Cancer, Healing, National Network

by Rachel Hillman

I first immersed at Mayyim Hayyim in September 2019, but my relationship with the mikveh in Newton began in Washington, DC five years earlier. I want you to understand how your support for Mayyim Hayyim touches lives far beyond Boston.

I was 28 years old and undergoing treatment for breast cancer. After seven hard months of chemotherapy I was declared cancer-free in September 2014. I decided to mark the transition from patient to survivor by immersing in the mikveh.

I lived in Washington, DC at the time, so I went to my local community mikveh. That’s where I discovered Mayyim Hayyim’s Seven Kavanot (Intentions) for Mikveh PreparationSeven months of treatment were over. Seven steps into the mikveh. It felt like the Seven Kavanot were written just for meThis resource is just one of many created by Mayyim Hayyim and shared with dozens of other communities around the world.

Preparing to immerse with the guidance of Mayyim Hayyim’s Kavanot allowed me to reflect on the fear, the decisions, the hours of chemotherapy, the strength of my body and spirit, the support of my family and friends, the physical and emotional scars.

I removed my nail polish, nails discolored from chemotherapy. I appreciated my body as I undressed. Even with scars and radiation tattoos, I knew I was still created in God’s image. I showered, washing the hair that had begun to grow back. And I gave thanks to my body’s ability to carry me to that day.

For seven months, I’d felt weak and emotionally drained. Mayyim Hayyim’s words guided me toward strength and acceptance. I promised myself that when I reached five years cancer-free, I would celebrate with a visit to the source. Five years to the day after my last treatment, I traveled to Mayyim Hayyim.

I knew what to expect, but I had butterflies. My nails were no longer discolored. I had a full head of hair. And as I read the Seven Kavanot, the words again let me appreciate and cherish my body.

I am forever indebted to Mayyim Hayyim for being there for me, even hundreds of miles away. Now, Mayyim Hayyim has created the Rising Tide network to make this possible for Jews across the globe.

I hope you’ll join me in supporting Mayyim Hayyim with a generous gift. Your donation means others can find the healing and support I did—wherever and whenever they need it.


Rachel Hillman