Rofeh Cholim Auction to Benefit Cancer Patients:Curing the Unknown Killer Among Us
Submitted to: Health 
Posted: November 22 2006

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22 November 2006 (Jewswire.com) - The dinner, held on Sunday, November 12th, 2006 in Boro Park featured Rabbonim from across the Jewish spectrum in an effort to raise funds to assist cancer victims. Over 2000 people were in attendance at this first inaugural Boro Park event.

Photo: Address by Mr. Uriel Chaim Abramov, recent cancer patient; inset – during treatments

Rofeh Cholim Chinese Auction to Benefit Cancer Patients:

Curing the Silent Killer Among Us

By Adina Abramov

There is a silent killer among us.

It is silent because many of us do not even know it exists.

Some are ashamed to even discuss it.

Many believe that it could never happen to them.

I am not talking about Cancer - that dreaded disease that has R”L stricken so many of our brethren, but am referring to the health insurance system that has left so many of us vulnerable and exposed to the worst nisyonos imaginable.

What happens to the yungerman who does not have a health insurance plan and comes down with a life threatening illness? What about the baal habus who has a solid plan but lapses on his payments because he is too sick to work?

These people are at the mercy of the government agencies that provide utterly basic and spotty health coverage to the lowest income sectors of American society.

It is well known in our community that askanim are busy day and night fielding calls from yidden around the world who are looking for the best doctors in every medical specialty imaginable. Unfortunately, the fact is that people who are not adequately insured will almost never be accepted by those doctors as patients. That is a reality that is costing us far too many lives.

Recently, a boy of twelve was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer and was scheduled to have his leg amputated. One can only imagine how that devastating operation would have impacted his entire life on so many levels. His family’s minimal health insurance plan limited them as to which doctor he could be treated by. The parents could not afford to seek an out of pocket “second opinion”, something that many of us take for granted, let alone see a world-class specialist. They had resigned themselves to the fact that their young son was about to lose his leg forever.

Fortunately, the Bikur Cholim of Boro Park learned of the story and referred the family to the Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society, also known as RCCS.

RCCS is not an insurance agency or broker. In fact, it does not even sell insurance. The primary mission of the non profit organization is to secure the best possible health insurance for qualifying Jewish cancer patients without coverage and to help maintain the insurance premiums of those who are unable to do so during their illness.

In the case of the young boy, RCCS was quick to assist his family in obtaining a more comprehensive medical plan and the amputation was delayed pending a second opinion by an expert oncologist.

The second doctor, a top tier expert in his field, knew how to treat the patient without having to resort to a drastic and life altering amputation.

Miraculously, the boy celebrated his Bar Mitzvah a short while later and was called up for his very first aliyah on two legs, which was an emotionally charged simcha that his parents never dreamt they would ever be able to see.

This is a true story and it illustrates the experience of just one of the many families kept whole, thanks in large part to RCCS.

RCCS began with just one selfless man in 1997. Hershel Kohn, a Brooklyn-based businessman confronted the challenges presented by lack of health insurance personally three times in a row that year. Friend after friend was diagnosed with terrifying cancers, all within a short span of each other. None had the medical coverage needed to fight their disease in an aggressive or thorough manner.

Mr. Kohn knew that a cancer patient's best hope for survival is reliable access to the best medical care available. He was determined for his friends that the diagnoses of cancer would not mean death and responded by personally underwriting and arranging for the funding of all three health insurance policies. These men could have become tragic statistics and their families left desolate, burdened by unfathomable mountains of debt. Instead, Baruch Hashem, thanks to Mr. Kohn’s foresight and embodiment of pure chesed, these have become stories of survival and represent the humble beginnings of the Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society.

Since then, RCCS has grown, family by family, community by community. Many patients have been referred by their doctors, others by their families and friends, others by their Rabbanim. Its board of directors includes world-famous oncologists, successful businesspeople from across the Jewish spectrum and there are dozens of volunteers from across the country. Many donors have been so touched by the organization’s lifesaving work that they have undertaken the entire cost of a health insurance policy for one sick patient. RCCS has never declined a valid application for help and it stands alone with its singular and unique mission.

To date, one thousand yiddisheh neshamos assisted by RCCS have been helped through their nightmarish ordeals. Currently, almost two hundred patients are having their insurance premiums covered by RCCS so that they may focus their full attention of fighting the physical aspects of cancer and all that it entails. This support removes the tremendous burden from their families at a time when every ounce of energy and spirit is required by all of them. There are so many expenses, day to day plus all of the peripherals associated with illness and absence of work, often not just by the patient but their caregivers as well.

At the recent Inaugural RCCS Boro Park Dinner, Uriel Chaim Abramov, a recent cancer patient, addressed the crowd of 2000+ on his experiences. Facing an impressive audience of chashuveh Rabbonim, including the Novominsker Rebbe, Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman of Monsey and just about every major rabbinical personality from Boro Park, he expressed the emotions of how it felt as a young man of thirty-three to be suddenly faced with cancer.

He painted a stark picture of a particular Friday night in a hospital in Indiana when, due to complications from his treatments, he was put into isolation with only his young wife at his side. By 2 AM, doctors informed them that he had just three short hours left to live. He told of how he thought about his family in those bleak moments and wondered in anguish what would become of his children, and would he ever get the chance to walk them down to the Chupah? As the clock seemed to tick louder and louder in the background, he wondered how many ticks he had left. He explained that in those moments he mentally reviewed his life’s accomplishments balanced against his still unfulfilled dreams and goals. He described how even during those most terrifying hours he was comforted by not having the tremendous financial burden of medical bills weighing heavily on his heart. He asked the audience to imagine how one might feel R”L if they were faced in a similar situation, knowing helplessly that their families would be left with an impossible mountain of bills should the worst transpire. He said that not having the worries and the concerns during treatment as to whether his MRIs, chemotherapy rounds and surgeries would be covered was priceless and made all the difference, giving him the extra strength he so desperately needed.

Not every Jewish cancer patient shares that peace of mind and on Mr. Kohn’s desk sits a troubling stack of papers containing dozens of new applications. While RCCS cannot accept every applicant, it must accept every applicant. How can it turn down a patient, who represents a Jewish life, a whole world onto himself?

Imagine his emotion as Mr. Kohn reads through the applications. They are often the last threads of hope for dozens of real people who are suffering from the disease which many of us won’t even mention by name. Their stories are true. Their pain and suffering is all too real. They have families and are sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. They come from every social, economic and religious level. Cancer does not discriminate. They are just like you and me. They are our brothers and sisters and their most fervent prayers to survive are absolute.

Fighting cancer is like waging war. Every good general prepares his army for battle and knows that the side with the most advanced weaponry yields a tremendous advantage. Proper health insurance provides the tools and indeed weapons to help a patient better their chances for a complete victory. For too many, the loss of coverage is tantamount to a death sentence. In helping members of our community access lifesaving treatments and top-notch doctors, RCCS is literally, as their slogan goes, funding miracles.

RCCS is excited to announce their upcoming Inaugural Ladies Event and Chinese Auction to be held at the Rose Castle in Brooklyn on December 13th, 2006. For presale and other information, please call RCCS office at 718-473-3615 or visit their website at www.rofehcholim.org.

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    rofehcholim.org

    Contact Information:
    Rabbi yosef C. Golding
    Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society
    762 Bedford Avenue
    718 722 2002  

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