Facing Terminal Diagnosis and Illness with Emunah and Bitachon
By Robyn Shani
Overview: We are told by our sages that Hashem gives us the cure before the illness as well as the tools we need to succeed. This article delves into the story of one family and how they experienced the pain and confusion of terminal diagnosis and illness with Emunah and Bitachon

We are told by our sages that Hashem gives us the cure before the illness.

It was December 2010; Elliet was on holiday with her grandparents. They went camping in Britz, a beautiful area near Johannesburg, South Africa, where we live. The phone rang, it was Elliet: “ I am sore, please come fetch me.” … and our journey began.

It was December, holiday season in South Africa and most Dr’s were away. We also had no idea what we were dealing with which is ridiculous because she had a lump! It was as if we were all blinded to the obvious. A host of highly competent professionals all saw and misdiagnosed Elliet over the next few months. Elliet was in constant pain, nothing we were doing was helping, each misdiagnosis was leading us down another rabbit hole, with Elliet’s pain increasing continuously. Finally, it was time, Hashem opened the eyes of a very wise seasoned Dr who sent Elliet for a CT scan, the unthinkable was confirmed.

The next day we were at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital speaking to the Dr, an incredible human who together with the team would become our “hospital family”. We had entered a parallel universe.

Elliet was diagnosed with EWING sarcoma, which is a soft tissue very aggressive cancer. She was diagnosed in May 2011 (just before Lag B’Omer) and was niftar in January 2014 (16 Shevat). Elliet Hodaya a”h bat Menachem was fifteen and a half years old when she was niftar (more about her in other articles).

I am acutely aware that Hashem prepared me in many ways to navigate the road ahead.

For a year and a half before Elliet was diagnosed, I had been listening to discs on Emunah by Rabbi Lazer Brody, the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush. This meant that when I needed to access Emunah, I had it at the forefront of my awareness.

We are blessed with four children, each of them a precious gift. We were very aware that not only did Elliet need her parents, so did her siblings. Hashem sent us the awareness in the form of Rabbi Pinsky who was fundraising for siblings of cancer patients, he shared that many times siblings are left emotionally and physically “orphaned” while the parents are dealing with the child who is unwell. With this awareness, we could consciously put systems in place that would ensure, to the best of our ability, that we were present and available for all our children.

We had the full support of 3 communities. We needed as much physical, emotional and spiritual support as we could get and having so many people actively showing up for us was incredibly helpful. There were so many acts of goodness and kindness that were being done all over the world, we didn’t know what everyone was doing but we felt the love and support in every fiber of our being. People showed up with support in incredibly helpful ways. A lady offered to take over my school lifts. People brought meals, took on mitzvot and projects. Someone in Israel overheard a young girl giving a meal to someone and asking them to please daven for a full recovery of Elliet Hodayah bat Menachem and Robyn Elana. INCREDIBLE!

My mother’s home is close to us with an interleading gate between the properties which meant that when my boys were home they were never alone, they always had Bobbie just next door.

My oldest son and I had qualified as life coaches in 2010. We had developed an empowering way of communicating and processing life. It’s interesting that the tools and skills that I thought would be helpful were lifesaving.

I truly believe that we find whatever we look for. What we focus on and put our attention on will grow, therefore looking for the gifts given to us in preparation for the challenges of life enables us to find them. If we look for wisdom, support, love, caring, compassion, and community, we will be sure to find it.

Your sister in the journey
Robyn Elana

Robyn Shani
Robyn Shani is a qualified life coach with a particular interest in coaching women. She believes that when each of us shows up as the best version of ourselves, the experience of life will be absolute bliss. She loves being the catalyst that supports people to feel connected, held, and seen. Robyn runs workshops and coaches individuals and groups. Her daughter was diagnosed with EWING sarcoma, an aggressive soft tissue cancer in 2011 and Robyn was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013. Robyn shares insights, challenges, tools, and stories that hopefully will support people who are going through challenging times.