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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Overly Efficient?

I called to schedule the Bone Scan, and discovered they already made me an appointment for early Sunday morning. (someone "up there" really doesn't want to let me "sleep in!")

Yesterday, Moshe faxed them the referal and insurance forms. Apparently they scheduled the scan right away -- pretty efficient, though it would have been nice of them to let me know.

Good thing I called.

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Medical Update -- CT results

My doctor sat up straight. He had "that look." My stomach dropped.

He chose his words carefully. There is a "minor level suspicion" that the situation with my bones is worse.

I thought we eliminated suspicion with the last CT of my bones.

I guess not.

This past Sunday, Isru Chag, instead of sleeping in and hanging out with my kids (or putting away my Pesach dishes), I woke up early for a MUGA scan (to make sure the Herceptin is not damaging my heart too much). After that, I had my regularly scheduled CT. (Have I mentioned how DISGUSTING I find the Barium drink for the CT??)

The tests are slightly stressful. (Hence the need to rest when I got home, even though I did "nothing" all morning) But I did not worry too much. I expected everything to be the same as last time. Stable.

Silly me.

Of course, everything is probably OK.

Even in the worst case, my prognosis is still the same (good). I would just have to change the companion drug (i.e. the chemo: Vinorelbine, a.k.a. Vanilla Bean). Hopefully, that will not be necessary.

I am taking a drug (either Zomera or Denosumab, not sure which, since I am in a double-blind study) to strengthen my bones. The drug creates dense bone tissue around the tumors, causing the borders to appear larger. So, while the results appear to be scelrosis, we want to make sure.

The good news is that my heart is just fine, thank-you-very-much. And my liver and lungs appear stable. Though, since I cannot use contrast (since I am now allergic to iodine), it is more difficult to examine the CT and compare results.... However, apparently there is no immediate concern regarding my organs.

So, I just need to do a Bone Scan (Hebrew: Mipui Atzamot).

It is no big deal. Just another test.

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, April 28, 2008


It is late at night and I cannot sleep.

This never used to happen to me.

I always said that sleep was one of the gifts God gave me.

I sleep so deeply that, if someone calls and wakes me, not only will I not remember our conversation, I will not remember who called, or even that there was a call.

When my kids were babies, and sleeping in the crook of my arm, Moshe would have to shake me awake -- whoever said that mothers naturally wake to their babies' cries?

Lately, I wake in the middle of the night and, rather fitfully, return to sleep.

But when I sleep, I sleep.

Sleep is a wonderful escape... from pain, from cancer, from everything...

Yet, every once in a while, sleep escapes me.

I lie in bed and find it difficult to turn off my brain, even though I am so tired.

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pesach Pursuits OR God is Laughing....Again!

There are ALWAYS too many COOL "things to do" and NEVER enough TIME!!

We were slow getting our week's plans in order, which means that we mostly had "down time" on Monday. At the end of the day, we met friends at the Botanical Gardens. We briefly saw my SIL, whose beautiful paintings were on exhibit by the duck pond. We did not see much of the park, but what we saw, we enjoyed! We could have stayed longer, like many Israelis who remained LONG after the park officially closed. Instead, we hung out, talking, in the parking lot...

Tuesday, we joined my SIL, from Gush Katif/Hareisha, at Nachshonit (a small, Israeli amusement park). Moshe woke the kids at 7:00 and we left at 9:45 -- less than an hour later than planned; quite impressive for our crew! Despite detour delays, caused by LONG stretches of highways 443 AND 444 being closed, we arrived less than an hour after the park opened. Ironically, once we entered the park, we spent most of our time waiting on lines. Still, the rides were fun and the kids had a great time playing with their cousins. At the end of the day, we sat at the edge of the parking lot and had hung out a bit longer... (Notice a pattern here??)

My parents left in my car and, on the way home, the engine overheated. My dad managed to drive to a gas station in Jerusalem just as the engine started steaming....

We planned to go to Tel Shilo the next morning, and we needed both cars....

During one day of Chol HaMoed, there is "living history" at Tel Shilo -- actors dress in period costumes and tell "their" ancient story. I wanted to go to Shilo last Succot, but the "living history" day was Tuesday and I had chemo!

So I waited for Pesach...

I have off from chemo this Chol HaMoed and thought to go to Shilo on Tuesday. But... this Chol HaMoed, the "living history" is on Wednesday... Oh, no! Remember: big get-together on Wednesday??

Wait! We can do it all!!

We will get up early (again!) and get there when the site opens. A friend, who I davka met at chemo, is in charge of hadracha (tour guiding) at Shilo; she told me that 3 hours is plenty of time to see everything. Since we are slow, I figured we needed at least 4 hours. We would get to park Gilo by 2:30/3:00.

The broken car was just a "glitch." We could still do it!

I prepared everything in advance! I left lists for what needed to be done in the morning! If you did not know me, you might get the mistaken impressions that I was "put together!" I was uncharacteristically organized! I was determined!

I got up super early and brought the car in at 7:30, when the shop opened. If they worked on the car right away, I could get out of there by 8:30 or 9:00 and we could still make it to Shilo...

"Man Plans.... God Laughs!"

You know how it is. You watch the minutes, then the hours, tick by. You do those mental calculations: "if we leave now, we can get there by.... and still have time for...." You continually revise your plans. Until, eventually, you are forced to admit that there is just no time...

I spent Wednesday morning, and half the afternoon, in Talpiot, waiting for the car doctors to complete their open-engine surgery. My poor car needed major reconstruction: a new thermostat, a new water pump, etc.

God bless my mother who got up early with me and kept me company the entire morning!

After noon, Moshe picked us up and brought us home. I ate a quick lunch and my father went back with me to pick up the car.

Seven hours (and 1,700 NIS) later, I got my car back!

Got home. Got the family together. Got out.

We arrived at Park Gilo, just past 4:00. YAY!!!

Lots of friends!! Lots of fun!!

Pesach Vacation: Two perspectives:

Through the Looking Glass:
Monday: Parking Lot Prattle
Tuesday: Parking Lot Picnic
Wednesday: Garage Shop Greetings

Looking Back:
Monday: Botanical Gardens
Tuesday: Amusement Park
Wednesday: Chevra Get-Together

Thursday: I know what I planned... We will see what happens...

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, April 21, 2008

WANTED: Family Friendly Pesach Activites

We forgot to get Friday's paper...

So, any suggestions will be warmly received!

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

With love and optimism,

Camping... or Not.

Four days of chol hamoed!! Five, if you count Friday! And I do not have chemo this week! It does not get any better than that!

"Perfect!" I thought, "We can go camping for a week!"

My kids and I LOVE camping. Moshe does not; he gets too hot. And, the last time we went camping together, my mom's back hurt from sleeping on the ground. So, I anticipated a bit of resistance. But I figured I could count on my dad. Not this time. All the adults vetoed the camping idea.

Hey, I'm the one with cancer! If I am up for it, they should be too!!!

Life is just not fair....

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pre-Pesach Procrastinations

Well, this is it....

Blogging has been a great way to take breaks (read: procrastinate) from getting ready for Pesach.

I LOVE Pesach.

I HATE Pesach preparations!

I am not one of those crazy spring-cleaning types. I just clean for Pesach.

It always takes longer than I think.

I was much more organized this year.

I made lists.

I assigned tasks.

I enlisted outside help.

The kids cleaned our cars a week early.

They cleaned their rooms at the beginning of the week.

They were available and, most of the time, helpful.

So why is there still so much to be done at the last moment?

Mom in Israel wrote a great post about Pesach Crisis Cleaning.

If you are "one of us", read the comments too. You'll be glad you did.

In addition to all the practical advice, it is so nice to know that I am not the only one!

Chag Kasher V'Sameach!

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Say "YES" to Drugs

Why Optalgin (generic name: Dipyrone) is banned in the US and UK:

1. In rare cases, Optalgin causes life threatening illnesses, like aplastic anemia and agranulocytosis.
2. Risk is not related to dosage or duration of drug use.
3. Risk varies geographically.
4. Less people develop life threatening diseases in Israel than in other countries.

I decided to check out other options.


There is a nurse in the oncology ward who specializes in pain management. I asked her about alternatives to Optalgin and narcotics.

The first thing she asked me was why I do not want to take narcotics.

What a strange question.

I grew up with the slogan: "Say NO to drugs!"

Now I'm being asked "Why are you saying no to drugs?"

Shouldn't the answer be obvious??

I guess not.

I told her:
1. I want to drive
2. I do not want to sleep
3. I do not want to get addicted to drugs

I have taken opioids (opiates) before. After surgery, I was on a morphine drip and, later, I took Percocet (oxycodon combined with acetaminophen).

This stuff puts me to sleep!

I stopped taking the drugs as soon as I could bear the pain.

Truth be told, I do not want to take narcotics.

I also do not want to be in pain.

So I took a very small dose of Tramadex (generic name: Tamadol), in addition to Optalgin.

It made me nauseous.

Apparently, you need to get used to these things.

So I will try again... later.

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, April 14, 2008

Chevra Get-Together

There is going to be a big chevra get-together in Park Gilo on Wednesday, the third day of Chol HaMoed, from 3:30 to 6:00 pm.

There will be lots of chevra from the "old days"! ;-)

New chevra are welcome too!

BYOM (bring your own matzah)

Spread the word!


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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, April 13, 2008


My son seemed so "big" as he walked out the door.

His friend, BR, had invited him to sleep over.

By going, my son chose to forgo the Pesach tiyul (hike) with his youth group.

The tiyul, he reasoned, would be with a large group of kids. He would have more fun at his friend's home.

I am proud of the maturity with which he made his decision.

His friend lives in Talpiot, just a seven minute drive away.

But I was tired, so my son was going to take the bus, by himself, for the first time.

After he left, I figured I had about two hours to myself, before the girls came home from gymnastics.

25 minutes later, there is a knock on my door.

I open the door and see my son's anguished face.

"I think I might have been waiting on the wrong side of the street.... I saw two buses going the other way...."

He is bravely trying to hold his emotions in check.

The "big, strong" boy, who left my home 25 minutes earlier, now seems so "little" and fragile.

He is "my little boy," and I need to fix this.

"Come on. I'll take you." I pronounce, hoping to swoop in and save the day.

My son looks relieved.

But as I go for my keys, I realize that my car is still in the shop and I cannot take him.

I call Moshe, but he needs to work late.

I want to fix this.

I call my neighbor, and good friend, JB. She's not home.

I call another neighbor. She is putting her kids to sleep.

My son is looking at me with wide eyes and great expectation.

I am about to break the news to him that I cannot fix this.

Just then, the phone rings.

JB calls. Her husband told her about our plight. She is on her way home and happy to help us.

My son and I quickly gather our things.

As I am locking the door, we hear a car honk.

"She's here," my son says, eager and excited.

I go along for the ride.

As we drop him off, I am struck by how "big" and how "small" my son is.

He is surely growing up.

But he still has that little boy inside of him.

And I am going to take care of him for as long as he will let me.

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

With love and optimism,

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cleaning Out the Fridge and Freezer

By far, the most challenging aspect of Pesach is cleaning out my fridge and freezer.

Now, I am not talking about the basic act of cleaning, which simply involves a bucket of soapy water, a sponge, and about an hour and a half of time.

No... that is the easy part.

The tough part is finishing off all the food that has been forgotten, buried deep inside my freezer.

Every year I discover different treasures.

This year, the "stash" includes: pastries; hamburger buns, banana muffins, cooked chicken (in a chametzdik sauce), rolls, one last challah, etc.

Our shul (synagogue) is organizing a catered community meal this Shabbat. We cannot go. We have to eat chametz!

Between our fridge and our pantry, there is too much to finish.

Usually, on Shabbat, I limit the amount of carbohydrates that the kids eat. I want them to eat something besides challah -- a little protein, some vegetables.

This Shabbat, everything goes. No limits. There will be noodles and soup nuts. Lots of desserts. Lots of couscous. Lots of challah.

It took me years to discover that all the weight I gain "during Pesach" is, in reality, gained during the month before Pesach, trying to finish all our chametz!

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, April 10, 2008


It took a while, but I am finally listening.

My oncologist kept telling me to take drugs. But I did not take them.

It's not that I liked the pain. It's just that I did not want to take pain killers.

I was intimidated by Optalgin. (If it is banned in the US, I did not want to be taking it in Israel)

But the pain was making it difficult to fall asleep.

So I started taking Optalgin at night.

My doctor insisted that I also take at least one a day, to get rid of the pain.

So I took one, and the pain went away.

So I took another one.

Soon, I was taking one or two at a time, up to four times a day.

Once I entered the mindset that I should not be in pain, I no longer wanted to be in any pain.

I needed more Optalgin.

If I take two pills, four times a day, that is: 8 (pills a day) x 7 (days a week) x 4.5 (weeks in a month) -- i.e. 252 pills a month.

I went to the pharmacy with my prescription.

The pharmacist could not believe I wanted 12 boxes (21 pills/box) of Optalgin.

"Do you suffer from migraines?" The pharmacist politely inquired.

I smiled and replied "No, cancer."

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Starting the day on the right foot...

A good friend, RJ, came over this morning and brought me a great present!

The last time she visited, we got to talking about cleaning windows. (don't ask me how. it just happens sometimes... it might have something to do with my very dirty windows....)

She mentioned that she has a great time cleaning her windows.

I wanted to know her secret... after all, cleaning windows never seemed like much fun to me.

She uses a "squeegee"! (the kind used in gas stations for cleaning car windows)

What a brilliant idea!

Today, RJ brought me my very own, bright red, brand new, squeegee!!

No more crumpled up newspapers for me!

With such a fun toy, I bet even my kids will want to clean the windows!

As if that wasn't enough, she also brought over scented oils and gave me such a wonderful foot massage!

She added frankincense, melissa, and a citrus scent to some canola oil and... wow!

I felt like a princess!

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chemo Day

The drugs worked and I slept through most of the night. (codeine is good)

I woke up 2 or 3 times from back pain. It was not so bad that I couldn't go back to sleep. But I don't usually wake up in the middle of the night. (blah)

I remembered to put on the topical anesthetic this morning. (relief; last time I forgot)

Then... off to chemo. (woo hoo)

I met with the doctor and, afterwards, remembered all the things I wanted to discuss. (argh)

I had a great massage (with beautiful classical music in the background) and wonderful company (thanks MG for being my date and driving me home).

There was a mini-crisis around 1:30, when my son called...

BOTH my son and daughter FORGOT their keys!!

I had at least another two hours of chemo. (I finished at 4:00)

I called IS, who so generously went and picked up my kids and brought them to her home.

It was the best kind of favor: Not such a big deal for her, and a TREMENDOUS help to me.

At home, I spent some time with A & MD. We played two games of backgammon. A rolled for me during the first game (I won), then she rolled for MD during the second game (he won). I am taking her to Las Vegas...

I blew off my plans for tonight. I still did not feel so great, and I thought it would be a good idea to stay home with the kids. (Moshe had to work late)

I wanted to go to bed early, but I waited for Y to come home from youth group, so she could talk about "the discussion." (for background, read here)

I am glad I waited. She was not happy about the way it went and was eager to talk.

I did not have any worldly wisdom for her.

But I listened.

Sometimes listening is enough.

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, April 7, 2008

Now You KNOW I'm Sick

I came home from the doctors, ate a bowl of leftover chicken soup, and crashed.

I was feeling pretty miserable, and forced myself to admit that I was not up to teaching swimming.

So, just before I went to bed, I sent an email canceling classes.

I fell asleep around noon and woke up just before 4:30 pm!

I did not expect to sleep that long!

I frantically checked my email and made a few calls to make sure that all my parents were aware that classes were cancelled.

Then I crawled back under my covers.

At about 7:00 pm, Y came in and we talked a bit and watched sit-coms for a bit. We even had a really meaningful conversation during the commercials. (strange, but true)

A few minutes before 8:00 pm, I realized that I wasn't going to the laughter workshop.


Had a friend been available to drive, I probably would have gone anyway.

But it was a real "gam zu l'tova" (all for the best) situation.

I was disappointed, but I knew it was the right decision.

I got out of bed, had a bite to eat, and directed my kids to bed (better late than never).

Now I will take some more drugs, thank you very much, and go back to bed.

Good night.

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

With love and optimism,

Mornings, Over-40-Eyes, and a STUPID COLD

I needed to make an eye doctor appointment and put it off for months. (Procrastinators Anon, here I come...)

Last week, when I finally called to make the appointment, the secretary said she had time in JUNE. I nearly flipped!

I explained that I was worried that chemo was affecting my eyesight. So, trying to be helpful, she said "in that case, come Monday at 8:20."

Well, I am NOT a morning person AT ALL! In fact, everyone knows NEVER to call me before 9:00 am. (My good friends often wait until 10:00!)

Plus, I have finally figured out that if I want to be in Givat Shaul by 8:20 in the morning, then I have to leave my house by 7:30! (At other, more normal times of the day, it only takes 25 minutes. However, at that time of the morning, it takes almost an hour -- A traffic-jammed, VERY STRESSFUL, hour!)


But I couldn't just tell the really nice secretary, who just squeezed me in, "thanx, but no thanx." So, I smiled (even though she couldn't see me) and said, in my cheeriest voice, "I'll be there!"

Well, the advantage to having such a miserable cold is that when I went back to bed last night, at around 5:30 am, I still couldn't fall back asleep.

Moshe gets up at 5:45 anyway, and at 6:30, the kids all started popping their heads in.

So, by 7:00, as the kids were leaving the house, I "gave it up" and got up.

In the end, leaving by 7:30 was not all that difficult.

"Everything has its advantages and disadvantages." (Ask my kids. I say this ALL the time.)

Anyway, despite my lack of sleep, I was so put together that I remembered to call my doctor on the way, and got an appointment for 9:30! So, I just bopped from one appointment to the next.

At the doctor’s, I discovered that I have another STUPID COLD.... but we already knew that.

So I popped down to the pharmacy, and left with a big, giant bag of drugs… and a box of really soft tissues.

And my eyes?

Well, my long distance vision is fine. And, though I can not see up close as well as before (things get a little fuzzy), it is just a 0.5 or 0.75 impairment.

If you wear glasses, that might mean something to you.

I have never worn glasses.

Now I have to decide if I want to pick up a pair of off-the-counter reading glasses, which will help me read, but might make my eyesight deteriorate a fraction faster. Or, I could just leave my eyes alone. (And keep exercising those eye muscles!) (At the end of the day, they might be the only muscles I'm exercising!)

The vision loss might be slightly affected by the chemo, but mostly it is an "over-40" thing.

Since both my parents got glasses later in life, I basically knew that I would eventually need glasses.

And, since both my parents got glasses at a younger age than I am now, I should be glad that I held out this long. (According to the eye doctor, I can hold out even longer...)

But, I am seriously frustrated by the blurry vision thing and I'm not real keen on the glasses thing.

I have nothing against glasses... they would just be another item for me to misplace!

The day will come when I ask my kids "have you seen my glasses?" -- That will be the day that I officially turn into my mother!

(It started with the keys....)


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

With love and optimism,

PAIN and a Stupid Cold

The last CT, of my back, showed no new growths.

So, why am I in so much pain??

I always said that one of the gifts God gave me is sleep. I am a really deep sleeper. Nothing wakes me up!

When we were kids, my mom tested fire alarms in the middle of the night. None of us (not my father, brother, sister, nor I) woke up.

When my kids were babies, and sleeping next to me, Moshe would shake me awake, because their crying did not penetrate my slumber.

If you call, and wake me up, I might have a coherent conversation with you. But afterwards, not only will I not remember what we said, I probably won't even remember that you called.

That's how deeply I sleep.

But tonight, at 4:30 in the morning, I woke up because my back is killing me! I have this miserable cold and the cough racks my back.

So I woke up to take pain killers and cough syrup.

Did I mention that the cough syrup tastes gross and we are out of super soft tissues?

Moshe heard me stirring and asked "Are you ok? Can I do anything to help you?"

"I'm not ok," I responded gently, "but there is nothing you can do to help me. Go back to sleep."

No reason for both of us to be zombies tomorrow!

Hopefully the drugs will kick in soon and I can fall back asleep for a few hours before I have to wake up, super-early, for my eye doctor appointment.

More on that tomorrow...

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Proud Parenting Moments -- Shattered Feelings Mended

When I wrote about the bottle of wine that fell and shattered all over my kitchen floor, I focused on my feelings.

Today, while relating the story to a friend, I realized that I overlooked the very mature and impressive reaction of my eldest daughter.

Y had three Purim packages to deliver to elderly residents of our neighborhood. Apparently the boys from Ezra were supposed to deliver a bunch of packages, but weren't able to deliver them all, so they gave some to the girls. Y wasn't able to deliver her packages right away, and I asked her to keep them in her room, so they wouldn't get knocked over and broken by mistake. Y didn't want to put them in her room, and chose an "out of the way" place on the kitchen floor.

Not surprisingly, when I moved the bag and the bottle fell and shattered, I was quite upset.

I called Y, to tell her what happened and to express my chagrin that, had she listened to my request, this could have been avoided.

To her credit, Y apologized right away and said "Ima, leave it. I'll clean it up as soon as I get home."

With those simple words, my anger dissipated.

I explained that I could not leave the mess for her, because it would dry up and get gross and sticky.

Y again apologized and expressed her willingness to clean it up, even if it would be difficult.

I was tired; I was frustrated; but I was no longer angry.

Had she tried to justify what she did or "defend" her actions, I certainly would have responded differently.

But after Y apologized again, so sweetly and sincerely, I simply requested that she remember this event and listen next time.

Then I got down on my hands and knees to clean the mess.... and tried to laugh about it.

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

With love and optimism,

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I'm famous!

A while ago, I received an email from Aryeh Dean Cohen from the Jerusalem Post. He wanted to interview me for an article about people who blog as a way of coping with their illness.

Always happy to share my thoughts, I agreed to be meet with him.

I enjoyed the interview.

Aryeh's perceptive questions compelled me to examine why I blog, what are my goals and what I get out of the process. It was quite enlightening.

We spoke for a while and I wondered, as I always do, how my ideas would be reflected in the article. Would my words be twisted, or would the interviewer capture the essense of what I said?

The article finally came out in Friday's magazine section and he "got it." He managed to capture the business of my life, my struggle to figure out what role cancer plays in my life (and whether it has a major or minor part), and what I hope to get (and give) by blogging.

He actually wrote an introductory piece, entitled "A Healthy Outlet", and then he writes about four indiviuals, including me, who are blogging, among other things, about their health issues.

Check it out:


(Thanks to muse, at me-ander, for linking to the article and my blog)

(Thanks to Rafi, who linked to my blog in Haveil Havalim #160 The Waffle edition)

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, April 3, 2008

More Moments of (Bittersweet) Joy

After my son and youngest daughter were all tucked in, my eldest came over and finally shared the current drama in her life.

Something is going on in her youth group, and it has been weighing heavily on her shoulders.

I offered to help, but she wanted to see if she could take care of this on her own. So, I gave her space and tried not to ask too many questions.

Tonight, after a LONG conversation with her madricha (counselor), she felt like talking.

She had already told me that she feels like it is her responsibility to "fix" the problem, since the girls "only feel comfortable talking with me."

She doesn't see this as a compliment.

"Why not," I ask her.

"It's not my job," she states matter-of-factly. But there is more to it than that.

Her frustration is compounded by her feeling that the girls don't even really know her.

A few days ago she revealed "they don't even know you have cancer."

At the time, I didn't know how to respond.

I told her about all the ways that the girls do know her, like knowing she's a good listener, and can be trusted, and gives good advice.

That didn't comfort her. And I was too stunned to know what else to say.

I've had a few days to think about it since then.

So, tonight, when she repeated the thing about the cancer (within the context of her conversation with her madricha), I asked why she felt that it was so important. Until now, it seemed like she didn't want to talk about it with her friends, and didn't feel it was such a big deal anyway.

She explained that she assured her madricha that I was in no danger and that I was OK (which, she related, was a relief to her madricha), but that it was difficult to have a mother with cancer.

I ventured to suggest that chemo is only one day a week.

She quickly put me in my place.

"No, it affects everything!" For her and for me, she insisted.

The evidence of my cancer is a daily presence, whether it's the chemo, or being tired, or having a "handicapped parking" permit, or the fact that I take pain killers every day.

And it's not the kind of thing that comes up naturally in a peulah (activity) -- "Oh, yeah, by the way, my mom has cancer..."

She doesn't want the girls to feel sorry for her.

She does want them to know.

My daughter went on to tell me all the ins and outs of the relationships between the girls and the madricha. On Tuesday, the madricha is going to run a peulah about their group's dynamics.

It is a relief for my daughter to know that she is no longer personally responsible for the group's cohesion.

It is still unclear when or how the elephant in the corner will be revealed.

I trust that she will work it out.

She knows that I am here to help her.

For now, she is trying to resolve this in her own way, in her own voice.

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

With love and optimism,

Moments of Joy

My son just joined Sayarut (like the Boy Scouts, but without badges, and coed).

Today, he came home from a Sayarut tiyul (hike), tired and hungry.

Moshe brought him straight to the pool, for his swimming lesson; which would have been great, except he got there too late, and had to wait around until we were ready to leave.

At first, he sat next to me, as I watched my final class finish swimming laps. It was sweet. He held my hand, and told me all about the tiyul. (shhhhh, don't tell!! He's too "cool" to hold his mommy's hand! But, sometimes, he forgets....)

Anyway, after ten minutes, he got bored and, understandably, a little grumpy. OK, a lot grumpy.

I knew that I had to get him home, fed, and into bed.

So, imagine my surprise, when, even before we got home, he started offering to help, at every possible opportunity! He even helped his little sister, who was a total grumpy-head!!

I thought, Moshiah (the Messiah), must be coming!! (and I don't usually think he (or she) is about to get off the plane anytime soon...)

He was a perfect little gentleman throughout dinner. He was generous, and patient, and helpful, and more. I asked him for a cup of water and he jumped up and got water for everyone! (Usually, his little sister does that, but she was still sulking. Thank God, she got over it (whatever "it" was), by the end of supper)

Anyway, back to my unexpected angel: When I asked him to load the dishwasher, he asked permission to go to the bathroom first! And then, when he came back, he loaded the dishwasher without being reminded!!

I don't know how many of you have 11 year old boys, but I have never seen my 11 year old boy act this way.

Before my son was born, I had all sorts of egalitarian ideas about raising boys.

Let me tell you, those dolls didn't make a bit of difference!

I have a stereotypical BOY! He builds spaceships out of LEGO, climbs trees so high that I can't look, plays soccer every recess, and even does the "Tom Sawyer thing" and gets his little sister (you know, the one with whom he bickers all the time) to clean his room for him!

My son can run around for hours, and not get tired. But, ask him to help around the house and then he is "too tired."

Not tonight!

After he had done everything, and more, he headed off to bed. As he was about to round the corner, he turned and asked: "was I good?"

"You were great!" I answered, enthusiastically.

He raised his arms like he'd won the soccer championship and his face was beaming!

When he was all ready for bed, he came over and started philosophizing about behavior and how what we do makes us feel. Clearly, his change in attitude was the result of a conscious decision.

He's definitely a boy, but he's on his way to being the Philosopher King....

That's fine with me....just as long as he helps with the dishes!

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

With love and optimism,

Laughter's the Best Medicine

Come laugh with me!!!

Yehudit Kotler is hosting her next Rosh Hodesh Laughter Workshop this Monday, the 2nd of Nisan, (April 7th), at 8:00!

The laughter workshop is open to ALL women (and girls).

It is FREE, in celebration of Rosh Hodesh.

Yehudit Kotler
3 Rehov Segal
Ramot Gimmel
Directions will be sent on request (B"N), until noon on Monday. After that, I will be in the pool --and I can't check my email under water! teehee!

Kids, on average, laugh 300-400 times a day!

"Grown-Up"s barely laugh 15 times a day!

That's outrageous!

We have a lot of catching up to do!!

:-) :-) :-) :-) :-> :-) :-) :-) :-)

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Medical Update: No News is Good News

I haven't posted a medical update in a while, because there is nothing new to report.

Everything is "status quo", which, according to my doctor, is what want.

Status Report:

Cancer: stable (not shrinking, not growing)

Chemo: continue current treatment:
Herceptin - once every three weeks
Navalbine - twice every three weeks
Zomera/Denosumab - once every four weeks

Pain: hip pain, back pain (severe, at times)

Pain Management: Optalgin (2-6 a day)

Tests: MUGA: coming up soon
CT: April/May ?
Skeletal X-Ray: April 15

Coffee-and-Chemo Dates: book now for July-August!

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

With love and optimism,

RivkA with a Capital A

The first time I signed my name RivkA, it was a typo. (or, perhaps, Divine intervention?)

I liked the look.

I liked the symmetry of the two capital letters at the beginning and end of my name.

More importantly, it seemed like the perfect solution for signing my name the way I pronounce it.

When I sign my name the "old fashioned" way (pen on paper), I write: Rivk√°.

For years, I was too computer illiterate to find an "√°". (Now I'm just lazy...)

Hence, the brilliance of the capital A!

Capital A for emphasis!

Proper pronunciation of my name is important to me. Almost no one gets it right the first time.

Americans are not used to placing the emphasis on the second syllable. And Israelis, well, they think that, just because they speak Hebrew without an accent, they know how to pronounce my name better than I do!

I hate grammar. But I learned the Hebrew names of these grammar rules just so I could "spell it out" to those Israelis.

RivkA is pronounced "milra" (with the accent on the last syllable) rather than "mil'el" (with the accent on the first syllable).

All names in the Tanach (Bible) are pronounced milra. (SarAH, RivkA, RachELL, LeAH, etc)

God is on my side!

So, get it right!

You might also be interested in reading my post, What's in a Name?

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

With love and optimism,