The Big C


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My friend Hagit is a 39-year-old mother of 5 little kids. When I think of her, I think of 3 things:

Hagit is Emuna (faith)
Hagit is Chesed (kindness)
Hagit is a walking smile that makes the world smile back.

In Nachlaot, there are a lot of us moms. But for years I have thought of Hagit as the mom of all the moms. She took care of us mothers and of everyone else too.

But today, Hagit is so ill from the cancer that she has been battling for the past year and a half that last month she finally moved in with her parents in Ashdod.

I spoke with Hagit two weeks ago and she sounded so helpless, so distraught, so desperate, like an animal with its paw stuck in a hunter’s trap.

Since I last spoke with her, Hagit has stopped answering her phone. Everywhere I go people ask me how she’s doing. But I don’t know anymore. I just tell people that our dear friend Hagit bat Leah is not doing well, and that she is in need of a major miracle.

So I haven’t seen Hagit recently. But I do see Hagit’s 5 young children. Hagit’s daughter, Anava, plays with Moriah in kindergarten and often comes over to our house to play.

When my children wake up with a nightmare, I comfort them by telling them that it was just a dream.

But what am I supposed to tell this 5-year-old girl whose nightmare is her actual life?

When I saw this video from the Big C about a young mother who dies from cancer, I thought about Hagit and her family.

In this tremendously moving final scene, the woman’s only son enters the room filled with a lifetime worth of presents and cards that she has prepared for him.

This video reminded me of the blessing of being a mother, and the even greater blessing of having a mother. And it also reminded me that the biggest gift you can give your child isn’t a new bicycle or a computer or even a fancy red car. The biggest gift you can possibly give your child is you.


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  1. BS”D

    Ayyyyyyyy javerot…. kama ani mevina halev shel Hagit bat Lea…. gam haia li hamajala, Baruj Hashem ani tov meod akshav abal…. ani margisha hakeev shel livo: iesh la 5 banim!!! Iesh li 4 banim ve rotza lijiot micol cojot vetikvaot vejalomot: lirot culam baJupa Kedosha veKeshera…
    Iesh li rak tefila vehacol tov mah ani iejola laasot kedei briut leHagit bat Lea….

    Jannah JAZAK!!! Hajavera shelaj tzrija she at jazaka vegam ‘al iad’ lifeamim beguf lifeamim rajok…


    Translation by Chana:
    Oyyyyyy, my friends! How well I can understand the heart of Hagit bat Leah. I also had cancer. Thank G-d, now I doing very well, but I can understand the pain in Hagit’s heart– she has 5 children! I have 4 children, and with all of my strength and hope and dreams, I want to be there to celebrate their weddings with them.

    I can only pray that everything will be good. What can I do besides that so that Hagit bat Leah will be healthy.

    Chana, be strong. Your friend needs you to also be strong, when you are physically next to her and even when sometimes you are further away.

    With blessings…

    • gita levi

      I have no words! This was written in December 2010, I never saw it until today when I was “randomly” surfing JewishMoms… This woman Margalit who wrote such a heartfelt response re Hagit a”h, she herself died suddenly six months after writing this. Margalit is truly my soulsister though we never merited to meet face-to-face, she was a georet tzaddeka (righteous convert) from Argentina…. I have no words to describe what a beautiful person she was – the four children she spoke of, she herself could not have children and therefore she adopted 4 children who had no home even though she had little money… Margalit a”h was such a loving soul, especially loving any and all things Jewish. Her yahrziet is less than a month away – I pray some will see this and stop a moment to think of this brave kind soul who loved Hashem and the Jewish people and Eretz Yisrael with a devekut that cannot be expressed in words. She loved Tehillim so much, maybe someone here will say a perek of tehillim in memory of Margalit bat Avraham Avinu a”h…

  2. My dear cousin Chana Leah Brook passed away yesterday, also of cancer, leaving a husband, two elderly parents, and five children. The youngest is 19 and single. Chana Leah’s 86-year-old father is a Holocaust survivor who lost both parents and all siblings, yet never sat Shiva til yesterday.

    I will never ever forget or stop being grateful for the way Chana Leah’s husband took care of her. He was as tuned in as a mother to a newborn. I hope that fact gives him some measure of comfort now as he faces his new life alone… and with a daughter to marry off on his own.

    Thanks for listening…

  3. Here is a link to a website that gives information concerning the inherited brca gene that is a high percentage in Ashkenazic Jewish women. If one is tested and positive, there are steps to be taken that lead to a more positive outcome, preventing breast/ovarian cancer. It is worthwhile to spread this information.

  4. Klara LeVine

    grrrrr – just wrote long reply and lost it. Hate when that happens

    doesn’t flow the second time but….I hesitate to say what’s in my heart at the risk of sounding arrogant like I have THE answer and why isn’t the world listening. I recognize I am not in another’s shoes, can’t judge others but I want to scream from the rooftops – it’s been cured – cancer and so many other diseases from simply eating the whole foods Hashem has gifted us (whole grains, beans, vegetables, sea vegetables, fermented foods – pickles, miso, shoyu, tempeh). I read the healing stories in bios in books and on the computer, I am moved by their stories – but people seem to be scared to try. I personally can’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to at least give it a shot. I do understand we are very much into a western way of thinking, believing science is the ultimate, wanting to see the research and “proof.” but life honestly doesn’t have guarantees – and to me natural food is so much more delicious. Yes it’s work (but so is being a mother), and yes it takes patience, and yes, it may seem so strange changing one’s way of eating. And I understand it’s not at all easy changing a long lifetime ingrained habit.

    I am not a teacher but just a simple person who so loves all I’ve learned and I want to keep learning. I started a support group and a yahoo discussion group – you’re more than welcome to join I love sharing all I know. Right now in Israel we have a guest teacher from America, Jessica Porter. I’ve been going to all her classes and plan to go to the rest of them (only four classes left). (there was an article on her in the Jerusalem Post a couple weeks ago – this time I won’t go look for it til I send this – so won’t lose my words a second time. I’ll come back with the link) On the discussion group I’ve been giving my reflections on her classes. If joining is not to your liking, I’d be more than happy to share whatever I can with anyone on the phone, 02-534-5103, 052-342-8058 – but again I’m not a teacher or a counselor – I can only give the general principles and offer my thoughts thru my experience. Refuah Shlema to all who need it.

  5. Deborah Judah

    To Klara Levine:
    I know your words are heartfelt but perhaps a bit misleading. Unfortunately, you do not have the answer. You have a possible answer but there is no cure for cancer. It is true that some people who have fought cancer with wholefoods have won the battle however some have not.


  6. Klara LeVine


    My point was why don’t people try – it’s alot less painful than alot of the treatments, costs less, and if it were more common, than maybe more people would also eat better to prevent the horrible diseases. I have heard of too many cases where doctors gave up on patients, yet the patients didn’t give up and went on macrobiotic diet – and very much surprized the doctors. You really are what you eat – it makes so much sense.

  7. Klara,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Many cancer are scared to take herbal treatments because their doctors warn against it. Instead, they push for dangerous western medicine that might kill you before the cancer does. Oncology is the biggest money making industry and they wouldn’t want to jeapordize that!
    Patients are helpless and trust their doctors. But any good doctor would suggest they try all they can.

    Please look into this web site. Read the testimonies. Many people have either been cured or have significant signs of improvement. Its good for all kinds of sicknesses, diabetes, high blood pressue, cholesterol, and especially cancer.

    his mother together with many researchers invented this herbal tea and it has helped many people with cancer. Bryan will give specific directions on how to take the tea for the illness. He will give names and numbers of people who are on the tea with same situation.

    Hashem Yishmor, its all in HIS HANDS.
    Refuah Shelama to Hagit and extra strength to her family.

  8. Noa Friedman

    I had my uterus removed and cancer cells were found in the cervix but no cancer cells were found any-
    Where else. I went through 8 days of radiation treatments while reading up on radiation and chemo-
    therapy. I made the decision to stop the radiation and informed my doctor. He did not try and
    Convince me to continue treatment, but he said that I should continue to have periodic checkups
    which I agreed to. I have since begun an alternative way of eating which also includes daily walks
    of up to 1 – 1 1/2 hrs. I have lost 25 kilo in the process, and believe me, I feel full of energy and joy
    of the life I have. The diet will be altered within a couple of weeks, and I will continue to have all
    questions addressed. Yes, HaKodesh Baruchu gave us food also as medicine. It is only up to us to
    use His gift to the world. I am under the care of woman that had cancer herself until she began alterna-
    tive treatments herself.

    I chose not to go the aggressive route and although I have a long road ahead of me, I believe with
    Hashem’s help, and all His wonderful gifts to the world, and the help of a very dedicated woman and
    Her belief in her doctor, that my cancer will soon become a thing of the past. May there be a
    Reufah shoe ah to kol choler Yisrael.

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