December 17, 2015 is a date we will never forget as a family.
It was the day my daughter Tzivia, then 12, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour.
One of my older daughters was a Camp Simcha Big Sister volunteer at the time and I remember she called the charity and said, ‘I can’t volunteer any more because now we are the family that needs Camp Simcha’s support’.
Tzivia was admitted to hospital four days later and spent the better part of the next 5 months there, receiving chemotherapy, having surgery to remove remaining parts of the tumour after chemo, then more chemo and then radiotherapy.
With two other teenagers and a nine-year-old still at home, to say it impacted family life is an understatement. I was at the hospital every single day and although I would try to be home when school finished, there was always the uncertainty for the other children of whether I would be there.
Our Camp Simcha Family Liaison Officer Daniella was with us from the very beginning, supporting us during Tzivia’s treatment and with all the repercussions we had to cope with after. There was no such thing as office hours, she was available for us 24/7. Thankfully Tzivia, now 18, is thriving now but Camp Simcha were a lifeline throughout the time we needed them.
Before Tzivia even began treatment, Daniella had come to take a picture of her hair so she could get a wig made for her. We had not even considered that, but Daniella knew we would need it. That just sums it up for me – Camp Simcha just knew what we needed, without us even having to ask.
From the hospital transport, the outings, the retreats, the volunteers for Tzivia and her siblings, the attention and surprises to make the children feel special to just having someone there for me, someone discreet, who understood, never judged and supported in whatever we needed – it all made such a difference at the most challenging time in our lives.
At retreats it was wonderful seeing all my children so happy and being made to feel special, with the understanding that my other children were going through something incredibly hard too.
Once Tzivia’s treatment was finished Camp Simcha helped us through the recovery period, with tutors, volunteers, camp in America and generally responding to our needs all the time.
It has been a long journey but having them by our side every step of the way was a very important part of how we navigated it. They supported us through the hard times and helped us celebrate the good ones.
Even though it was an incredibly challenging time, all our memories with Camp Simcha are happy ones.