About Us

OUR MISSION

To help breast cancer patients who are in financial crisis by giving them a one-time grant. The Lemonade Fund, לימונדה ישראל, is Israel’s only breast cancer emergency relief fund. We give grants to needy Israeli breast cancer patients who are in financial crisis while they are in treatment. Because it is hard enough to have breast cancer. No one should have to be very ill and frantic about basic living costs at the same time. Our aim is to quickly and compassionately deliver direct financial assistance, easing some of the financial burdens that accompany breast cancer so that patients can concentrate on the more important challenge of getting well.

What we do:

Having a serious illness can be expensive. Studies show that in six months, a health crisis can force a family into bankruptcy or homelessness. Breast cancer treatment is long and is one of the most expensive types of cancer to have. It brings with it many additional costs, including:

– Lost income due to time off from work (for the patient and/or his/her spouse/partner.)

– Extra childcare or household help during treatment.

– Transportation to and from doctor appointments and treatments.

– Non-covered medical expenses, prostheses, special bras, etc.

Why is this fund especially important in Israel?

Breast cancer is very common in Israel, now impacting 1 in every 7.5 women. Israelis carry an increased risk for hereditary BRCA breast cancer.  significant portion of the Israeli population. In BRCA carriers the incidence of breast cancer is 10 times higher than in the general population. Typically, hereditary breast cancers are associated with a younger age of diagnosis. These younger fathers or mothers often have young children at home making access to treatment that much more complicated and financially challenging.

How the project works

Patients must prove that they:

  • Are within one year of breast cancer diagnosis.
  • Have Israeli citizenship.
  • Have proven financial need (by submitting 3 months of bank statements.)

Applicants are carefully screened, first by social workers at hospital Breast Centers. The Lemonade Fund visits centers to train the social services staff.

Social workers must:

  • Complete the Lemonade Fund application.
  • Write a letter detailing the health, personal, and financial situation of the patient.
  • Send an updated medical form (from the patient’s health fund or hospital.)
  • Send 3 months of bank statements (name and account numbers are vetted as well.) 
  • Patients must show Bituach Leumi (National Insurance Institute) and any other income that they are receiving, as well as a record of expenses and debts. 

The Lemonade Fund’s application review committee (composed of professionals in fields such as medicine, law, accounting, social services, etc.) meets monthly to review grant applications. Each application gets careful deliberation so that every grant can be  personalized to fit the applicant’s needs as closely as possible. Records and protocols for each meeting are scrupulously kept. The application process is rigorous, transparent and efficient. The aim is to work thoroughly but quickly, so funds can be distributed within a month of receiving approved applications. 

Patient confidentiality is strictly protected. Grant money can be used to meet the cancer care-related financial needs described above, at the discretion of the patient. The Lemonade Fund operates with very low overhead and donations go almost completely to grants.

History

Why the nickname, ‘Lemonade Fund?’ A few months before my 50th birthday, in July 2010, I went for a routine mammogram and learned I had breast cancer. What followed was difficult, but words cannot describe how grateful I am that it was caught early and that I am feeling fine. During the first year after my diagnosis, I was shocked to learn how expensive it was to have a serious illness,  and I decided to start a fund (originally named, the Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund, IBCERF, under the auspices of ESRA, the English Speaking Residents Association,) to assist needy Israeli breast cancer patients as they were going through treatment. By alleviating financial stress we can help breast cancer patients and their families to focus on recovery. A year to the day after that fateful mammogram, the Lemonade Fund was born.

Life threw me some lemons, and out of them came lemonade, thus…the Lemonade Fund. The Lemonade Fund has grown, and is now helping impoverished Israeli breast cancer patients, recently diagnosed with breast cancer, from all over Israel, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion.

Breast cancer is very common in Israel, now impacting 1 in every 7.5 women. Israelis carry an increased risk for hereditary BRCA breast cancer.  significant portion of the Israeli population. In BRCA carriers the incidence of breast cancer is 10 times higher than in the general population. Typically, hereditary breast cancers are associated with a younger age of diagnosis. These younger fathers or mothers often have young children at home making access to treatment that much more complicated and financially challenging.

Shari Mendes, Founder and Director of the Israel Lemonade Fund