Yediot Petach Tivkah – Health Section
About two months ago, a cancerous tumor was discovered in 16-1/2 year-old Shachar Salman-Levi’s stomach. She was stunned but she decided not to take the easy way out: She took her first Bagrut (matriculation) exam in school and the next two at the Educational Center in Petach Tikvah’s Schneider Children’s Hospital. Her father, Tomer: “Her success lies in the fact that she took the test and maintained routine. That is the best medicine around.”
Shachar Salman-Levi, 16-1/2, a tenth grader from the town of Nitzan, is a naturally cheerful and optimistic girl. Even when she heard two months ago that a 15-cm. cancerous growth was discovered in her stomach, she managed to retain her optimistic outlook. Shachar and her family decided almost immediately that she would continue her life routine as much as possible. In keeping with that decision, Shachar, who has been undergoing treatment the last few weeks at the Hemato-oncology Ward at Schneider Hospital, decided that along with battling her disease, she will not pass up her Bagrut examinations.
Shachar took the Bagrut exams in Language, History, and Oral Torah just like all her friends, even while she was hospitalized. “She took the first test at school,” Tomer, Shachar’s father, related this week. “It was very hard for her, both from the physical aspect, since the exam was soon after her surgery, and also from the emotional standpoint, since her appearance at school sparked a lot of tumult. Many students had not seen her for a long time. We preferred the quiet she could get at Schneider.”
Shachar has missed school since the beginning of May but she managed to make up the gaps in her schoolwork with a lot of help “But Ezer Mizion volunteers came and did amazing work with her,” her father explains. ”A language teacher came and refused to take money, and teachers from school also gave her extra lessons.”
Why did you decide that Shachar should take her exams this year and not put them off to next year?
“Shachar always was and will be an active, cheerful girl. Her teachers sent us messages that it’s terribly quiet in class now, because there is no one to make noise. She absolutely refused to let her disease become the center of her life; she preferred to see it as no more than another obstacle to cope with. She does not let the illness stop her life. While I am speaking with you, for example, she is at the beach. She would not give up on participating in the big rally at Rabin Square for the kidnapped boys or on joining her class’s end-of-year party. Anything she can continue doing as usual, as her health condition allows – she does. The results of the exams are not of real significance to us. Most of the exams are just one unit out of five, so that there is always a chance to make them up. In any case, her success actually lies in the very fact that she took the test and maintained routine. For Shachar, that is the best medicine there could be. That is the only reason we agreed to expose ourselves and be interviewed – Shachar wanted to get this message across.
“You see, as we heard over and over again from the professionals at Ezer Mizion, the body cannot work alone. It needs the spirit to keep it afloat. A fun retreat, a day of entertainment, a jeep trip and so much more are all part of Ezer Mizion’s “treatment plan”. Keeping up with schoolwork was the therapy that Schachar needed to feel part of the world of her peers. But she could not have done it alone. Thank you, Ezer Mizion, for your caring volunteers who put their personal needs aside and came to work with Schachar night after night after night.”
Tomer says that only one thing caused his daughter to shed a tear. “When the doctor told us the diagnosis, everyone around Shachar cried. The first question she asked was “Will I still be able to sign up for “Oketz” (IDF’s dog-training unit). When she was told that she wouldn’t be able to serve in the army, she broke down for the first and last time. Since she was 12, she’s been volunteering with special needs children and she uses dogs to work with them. I told Schneider that they won a “double ticket” – both a patient and a volunteer. Shachar has always been on the side of the giver. Now, when we find ourselves on the receiving end, we are totally amazed by the staff at Schneider, the Ezer Mizion volunteers, and our doctor at Maccabi, who immediately identified the illness. The least we can do is to appreciate their work and thank them.
How is Shachar doing today?
“The tumor was removed surgically. It did not appear to have spread. Now she is basically coping with the side effects of chemotherapy treatments, which are being given as a preventative measure, and she does it marvelously, in spite of all the difficulty. When she saw that her hair started falling out, she immediately called over some friends and they shaved her entire head. She felt that doing it together with her friends would prevent awkwardness and embarrassment when she sees them next. How is she doing? I’d say she is doing just fine. A smart kid who is taking control of her emotional life. I’m really proud of her. ”
Yediot Petach Tivkah – Health Section