If ever there’s an update to Harold Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People, there must be an add-on Philadelphia-area chapter.
Such would be the compelling story of native Philadelphian Daniel Bachove and his girlfriend, Mindy Staum, whose mitzvah heroics go on despite a stomach-churning sad story affecting Daniel. Bachove has been a fundraiser on behalf of favorite charities for years. He and Staum — both now of Marlboro, N.J. — make for an indomitable dynamic duo in helping others, supporting a variety of groups — including the local branch of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America and the National MS Society — since first forming a friendship in 2011.
Ironically, they were brought together by a case in which Bachove tried to help a friend pay for a battery of medical tests; Staum was the social worker attached to the case. “We look in the same direction,” explains Bachove of their having eyes for each other and for “helping others.”
Such support helps especially now: While visiting his mother in Florida, where she was hospitalized last winter, Bachove began complaining of intense stomach pains. At the same hospital, Bachove underwent tests, which revealed a rare cancer of the small bowel.
The diagnosis came two days after his mother’s death at the hospital; 12 hours of surgery followed on an operating table at a Maryland hospital. “I’m not sure how much time I do have, " due to the aggressive nature of the cancer, the 36-year-old says of being in Stage 4 of the disease.
Some of that time he and Staum, 32, are spending battling the disease for the benefit of others. Recently they were feted by Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb on an “Everyone Has a Story” segment of The Today Show, both saluted for their spirited efforts to help others even as Bachove is dying of the disease he is desperately disseminating information about .
The Jersey couple intends to “help others on a macro level gain access to resources,” says Staum, a successful licensed social worker serving underprivileged families and disadvantaged kids who is described by her cohort as “an extremely giving person,”
The advantage the two have is an upbeat tempo on life — despite cancer forever changing their future time together.
“We love to help people and working together has made us both stronger, providing us the opportunity to go out in the community and bring people together, which includes friends and family,” says Bachove. He credits his father, Larry, and Mindy’s folks, Nora and Barry Staum, for their guiding love. And then there’s that extended family, people touched by the couple’s humanity and haimish behavior. On Facebook, the mother of a woman suffering from ulcerative colitis complications marveled at how Bachove and Staum — who helped both mother and daughter prepare for a half-marathon benefitting CCFA — made special visits to the hospital to spend time with the daughter.
Time is of the essence and commitment is essentially what the two bring to others and to each other. It is no wonder that the couple is guided by an aphorism attributed to Bengali author and Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore: “The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”