The write stuff: just a few of the thank-you letters received by the Lemonade Fund

The Lemonade Fund is helping Israeli breast cancer patients from all segments of society. Here are stories of grant recipients, of various cultures, religions, ages, gender, who have been helped with emergency financial relief during treatment.

Shari Mendes writes: “our average grant during the last seven years is NIS 2,200. We have helped 380 breast cancer patients! We have also facilitated donations for scholarships and welfare and have given thousands of shekels in food coupons.

“That means we've given almost a million shekels worth of grants!"

Breast Cancer in the Ultra- Orthodox Community

O is a 47-year old ultra- Orthodox married mother of three children with Stage 4 breast cancer which has spread to her bones. She is primarily bedridden with difficult-to-control pain and can only get around with a walker. Her husband has longstanding mental health issues and has accumulated so much debt that the family cannot secure housing and have often had to move. Their youngest child, aged seven, has serious learning and behavioral difficulties. The oldest son is in a pre-army preparatory school; the middle child still lives at home. This family is in crisis on many fronts. The Lemonade Fund application, vetted by the breast center social work staff, requested help for day-to-day living expenses, additional childcare and transportation assistance.

Breast cancer in Bedouins in the Negev

E, 33, lives in a Bedouin community near Beer Sheva. She discovered a lump in her breast near the end of her first pregnancy. E. had overcome years of infertility to carry a child. She is now facing an early induced labor with immediate breast cancer treatment to follow.

With the help of her social worker, E wrote to the Fund requesting financial assistance for the period after the birth. She is afraid of not being able to cope with the treatments and her baby at the same time and is asking for money to hire help. Her husband is looking for work and her mother is dealing with her own bout of breast cancer.

A former sex slave from the Ukraine

G, 31, was smuggled into Israel, by way of Egypt, from the Ukraine. Like so many other young women, she was promised work in Israel, only to discover, too late, that the ‘work’ was forced prostitution. After some years as a sex slave, she escaped or was rescued, and made her way to the north.

Her current family situation is unclear, but she has two young children by an Israeli man to whom she is not married. The children live with her and she is said to be a caring mother.

Recently, she discovered that she has advanced breast cancer. She is receiving medical treatment and is being helped by the social workers in her area, who contacted the Lemonade Fund and made an application for her.

Originally from North Africa, now alone on a small pension

A is a 60-year old single woman, originally from Morocco, currently from Beer Sheva, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She, like many Lemonade Fund applicants, is living on a small, fixed pension, in subsidized housing. older, indigent breast cancer patients like A are often referred to the ESRA Lemonade Fund by hospital social workers because they have little spare 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. The LF is here in financial emergencies for Israeli breast cancer patients, awarding grants to get through the roughest time, so they can focus on recovery.

Breast cancer in the Arab-Israeli community

A, an Israeli-Arab woman from the north, has three young children, one with Down’s Syndrome. Her husband lost his job within the last year. She had been the sole family support, working as a beloved member of the nursing staff at a large Israeli hospital for many years, until she was diagnosed with breast cancer which required a mastectomy, in July. She will begin chemotherapy soon. The entire department where she works – Jews, Christians and Muslims staff among them – helped her with her application to the Lemonade Fund.

Helping caregivers: the soldier son of a breast cancer patient helps his mother from the field

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.

Breast cancer in men

C is a man from the center of the country who has been beset with health problems for most of his life He is battling a recurrence of breast cancer. 1% of breast cancers occur in men, and C is the second male applicant to the Fund, since our founding in 2011.

He lived with his mother following his first diagnosis, and she helped him financially afterwards. She has since died, and he is now living with his brother who suffers from mental illness, and can’t be of much help to C.

Having lymphedema and diabetes has made it increasingly difficult for C to move and get around. He is unable to work and is in severe financial crisis. His social worker submitted an application to the Lemonade Fund on his behalf and a grant was issued to him to help him get through this difficult period.

Breast cancer in the Druze community

A is a 67-year old mother of seven from a Druze village in the north. Since 2013 she has been suffering from cancer, most recently breast cancer. A and her husband, a disabled IDF veteran, have been living on pension and disability payments alone, and they are falling short each month. Through their hospital social worker they applied to the Fund for financial help. We were happy to award them a grant to help pay for extra household help and transportation costs.

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About the author

Shari Mendes

Shari Greenwald Mendes is an architect who lives in Raanana with her husband, David, and their four children. They came to live in Israel from the US in 2003. Shari was diagnosed with breast cancer...

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