A miracle took place this weekend in the Zichron Menachem camp in Cyprus. Romy Shoham, an 18-year-old girl with cancer who has been paralyzed for more than a year, attended the week-long vacation and was able to walk and even run within two days. Zichron Menachem, an organization that supports cancer patients under the age of 25 and their families, offers special retreats for children being treated for cancer, where children can “leave the hospital, leave their parents, escape the sad looks for a week.” that people give them because they might be bald, and just enjoy being a kid,” said camp founder and president Chaim Menachem.
While these camps are often seen as places of wonder, Romy’s case was one of a kind. After battling cancer for 5 years – non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2016 and then Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2019 – Romy is a clear fighter. In January 2021, she was partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair on a daily basis. Although she often rehabilitated, she could not walk on her own and was very weak.
Her progress in recent years has been slow and her parents constantly tried to motivate her to keep fighting her illness. “I’ve always told her to work on the power of positive thinking and try to get good mental wellbeing, but I know it’s easier said than done,” said Romy’s father, Noam Shoham. But last week during the summer camp trip in Cyprus, Romy was out hiking and even participated in an intricate ropes course. The trip departed from Jerusalem on Thursday the 17th and on Sunday the 20th, Romy’s parents received a video of the trip in which their daughter was operating without any assistance. Claudia and Noam described it as a miracle, for just a few months before she needed help walking and getting up. They said they couldn’t help but sob with joy when they saw pictures and video footage of Romy that day.
Chaim said stories like Romy’s are not uncommon for Zichron Menachem’s travels and that this is proof that the camp’s mission is working. “The doctors take care of the body, while we take care of the mind and soul. When a child is happy and their well-being is taken care of, it gives the body more strength to fight the disease,” he said, and that indeed seems to be the case for Romy and countless other children.
“She’s such an amazing girl, with so many opportunities,” said Romy’s parents. They said the joy Zichron Menachem brings to their daughter helps her in more ways than just providing fun memories.
About the travels and the revitalization it gives her, Romy said: “The travels give me joy and while I’m there I don’t suffer. The best part of the trip is the people I meet and the friends who stand me through it all.” Romy added that Zichron Menachem encourages and supports her on her cancer journey and that she feels the camp has shaped her into who she is today.
Started in 1990 by Chaim and Miri Ehrental after their son, Menachem, died of leukemia at age 15, Zichron Menachem became a safe haven that the Menachems wished they had during their own experience with their son. Every family is welcomed with open arms at the organization, regardless of their religion.