Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW)
Hi, Brenda here.
I’m a mom of three small children, living in Modiin.
7 years ago, I received the surprise of my life – Breast Cancer.
As you can imagine, my life took an unexpected turn. Most of my time was spent in the Oncology Department and the M. Fanny Comprehensive Breast Institute. It wasn’t easy, but thanks to the incredible treatment I received at the Shamir Medical Centre (Assaf Harofeh), I was able to beat cancer!
Of course, I was consciously optimistic and I knew that life would never be the same, but still, I felt overjoyed and grateful every time I returned to the hospital for follow up check-ups and regular screenings.
Then, my worst nightmare came true. The cancer returned. I knew the odds were against me. I was honestly scared but with the support of the incredible medical team, I braved through another round of treatment. I also ended up in the Endocrinology Department because of an excess of calcium. Sure enough, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. And so, a new story begins.
Despite my fears, I breathed a sigh of relief when I met Professor Haim Gabriel, Director of the ENT Department. In fact, everyone I met- from the nurses and administration to the doctors and anesthesiologists – helped to reassure and encourage me.
I’m actually writing this post with fresh wounds and intense pain from my recent surgery. It’s not easy, but I wanted to share my story and help others.
It is said that G-d sends angels to guard you. How true this is in my case! There are angels at Shamir Medical Centre (Assaf Harofeh). I feel privileged to be treated by such an incredible medical team.
Thank you to everyone who accompanied and took care of me throughout the years.
I am living proof that miracles do happen!
After years of unsuccessful fertility treatment, Sarah’s* dream of becoming a mother finally seemed possible when she heard she was pregnant. Yet, as her pregnancy developed, so did her fears and anxieties. Just when she thought she might lose control, she joined the ‘Let’s Talk’ support program for expecting mothers at Hadassah Hospital.
In Sarah’s words:
As the due date for my scheduled C-section was fast approaching, I felt like nobody understood me and nobody could relate to my fears and anxieties. I felt like nobody really understood the emotional turmoil I was going through, the hesitations and panic I felt.
They also didn’t know how to answer the many questions that sprang through my head: Who would be able to help me with my crippling fears? My sleepless nights? What would happen during the C-section? What were the risks? Who would be the first to care for our baby when she’s born? Who will ensure she’s fine?
During the most exciting time of our lives, I somehow turned into a very anxious and stressful person. I didn’t know how to relax and I felt embarrassed to even speak about my condition.
This pregnancy was dear to our heart. After years of fertility treatment with many disappointments along the way, I was finally close to full term. I’ll never forget the moment we heard we were having a baby girl!
Despite the incredible care and the many reassuring check-ups, I grew increasingly worried about the pregnancy. I felt out of my comfort zone and out of control. Thankfully, that’s when I heard about ‘Let’s Talk’ – an innovative program at Hadassah that encourages expecting mothers to come and share the roller-coaster of feelings they’re experiencing just before they’re about to give birth. The initiative provides an outlet where you can talk, share your story and even calm down before the big day!
A few weeks before giving birth, I was lucky to meet with Noah Brurman, the Head Midwife at Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem. She walked me through every step of the way and told me about the surgery and the medical staff. She provided answers to my many questions. I slowly felt that my entire body- including my pregnancy belly- was finally able to relax. My husband said he noticed I left the hospital happy and even smiling that day- something I hadn’t done in a long time!
When the big day finally arrived, I knew I was in good hands. My surgeon was familiar with my background history and all my personal challenges. He was so warm and friendly and smiled throughout the procedure. It was truly an incredible and positive experience!
But my story doesn’t end here. Noah Brurman, the Head Midwife, remembered the date of my scheduled C-Section. She decided to stop by and surprised me. She also stayed next to me throughout the entire surgery. She told me it was important for her to be at my side. I honestly had never come across and never imagined such dedication existed in one’s profession!
I feel so grateful and lucky. Today I am hugging my beautiful daughter that has completed our family. My birth experience at Hadassah was an empowering one, thanks to the incredible Let’s Talk program and the dedicated staff.
*Name changed for privacy
After years of writing songs about his harsh childhood and his hopes for the future, Yonatan Doron felt he needed to do more. He wanted to reach out to other children who may be suffering, just as he had.
With the help of a crowdfunding campaign, Yonatan decided to write his first book: All That a Child Needs. The book is a unique collection of stories that track the bumpy journey from the insecure child he was to the empowering educator he is today.
Yonatan was born to a ‘picture-perfect’ family. His father was a successful pilot, and they all lived in a comfortable home in north Tel Aviv. But things dramatically changed when his parents got divorced and his mother remarried. Just like that, Yonatan’s life collapsed as his mother moved them to the far off desert community of Arad.
Yonatan was isolated, alone and on top of everything- abused. His situation grew dire as his step-father repeatedly mentally and physically abused him. After years of suffering as a child, Yonatan managed to escape. He tried different frameworks for ‘at-risk’ children, but finally felt at home the minute he entered CHW Hadassim Children and Youth Village.
From that point on, Yonatan’s life turned around. Yonatan found answers at CHW Hadassim and discovered that all a child needs is one adult that believes in him. He gives credit to his youth counsellor, Shlomi, for helping him come out of his ‘shell’ through his love of music. Yonatan only spent four months with Shlomi, but in that short time, Yonatan began to believe in himself:
“He brought me the brightest light that a child could ask of an adult.”
Yonatan’s mission was to continue to spread the light. “I choose life” is his message to the hundreds of children, youth, families and educators he now coaches and advises. His goal in doing so is to empower others through his role as an educator and family counsellor.
Yonatan came full circle and is currently the Music Director of CHW Hadassim, in addition to directing a growing number of educational projects that empower the most disheartened children and youth.
‘All that a Child Needs’ will soon be translated into English!
Yonatan will be accompanying rising star Michelle Shiminov in a one night only performance at the CHW iChange Gala on November 2, 2019. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity.
Visit www.chw.ca/ichange-gala to purchase your tickets!
Eva* lost her voice after a tragic event.
Read her touching recollection of her rehabilitation with Sari Lotem, a speech therapist at Hadassah Hospital and Lecturer at HAC’s Department of Communication Disorders.
In Eva’s words:
The day they told me that I lost my mother, I froze. I mean, really froze. When I tried to speak, no sound would come out. I could only manage a whisper. I know my voice wasn’t strained because I hadn’t shouted or screamed when I heard the news. I just experienced such an immense send of grief and such a broken heart with my mother’s passing.
Although I cried a lot, I never understood what happened to me, especially during the Shiva period of mourning. I could only whisper the wonderful memories I had of my mother to the guests that paid their respects and visited.
After a few days, my throat became irritated and started to hurt, causing me lot of discomfort and pain. My voice had completely disappeared. I suffered in silence but after a week I had to return to work. I returned without a voice, which made my job nearly impossible.
I finally made it to a doctor, who was about to treat my condition with steroids medication, but then recommended that I first consult with Sari Lotem, a highly recommended speech therapist at Hadassah Hospital who also serves as a lecturer at HAC’s Department of Communications Disorders.
I must admit, that I questioned the doctor and wondered what a speech therapist could offer me.
But after meeting Sari, I immediately realized that she had a lot to offer. She didn’t start to treat me until she asked me a series of questions around that pivotal moment I heard my mom had passed away.
After our discussion, Sari told me that steroids would not help in my particular case. She told me my voice had disappeared because of my emotional condition. She reassured me and told me to relax and stay calm as it was all just temporary. She told me, we would need to train my voice to come back.
And so we began- Sari trained me to use my vocal muscles and taught me new breathing techniques which would help me produce a sound. Of course, I had never had such training before, but Sari was wonderful and patient and explained every step of the process to me.
The sessions with Sari didn’t take too long. Over the course of half a year and with a lot of confidence and patience, she guided me to use my voice again- without straining my throat.
I couldn’t believe it when I finally heard my voice again!
The first thing that I did was call my husband and children! When they heard my voice, they almost fainted!
Sometimes life takes us to unexpected, quiet and muted places.
Although it’s very difficult, do yourself a favour. Before taking any medication, seek out specialists that may be able to help you with alternative solutions.
*(Name has been changed in order to ensure privacy)
CHW draws inspiration from H.E. Deborah Lyons, Ambassador of Canada to Israel, at an intimate gathering of women, representing organizations advancing social issues- including gender equality, accessibility, and social cohesion- in Israel and around the world.
From her official residence in Tel Aviv, Ambassador Lyons addressed the group:
“You have been stepping up to that human condition, to help move us all along in whatever areas you’re working to a better place- as difficult as it may seem sometimes and as frustrating as it might get.”
Having just completed her third year in Israel, Ambassador Lyons has no plans to slow down. Her initial thoughts about retiring- to a life of leisure, gardening, piano playing and cooking- will have to be put on hold for now.
“I think we are being called up in this difficult period we are going through. So, I’m going to stay very active- not just as an Ambassador, but also post Ambassador.”
Despite the important milestones and progress made to advance women’s rights and social issues, Ambassador Lyons shares:
“When I saw the work of the last 50 years, I was so fueled by it and I was so impressed by it. I was convinced we were getting to such a better place as a world that respected human rights, as a world that recognized and followed a set of laws and norms and that regardless of one’s religion or ethnicity, we followed a certain common understanding of what a good and decent society should be.”
But, as the world became ‘smaller’ with the advancement of fast and cheap transportation along with new communication technologies- “we are literally in each other’s back yards.”
Reflecting on the changes, Ambassador Lyons notes:
“When we go through these huge periods of change, we get a little scared of one another and we wonder about our place is in the world and where we belong. We also wonder about how the changes will affect us and our children. And yet, even with everything we know today, we still fall back into those fears.”
Ambassador Lyons shared her thoughts on current social trends and mass migration, where many people are noticing what others have and are willing to risk their lives, travelling thousands of miles, in search of a better life for themselves and their children.
“You really can’t help but admire them for their unbelievable courage. And yet you can also understand if people feel their arrival is disruptive. Especially if their arrival comes in hundreds of thousands, as it has happened in Europe.”
Ambassador Lyons acknowledged Israel’s many social challenges and the active civil society that others can learn from.
“Everything that is happening in the human drama, is happening here with such an amazing intensity. Israel is made up of over one hundred cultures. People came from all over the world to create Israel as it is today. Canada gets this fantastic reputation for being so multicultural and tolerant, but Israel needs to get more recognition for how multicultural and inclusive it is.”
Ambassador Lyons stressed the need for more women in leadership roles. “We have to soothe and nurture, stroke and heal and work extra hard to understand and to help respond in a healthy way.”
Although the challenges may seem daunting, Ambassador Lyons ended with an encouraging message for all the women in the room:
“I think we’re best when we’re being tested. When we’re up against challenges, a goal and a purpose. After all, the purpose of life, is a life of purpose.”