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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Shavuot -- 5769 -- 2009

(this should probably be broken up into two or three posts... oh well...)

For the last three years, we stayed by good friends on Shavuot. Doing something three times is a chazakah, meaning you can count on doing it that way every year.

Nevertheless, we were not certain whether we could stay with those friends this year. Last year my husband really suffered without air-conditioning and warned me that we could no longer stay somewhere without air-conditioning (no matter how “cool” people say their home is).

Ironically, though our friends recently got air-conditioning, it did not work out for us to stay with them this year for other reasons. Sometimes life is funny like that.

Unperturbed, I set about finding somewhere else to stay. We have many friends in that area, and I was not worried. But the air-conditioning condition threw a wrench in the works! Not to mention that we are five people, and this year Shavuot is coupled with Shabbat to make a two day holiday!

In the end, we actually split up for sleeping purposes. The kids and I stayed with friends who have lots of space but no air-conditioning and Moshe slept over at friends who have a smaller apartment with air-conditioning. Since Moshe does not walk with us to daven (pray) in the Old City, we are on different sleep cycles anyway (at least for Shavuot).


Last year, my youngest daughter learned at “home” (where we were staying) until she went to sleep; my eldest daughter went to one or two shiurim (study sessions) with us, then went back for a short sleep; and my son stayed with us for all the shiurim, with a few breaks. I wondered what would be this year…..

After Shavuot dinner, our hosts were hosting a group of girls from their daughter’s youth group. Our eldest daughter decided to stay for that. Our youngest stayed too. Our son joined Moshe and me.

In the past, I would walk all over the city, hopping from place to place, choosing which shiurim interested me the most.

Last year, after we decided not to stay somewhere with “standing room only,” Moshe suggested that we go to Pardes for all of the shiurim. We did, and it was great. This year, we went to Pardes again. There were several shiurim offered simultaneously.

We wanted to attend the first shiur (study session) with Dr. Aviva Zornberg, but we were a few minutes late. Moshe was really disappointed. He did not want to sit in the back, where we might not hear, so we went to the alternative shiur, given by David Levin-Kruss, who is an excellent educator (with whom I have had the privilege of working many years ago). DLK’s shiur was quite interactive, and engaged our son more than a frontal presentation would. Despite being the youngest person in the room, our son was interested in the material and actively participated in the discussion. At the end of the shiur, our son commented enthusiastically “he’s a good teacher!”

After the second shiur, with Judith Klitzner, our son had enough and went back to our hosts to sleep a bit. In the middle of the third shiur, with Rabbi Danny Landes (who gives a very dynamic shiur, and always keeps me awake and alert during those late night/early morning hours from 3:00 to 4:00 am), I found it difficult to keep my eyes open. I realized that if I wanted to walk to the Old City with my kids, I had to allow myself the “luxury” of closing my eyes for a few minutes.

After the shiur, I apologized for drifting off to sleep, and mentioned that “I did have chemo yesterday, so I have a reasonable ‘excuse.’”

After the last shiur, Moshe came with me to help wake the kids. This year, our son did not feel up to walking to the Old City, so he decided to stay with Moshe and daven (pray) with a local minyan (prayer group).

The walk to the Old City is a big part of what makes Shavuot so special for me. You start off, the sky is dark, and you see a few people here and there, walking in the shadows of the streetlamps. As you get closer and closer to the Old City, more and more people gather and walk together, until, as you approach the Old City, and the sky begins to fill with light, and you find yourself surrounded by a see of people, dressed in white. The visual affect is magnificent.

This year, we sort of missed that experience. We were a bit “late” and walked most of the way with other “stragglers.”

As we approached the Old City, we discussed where we would daven (pray).

Many years ago, I would daven with a nice group that sang a lot. That group no longer meets by the Kotel, but I heard of another group that planned to meet and daven with a lot of singing. I had even arranged for my friend’s daughter to “save me a seat.”

The need for a seat is not insignificant for me these days. I can no longer stand for long periods of time, and sitting on the stone floor becomes unbearable after only a short time. Since I look “young,” young girls do not necessarily give up their seats for me, and I am not comfortable asking (perhaps I should be, but I am not).

Last year, rather than risk being uncomfortable, I decided to daven at the Ramban Synagogue. However, just as we were going to go in, I heard singing and we followed the sound of joyous prayer and ended up joining a small singing minyan in the Hurva.

When we got to the Old City, my stomach was very upset from the chemo and I knew that I had to daven somewhere with easy access to a bathroom. The singing minyan was in the same place, but the room was very crowded and my girls did not feel comfortable squeezing in. I really wanted to daven there, but access to the bathroom was not so great so I did not insist that we stay. In the end, we davened at the Ramban shul (synagogue); it was not very exciting, but was nice enough.

Afterwards, we went to Moshe’s cousins for Kiddush, like we do every year. This year, I mentioned that we had gone up to Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount) for Birkat HaChamah, before Pesach. A rather heated discussion ensued. I felt a swell of maternal pride when my eldest insisted on contributing her opinion to the discussion. She expressed herself strongly and articulately as she advocated for what she believed.

For the first time in years, we did not leave with Moshe’s cousin, who was in a rush. We did leave shortly after him, but our walk home was quite slow, and I did need to rest several times. On the way home, we discussed the possibility that I might not do this again next year. To my surprise, the girls were quite confident that they could do this without me, and my eldest started talking about how she would arrange to go with friends. I could not figure out if I felt relieved or abandoned.

We arrived at “home” around 11:00 in the morning. We immediately collapsed into bed.

At around 2:30, I forced myself to get out of bed. The kids were already up and I knew they needed to eat. We went to an all-day BBQ at our friend’s home. It was SO MUCH FUN!! There was plenty to eat, plenty to drink, and plenty of good company!

Eventually, the kids had enough, but Moshe and I hung out the whole afternoon. At one point, someone we did not know asked about “our story.” We ended up telling our story together, which was a unique experience. It was interesting for me to hear Moshe’s answers to several probing questions that were asked.

When we left, Moshe went to shul and I went to gather our kids. Then we met up for dinner at the home of our friends, where Moshe was staying. Admittedly, none of us was very hungry for dinner. I had a bowl of chicken soup and a bowl of gazpacho and I was basically done eating. Still, dinner was very nice. My friend and I have a long history (our mothers were childhood friends, and we attended the same college), and I took the opportunity to share with her how she had influenced my life by graciously hosting me for Shabbat when I was deciding where to attend university. She barely remembers that Shabbat, while for me it was pivotal in my decision to attend Barnard.

After dinner, the kids and I walked home in the cool night air. Again, we fell asleep as soon as we arrived.

Shabbat day was the culmination of a wonderful two days. The morning was slow for my family; everyone got up at their own pace, davened (prayed), played, etc. Lunch was a pleasure, with delicious food, good conversation, and no pressure.

After lunch, my girls read and I sat with my son and listened to him reading his Torah portion. After an hour or so, he had enough, and went off to do his own thing. I drifted in and out of sleep in a very comfortable chair, occasionally joining a conversation that penetrated my sleepy haze.

Towards the end of the day, my son returned and we played a game together with one of the other guests.

And then Shabbat was over.

As we loaded our car, I thought to myself, I am not ready to give any of this up quite yet, not even the walk to the Old City.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Parenting Question -- Whose Responsibility Is It?

Bedtime in our home is 8:30 pm, with lights out at 8:45.

There is a certain amount of flexibility, but this is the default, despite constant objections and surreptitious attempts to create a fait accompli.

At this time, the authorities (that would be us parents) are uncompromising. As long as it remains challenging to wake children in the morning, the official bedtimes remain the same.

Today, a certain child was waiting to use the computer. While that child was waiting, the child turned on the television (without permission).

At 8:30, I finished using the computer and instructed my child to go get ready for bed.

The child was upset that I did not grant access to the computer.

I maintain that the child knows the parameters of our evening schedule and that the child is old enough to watch the time and fulfill all obligations.

Had the child gotten ready for bed, rather than watching television, there would have been no conflict over the computer.

When we started going around in circles, I ended the argument discussion and sent the child to get ready for bed.

The child quickly got ready for bed, and went onto the computer for 3 minutes, which turned into at least half an hour, since Moshe is not home with dinner yet.

What would you do?

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

STAR TREK -- Raising a Family of Trekkies (or "And You Thought This Blog Was About Cancer")

When I was a kid, my mother used to watch Star Trek. One night, when I was supposed to be in bed, I snuck downstairs and secretly watched an episode. It was about kids who die when they get older; it was really scary. (When I told Moshe about it, he named the episode, "Miri.") I decided that I did not like Star Trek and did not want to watch it again.


When I was pregnant with our first child, we bought a TV and VCR (You remember VCRs, don't you? They played video tapes.....)

Anyway, at the time, "Next Generation" was showing on TV, two afternoons a week. When my daughter was born, and I was on maternity leave (which I extended for several years), Moshe would call to make sure that the videotape was set to record.

Eventually, I realized that if I had to be there anyway to set the tape, then I might as well watch the show. I considered the experience an "investment" in my marriage. After all, if my husband was so into Star Trek, I might as well become familiar with it.

Now, don't get the wrong idea. It is not as if I did not like science fiction. I did; I just did not like Star Trek. Though I am not as serious a sci fi fan as my husband, when I was in high school, I read plenty of Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov. My favorite short story of all time is A Sound of Thunder. (you can read the story online here)

At first, I was not very impressed with Next Generation. But, as time went on, and I also started watching Deep Space Nine, I started getting more into the Star Trek thing.

Somewhere along the way, Moshe and I started watching Babylon Five (B5) together (this is another story in itself). I spent several years arguing that B5 was far superior to Star Trek. At first, Moshe considered that apicorsus (heretical). After all, Star Trek is like the Bible! Eventually, Moshe conceded the point, though he still considered Star Trek kodesh (holy).

What is undeniable is that B5 influenced Star Trek -- B5 showed that audiences will appreciate and follow an arch story, even over several seasons; by proving that a series can develop more than just self-contained individual story plots, B5 fundamentally changed the standard of TV sci fi. As a direct result, Deep Space Nine developed a sophisticated arch story that took that series to a whole new level.

JUMP AHEAD a few more years....

Moshe started "disappearing" on Saturday nights. If the kids were not in bed on time, he would just leave them on their own for an hour. After a while, I discovered that Moshe was going into our room to watch Enterprise!

"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Right?

So, I started watching with him.

Even with the two of us getting the kids to bed, we did not always succeed in getting everyone ready before the episode began.

With the two of us engrossed in the show, our kids would stand in the doorway and watch as well. Eventually, we gave up all pretenses of trying to get them to bed once the show started and Saturday nights became, unofficially, Star Trek night.

I think that must be what planted the seeds for what was to become our official Star Trek night.

A year or so ago, Moshe suggested that we watch, as a family, every single Star Trek episode, chronologically.

On the one hand, I thought it was a completely geeky idea. On the other hand, I thought it might be nice to have a regular family activity. I would have chosen a different genre, but I was not going to organize it. This was Moshe's idea, and he made it happen.

At first, the kids were only moderately into it.

Since we did not really watch TV much, and we barely let the kids watch at all, they were happy to watch anything, even if it was not their first choice.

Eventually, they got into it too!

The brilliance of it is that Moshe made a deal with the kids: we only watch Star Trek if they are ready for bed on time. Saturday nights were the most difficult nights of our week. Now the kids come straight home after their Shabbat, eat supper right away and get ready for bed quickly.

I started teasing Moshe that he was/we are raising a family of geeks!

But I have to give credit where credit is due. Star Trek night is the best thing we do as a family.

Together, we curl up, under blankets (even in the summer), to watch and analyze that week's episode.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Monday, May 25, 2009

Star Trek Movie

Going tomorrow, Tuesday, at 7:15 pm, in Malcha.

Join us!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Busy Week!

Looking at these last few days, one would not imagine that we have been sick or that I am exhausted from chemo....

Wednesday night: Moshe and I went to an excellent local lecture by Machon Meir's Rav Uri Cherki about Yom Yerushalayim -- Rav Cherki spoke about our limitations (space, time, and metaphysical) and how Jerusalem breaks through all those barriers.

Thursday night: Moshe, our youngest daughter, and I went to a film about the fall of the Old City in 1948, followed by a moving talk by Natan Gini, who was 12 years old when he defended his home/community in the Old City in 1948.

Saturday night: Moshe and I attended a fascinating lecture about Nechama Leybovitch by Yael Unterman, who just published a book about Nechama.

Sunday night: We went to Neve Daniel to be Menachem Aveilim (comfort mourners).

Monday night: We plan to be home (for a change).

Tuesday night: We plan to go see the Star Trek movie. Anyone want to join us?

Lest you get the mistaken impression that Moshe waited until now to see it.... I will be seeing the movie for the first time; Moshe went to see it the day it came out. ?אלה מה

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Medical Update -- Side Effects of Taxotere

This past Thursday, I got the Herceptin but no Taxotere, to give my GI (gastrointestinal) track a rest.

Next week, I will resume the Taxotere, but in a lower dose. Hopefully, the lower dose will resolve, or at least dramatically reduce, the GI upset (read: diarrhea).

The previous week, I took Loperamide (Imodium) almost daily to resolve the upset. It worked, but it would be better not to have any stomach upset. Apparently, in addition to the dangers of dehydration, there is some risk of infection associated with diarrhea.

I guess I expected this week to pass smoothly without the Taxotere. Unfortunately, this morning (day 3) I had an upset stomach again. I immediately took two Loperamide tablets.

I really feel rather sorry for myself about the upset stomach thing.

Isn't it funny the things that bother us?

Meanwhile, the neuropathy caused by the Taxol seems to have disappeared from my feet. I am not sure what is happening with my hands. My right hand feels ok, but my left hand feels sluggish. I cannot tell whether it is leftover neuropathy caused by the Taxol, or new neuropathy caused by the Taxotere. I think it is getting worse, which makes me think it is the latter.

With the Taxol, my fingers felt "pudgy." Now the whole hand just feels like it is not working right, like it is "slow" or "sleepy."

I think there is something wrong with my sense of touch.

In addition to the loss of dexterity, especially in my left hand, I have also lost strength in my hands (both of them). I still find it difficult to open bottles and often need to ask for help.

It took over two weeks for the cuts on my tongue to heal after I stopped the Taxol. The sensation has returned, though much milder. I drank lemonade and the acid did not make my tongue burn.

So far, none of these symptoms is enough to stop the Taxotere.

Meanwhile, I just submitted a request to the kupah (health fund) for a PET scan (PET CT). It has been six months since we last did a full scan to see what is going on inside my body.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yom Yerushalayim & Getting Older

This is the third year in a row that I did not participate in the rikudgalim (dance/parade of flags). That is it. I am done. Three times is a chazakah.
(off topic: it is SO COOL that I can link to a definition of chazakah on Wikipedia!!!)

Two years ago, the pouring rain helped me to justify still being too tired to participate (even though my last surgery was over half a year earlier).

Last year, I determined to push myself and do it, until I realized there really were other options.

Finally, this year, I did not even consider it. OK, I considered it, but for only a fraction of a minute, so that does not really count.

I am just too tired, my feet are too swollen, and the kids are old enough to be doing their own thing (at least the older kids are).

Like last year, my eldest went with her friends, my son went on a tiyul (hike) with Sayarut (scouts) (after attending the Bat Mitzvah of one of the girls from his class), and that left my youngest, who went to Zam Zam and did not even miss the parade.

I was all set to attend our community davening (praying) -- this year, all the Batei K'nesset (shuls/synagogues) prayed together in one minyan (quorum), in the large, neighborhood schoolyard (down the block from us).

Moshe wanted to attend a film about the battle for the Old City in the War of Independence, followed by a talk given by Natan Gini, one of the children who fought to defent the Old City during the War of Independence.

My daughter's fifth grade class had done a play about his brother, Nissim Gini, the youngest fighter to fall in defense of our country. He was only ten. His big brother, Natan, was all of twelve at the time. Afterwards, the kids all wrote letters to his sister, sharing what the story meant to them.

Though I was inclined to attend the davening and then come home and rest (let's not forget that I had chemo today -- though I only had Herceptin since the doctor is giving my gastrointestinal tract a rest for a week, before he lowers the dosage in an attempt to alleviate, or at least significantly lesson, my stomach troubles).

"Why would you send me the information if you do not want to go?" my husband asked, perplexed.

When my youngest heard that Natan Gini would be speaking, she also wanted to go. That tipped the balance.

Both the film and the presentation were interesting and informative.

On the way back to our car (there was terrible traffic, so we parked pretty far away), I met an older friend, returning from the Old City.

I felt a brief pang of regret that I had not participated, but it did not last long.

I was tired enough.

And ready to go home.....

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Choose Life

Our lives are filled with choices.

Almost two years ago, when I learned about my diagnosis, I made a choice, a conscious choice, about how I would live my life.

I stumbled, by accident, on frightening survival statistics of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer: only 20% are still alive five years after their diagnosis.

I determined right then and there that I intended to be part of that 20%.

I wish I could remember which angel directed me to the fabulous article by Stephen J. Gould, "The Median is Not the Message". I think it might have been someone from Sharsheret, a wonderful Jewish American organization that provided me with tremendous support in those devastating initial weeks, before I found appropriate support here in Israel.

If you have not read it already, then I recommend doing so now. Go ahead. It will reshape the way you view the world.

I read "The Median is Not the Message" and realized that my determination to "beat the odds" is a rational possibility and not just "wishful thinking."

Meanwhile, Moshe was reading everything he could about my disease. My dear, loving, sensitive husband was devastated by the statistics.

I knew that Moshe, for whom logic and cold science are fundamental to how he views the world, needed to read the article.

That article was the greatest gift I could give him.

But I did not stop there. I had already begun formulating my 20-year-plan.

I figured that if I did end up living for another 20 years or more, it would be an aweful shame to live all that time worrying about dying tomorrow.

Besides, I joked, I "just need to live long enough for them to discover a cure."

There is so much research going on every day, who knows what new medicines and miracle cures might be just a few years down the road?

We do not know what the future will bring. So why live expecting the worst? What a waste of our valuable time and energy.

In the past, I loved the adage "expect the worst, hope for the best, and you will never be disappointed." Suddenly, this approach to life no longer served me well.

I shifted paradigms.

I chose to expect the best.

I chose to believe that I would live, that I would have a future.

In Parshat Nitzavim, which we read on Shabbat, just before Rosh HaShanah, during the time when Jews are focussed on self-evaluation and repentence, Moshe Rabeinu (our teacher; not my husband) addresses Am Yisrael (the Jewish People) and proclaims:

הַעִדֹתִי בָכֶם הַיּוֹם, אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ, הַחַיִּים וְהַמָּוֶת נָתַתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ, הַבְּרָכָה וְהַקְּלָלָה; וּבָחַרְתָּ בַּחַיִּים, לְמַעַן תִּחְיֶה, אַתָּה וְזַרְעֶךָ
(דברים ל:יט)
I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shloshim -- Pia Regev z"l

It was really important for me to attend the azkara (memorial service) for Pia's shloshim (event marking thirty days since a person died).

I had missed her funeral and the shiv'a (7 day mourning period). (I wrote about it here)

I needed closure.

But I was so very tired. I spent the whole day at home, resting, and I was still tired.

I did not want to drive. I did not want to miss it.

We live in the South East corner of the city. The azkara was in the North West corner of the city. It is about a half hour drive, each way.

At the last minute, I remembered that there is a bus that crosses town. It runs once an hour.

God must have wanted me to go, because when my eldest checked the schedule for me, the bus was about to come in three minutes. I was still in my pajamas.

I threw on clothes, grabbed my bag and ran out the door.

I caught the bus.

Forty five minutes later, I arrived, right on time.

I introduced myself to Pia's daughters and her husband.

I recalled how Pia shared her children's joke about installing an automated phone system ("for information about Pia's health, please press 1")

I also shared with them the positive role model Pia was for me. I met her shortly after I was diagnosed, and I was impressed and encouraged by her positive attitude and her fortitude.

Despite the prognosis that she had only several months left to live, Pia kept working and living her life. She lived for five years, longer than anyone expected (though shorter than I realized).

My initial memories are of her discussing her son's upcoming wedding. In addition to the "normal," mundane things, like what to wear, Pia talked about controlling her treatment -- she was determined to put off several treatments until after the wedding, so that she would have the energy to celebrate the way she wanted. And she did.

Until then, I did not realize that I could have a say about when and how I got my treatments.

Thanks to Pia's example, I figured out how to move around my treatments so that I would not miss smachot (celebrations) and other important events/occasions.

The evening opened with a siyum (ceremony marking the completion of learning of a text) by her son, who finished learning masechet parah (the tractate about the parah adumah (red heifer) needed for ritual purity).

Then Pia's husband talked about the centrality of Jerusalem to Pia's life. Born in Jerusalem, Pia was nine when the city was reunited in 1967. The reunification of the city was a pivotal event in her life, and she often shared stories of that time. I wish I would have known. I would have loved to hear her stories.

Her family felt that her most outstanding attribute was that of hessed (kindness). So they invited the head of Ma'aglei Tzedek ("Circles of Justice"), an organization committed to social justice, to speak. Ma'aglei Tzedek is probably best known for their "tav chevrati," certification that an establishment, such as a restaurant, pays its workers minimum wage and is wheelchair accessible.

I could not help but think of my own limitations. Just an hour earlier, I struggled to get on to the bus. Because of the cancer in my hips, I cannot lift my legs up very far, making it difficult to climb onto the bus. Afterwards, I realized the bus could "kneel," but the driver did not identify me as someone who needed help, and did not lower the bus, even as I struggled to get on. My limitations are "invisible," even more so because I am relatively young.

I was impressed when the speaker shared that when she heard about the tav chevrati, she decided that she would no longer eat in restaurants that are not fully accessible, to everyone. She talked about the ripple effect, about how her friends know that if they want to go out with her, this is one of the factors, if not the main factor, that will determine where they eat.

Every time I go to a restaurant where the bathroom is up or down stairs, it bothers me. (I was surprised to see several restaurants on the Ma'aglei Tzedek website listed as wheelchair accessible, which they are... unless the person in the wheelchair needs to use the restrooms! That is not what I call fully accessible.)

Finally, the speaker spoke of the difference between hessed (kindness) and tzedek (justice). Hessed, she explained, is when you help someone with something they cannot do on their own; tzedek is when you remove the barriers that prevent them from taking care of themselves.

The speaker, a young woman with an Anglo accent, spoke softly. Nevertheless, she was powerfully articulate. As tired as I was, her words drew me in and held my attention.

Afterwards, family and friends were invited to share their thoughts and memories. Some spoke spontaneously, other read from previously composed letters.

By the end of the evening, I felt like I had a deeper sense of who Pia was. I was surprised to learn that she was very assertive about non-smoking, and would complain to the management if someone was smoking in a non-smoking area. I had not realized this was an obsession a cause that we shared. I was not surprised to learn that she was an attentive and caring nurse, who often gave of herself above and beyond the call of duty. I was not surprised to hear her children speak of her guidance and how, even in her last days, she worried about them.

As the evening drew to a close, I worried about catching the last bus home.

God was good to me again. I found someone who could take me to a bus that ran more frequently. I did not have to rush out before the end.

The evening ended with two songs by Nomi Shemer, Shirat Ha'Asabim and Anashim Tovim.

יהי זיכרה ברוך -- may her memory be a blessing

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Monday, May 18, 2009

Can I Get Any More Tired????

OK, so remember how I wrote about how tired I felt?

Well, yesterday I was full of energy compared to how I feel tonight!!

Every year, our kids' elementary school has a major end of the year program around Yom Yerushalayim.

The program consists of a tour of a major site in the old city by the sixth graders, followed by a light communal supper, and then performances by class of all the kids in the school. The program starts around 3:00 in the afternoon and ends around 10:00 in the evening.

It is THE BEST day of the entire year. Everything that is good about the school comes out in this evening.

Even before I got cancer, this day would knock me out.

I knew how tired I would be and planned on resting in the morning. But, one thing led to another, and I did not get a chance to rest.

Add to that the fact that today was exceptionally hot, even in the evening!

But there was no question about whether or not I would attend. My son is in sixth grade. This is his day!

For years, the kids prepare to be "MaYaTZim" -- Madrichei Yerushalayim Tze'irim (Young Jerusalem Guides). This is their shining moment.

My son has been practicing his lines for weeks. He had three different parts: an informative presentation, a musical interlude (he played keyboard), and a skit. He did a GREAT job!

I also have a daughter in fifth grade. The fifth graders made the backdrop for the stage, and prepared both a dance and daglanut (a march/dance in which each participant holds/waves an Israeli flag, while moving to the music).

My eldest missed school to come for the day, as did most of the other graduates of her class.

That is perhaps the greatest testimony to how meaningful this program is to the kids.

How many other teenagers do you know who keep coming back to their elementary school for the end of the year performances?

It was tough this year. In addition to everything else, instead of sitting on plastic chairs for the performances, we sat on Madreigot Hulda (the main stairs leading into the Temple Plaza during the second Temple period). Now, while that might be a very moving location, sitting on stone steps is a bit hard on my cancerous bones!

All complaints aside, it was worth every second.

But I can tell you that I am EXHAUSTED OUT OF MY MIND!!!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Knock Out

I am totally wiped out!

We have this crazy week this week and everyone is sick.

Moshe is so sick that he could not drive the kids to school this morning.

Even though I had a bad night, I was in better shape than he was. I managed to dragged myself out of bed and get the kids to school.

Once I was in the car anyway, I drove myself to the walk-in clinic. My GP was on call this morning. After a relatively quick "once over" he informed me that my lungs are clear (thank God) and put me on antibiotics to combat my sinus infection. I am also back on the strong anti-reflux medicine.

I came home and CRASHED!

I slept for another two hours, and then dragged myself out of bed once again, this time to go to my weekly shiur (Torah study class), which I LOVE and try my best not to miss.

I am grateful to one of the amazing women from the shiur, who has been driving me to and from shiur for several weeks already. Each week, it is a blessing not to have to drive myself. If it were not for her, there is no way I would have made it today!

I really enjoyed shiur today, but I fell asleep during the last 15 minutes. I just could not keep my eyes open.

I came home and crashed again!

I did not wake up until it was time to go to parent-teacher meetings.

Moshe was so sick, I went by myself. I feel so bad for him. Despite having got the flu shot, I think he has the flu.

We always go to parent-teacher meetings together. I rely on him to remember what the teachers say! It was strange being on my own. I wrote down everything, so I could share with him (and my daughter) what the teachers said.

After the parent-teacher meetings, I went to an azkarah (memoria) service marking 10 years since my friend's husband died in a terrible car accident. The program included a lecture about living life to the fullest (because we never know how much time we have). It was a bit of a surrealistic experience.

I was so tired afterwards, but I still did not go home. Instead, I drove to the all night pharmacy to get my antibiotics.

This morning, the pharmacy had been closed and I went home thinking I had what I needed. I had the right antibiotics, but the wrong dosage. The doctor said I could take it in the morning and fill the prescription by the evening. Had I been more lucid during the day, I could have had Moshe fill the prescription when he took himself and my daughter to the doctor. But I was too out of it. So, I did the responsible thing and went to fill the prescription myself.

Luckily, there is not much traffic late at night.

And now, for the third time today, I am going to crash into bed.

I feel like all I did today was sleep! And I am still so TIRED!!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shabbat, Who Makes It Happen and How?

I am curious how much other people's families, especially kids, are involved in cleaning and household chores, both during the week and on Erev Shabbat.

I feel like it is very important to involve my kids, but sometimes I feel as if they are the only kids that have chores.

Maybe because I constantly hear "None of my friends do what I do!"

My kids have regular weekday chores which include loading and unloading the dishwashers, cleaning off the table, sweeping the floor, and folding the laundry. They also make their own lunches (because I finally gave up trying to remember what each kid was willing to eat on any given day) and sometimes even dinner (they all know how to make eggs and pasta).

They don't always do their chores in a timely fashion, but that is the goal.

I have also found that having permanent jobs, rather than rotations works better. The idea being that a kid can not procrastinate so long that their chore falls on someone else. Of course, often it still falls on me, but sometimes the system works....

I intent to rotate the permanent jobs, but I am waiting until everyone can do their job well, and without complaining. This is taking much longer than I expected.

For Shabbat, the kids have to sweep and mop, help with peeling and cutting vegetables, and general straightening up. My eldest also does the rice and sometimes makes roasted potatoes.

Jobs are not so evenly distributed, but we try to adapt to the needs and abilities of each of the kids.

My biggest challenge is keeping kids on track on Fridays, and not yelling when it takes MUCH longer than I think it should to do a given chore.

So, what goes on in your home?

How do you keep Fridays pleasant and relaxed?

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Someone Else's Mother

During chemo day today, one of the nurses asked me how my daughter (the eldest) reacted.

"To what?" I asked, confused.

The nurse came over and quietly let me know that the mother of one of the girls in my daughter's shichva (grade) passed away from cancer during Lag BaOmer. The girl is from the other class, along with the nurse's daughter.

Hmmmm, I wonder if my daughter's need to talk last night had anything to do with this.

My daughter did not mention anything.

I consulted the social worker, who suggested I talk with my daughter's teacher and gather more information before raising the subject with my daughter.

Before I could find anything else out, my daughter called me about something mundane and mentioned, by the way, that the mother of one of the kids in the other class died of cancer, but she can't talk about it now, she has to go...


I told her that we might not be home when she gets home tonight because we are going to Nichum Aveilim (comfort a mourner) -- our neighbor's mother also passed away this week.

"Wow. Everyone's dying," she commented.

"No, not everyone;" I corrected her, "and our neighbor's mother is older, not like the mother of the girl from your class."

I really wanted to hear more, but she really needed to go. I was worried that I would not be able to talk with her about this at all.

Tomorrow morning she is going away for three days for Shabbat Garin -- a regional Shabbaton (retreat) for all the kids her age in her youth group.

So, I was relieved to find my daughter still awake, and busy as a bee, when we returned home.

We started to talk about the girl from her shichva.

Meanwhile, Moshe wanted to heat up some soup.

"Where is the cover to the pot?" he asked me.

As I began to answer him, my daughter started walking away. It was late, and she still needed to pack for the Shabbat Garin.

I stopped answering Moshe and called for her to come back.

We started talking again, and Moshe again asked me where to find the cover to the pot.

Frustrated, my eldest said she really did not have time to wait because she had to go pack, and walked out of the room.

I couldn't believe it!

Now all three of us were frustrated!

My eldest needed to pack.
I needed to talk with her.
And Moshe needed the cover to the pot.

I glared at Moshe, told him to cook it without a cover, and followed my daughter, hoping I could at least talk with her while she was packing.

It was not the greatest of circumstances, but it was the best I was going to get at that point.

I learned that they talked in school about what happens during shiv'a (the 7 day mourning period), and about who goes to Nichum Aveilim. Most of the girls from the other class are going, and some girls from my daughter's class, who are close with the girl who lost her mother, are going. My daughter is not going.

At first, I thought she should go, even if she is not close with the girl, but I did not say anything. I am glad I waited.

As we were talking, I realized that, given my situation, it was probably better for my daughter not to go.

It is healthier for her to maintain her distance. She does not need to vicariously experience the pain of losing a mother.

All the time we are talking, my daughter is deliberating about what clothes to bring, pulling clothes out of her closet, making lists, etc.

At one point, my eldest expressed her exasperation. "I do not want to talk about this anymore when I have more important things to worry about!"

"Like what clothes to pack!" I finished her sentence.

"YES!!" she shouted.

And, with that, the discussion was over... almost.

I explained that it was important for me to talk with her about this because I wanted to make sure that she was not worried or concerned. She assured me that she was not. Why?

"You are not going to die," she explained, succinctly.

"We are all going to die," I corrected her.

"Yes, but you are not going to die from cancer," She answered.

And, with that, the discussion really was over.

I hope she is right.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Tummy Troubles

(from last night... I can't post from my bedroom. One day, we'll hook up that second router...)

My tummy is so sad.

No, not sad… upset.

That’s it.

My tummy is upset.

Apparently, Taxotere does not agree with my stomach.

They have been disagreeing with each other all week!

I do not have nausea… at least, nothing to get worked up about.

But I do have… well… I guess there is no way to say this nicely…

I have diarrhea.

(Those of you who know me can just pretend that you did not read these intimate details about my digestive tract)

What can I say? I have had a miserable day, most of which was spent in the bathroom.

I slept for several hours this afternoon and, when I woke up, I did not feel any better.

I sat down to dinner with my kids, but then I needed to excuse myself.

I asked my eldest to take care of cleaning up and putting her siblings to bed.

She had a teenage moment and quite articulately expressed her resentment about doing “my job.”

She was right. But what could I do?

Moshe was not home yet and I needed to go back to bed.

In the end, she did everything I asked.

I called her into my bedroom. She came right away and flopped down on her Abba’s (father’s) bed. When I asked her to do one more thing for me, she responded, rather dejectedly, “I thought you were calling me in to talk.”

Clearly, she needed some attention. (I may not always “get it” right away, but you don’t need to hit me over the head with a hammer!)

We started to talk about this and that and then I remembered. We needed to think of a name for our camp.

Now, our camp is a subject for a different post, but I will just share with you what happened while we were brainstorming.

We got the giggles.


You know how it is when you get the giggles…. You just cannot stop laughing.

Every silly suggestion makes you laugh even harder.

Well, we were rolling with laughter!

I answered the phone several times in the middle and I know we sounded quite loony! That just made us laugh even harder!

When we finally finished, we were both in really good moods.

Just then, my youngest came in, rather contrite.

My eldest, having received the attention she needed, gracefully exited the room and made way for her little sister.

I invited my youngest to sit on my bed and offered to comb out her long hair. There is something very nurturing about combing out hair. (I think my feelings about it stem from when I read Cheaper by the Dozen)

I tortured combed her hair for about 20 minutes, in the middle of which she apologized. (No need to elaborate about forgiven sins)

When I finished, and her hair was all shiny and smooth, and we had a nice reconciliatory hug. Then several more hugs, just because we love each other.

Lest you worry that my son was left out of all these good feelings, in between one of my trips between my bathroom and bedroom, I made sure to give him some positive feedback and get, of course, a nice good night hug!

Not too bad for a mom suffering from stomach problems.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Support Group III -- Inauspicious Beginnings

After waiting for months for a four-week support group about parenting, I had a conflict that could not be avoided.

The truth is, there is a bit of a back-story, which makes this even more poignant.

You see, at first I had a Bar Mitzvah that night. So, I tried, unsuccessfully, to get the date changed (of the support group, not the Bar Mitzvah. duh!) Then God smiled at me, and the facilitator needed to postpone the meeting. I was so happy that I would not have to miss it! Then God laughed at me, and gave me parent-teacher meetings on the new meeting night. That was so unfair!

Well, I went early to the parent teacher meetings, but we still finished meeting with all the teachers after the support group already started. As soon as we were done, I ran (okay, drove) to my support group. I arrived an hour late.

Even though there was still an hour left to the meeting, I felt like I missed a lot.

In the end, there was nobody new in the group, except the facilitator, who I had met before, at a previous event. Most of the women were from my previous support group (Ch, L, M, and R) and one, MZ, was from our first support group. S and EZ, who led our last support group, also attended. I felt like I was "coming home," but also like I was late for something really important.

The group was still doing an "introductory" exercise. I listened as my friends shared their stories about what they told/shared with their children.

The facilitator wanted to extend the meeting, but several women needed to leave by ten. So, when everyone had finished, the facilitator turned to me and asked me to take two minutes to share what I had told/shared with my kids about my cancer.

For various reasons, I felt really put off. I would have preferred if she had just asked me to wait and share my experiences next week. How was I to sum up in two minutes what everyone else had just spent 15 minutes, or more, sharing?

In the end, I just answered, "We told our kids everything."

The facilitator had asked all the other women follow up questions, but she did not really have time for me. She did ask me one or two questions, but I did not understand what she wanted from me.

It was clear that there was no time for any detailed answers, so I resented her questions. I did not really know how to respond. With no background, and no real understanding of our family dynamic, what could I say?

I was really annoyed, but I did not know how to express my frustration constructively. I felt like anything I said would come out sounding like I was pouting. How could I make any demands for attention, when I was the one who came in an hour late?

After the meeting, the facilitator was very friendly and nice. She showed me the workbook they used for the meeting and suggested I do the exercises at home. The workbook is in Hebrew, so I was not sure that I would really use it on my own. The facilitator offered to bring me some materials in English next time.

As agitated as I felt, I could not remain upset at the facilitator, who was exceptionally warm and welcoming.

So, though I was decidedly unsatisfied, I will see what happens next meeting.

After looking forward to this group for so long, the actual meeting, or what was left of it, was a real letdown for me.

I have so many questions and concerns about parenting within the context of cancer.

I really need this group to help me process what is going on in our home.

More than anything, I need help in understanding how cancer is affecting my role as a mother.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lag Ba'Omer

When my youngest daughter was in first grade, her teacher decided to organize a class bonfire and kumzitz (sing-a-long) for Lag Ba'Omer.

The previous year, my eldest daughter's fourth grade teacher organized a class bonfire, but it did not seem as if any of the other kids' classes were doing anything this year.

So, a bonfire with the first graders seemed just right. My older kids were not yet in youth group. And the timing was right -- early enough that we could finish before all the mega-bonfires burned down the city.

The next year, for second grade, the kids had the same teacher, who once again organized the bonfire in the same place. My older kids had a good time the year before, so they gladly joined us again.

In third grade, my daughter's new teacher decided to continue with the tradition. That year, we had a joint bonfire with the first graders who now had our kids' old teacher.

The third grade teacher continued to teach the kids' class in fourth grade. In a radical move, the teacher decided to make the bonfire in Hurshat HaYareach (The Moon Park), instead of Gan Sacher. That worked out well for us, since our son was going to do a bonfire with his class that year, and they were also planning to do it in Hurshat HaYareach. While I bounced back and fourth between my two younger kids' bonfires, my eldest was completely on her own.

By that time, my eldest was no longer interested in celebrating Lag Ba'Omer with her family. She was totally into her youth group by that point. Though I did put my foot down when she called me at 2:00 in the morning. "I don't care if everyone else is staying up all night," I called into the phone, "you are coming home"... and she did.

This year, I was talking to my youngest's teacher (she is the same teacher who organized my eldest's class bonfire in fourth grade, and my son's class bonfire last year) and I mentioned this class's longstanding tradition.

It is unclear who exactly put this year's bonfire together, but most of the kids met yet again in the Hurshat HaYareach.

Now, in the past, all the parents, and many younger siblings, participated in the class bonfires. But by fifth grade, neither of my older kids were interested in their parents being at their bonfires. So I was not sure what would be at this year's bonfire.

Once again, my eldest was going off with her youth group. This year, she made it clear that she was planning to stay out all night. I did not like the idea, but consultations with other parents led me to the conclusion that I should let this one pass.

*** Is there anyone out there who insists that their children come home, irregardless of what "everyone else" is doing??***

My son went to a friend's house for a bonfire/bar-b-q with half his class (the other half went to a different friend from the class).

So, I took my youngest, and decided to stay for as long as I felt welcome. At first, it seemed as if only one other kid's parents were planning to be there. But, at the end, there were several parents who stayed. Despite the presence of several parentst, the kids ran the show. They made the fire, prepared the food and even organized activities.

It was a really nice evening. Though not everyone came this year, most of the class did participate. The kids really get along well and work well together as a group.

It was fun hanging out with them.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sewing Circle

A few months ago, I realized that I could further "take advantage" of my chemo day.

Most of the time, I am just sitting around. Even when I am receiving my treatments, my hands are free because of my port.

It occured to me that I could use that time for mending.

Now, lest you get the wrong impression, I an not the domestic type. Far from it.

The only reason our mending every gets done is that my mother, God bless her, is happy to do our mending when she comes to visit. Still, there is so much that collects, and my mom has other things to do besides sitting around mending all day, that the mending pile continues to grow. During her last visit, we were so busy, my mom did not get a chance to mend even one item.

Afterwards, I was struck by the thought that my parents' next several visits might be very busy. What if my mother does not have time to do any mending?!?

Then I had my epiphany: bring my mending to chemo!

I put together a mini sewing kit, with all the necessities: basic thread (white, black, brown, and blue), needles, scissors (a small pair, with dull ends, like the kids used in first grade), and even pins (stored in a Tic Tac box). Everything fits into a small, zippered pouch.

My friend, LS, who is, thankfully, finished with her chemo, thought it was such a great idea that she brought her mending too! Another friend/patient saw us, and brought her chemo the next week as well. That week, we all sat next to each other and had what can only be described as a "sewing circle."

Every week, I place my sewing kit and an item or two of clothing that needs to be mended in a tote bag. Now, I also bring my sewing bag to doctor's appointments and other places where I can expect to sit around waiting.

During the first week or two that I brought my mending to chemo, I mended a skirt that my eldest gave me several years ago -- it now fits my youngest!

For years, the kids were despondent when they showed me something that needed a stich or two, knowing that giving me their mending was practically equivalent to throwing it into a black hole. Now they come to me, with hopeful looks on their face, and the innocent plea, "Ima, can you fix this?"

Even Moshe, who probably suffers most from my domestic shortcomings, has benefitted from my newfound sewing proficiency.

The thing is, even though I do not enjoy these domestic chores, I have a deep sense of satisfaction when I return my children's items, almost as good as new.

Occasionally they come to me, distressed, showing me a tear or hole in their favorite clothes (0ften made from delicate materials).

I am proud to say that I have done truly wonderful fixes.

Most recently, I returned a skirt to my eldest daughter, who is probable the most sensitive about how her clothes appear. She took it and spent several seconds searching for the fix. "Where was the tear?" she called to me. When she found it, she was really impressed.

My non-domestic heart swelled with motherly pride.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Friday, May 8, 2009

Whose job is it anyway?

"Why didn't you tell her about the brit" my husband asked, when he realized that our daughter went home instead of joining us at the simcha (celebration), to which all our children were invited.

"It is such a haval (shame);" he continued, "her school is right around the corner."

I started to explain... then I stopped.

"Why didn't you tell her?" I queried in return. "You saw her this morning. Why didn't you mention it when you took her to school?"

We each had our reasons for why neither of us remembered to inform our daughter.

The question is, whose responsibility is it? Does the onus fall on one of us more than the other?

Moshe clearly felt that the burden of responsibility fell on my shoulders. Perhaps because I am our family's main "program coordinator."

On the other hand, I have a lousy memory (it was bad, even before chemo), and am notorious about forgetting to communicate information about our plans.

Furthermore, Moshe is often the only parent who sees the kids in the morning.

We ended the discussion with neither of us claiming responsibility, but both agreeing to try harder to make sure the kids are informed.

How do other families resolve this issue?

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Medical Update -- fingernails and chest pain

OK, so I want to clarify something here: my concern over blue nails is not "cosmetic."

I have to ice my fingernails and toenails to keep them healthy. If they turn colors, that is NOT a good sign. If they are not well, they are in danger of infection or falling out or both. Not a pretty sight, and not something that a little nailpolish can fix.

Today, I met with my oncologist and asked him if the cold pack gloves and slippers were really necessary. He said they were mandatory (for all the reasons mentioned above).

They are not fun, but now that I know what to expect, I can deal with it a bit better.

That said, they are downright unpleasant.

On a happier note, I did not experience any chest pain from the Taxotere today. The drip was fairly slow, so that might have had something to do with it, but I do not know. In any case, I am cautiously optimistic that I will not experience any more pressure.

Chemo day was long today (9:40 am - 4:20 pm), but much better than last time!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Need I Say More?

Seen on a bumper sticker in Phoenix, Arizona (March, 2009):

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

(thanks Dad!!)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

10 Facts about Me

I am so tired, I did not know what to post. And then I noticed that A Living Nadneyda tagged me with the Honest Scrap Award. So, since I am too tired to post anything else, here goes....

10 Honest Facts About Me:

1. My favorite place in the whole world is Disneyworld. I could spend a month in Orlando and never get bored. I really want to visit again with my kids! I fantasize about staying in one of those cool Disney hotels!

2. My favorite place in Israel is Tel Dan. Along the path, there is a sign to "The Garden of Eden"
-- I wish I could live there. In my mind's eye, that is what heaven really looks like.

3. I am afraid of heights but I loved jumping off the cliff at Yehudiyah, in the Golan.

(Sadly, ther is now a sign prohibiting jumping. Moshe and I had our first big fight when I jumped anyway. We argued about it for the entire hike out of the valley. It turns out that there are jagged rocks just under the surface and several jumpers were seriously hurt. I had to promise Moshe to always follow safety signs, even when he is not there.)

4. I love cursing.

5. I have a green belt in Judo.

6. I love the water. When I was little, I wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up, so I could live in the water. I still wish I could live in the water. My zodiac sign is Aquarius. If I were an animal, I would be a dolphin. I have been teaching swimming since I was 12.

7. I was a hippy in high school. I wore long flowy clothes, a floppy hat, and often walked around barefoot. I attended an alternative high school. I played frisbee for gym and drew pictures instead of taking notes during class. I slept through history, even though there were only three students, including me, in my class. I went on Dunkin' Donut runs with my teachers. Our classrooms and lounge were in three caravans, about an hours walk from the regular high school. I was probably the only student who did not do drugs. I was always "high on life."

8. When I was little, I was really shy and quiet. That changed.

9. In 7th or 8th grade I started doing theatre. I developed a strong personality thanks to my involvement in theater. I wonder if Laurie Cohen, who ran the drama club in Teaneck, is still around. I should thank her.

10. I went to Barnard college and it was everything a college should be for me. I developed there on every plane: intellectually, religiously, socially, and politically. When I graduated, I knew that I could do anything I wanted and I planned on changing the world.

Last time, almost everyone I tagged had been tagged already. I will try again. But this time I am tagging 7 bloggers I only recently met. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

Adena at Mother Thoughts
Cheryl at Adventures of a Somewhat Crunchy Mama
Daria at Living with Cancer
Kate at The Big Piece of Cake
Melissa at Sunbonnet Cottage
Noa at Giur, Israel, Volontariate und mehr.. (Noa's blog is in German, so I never actually read it)
You (if you have not been tagged yet)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Monday, May 4, 2009

Please Daven (pray) for My Friend

We met in the chemo ward, but it turns out we grew up almost next door to each other. She was a bit older, so our paths did not cross back then. However, our brothers went to school together and our moms knew each other.

Over the last year and a half, we have become good friends.

My friend has a rare form of bone cancer that has metastasized. We often talk about the challenges of living with cancer and of raising children under these circumstances.

Recently, she travelled to the US for medical consultaions at Sloan Kettering.

On Wednesday, May 6, she is undergoing surgery in the US to remove tumors from her liver.

During her last surgery, for reasons that none of the doctors understand, her organs began to fail and her life was in danger. So, there is an added level of concern regarding her upcoming surgery.

She is a pretty amazing person. She continues to work part time in her profession as an occupational therapist. She is an attentive mom to five (or six?) kids and already has one grandchild!

Please daven (pray) for Taube Yehudit bat Tema Gussy.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I am soooooooo tired!

I know it is from the chemo. I have only had one treatment so far, so I am not drawing any conclusions yet.

Meanwhile, all I want to do is sleep!!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Friday, May 1, 2009

Quick Technical Question

This is a quick question (or two) for those who are either Twittering me, Following me, or simply receiving posts via email.

When I make a change to a published post, either in the text or in the title, do you receive every single version?

If so, does it drive you nuts?


I made at least three post-posting changes to my last post (get that?). How many did you receive?

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,