Thank You. I am No Longer Alone in the World…

A Thank You letter from a recent Lemonade Fund grant recipient.
(עברית למטה)
I would like to thank you for the generous grant which you authorized for me unexpectedly and within such a short time.
You are the only ones and the first to help me in this difficult situation, as a single mother, who within a month and a half of being diagnosed with the illness, was about to undergo surgery and leave my seven year old without me at home, with no help or assistance from anyone.
I was so overcome to see the grant in my bank account, for me it is like a gift from heaven, so pleasing, and  it is so supporting and encouraging to know that someone cares.
I feel that I am no longer alone in the world, at this dramatic and critical moment  in my life. Thank you very much.
It really gives me hope and strength to continue.
ברצוני להודות לכם על המענק הנדיב אשר אישרתם לי במפתיע בהתראה כה קצרה
היחידים והראשונים שעזרו לי במצב הלא פשוט הזה, כאם חד הורית, שבתוך חודש וחצי מגילוי המחלה, עומדת להיכנס לניתוח ולעזוב בית עם ילד בן 7 כשאין שום סיוע או עזרה מאף אחד.
התרגשתי כל כך לראות את העזרה הזאת בחשבון, כמו מתנה משמים, כל כך משמחת, כל כך תומכת ומעודדת
לדעת שלמישהו אכפת
שאני לא לגמרי לבד בעולם ברגעים כאלה דרמטיים וקריטיים בחיי
תודה רבה
זה בהחלט נותן לי תקוה וכוח להמשיך
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כאשר נטל פיננסי של חולה בסרטן נופל על הילדים – דצמבר 2018.

ר., בת 55, מירושלים סובלת מבעיות פסיכיאטריות (עברה מספר אשפוזים), שבר ברגל ובשלב זה –  סרטן השד. היא עברה לאחרונה כריתת שד והיא עומדת להתחיל בטיפול כימותרפי, למרות היותה מרותקת למיטה. ביתה בת ה -30 (בהיריון עם ילדתה השלישית) עובדת במשרה מלאה (משכורת של 3000 שקל לחודש), והיא היחידה שמטפלת באמא שלה, על כל ענייניה  הבריאותיים וכספיים. ר.  שקועה עמוק בחובות. היא מקבלת קצבת נכות צנועה וסיוע בדמי שכירות. עם זאת, כל ההוצאות הנוספות שהבת נושאת (הוצאות שנגרמו בגלל  מחלתה של אימה), כגון עלויות נסיעות ושמרטפות, היעדרות מעבודתה – אינן מכוסות. תהליך הגשת בקשה לסיוע מקרן לימונדה, בסיוע העובדים הסוציאליים בבית החולים, מאפשר לנו לקבל תמונת מצב משפחתי של המטופלת. כולנו מודעים לעובדה אבחנה של סרטן משפיעה על כל המשפחה. במקרים מסוימים המטפלים סובלים מעומס יתר והם זקוקים לסיוע כספי כדי לא לקרוס! קרן לימונדה כאן לעזור לחולים אלה וכן למשפחותיהם.

   https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/ תודה!  :לתרום לקרן לימונדה

When the Financial Burden of a Parent’s Cancer Falls on the Children – December 2018.

R., age 55, from Jerusalem has psychiatric problems (several hospitalizations,) a broken leg and now, breast cancer. She recently underwent a mastectomy and is about to start chemotherapy, despite being currently bedridden. Her 30 year-old daughter (pregnant with her third child,) works full-time (NIS 3000/month salary,) and is the sole caretaker for her mother, for all of her health and financial affairs. R. is deeply in debt and gets by with a small disability check and rental assistance. However, all of the daughter’s extra expenses (caused by her mother’s illness,) such as transportation and babysitting costs, time lost from work, are not covered. The Lemonade Fund application process, aided by hospital social workers, allows us to get a picture of the patient’s family situation. We all know that cancer impacts an entire family. In some cases, the caretakers are overburdened and need financial help badly so they don’t crash! The Lemonade Fund is here for these patients and their families. 

To donate to the Lemonade Fund:

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

THANK YOU!

Profiles in Courage – October 2018

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.

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An End and a Beginning…

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.”
(Ecclesiastes 11:1)

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/

Thank you!
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.

_93553780_knowyourlemonsdotcom-12signs

 

Happy New Year! Reaching 1 mil in Grants!

Raise a glass…this New Year the Lemonade Fund will surpass
1,000,000 shekels in grants awarded to Israeli breast cancer patients.

glass lemonade
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:
https://lemonadefund.org/?s=profiles&submit=Search

To watch our short movie:
https://lemonadefund.org/movie-what-the-lemonade-fund-does/

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

 

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.

Profiles in Courage – August 2018

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:

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

Profiles in Courage -Summer 2018

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:

http://esra.org.il/index.php/donation-to-esra-lemonade-fund.html

Eight Years…

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Every year at about this time, in mid July, I am stopped in my tracks for a few days.
It is now eight years since life changed so remarkably for me. 

On July 18, 2010, I went for what I thought would be a routine mammogram. No reason to worry; no symptoms, no family history. It’s true what they say, that life can turn on a dime. I went into that test one person, and within an hour, I was another… a probable cancer patient. Two days later, which happened to coincide with the Ninth day of the Jewish month of Av, the fast of Tisha B’Av, the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar, I received the news that my biopsy was malignant and that I was indeed solemnly, a cancer patient.

What ensued was a whirlwind period of doctor visits, further testing, decisions, surgery and treatment. Followed by recovery, thank God. I am still recovering, both physically and emotionally, and I will forever be a different person than the one who walked into that mammogram booth in 2010. (A quick digression, a reminder to schedule your yearly medical screening. That routine mammogram saved my life.)

And though it was hard, really hard at times, I wouldn’t trade away what I’ve learned and the opportunities I’ve had, in the last eight years. Being seriously ill is one of the most out of control experiences one can have. Very quickly we learn that the only thing we can control when life throws us lemons, is our reaction. Sadness, anger and depression are certainly reasonable responses. But after a while one realizes that coming through a life-threatening event is an unimaginable gift, not to be squandered. Of course we don’t come out unscathed, but like clay passing through fire, we emerge stronger. 

During the year after my diagnosis, while going through treatment, I saw how expensive it was to have breast cancer. I couldn’t imagine how poor or even just-breaking-even patients managed. Spoke to social workers in Breast Centers and they confirmed that some patients didn’t manage, and that financial instability impacted recovery in indigent patients.

It wasn’t the medical care itself; breast cancer treatment is covered by Israeli national health insurance. It was more the ancillary costs, such as lost income, the need for extra childcare or household help, transport to treatments, specialty clothing, etc. Studies show that a formerly solvent family can be catapulted into bankruptcy within six months of a cancer diagnosis. Other countries had breast cancer emergency relief funds to help patients in financial distress, but not Israel.

One year to the date after that fateful mammogram, the ESRA Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund, a.k.a, the ESRA Lemonade Fund was founded. Since August 2011, the Lemonade Fund has helped hundreds of breast cancer patients from all over Israel, from all sectors of Israeli society, with emergency grants, so that they can have peace of mind and focus on their recovery.

Breast cancer knows no boundaries. We are all human and vulnerable when we are sick.

Which brings me back to the extraordinary coincidence of receiving a diagnosis of cancer on Tisha B’Av… What, I always wonder, is the message in this? As we approach the Ninth of Av, it is a mistake to think that this day is the providence of the religious only. Anyone who understands the history and meaning behind the day will mark it as seriously as they mark Holocaust Memorial Day. The list of calamities that occurred on this date throughout history is devastating. Talmudic sources point to ‘baseless hatred’ between people as the cause of the destruction of the second temple and the loss of national sovereignty. Are we any better now? There is an unprecedented level of anger and vile hatred of the ‘other’ in modern day discourse.

Except in Israeli hospitals, where coexistence is the rule. Arab doctors work shoulder to shoulder with Jewish doctors, operating on patients with regard only to their diagnosis, not their origin, sexual, religious orientation or age. Jews forget their religious differences. People who wouldn’t walk on the same side of the street, (or pray next to each other at the Western Wall,) find common ground when facing a crisis. And it is the same in times of war. We pull together then, too.

Like victims of abuse, we don’t know how to live respectfully if we are not under the gun. Tisha B’Av is more than just a routine fast day for religious people. It is a wake up call to all of us about the perils of divisiveness. It is said that the residents of second century Jerusalem were astonished at the speed at which Jerusalem and the temple fell. Hatreds within our current society could tear us apart in no less time. Tolerance takes practice but it can be learned. We know that we can do it; we see that we transform into peaceful people within the walls of hospitals.

The ESRA Lemonade Fund has taught us that it’s much more rewarding to foster compassion and acceptance than anger and hate. A young Haredi mother with stage 4 breast cancer fears abandoning her children no more or less than a young secular mother from Tel Aviv. The antidote to ‘baseless hatred’ and potential destruction is really ‘baseless love.’ We can all do this.

Rav Joseph Soleveichik, one of the greatest Torah scholars of the modern age said, “Tisha B’Av is a day of limitless despair and boundless hope and faith.” Why hopeful? If we are open to it, this special day can be an extraordinary catalyst for change.

Wishing everyone a meaningful Ninth of Av, and years of good health and peace,

Shari Mendes

Founder and Director, ESRA Lemonade Fund

The Lemonade Fund is part of  ESRA, a registered Israeli non-profit organization (No. 580037455.)

Profiles in Courage – July 2018

When both spouses have cancer… Y., a 50 year old secretary from Haifa, is married with two adult children. Her husband, a machine operator, is currently being treated for lymphoma. In the midst of taking care of him, Y. was diagnosed with breast cancer and now, she, too, is getting chemotherapy. Though their children pitch in, they are having a hard time making ends meet. The Lemonade Fund, an emergency breast cancer financial relief fund, created for just such situations, has awarded them a grant to help them get through this difficult time.

Diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant… E., a 27 year old immigrant from Mexico discovered a lump while pregnant with her second child. She is now getting chemotherapy even while pregnant. Her husband works as an office cleaner, but he is overwhelmed with the duties of caring for his toddler and his wife at the same time. The Lemonade Fund sent this young family a grant to help them with day to day costs as well as to hire some extra help and we wish E. an easy delivery and a speedy recovery.

To Donate to the Lemonade Fund:

http://esra.org.il/index.php/donation-to-esra-lemonade-fund.html

THANK YOU!