By: Meital Yasur Beit-Ohr, Health Reporter
A Double Simchah: Celebrating a Bar Mitzvah and Defeating Cancer
Ohz Bassa from Rechovot is only a 13-year-old kid, but he already knows what real struggle is all about and can teach people a lot older than he is how not to surrender, even to the toughest of life’s battles. Yesterday, he was called up to the Torah and on Tuesday, the auspicious day when “ki tov” (it was good) is mentioned twice in the story of Creation, he celebrated both his bar mitzvah and his victory over cancer.
A little more than a half year ago, Ohz began feeling strong pains on the right side of his face. The crushing diagnosis arrived, of all days, on the eve of Purim, when the doctors informed his family that Ohz has cancer in the throat area. For many months, Ohz underwent grueling chemotherapy and radiation treatments that zeroed in on the neck and throat area, denying him the ability to eat normally for more than five months.
Eating was the least of his difficulties. For half a year, Ohz and his family lived in terror and anguish, not knowing if he would have a future. His days were colored dark gray.
Last week the color changed to jubilant pink. The test results arrived and they showed… that the tumor was completely gone from his body!
“It was the ultimate in joy to hear this news. We feel as if Ohz was reborn,” said his mother Tzofiah, who, along with father Yonah, stood at Ohz’s side throughout the long months. “G-d gave him his life as a gift. The doctor told him he should make sure to use it in the best way possible. Ohz has decided to emulate those that helped him throughout his illness and study to be a doctor. We are all proud of his decision.”
The bar mitzvah celebrations took place at Ezer Mizion’s Oranit Convalescent Center, a most appropriate venue. “Ezer Mizion has been at our side from the beginning with help in more areas that we can count. Professional therapy when the depression got too heavy, fun trips and retreats to keep our spirits up, an apartment to stay at so that we’d be near the treatment center and avoid tiring travel, rides, meals. There was no end to what they did for us.”
Ohz studied his Torah Reading with Pinny, an Ezer Mizion volunteer. The joy at the celebration was doubly emotional. Not only did we celebrate his Bar Mitzvah but we celebrated his life. “Without Ezer Mizion, there would be no celebration at all. For most of this period, we had been emotionally and physically at the hospital. We felt as if the sky had suddenly fallen on us one clear day. We had no stamina to even begin to plan a celebration,” Ohz’s excited parents related. “Ezer Mizion planned and executed every detail of the celebration.
The message we want to give over now to others is that the word ‘cancer’ sounds frightening – but it is possible to overcome and beat the illness. There is hope.”
Dr. Bracha Zisser, Director of Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Reigstry, said: “We had the privilege of escorting Ohz and his family through all the difficult stages of the illness, until last week, when we got the news that the tumor was gone. I and the entire staff at Ezer Mizion wish him the best of health and happiness and hope he will resume his previous life quickly.
For further info: www.ezermizion.org