Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund, IBCERF, relieves the plight of breast cancer patients

Feedback from the first recipients of grants


"I received the check yesterday. I'm so grateful to you. At last, after a year of suffering and pain from lymphadema from which I suffer (due to the surgery to treat breast cancer), I went through a year during which I could not afford to deal with it because I had no money to buy the elastic sleeve for physiotherapy. At last I am going to buy a fitted sleeve! That will help me a great deal with my medical condition…"


"I have no words to describe how much I thank you for your contribution ... to be ill and also to suffer from poor financial conditions is extremely difficult for me. When I received your donation, it helped me very much with a few things:

  • My family (sisters) live far from me. Due to my medical condition I cannot travel by bus and need to travel by taxi. I have not been able to afford to travel to them because of the cost of transportation. This contribution has helped me and my children get closer to my family.
  • I am a single mother and I have many expenses; for example, buying drugs that aren't covered by insurance, to help me with the side effects of the chemotherapy treatments that I'm going through. This donation helped me purchase these drugs and it is easier for me to deal with breast cancer treatment.
  • At last I got my daughter her books for school and was able to pay the school so that she can get all the services she needs. This donation helped me be more relaxed about the needs of my daughter and we are less worried now. It gives me peace of mind and strength to continue to cope."


When I first read these words I cried. I was back at the Breast Center this past week for a follow- up check (all clear, thank God!) and I remembered the fear that accompanied the beginning of this journey. On July 20, 2010, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, after a routine mammogram. It is like they say; in an instant your life changes.

During the first year after diagnosis, when simple survival is every breast cancer patient's goal, I had a constant thought,

'How do poor women do this?'
I was shocked to learn how extremely costly a serious illness can be. I met with social workers at breast centers who confirm that there is a compelling need to help poor women by providing direct and immediate financial assistance for non-medical expenses. On the one year anniversary after diagnosis, I set up a fund, the Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund (IBCERF). By quickly and compassionately delivering direct financial assistance, some of the financial burdens that accompany breast cancer can be eased so that patients can concentrate on the more important challenge of getting well.

Sitting in that waiting room, I was again struck by how much more difficult it must be to be newly diagnosed with breast cancer, and be very poor. I am so grateful that this charity is now up and running.

 Unfortunately the need is even greater than we anticipated, and through word of mouth, we are receiving applications from women throughout the country. Many of these women are simply desperately needy, often single mothers with children, and they and their families suffer tremendously due to the additional burden of a serious illness. The money that we raised this summer at the initial inauguration event will eventually run out. In order to help more women and continue the work of this fund, we will need to expand the reach of our fundraising. Many of you have offered to help me with this, and I'd like to take you up on it as I can't do it alone. We need to build a team and then, more importantly, a vision and a strategy. (A webpage is in the works, though I'd welcome help with this as well.)

1. To volunteer:

Please write back to me if you'd like to help me with this cause. We're all busy but efficient, and if there are enough of us, we can divvy up the tasks and move forward nicely. (No need to be local. Much of our work will be done via email.)

 2. To donate: 

Be sure to note on the internet or via regular mail that your donation is for the IBCERF. Many thanks to those of you who have already donated.

 3. If you know of a woman in need, contact Anat at ESRA 09 950 8371, for the application forms.

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About the author

Shari Mendes

Shari Greenwald Mendes is an architect who lives in Raanana with her husband, David, and their four children. They came to live in Israel from the US in 2003. Shari was diagnosed with breast cancer in...

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