Socializing at school, participating on the basketball team, gracing the school band with his passion for playing drums, were the highlights of his life at the time of Eitan’s diagnosis. It was a vicious form of lymphoma, rooted in a precarious area of his body, literally waiting to take his breath away. Eitan was 15 years old and beginning his sophomore year of high school.

Even before high school, though he possessed a relaxed work ethic, Eitan was a hard worker, taking pride in what he did. He pushed himself to do his best even when he doubted himself, academically, basketball, in any direction. As his close friend wrote, the night of his diagnosis, Eitan had complained to him about intensifying pains in his chest, while playing basketball, though he wanted to continue to try out for the team. He writes on… "that was Eitan, before the diagnosis; fun loving, innocent and resilient. Over the next two and a half years, he would not lack any of these traits, but he would gain others, that would show us all a thing or two about living."

From the onset of his challenge, throughout what appeared as a recurrence, Eitan was intent on being cured. He took on a demanding regimen of herbs, supplements and energy healing, along with conventional protocols. He stayed home from school and curbed his activities, diligently protecting his immune system. Throughout his adversities, he looked to the positive and counted his blessings. There were discussions about reasons this may have been meant to happen to him.

Eitan’s sensitivity and compassion were undeniable. When friends visited, he made sure they were comfortable. He apologized for feeling sleepy, due to the effects of drugs. He joked around with the maintenance workers and entertained the staff. He placed coins into a charity box his sister brought him, knowing how she felt this would help his healing. He learned specific topics with his brother, in person and over the phone, knowing his brother felt they would bond and heal in that way.

Back in January of 2002, one month after completing his 108th week protocol, Eitan began to volunteer on the very floor where he was treated, at Hackensack University Medical Center. Nothing gave him more pleasure than knowing he had lifted the spirits of the children he would visit. After only a few weeks into this project, it became apparent that some resistant cells in his body were waging a new war. A new protocol was set up; this time, more harsh than the first, making it difficult for him to continue his volunteer work. His emotional strength and determination to help these children however, remained intact. From his hospital room, he requested that children come into his room, to offer them a smile. While in Intensive Care, he would ask to be wheeled into the room of young children, whom he felt needed comforting. While communicating with friends, both at home and in the hospital, he would indoctrinate into their minds his positive approaches toward life.

Within a few months, the effects of his new protocol drastically weakened his body, making him cognizant of the fact that he was fighting for his life. Determined to make it to his high school graduation, he got up from his bed in the Intensive Care Unit, practiced walking with a cane and went to graduation. When his name was called, he stood up proudly and walked across the stage to receive his diploma. At this point, his already frail immune system could no longer fight off pneumonia, sepsis and other infections contracted in the hospital. Eitan passed on only weeks after graduating and one month after turning 18 years old.

Eitan did not battle his illness, nor did he succumb to it. On the contrary, he survived it for nearly three years beyond medical expectations. The night before he passed on, after acknowledging the best 18 years parents could ask for, Eitan was told he could ‘let go’, if he was tired. That evening, though disoriented and frustrated, he began acting out sincere and sensitive words. Scribbling on paper and motioning, emphatically, with his hands, it was clear that Eitan wanted everyone to know his message. “Tell everyone, I am OK…” He knew he was fine now, but it was, even then, in his interest, that everyone else would know too.

Days after his passing, with his family gathered together, his sister summed it up most accurately, “the irony here is that it would have been Eitan, who would have comforted us all, the most”.

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"I always believed everything happens for a reason. The possibilities of the reason were endless, the more reasons
I came up with, the more convinced I became, and the better I felt soon, started realizing how lucky i am that it wasn't worse.

I made friends with other kids from the hospital, seeing them already better and living normal lives gave me something to look forward to. Everyday I became more and more surprised by the number of people who wanted to help me and visit me. It's great a feeling to know that so many people care for you."

-- Eitan Shapiro
     
 
 
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