Public Letter Thanking RCCS

(Tuesday, September 9th, 2008)

rccs.jpgTo YWN:

I am writing to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society and to the RCCS patient administrator, who actually saved my life.

I had taken an unpaid leave of absence from my job with NYPD in early May because of severe pain and swelling in my chest.  After bilateral mastectomies in 2003, the reconstruction surgery was being rejected by my body. I could not find a doctor willing to operate on me, to try a different and more complicated kind of reconstruction, because my GHI insurance didn’t pay enough.  I was told by several doctors that if an operation would cost, say $20,000, GHI would only pay the surgeon $1,000.  I was told that as terrible as several doctors felt turning me away, if I, personally, could not come up with at least $13,000 to supplement the GHI payment, there was nothing anyone could do.

Night after night I called hotline after hotline, trying to find help.  I was living on pain pills given to me by one doctor who saw how bad my skin was and had compassion on me.  When the pain pills ran out, I started drinking Vodka and water in order to knock myself out and get some sleep at night.  I felt like I would eventually explode.  As a middle-aged, divorced, single mother with no extended family and no resources to get through this, I began to feel like it would have been better if I died.  As days turned into months and my condition and pain worsened, I was actually considering suicide as a way out — because I could find no other.

I decided to call one more hotline before giving up.  This hotline gave me a list of places to call, most of which I had already called, but there was a new name on this list:  Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society.  I called RCCS the next morning and a very kind lady answered. From that day on, everything started to turn around.  She arranged an appointment with a doctor at a major cancer hospital.  When that didn’t work out, she insisted that I hold on a little longer — just a few more days — until she found another place for me to get help.

During this waiting period, she gave me her home phone and cell phone numbers and made herself available to speak to me outside of normal business hours, not to mention before and after Shabbos.  Despite her responsibilities to her own children and her husband and home, she always made time for me.  There were nights when we spoke for hours.  Finally, she found me a doctor who agreed to see me and operate, if deemed feasible, despite the fact that this doctor was not in the GHI network.

On the first visit to his office at Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Jess Ting suggested a difficult microsurgery, to be performed in tandem with his partner, Dr. Chung and an entire team.  He promised me if the surgery failed, the team would attempt a different microsurgery.  He promised not to send me home until he had restored me to myself, so I could hold my head up with confidence, despite the previous destruction of my body — in order to save me from cancer.  I never met a doctor like this in my entire life.  “I just want to help you,” he said, simply.  I later found out that Dr. Jess Ting was voted the top doctor in New York City by New York Magazine.

The lady from RCCS got busy arranging the surgery, everything from how I would get there, to the quality of kosher food I would eat during what turned out to be ten days in the intensive care unit after two ten hour surgeries.  On July 3, the day of the first operation, she insisted on accompanying me to the hospital — like a sister.  Indeed, she held my hand all the way up to the operating room and if they had let her, she would have entered there, as well.  “We are Jews,” she told me, “and we are one family.”  I told her despite being Jewish, I had no experience with a family like this.

Day after day, tied to a bed in the intensive care unit with an oxygen mask on my face and sometimes deranged by pain, other times by drugs to alleviate the pain, I watched women in long skirts with kerchiefs on their heads floating in and out of my room, carrying thermoses of steaming homemade chicken soup and other Jewish delicacies that I have not eaten since I was a little girl, when I visited my grandmother on a holiday.  I thought I must be dreaming, but I wasn’t.  The women with the soup were sent by RCCS, as were others who came to chat and cheer me up, once I was feeling better.  My teenage daughters, Rochel and Devorah, were able to stay at special housing across the street from the hospital (at no cost) in order to spend Shabbos with me — this, too, arranged by RCCS.

When I came home, the RCCS lady arranged for a local Sea Gate Bikur Cholim to bring me a hot homemade meal every evening.  She also arranged for a total stranger (whom she and I had never met) to donate money to alleviate what was quickly becoming severe financial distress.  She contacted other organizations to help me pay for transportation to the doctor, co-payments for doctors and medicine, as well as finding organizations to pay utility bills — for example, the phone, which was about to be shut off.

I am on the eve of another surgery tonight, my third this month, at Mount Sinai, presided over by Dr. Jess Ting.  I have to leave for the hospital at five o’clock tomorrow morning.  This kind women again went into action, making sure I had a ride, making sure I would have kosher food, making sure I would have hope.

I did not want to put off writing this letter for some later date because I want you to know, no matter how it goes for me tomorrow, that this woman, is an angel and if not for her, I would be dead by now.  I have three children, This employee of RCCS saved a whole world.  G-d bless her — and Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society — for eternity.

Sincerely,
Beth S.

12 Comments

  1. sgen11 says:

    Refuah Shelemah to you.
    This wonderful lady had the zichus to do
    this wonderful mitzvah because of you.
    Hashem has given you a test, that you will pass. Be strong. I am speaking from experience. It has made me a better person. I will be grateful the rest of my life because of all the chesed that was bestowed upon me. Embrace it. You deserve it.
    May all of the people who help in the organization Rofeh Cholim Society be blessed for their tremendous chesed.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Yael says:

    B”H

    Dearest Beth,

    May you be restored to complete health, and may these angels who cared for you be honored all the days of their lives.

    I’m weeping at this beautiful letter. Thank you for sharing this.

    Sincerely,

    Yael

  3. DR says:

    Mi k’amcha Yisroel!!!

  4. newcomer says:

    I hope all goes well for you Beth, today and always. Refuah Shelaima. And to RCCS and this unnamed “employee”, who just might even be only a volunteer (I wonder), what a major kiddish Ha-Shem you have made!! May Ha-Shem repay your good deeds tenfold, may the services of RCCS never be needed anymore, and may Ha-Shem look down at his children, schep nachas, and redeem us from this galus today!

  5. bestbubby says:

    I’m crying. This is beautiful…who said there weren’t good people in the world. It is important to support RCCS, either monetarily or voluntarily. Beth, please tell us how your surgery went & your name for Tehillim. We care.

  6. ywn_junkie says:

    I have observed RCCS work for a number of years and donate thousands of dollars a year to their charity. It is one of the best organizations you will find. Mr. Brill and his staff are exceptionally dedicated and caring people. Keep up the good work may the day soon come that your work will no longer be necessary.

  7. BaruchHashem111 says:

    Dear Beth,

    This was a beautiful letter. Thank you for writing it.
    May Hashem send you a full and speedy recovery.

  8. mayerbenyisral says:

    rccs is well known with there staff everyone there are special pepole and the are helping everyone NO different from wish background you are not once we found rabbi miesles runing around in hospital .. i was thinking what will help my hounderd dallars there ? were you heed heavey thosendes let them get the rich ones.. then my rabbi told me that i should give charrty in “tzceis”for the rich pepole should overcome ther yetzer horah to give charrty like the could

  9. nnuts says:

    I’m in tears after reading this beautiful letter. May Hashem bless you with a quick refuah shelayma bekarov Beth, and may He continue to bless you with all that’s good in this world.

    And may the One Above bless RCCS and all associated, may this situation bring on the end of galus bekarov!

  10. Liz says:

    I know from personal experience – the young woman Beth is writing about is a mother of young children, an employee of RCCS who works above and beyond her duties – with total Mesiras Nefesh – so much so that she is on call almost all the time for her patients with such dedication that her “work” can be called a work of “chesed”. May Hashem repay her and her family for her sincere lovingkindness.

  11. commonsense says:

    yeshiva world,
    why do you censor the comments?
    is it because this is a paid article and you don’t want to upset your client?

    Editors Response: This article is not paid for, and if you would like, you can contact the organizations board of directors with any issues you have.

  12. BYRD4001 says:

    I write to respond to Comment #11 who thinks my letter was a paid endorsement for Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society, as though The Yeshiva World website would pay me enough money to survive a trip to Cancerland which is, just like every place else, all about money. Maybe a movie star or an Olympic athlete selling deodorant, sneakers vitamins that cure cancer,or how about something even more worthless and useless — membership in The Psychic Hotline (to find out if you even have a future) or how about something for a truly desperate single mother seeking treatment in Cancerland, where every day is a moral dilemma, maybe you gotta hold up a liquor store at gunpoint to get the money to pay for an operation to save your life, or maybe you gotta switch religions and let the rich people and movie stars in the congregation chip in and pay for your operation and all you gotta do is go on TV and say that Tom Cruise and Scientology cult saved my soul so Their god would save my life and I could escape Cancerland and go home to my children. In a life and death battle with a deadly disease or a “cure” that leaves you in worse shape — unable to even go to work to get the all important money to keep breathing, how much will it cost to stay “honorable” and what if it costs your life? If Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society was some kind of scam dreamed up by the most observant pious members of the Jewish community today to fool somebody like you into donating money, then they would get rich — and I would be dead. I live in Cancerland where fairy tale endings, as a rule, only occur if you can pay for them. Do you really think the letter I wrote to RCCS which somebody else, not me, posted on this website as “proof” that a bunch of Orthodox people, led by Rabbi Cohen and Rabbi Twersky, decided to convince a top Chinese doctor to do four microsurgeries (tomorrow’s surgery will make it five surgeries) so that I could pay for that by writing one tearjerker letter to The Yeshiva World website because maybe Donald Trump will log on and pledge millions of dollars to these rabbis so they will save some poor broke middle aged woman who really found it hard to believe that anyone would really show up to save me and of course, coming from the same world as you, I kept asking what I had to do to pay for this? If I am not somehow “useful”, (and people living in Cancerland quickly lose their “big macher” status, like if you pay off some doctor, you can also pay off God to make sure you really get more bang for your bucks), please don’t ask me to engage in some kind of dishonor or scam run by people who will say and do anything to get money in a world where “the right shtick” will get donations from people like you, in a world where nobody trusts anybody and with good reason, too. I will give the rabbis permission to ask you for your phone number so I can call you up to say that Beth S. is a real person, not a dead body as I expected to be by now and only because the woman working at Rofeh Cholim on the other end of the phone was also for real. She described my plight to Rabbi Twersky who turned out to be a real rabbi who prayed to God that he could find the right words to persuade a Chinese doctor at the height of his career to care about some Jewish woman he never met, to conduct six operations to save her even if each one is ten hours long requiring the assistance of an entire team of professionals and for practically no money because that’s what GHI pays. After 18 weeks on sick leave, GHI expires leaving a person uninsured and since this was my fate yesterday, Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society stepped into the valley of the shadow in Cancerland and bought Cobra insurance for me, so that I might finish with Cancerland, hopefully forever, thanks to Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society, the woman who conveyed my situation to Rabbis Cohen and Twersky and the honorable Dr. Jess Ting who was so moved by these saintly rabbis pleading for my life that he operated four times FOR FREE, explaining this decision like someone in a fairy tale might: “I don’t care about money. I only want to help you.” Maybe it’s hard to believe that in my hour of great need, I found out much to my astonishment, that not everyone and everything is fake. But what are the odds of having two rabbis, their dedicated secretary and an Asian doctor show up in Cancerland to save my life, no matter what it cost. This was worth more than winning Lotto, to have the privilege to know there are still a few people who really do pray to God and are so sure that God is always watching what they do that the payday, for them, is to be seen as worthy and honorable in the eyes of God and no money can sway them from this mission. My children got their mother back with renewed health and faith — not just in God — but in men who conduct their rescues like Princes in a fairytale, who would never dream of making me write a phony letter testifying to a frum Jewish readership that if not for this truly kosher “miracle,” I would be dead and any Jew with cancer looking for a “miracle” at Rofeh Cholim would also end up dead in a place not so far from here called Cancerland where there is no mercy or justice or treatment that you cannot pay for and only real Orthodox rabbis dare to show up determined to do whatever is necessary and honorable and pleasing to God, to save my life, convince nonJewish doctors to do likewise and with God’s help, rescue me from Gehenim (Hell) which is another name for a place I hope you never visit — Cancerland. May God bless you and keep you well.
    – Beth S.

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