C, a 20 year old soldier from the center of the country, was weeks away from completing her army service when she felt a lump in her breast. While her friends were planning post-army trips or applying to university, C. was preparing for chemotherapy. C. turned to the Lemonade Fund for financial help because she had expenses caused by her illness and her family is destitute and couldn’t help her. During her army service, C. had permission to work part time outside of the army so that she could contribute income to her family. Now, in addition to being unable to work and help her family, C. needs help herself. The Lemonade Fund grant will provide C. with money to cover transportation to treatment costs, specialty clothing and most importantly to a such a young woman, a wig that matches her real hair. We wish C. a full recovery and a return to the normal life of a young adult.
R., a retired teacher, originally from the former Soviet Union, has experienced two tragedies in the last few years. Four years ago her daughter died of ovarian cancer, and then her husband died suddenly on the day of her diagnosis with breast cancer. To make matters worse, she is responsible for the care of her surviving son who has mental health problems and lives with her. R. is still reeling from the losses she has suffered, and she is also finding it hard to manage on her small pension and her son’s disability benefits. R.’s social worker submitted an application to the Lemonade Fund on R.’s behalf, and we hope that her Lemonade Fund grant sends her a message of our support, financially as well as emotionally.
These are the stories of two of the applicants from September. This past month we had a steep increase in the number of applications and we appreciate your continued support so that we can keep helping Israeli breast cancer patients who are in financial distress.
To donate: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/
A reminder that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Here is a lemony graphic to help you be alert to the possible signs of breast cancer. Early diagnosis can help save lives.
The first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 1, coincides with the last day of the cycle of Jewish holidays this year, (the Jewish New Year, Yom Kippur and the festival of Sukkot.) There is a connection here that is worth noting.
It is customary to read the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon’s deeply philosophical and personal tome, on Sukkot. King Solomon is writing at the end of his life, about what, after a lifetime of wealth and fame, really matters.
“Send your bread upon the waters, for after many days, you will find it.”
This verse is understood as a an urging to give charity to strangers, those whom one might never meet. The generosity will be repaid, the giver rewarded.
The cycle of Jewish holidays ends a period of reflection and judgement. Next week we will all return to our routines and officially begin our year. It is important to realize what gift NORMALCY is.
Breast cancer patients who are in treatment and in financial crisis don’t have this privilege; they are in the midst of a fight for survival. We created the Lemonade Fund, Israel’s one and only Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund, to give one-time grants to the most indigent breast cancer patients, to help with:
- lost income due to treatments and dr visits.
- extra childcare or household help
- transportation cost assistance
- emergency financial assistance while awaiting national benefits.
To donate: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/
The Lemonade Fund sends final wishes for a good new year. At the same time we urge all women (and men at risk, 1% of breast cancers occur in men!) to schedule their yearly breast screening.
Raise a glass…this New Year the Lemonade Fund will surpass
1,000,000 shekels in grants awarded to Israeli breast cancer patients.
In a few short years, the Lemonade Fund has become THE safety net in Israel for any breast cancer patient in financial crises. The ONLY breast cancer emergency relief fund in Israel…
“A. got a grant after fleeing her abusive husband. The money carried her while she was living in a domestic abuse shelter with her 2 children, and undergoing chemotherapy.”
“E. discovered a lump while pregnant with her first child after years of infertility. She carried the baby to term knowing that she’d have to start chemotherapy immediately after the birth. With no family or extra money, E.’s grant enabled her to hire help and get through treatment.”
“M., mom of 7 children, youngest age 9, became the sole family breadwinner when her husband went blind. An office cleaner, M., was then diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, and the family had no source of income. M.’s Lemonade Fund grant helped the family stay afloat, until other social services were able to step in.”
To read more stories:
To watch our short movie:
Lemonade Fund grants alleviate financial pressure during treatment so that patients can focus on recovery. By sending support and lessening stress, we hope that Lemonade Fund grants help patients get better faster so that they can go back to living their lives…
L’CHAIM! TO LIFE!
The ESRA Lemonade Fund sends wishes to all for a happy and healthy new year. Thank you for your strong support over the years, enabling us to continue this important work.
NO more having to take 2 busses, in the heat, to chemo in Beer Sheva! L., a 66 year old divorcee from Arad, a retired cleaner, was recently diagnosed with invasive breast carcinoma. She lives on a 1300 NIS/month pension and her National Insurance Institute payments. She doesn’t have a car and has been taking public transportation, in the heat, by herself, for the last few months. Her social worker applied to the Lemonade Fund for an emergency grant for help with cost of living expenses and transportation to treatment. Grant awarded!
L. is just one of the August applicants who received emergency financial assistance from the Lemonade Fund; emergency grants were given to breast cancer patients from hospitals all over Israel. Lemonade Fund grants alleviate financial pressure so breast cancer patients can focus on recovery.
To donate to the ESRA Lemonade Fund:
V., an immigrant from Tajikstan, is a 33 year old married mother of 2 children. Her older son, age 8, is epileptic, autistic and violent. Soon after opening a kindergarten, V. was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Due to the side effects of treatment, V. is unable to work. Her husband teaches martial arts abroad, but now needs to be home to care for his wife and children. This small family’s income has plummeted and their social worker submitted an application for an emergency Lemonade Fund grant, which was awarded.
To donate to Israel’s breast cancer emergency relief fund, the ESRA Lemonade Fund:
The story of one of our December grant recipients:
Y., a 45 year old divorcee, originally from Moldova, diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, lives with her father in the center of the country. For many years, Y. sold cosmetics at a kiosk in a mall, supporting herself and her two children. Now she is in pain and confined to a wheelchair due to the side effects of her treatment. Y. and her father live on the small salary her father makes in eldercare, as well as her disability payments. Her children have their own issues and are unable to be of assistance. Y.’s social worker requested a Lemonade Fund grant for basic living expenses and extra household help. (Awarded this week.)
We at the Lemonade Fund would like to thank you for making 2017 a year of Lemonade. We hear from recipients directly, that your grants give them peace of mind financially while they’re in treatment. They also report that they see the grants as a gesture of love and caring. Thank you.
To donate: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/
Each 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.
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.”
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.
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/
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:
We at the Lemonade Fund often see how cancer can devastate a family financially in no time. E., a 73 year old Russian immigrant, lives with her unmarried daughter in a small apartment in a development town in the south. Until E. was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, the salary from the daughter’s factory job supported the two women. Subsequently, E.’s daughter lost so much time from work caring for her mother, accompanying her to doctor appointments and treatments, that the family slid into financial crisis. Despite assistance from Bituach Leumi, (National Health Insurance,) eviction was a possibility. The Lemonade Fund awarded E. a generous grant, and E. and her daughter can breathe again and turn their focus back to E. and her health. We are, as ever, grateful to all of our donors, who help us make this kind of assistance possible.
To donate: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/