Monday, November 10, 2014

Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg: Helping kids kick the pain and fear out of cancer

Editor's note: Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg has been named a 2014 Top 10 CNN Hero. Voting for CNN Hero of the Year continues through Sunday, Nov. 16). All of this year's Top 10 CNN Heroes will be honored during CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" -- Sunday, December 7 (8pm ET) on the global networks on CNN.

For 12 years, Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg worked at a camp for children battling cancer.

He often witnessed the pain and discomfort many of them endured while undergoing medical procedures.

"It's really indescribable, what it's like ... to watch a child go through so much pain," said Goldberg, who served as the director of Camp Simcha in New York. "The child looks at you for help and then you end up having to hold them down."

One day, he tried to soothe a young camper who was screaming in pain during treatment. Goldberg, a black belt in Choi Kwang-Do, offered to teach the 5-year-old boy some of the craft.

"In martial arts, you learn that pain is a message that you don't have to listen to," he said. "That lesson is so unbelievably effective."

Goldberg taught the boy some breathing techniques. When the nurse removed the needle after chemotherapy, he said the boy had hardly noticed.

Goldberg realized he was on to something.

"When we are able to breathe through pain and imagine the pain lowering," he said, "the brain has an amazing capacity to put us into a different place."

In 1999, Goldberg founded Kids Kicking Cancer. The program provides free martial arts classes focused on breathing techniques and meditation for children battling serious illnesses. [...]

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