The third annual gathering in support of the Rofeh Choleh Cancer Sociery (RCCS) was, once again, a powerful and well-attended event. The evening was emceed, as in the past, by a grateful and emotional Uri Abramov, a living testimony to the amazing work of this organization. Several years ago, Uri lay near death in a hospital with his wife, Adina, who had just completed a complicated medical treatment of her own, by his side. Uri was given mere hours to live but, miraculously, he survived and is healthy today. However, the treatments that saved his life also left the family with seemingly insurmountable medical bills.
Last year, RCCS provided financial and medical services advisement to five families in the Elizabeth-Hillside community, and also helped facilitate the procurement of these services. This year, that number is nearly double, with nine families receiving medical, financial or consulting services, or a combination thereof.
“Our own friends and neighbors,” Rabbi Michael Bleicher emphasized. “Supporting RCCS means the unity of the community for the benefit of our community, and uniting to help even those they do not know.”
In a poignant and personal video interview, the audience was introduced to a family whose very young son had been diagnosed with a rare spinal tumor. The family’s candor made their experience become that of the audience members. The mother tearfully explained that the doctors had never encountered a tumor like this. It was huge, and even the experts were not certain what would happen after its removal, assuming it could be removed at all. Although the surgery was successful, the post-op treatments were harrowing and lengthy. Doctors felt certain they had gotten all of it. However, just a short time later they discovered that the tumor had grown back and they would have to start from the beginning. The tremendous medical expenses the family incurred ultimately meant that they could no longer pay their home mortgage. Then the father was laid off from his job. That is when RCCS stepped in.
The audience next heard from keynote speaker Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Weinberg, a dynamic speaker who teaches in Yeshiva University’s Irving I. Stone Beit Midrash Program (SBMP), where he also he serves as mashgiach ruchani. Rabbi Weinberg shared his own 2013 experience with lymphoma, relating the treatment as “poison that would kill a healthy person, yet saves the life of someone with cancer.” He expounded on how both the disease and the treatment consumes one’s life, totally disrupting normal family life.
Through the lens of Torah, one sees in experiences like this that “in accordance with the struggle is the success.” The question of “why me?” comes up frequently when catastrophic illness arises. Rabbi Weinberg says there are no easy answers to this question, especially when children are involved. However, we come to understand from difficult experiences, as well as our people’s history, that “we often don’t know our own strength, and having life’s tests is how we learn it.” In closing, he implored everyone to support RCCS. RCCS is our, and Hashem’s, shaliach to a refuah for so many people, many of whom are our own friends and neighbors.
RCCS provides phenomenal resources for cancer patients. Services include medical insurance advocacy and denial appeals totaling over $5 million; funded or subsidized insurance premiums resulting in almost $37 million in claims paid; medical referrals to appropriate and recognized specialists for treatment; close to $300,000 in rent and mortgage grants; day-school tuition grants of $200,000; transporting and managing care when a patient’s best treatment option is in another city or country. The list goes on. In 2016 alone, RCCS serviced 1,351 patients in the U.S. and 563 in Israel.
RCCS foresees and is prepared to meet the potential needs of a family only after they are forced into a situation by the unkind demands of cancer treatment. Other services include second opinions, expedited medical care, counseling, respite programs and a tefillah initiative. In 2016, the annual expenditures reached nearly $8 million.
As Abramov addressed the standing-room only crowd, he was overcome with joyful emotion as he discussed the upcoming wedding of his daughter, something that he had once never expected to see. As do so many others, he thanks RCCS for their hand in this miracle.
Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society is there for everyone, whenever needed. To make a donation, or for additional information, contact RCCS at 732-617-0222 or www.rccscancer.org. Checks can be mailed to the RCCS New Jersey office at 410 Monmouth Avenue, suite 209, Lakewood, New Jersey 08701.
By Ellie Wolf