter. As a single mother, she supported her mother and daughter working as a home health aide. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 which unfortunately has now metastasized extensively, and D. can no longer work. D.’s daughter, a law student, tries to help with her mother and grandmother in the evenings, after school. The family is obviously struggling financially with basic needs, but D.’s strongest wish is to see her daughter through law school. D. needs help in the house but doesn’t want her daughter to have to stop studying to care for her. A grant from the Lemonade Fund will supply some much needed financial support during this difficult time, so that D. can hire some assistance in the house for herself and her mother. And she can enjoy seeing her daughter continue her studies.

To donate to the Lemonade Fund:

https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

Thank you for helping us help needy Israeli breast cancer patients who find themselves in financial crisis.