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But nothing could prepare him for what was to come: multiple surgeries, and a year of chemotherapy and all its side effects — hair loss, excessive vomiting, infections.Throughout the ordeal, he and his family were kept afloat by support from their Teaneck, NJ community, and from Chai Lifeline, an international organization that provides countless services for children with cancer and their families at no cost.His parents were concerned — would there be a woman who would accept him? “Maybe I was just naïve, but I never thought it would be an issue, and I had my share of dates.Then again, maybe no one wanted to be known as the girl who turned down the one-legged guy,” he says with a wink.He had osteosarcoma — one of the most common bone cancers in children.
The phantom pain has mostly disappeared, but to this day, if he trips in a way that would have caused a sprained ankle, he’ll automatically start limping.
At Chai Lifeline’s Camp Simcha, a free two-week camp-extravaganza in the Catskills for kids with cancer, the mischievous Yitzy loved putting one over on his bunkmates.
“I would say, ‘Whoever can put one foot on the floor and one foot on the ceiling at the same time is the head of the bunk,’” he recalls.
“Chai Lifeline paid for tutors, and they had visitors coming round the clock,” Yitzy remembers.
“They provided social workers for me and for my parents, who were going through torture, and even for my siblings. “I can’t even describe the feeling — it was just a shock.