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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Learning to Let Go


Before our vacation, I emptied out the entire contents of my pocketbook on our dining room table.  Then, I made a pile, to leave behind, of any items that were irrelevant to our trip, such as my teudat zehut (Israeli identity card), my credit card (Moshe took his; we figured one was enough), and various other cards and documents.

It is the New Yorker in me -- "don't carry anything you don't need, in case someone steals your bag!"

Just as we were about to leave, I realized I shouldn't leave the cards there.  Perhaps one of our various houseguests would need to use the table and would move the cards somewhere I would not be able to find them.

So, at the last minute, I placed the cards "somewhere safe."

Well, those cards were stored so safely that now I cannot find them!

I am sure they are someplace obvious, but I have completely forgotten where I put them!

I completely stressed out trying to find the cards.

I knew I could replace the cards, but worried about the time it would take, and the cost.

After a week, I decided that, whatever the cost, replacing the cards, and removing the stress, was worth it!

So, a few days ago, when I went to my health fund to pick up my medication, I asked what I needed to do to replace my health card.  The secretary asked me a few question and, before I knew it, she printed out a new card, on the spot, free of charge.

Wow.  That was easy!

Then, on Tuesday, I decided to "bite the bullet" and replace my teudat zehut.  I thought it would cost several hundred shekels and take a while, as there is often a long line.

On the way to the local branch of Misrad HaP'nim (the Ministry of the Interior), my friend, AH, reminded me that I would need new pictures, so we stopped at a local kiosk, next to Misrad HaP'nim, and got pictures.

Then, we went up to Misrad HaP'nim, took a number, and looked for a place to sit down and wait.  Just then, I noticed a sign informing the public that one's driver's license is not sufficient identity for renewing documents.  My driver's license was the only identification I had on me!  I was not even sure I knew where my Passport was!

In twenty minutes, the office would be closed.  I barely had enough time to drive home and pick up my passport, but there was a chance.... I knew that if I did not find my Passport in a matter of seconds, I would not get back in time.  I really wanted to get this task off of my head.

So, I did it!  I ran home, found the passport right away, and got back, just in the nick of time!  As the guard was about to close the door, he saw me coming (huffing and puffing) and waited the extra 30 seconds!

Our number, which we had taken before we left, was the next number to come up!  We did not even have to wait.

Best of all, getting a new teudat zehut cost only 100 NIS, which was a third of what I was expecting!

What a relief to have that out of the way!

With my new teudat zehut in hand, I went back to Mishteret HaT'nua (the Traffic Police), in Binyan Clal (in the center of town), to pick up another copy of the form we needed for the ambulance that took my son to the hospital, after he was hit by a car.

I felt like I accomplished so much!

Now, I just need to replace my credit card; then I can relax....

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Family Dynamics (You can take them out of their routine, but you can't take their habbits out of them!)

Overall, we had a wonderful time in Orlando!

Admittedly, we had a few bumps here and there. 

I had imagined some sort of magical transformation that would create a conflict-free vacation.  I guess, even Disney/Universal do not have that power.  But we all worked hard to make our vacation a good family experience!

It also took some time to figure out who really wanted to do what! 

Surprisingly, we did not all want to do the same things at the same time. (Shocking, I know!)

That should have been obvious, but it was not (at least, not to me).  I worked on "letting go," not an easy transition for me.

Food was a big deal.  Since I barely wanted to eat (and many food smells made me nauseas), I always wanted to go on another ride, rather than sit down for an hour and ("waste time") eating lunch.  The four other members of my party actually got hungry and needed to eat.  Moreover, my kids all inherited my family's trait of getting really obnoxious when hungry! 

During our first week, I had to remind myself that we would be going back to all the parks (or most of them) the next week, and I would get another chance to do everything! 

I really missed my eldest daughter when she went back home (she's left early, so that she would not miss the final week of rehearsals for Pirates of Penzance).  She was my "permanent partner" on all the really scary roller coaster rides!  (Moshe gets motion sick, as does my younger daughter, so they skipped those rides.)    My son, God bless him, does not always want to hold his mother's hand (it is so "uncool" for a teenage boy to hold his mother's hand.  I get it.), but when my eldest left, he was really supportive and agreed to hold my hand for a few of the really scary rides (just as long as there were no witnesses).

My eldest was also a huge help getting everything ready in the mornings, and keeping things organized during the day!

That does not diminish the contribution of my other two kids, who also did their best to be helpful!  All the kids carried backpacks all day and pushed their mom around in the wheelchair (which was not always so easy).

Still, when my eldest left, the dynamic also changed.

Add to the equation that, not only did my daughter leave but, my parents joined us during that second week.

My dad actually took over a lot of the tasks that my eldest did -- especially pushing me around (he wanted the extra exercise!).

In some ways, my dad helped me to keep things in perspective.  I think (at least, I hope) I was a bit calmer during that second week.

I was surprised that I had to focus so much energy on "taking it easy."

I realized I should apply the same efforts in my "everyday life."

If our family dynamics improve as a result of this vacation, we really will have had a magical experience!

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

With love and optimism,

New Blog for Women/Mothers Living with Cancer

Way back when (about two months ago), when I got censored and forced out of the group blog for mothers with cancer, one of the women on that list suggested that I start my own group blog.

Well, I finally took her up on it and am starting a group blog, for mothers living with cancer.

All women facing cancer are welcome to join, but the blog will focus primarily on mothers who have advanced breast (or other) cancer -- i.e. we will be living with cancer for the rest of our lives or until there is a cure.

Anyone interested in joining, should contact me at:

Anyone interested in reading the blog should visit us at:

Hope to be up and running in a week or two!

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Spot the Jews" -- Does Anyone Else Play This Game?

When Moshe and I were in Orlando for the first time, we made up a game:  Spot the Jews.

We had noticed an interesting phenomenon: Frum (Orthodox) Jews were walking around in baseball caps, rather than wearing a kippah, tichel (scarf), or hat, like they would in New Jersey or New York.

For whatever reason, these Jews choose to "hide" their Judaism.  To us, it is obvious they are Jews.  Between the baseball caps and the modest dress, they stand out like violets in a field of daffodils.  I imagine they feel like they are "blending in."

We find this fascinating. 

Why the need to "pass"?

Why not just dress the way you normally dress, and be who you are?

Why pretend that you are not different?

Moshe and I wear our kippot and tichels (respectively). 

It never occurred to us to dress any differently.

As a result, Jewish staff workers share with us their identities.  Many are excited to learn that we are visiting from Jerusalem and share with us their hopes to visit Israel.  (I gave our contact information to several people I met, Jews and non-Jews)

This visit, we noticed a few Jewish families who dressed "normally," with kippot, etc.  Two of the families were Chabbadnikim, so that was not so surprising.  Two of the families were from Israel, one from Tel Aviv, the other from a yishuv (settlement/suburban community -- I don't remember which one, maybe Beit El).  We also met some Israelis who were not religious, but were communicating freely, in Hebrew.

It was nice to see other Jews, who were openly Jewish.

Of course, we still spotted groups of "Jews in disguise."


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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Food, Glorious Food -- Who Needs It??

Even though I was on a break from chemo (specifically, from Xeloda), my appetite during our vacation was nothing to write home about.

If it were up to me, I would have skipped meals altogether, and just snacked while we were on line for another ride.  I could have skipped most of the snacking too!

My family preferred actually sitting down and relaxing while they ate!  Can you believe it?

Eating sometimes took more than an hour!  We could have done two more rides (or more) during that time!

It took me a few days to accept the fact that, if we did not stop and eat, I would have a gang of grumpy campers with me! 

Towards the end of our trip, I actually skipped part of our meals and went on a few rides on my own (each time, another member of our party did come help me). 

Our last day, while Moshe met my parents for dinner, I took our two kids (the eldest was already back in Israel) to catch one of the short shows.  The kids would have an opportunity to eat after Moshe and I left for our show (La Nouba, Cirque du Soleil), and it was the last activity I would have a chance to do before we left.

There was so much to do, eating just felt like such a waste of time.

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

With love and optimism,


***** warning: this post is about feeling sick to your stomach *****

I used to avoid throwing up at all costs.

Moshe would see me lying in bed, suffering, and encourage me to "get up and throw up," because I would almost certainly "feel better afterwards."

I would continue to lie in bed, focussing on breathing slowly, maybe even sipping some water, praying to fall asleep and wake up after the nausea has passed.  This method usually worked for me.

I did not get nauseas that often... before chemotherapy.

Now, I walk around with Pramin (anti-nausea medication).  I do not need it often, but feeling nauseas is no longer such a rare experience.

Last night, I knew that Moshe's approach would help me.

After tossing and turning for about half an hour, I finally got out of bed, dragged myself to the bathroom, and allowed myself to throw up.

It freaked me out a little.

It felt a little bulemic -- eat too much, then throw it up.

I didn't have to do anything gross.  I just opened my mouth and did not fight to hold anything in.  It is quite amazing, how things just flow in the wrong direction.

Chemotherapy really messes with my insides.

Despite the icky feeling of throwing up, I did feel better afterwards.

I went back to bed and fell asleep almost as soon as I my head met my pillow.

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

With love and optimism,

Too Much of a Good Thing

I could have gone to bed tonight without any supper.

But, since we were at a simcha (celebration), I had half a bowl of orange soup and two pieces of focaccia with a bit of feta cheese.

Had I stopped there, I would have been fine.

But they had Ben & Jerry's ice cream for dessert. 

I do not know what came over me, but I ate a LOT of ice cream.

That was a mistake.

I hate feeling nauseas.

I hate knowing that I did this to myself.

I really have to remember to eat slowly, and to eat less.

I will enjoy my food more.

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thrill Seekers

Everyone has their fears.

Mine is of heights. 

I am not a big fan of high speeds either.

When I was a little girl, my family went to Hershey Park, in New Jersey Pennsylvania.  There was one rollercoaster with a loop and my dad wanted to take me on it.

I was terrified, just looking at the rollercoaster.  I did not want to go upside down.

But my dad, with his boyish charm, convinced me to go with him.

I think I closed my eyes the whole ride.

That was probably when I decided that rollercoasters were not "for me."

For years, I avoided rollercoasters.  (Not so challenging for someone who does not frequent amusement parks)  The last time we were at Disney/Universal, I did not go on any of the serious rollercoaster rides. 

My kids were little then.

They are bigger now.

My son (no surprise there) and my eldest daughter (she surprised me, being naturally cautious and all that) were both totally into the rollercoaster thing -- the faster and scarier, the better!

To my surprise, I was totally into it as well.

Cancer has made me a thrill seeker!  (...as long as there are safety harnesses, so there is no chance of falling!)

Don't get me wrong.  I still felt scared. 

Each time, I reminded myself that the ride only lasts a minute and a half! 

I also forced myself to focus on breathing.  Slowly in.... slowly out....

Full disclosure: I also held (read: gripped) my daughter's hand during most of the rides.

But I did them, every one. 

More than once! 

I even rode the scariest rollercoaster two more times -- on my own!

I loved it! 

And I loved sharing that experience with my kids.

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

With love and optimism,

Bloggers in Israel -- Event this Saturday Night!

To register for this event, visit A Mother in Israel

This Saturday night, December 26, at 8:00 pm, Sara Melamed (Foodbridge) will be hosting Jacob Share (Job Mob) in Nes Tziona.

All bloggers are welcome!  Advance registration is required.  You should receive confirmation and details by email within a few days.

If you are driving and can take passengers, or would like to come but need a ride, please mention it on the form.

I am looking for rides to and from the event.

Are you going from Beit Shemesh?  Are you returning to Jerusalem?

Please let me know if you have room in your car for one or two.

From Mother in Israel:

Who is Jacob Share?

Jacob Share is the job search expert who created the award-winning JobMob at http://jobmob.co.il/, one of the most popular job search blogs in the world, with over 1.5 million pageviews in 2009 alone. The founder of Share Select Media, a company focused on authority blogging, Jacob has also created Group Writing Projects at http://groupwritingprojects.com/, the original home and premier resource of the blogger favorite- group writing projects.

To get the most out of this event, please contact Jacob in advance with questions you have about blogging and he will answer as many as possible at the event. Send your questions via a direct message on Twitter ( http://twitter.com/jacobshare) or email Jacob at jacob.share@shareselectmedia.com. Include your blog url if you have one.

Please register before writing to Jacob.

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A New Set of Wheels -- Not Bad!

To fully appreciate this post, read this first.

I was amazed at the number of people going around the parks in wheelchairs and electric buggies.

People were in "chairs" for all sorts of reasons.  Nobody paid much attention to us -- this was obvious from the amount of people who walked right in front of us, often receiving an unexpected bump against their shins, since we could not stop in time!

Their is a "chupar" (perk) to being in a wheelchair -- on several rides, we get to bypass the lines.

Of course, being in a wheelchair makes walking much slower, so it takes us longer to get to those lines in the first place!

So, it all probably balances out, in the end.

The parks accomodated our special needs and assigned us passes that allowed us to go in the "Express"/"Fast Pass" lines.  At Disney, we received one pass that we could use for our entire visit.  At Universal, we had to get the passes reissued each day, but it was a quick and easy process (we just handed them the previous passes and they renewed them for us).

The first Disney park attendant, at Hollywood Studios, actually emphasized that the pass was NOT for the quicker line.  So, unfortunately, we did not take advantage of the pass that day.  The next day, at Magic Kingdom, the park attendent explained that we could use it for the quicker lines, and we were able to see many more attractions as a result.

I spent most of my days in the chair.  It was a wise decision.  As is, I was exhausted by the end of the day.

But I did not was to cut the day short!

I wanted to do everything!!

My kids pushed me around and, for the most part, were extremely gracious and helpful in this department.

When my parents joined us, my dad pushed me around most of the time.  He wanted the extra exercise!  It was nice having that little bit of extra attention from my dad.

After the first day in the wheelchair, I stopped worrying about being different.  There is such diversity among the people attending the parks.  With so many people in special chairs, it felt like we were just another minority group.

Cast members (i.e. park employees) were all very attentive and helpful. 

There were two times when I wanted to repeat a ride, when the rest of the family wanted to eat.  I was prepared to go on my own.  I found it particularly challenging to roll the wheelchair long distances and gained a greater appreciation for all the help from my family.  Both times, members of my family (first my mom, then my youngest) surprised me, and chose to accompany me, even though they did not want to go on the rides (both avoid rollercoasters).  It was nice to have their company... and their assistance.

Over the two weeks, once or twice, I did get out of the chair and push it.  And I did get out to walk short distances, to the bathroom or for specific rides.

Mostly, I took full advantage of having somewhere to sit and being chauffeured about like a queen.

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

With love and optimism,

Home Sweet Home

This post is full of details, mostly so I will remember them. 
Feel free to skip it if you get bored.

We had a fantastic, albeit complex, family vacation!

We all left for the States on Thursday night, December 3rd, and everyone but my eldest just returned late last night, Sunday, December 20th.

We got back later than expected because of a snowstorm; our flight was delayed for FOUR HOUR.  Good fortune prevailed, and strong tailwinds shaved off two of those hours from our flight time.

Our eldest was with us for the first week, but left on Sunday morning, December 13th, so she could attend final rehearsals for the upcoming production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance; she is in the chorus.  (For those planning to attend the show, she will be in the yellow and purple costume.)

My parents joined us for our second week in Orlando.  They wanted to come earlier, to spend more time with all of us, before our eldest left; but my dad had a professional convention at the same time, so he had to attend that.

We all overlapped for one Shabbat, which was wonderful and one of the highlights of our trip.

During the week with just our immediate family, we played for one day in all of the major Disney and Universal theme parks.  We spent Sunday through Friday, as follows:  Hollywood Studios Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Animal Kingdom.  My parents, who had one less "play day" to begin with, chose to pass on both Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom and spend an extra day at Epcot. 

Since Universal is closer to the airport, we went there on Sunday (after spending the morning in the airport, making sure our daughter was secure on her first solo flight across the world).  Then we spent Monday through Wednesday at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Islands of Adventure, respectively.  For our last day, we went, again, to Epcot.  That night, while still at Epcot, our kids had several hours of "alone time" to play with their grandparents.

Moshe and I left early to see La Nouba, Cirque du Soleil, a spectacular show combining acrobatics, juggling, clowning, and dance.

All in all, we were in Orlando from Friday, the 4th, through Friday, the 18th, spending a total of 7 days in Disney parks (1 day each in Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, 2 days at Magic Kingdom, and 3 days at Epcot) and 4 days in Universal parks (2 each at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure).

On Friday, December 18th, my parents flew home to Arizona and we flew to New Jersey.

I stayed up all of Thursday night, with my mom, packing and tidying up. 

At 4:30 am, I woke up Moshe and the kids;  I was still rushing about, trying to finish up!  We got out later than we had planned, but we got to the airport in time to make our flight.... almost.

I had packed food to eat while we were waiting.  Though it became obvious that we would not have time to eat at the airport, I forgot that I had packed liquids (drinks, yoghurts, etc.).  Ridding us of all our liquids caused enough of a delay at Homeland Security that we got to the gate just as the plane was pulling away.

Ironically, we spent several hours at the airport waiting for the next available flight, during which time we could have enjoyed our food and drink!   Oh well.  We were grateful to catch another flight and get to Teaneck before Shabbat!

We spent Shabbat with very close friends of ours, who used to live in Jerusalem.

During the afternoon, my grandfather and his partner came to visit, as did a few other courageous friends, who braved the snow!  The visits were short, as I did not have a lot of energy and needed to rest.  (I still had at least 8 hours of sleep to catch up on!)

Based on Friday's weather reports, we thought our flight would be cancelled and we would "win" another day or two with our friends.  But, after Shabbat, our plane was still "on schedule."

The airline actually started the boarding process on time, until it became clear that de-icing the plane would be more complicated and the delay would be extensive. People actually de-boarded the plane, which is very unusual.

The airline ended up moving the de-icing station to the start of the runway, so the plane could take off as soon as they completed the de-icing process.

A few hours later, the airport cancelled all flights. By that point, we were well on our way home.

When we finally walked into our own doors, I was so incredibly grateful to be home!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Is It Our Last Day Already???

I wrote this last Thursday, and thought I posted it... but I see now that I did not.  So, here it is.

I can't believe that we are nearing the end of our vacation.

Tomorrow is our last day in the parks. 

We decided to spend a third day at Epcot, rather than a second day at Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios, at Disneyworld).  We were divided -- the kids preferred Hollywood Studios (so they could repeat "The Tower of Terror" and the "Toy Story" rides) but Moshe and my parents preferred Epcott.  I could have gone either way.  Everyone was willing to

We will have spent seven days at Disneyworld (Magic Kingdom, Epcott, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom) and four days at Universal  (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure).

It is not enough.

We did nothing else, and there is still plenty to do in this area of Florida -- Cape Canaveral, Discovery Cove, Sea World.....

I could spend a month here with no problem!!

We have to start some sort of  "Annual Fantasy Fund" so that we can come back in a year!

Did I mention that we could see the new Harry Potter buildings being built?

OMG!!!  It already looks awesome and it is not even finished!!!

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

With love and optimism,

Friday, December 18, 2009

Shabbat in Teaneck

Flying to Teaneck for Shabbat with ABH and her family. 

Have to leave for the airport in less than two hours.

Still not finished packing.


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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A New Set of Wheels

I wrote this post about a week before we left for our vacation.  We are having a great time! (Sorry, no time to write about it now)

Daria at Living with Cancer just posted about her first Public Wheelchair Ride. This post came "right on time" for me.

We are all busy planning our upcoming family trip to Disney.

My friend, ABH, suggested that I use a wheelchair or electric buggy to get around the parks.

At first, I balked at the idea. 

Eventually, I had to acknowlege that I cannot stand or walk for extended periods of time.

I get tired. 

It would be a shame to leave the park(s) early, because I just could not stand or walk anymore.

So, I bit the bullet and borrowed a collapsible wheel chair from Yad Sarah.  You can rent wheelchairs at the parks, but they cost $12 a day, plus you lose time every day, renting and returning the wheelchair.  This way, I save time and money, and I can also use the wheelchair in the airports.

The question is: will I really use it?

I know I should.

But the thought is really hard for me -- not so much the thought of using it, but the thought of being looked at....

I don't want people feeling sorry for me or my family.

I also don't want people judging me. 

Besides the no-hair-thing (which one might not notice, since I cover my hair for religious reasons), I look like a perfectly healthy, young (ok, middle aged) woman.

I don't want people looking at me and wondering "Why is she in a wheelchair, when she can walk just fine?"

I know that if I do not use it, I will just conk out after the first day, maybe even during the first day.  I cannot be on my feet for long periods, either standing or walking.

But it is hard to make that step -- to enter the world of the "differently abled." 

I like having the option to "pass" for normal. 

Once I sit in that wheelchair, I am publicly acknowing my disability.  I won't be able to ignore it.

Will my pride get in the way of my sechel (judgement)?

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vacation from the Internet

It took almost a week to get hooked up to the internet. 

In some ways I did not miss it.  We were way too busy for me to blog! Taking a break from email, meant not dealing with ANYTHING!

Most importantly, no one fought over the computer!!

Well, on Wednesday, my brilliant husband finally configured everything and last night there was a LINE to get onto our one computer!

You might think I had top priority, since it is my computer.  You would be wrong!

I let my daughter on for 5 minutes, which turned into 45 minutes of "I'll be done soon," (no big surprise to some of you, but really annoying to me!).  Then Moshe, who had thought he would be in daily contact with work, had to take check in there.  I think it took him less time to catch up on a week's work than it took our teenage daughter to Facebook her friends!!

I checked less than a page of back emails, posted yesterday's quick post, and went to sleep!

Special thanks goes to my dad, who FedExed a blackberry for us to use to get connected!

I know there are plenty of places with free wi-fi, but it's hard to go to a coffee shop and blog from bed at the same time!

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

With love and optimism,

House Sitter

After I posted that I am going on vacation, it occured to me that I just announced to the whole world that my house will be vacant.

Growing up in New York (OK, New Jersey, but my parents are New Yorkers...), letting people know you were going on vacation was like issuing an invitation to "come, break into my home, and steal all my stuff."

So, when a friend was looking for a place to crash in Jerusalem, I was thrilled to offer our home. 

Being the paranoid person I am, I also worry about electrical fires, water leaks, and all sorts of other disasters that can destroy your home while you are away.

It is great to have someone I trust "hold down the fort."

With someone at home, I feel free;  I can enjoy my vacation in peace.

So, if you call, and a strange man answers the phone, just leave a message.  We will get it when we get back!

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Not Taking a Break, Just Slowing Down

For a while there, I far exceeded my promise "to post at least 2-3 times a week."

Many weeks, I posted every day.  Some weeks, I even managed to post on Friday (before Shabbat), and Saturday night (after Shabbat).

There were even a few days in there when I posted TWICE!

If you ask me, that's pretty impressive.  (How's that for patting myself on the back?)

Anyway, recently things have slowed down a bit.  Between the brain mets diagnosis, radiation, my son's Bar Mitvah, family visits, the chagim (holidays), the flu (and feeling down), kidney stones, my son getting hit by a car, and planning out FAMILY VACATION, I have been a little busy.

I have to focus now on putting together our vacation, so if the blog posts are a little spotty.... please forgive me.

I am healthy (for a sick person), so don't worry.  I just don't have that much time or energy.

I am so excited.  And I am enjoying the anticipation and the planning!  (Thanks to all of you who kept emphasizing that it is part of the fun!!)

So many people are helping to make this work out for us. I feel surrounded by angels!!

But there are no angels writing my posts!  Oh, wait, I can't believe I did not think of this before!
Maybe I will find some angels to guest post....  (no promises, since that is just one more thing to organize....)
Anyway, between the running around, and the resting (gotta' rest), I just do not have as much time to post as I would like.

Please, bear with me, I will post when I can and when we return, I hope to pick up the pace...

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Everyone is Fine, Thank God

Just to follow up:

Moshe is fine.  The kidney stone is gone.

My son is fine.  Even his bike seems fine (though we still have to take it to the shop to be checked).

We are all vaccinated against both the flu and the swine flu -- my kids got both shots on the same day (one in each arm) -- ouch!

My eldest took two days off of school, to recover from not feeling well.  The first day (yesterday), she slept all day.  Today, she seems to be back up to par.  Letting her stay home today was a big deal for me.  I deferred to Moshe's judgement and let her decide for herself.  I would have made her go to school, even if she did "only have a tiyul shelach."  I am working on "letting go."

My youngest is worried about school, but is fine healthwise.

So, all in all, everyone seems to be "good to go."

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Knapsack on My Back

Ricki's mom, over at Beneath the Wings, bewails the Israeli cultural phenomenon of children bringing tons of junk food on school trips.  Her post inspired mine.

Many years ago, I think my eldest was in third grade at the time, I found myself confronted with the social pressures of junk food.

At the time, I never bought junk food.

A few years earlier, when she was in first grade, it became clear that, for school trips, I had to include special treats with her lunch.  I did not mind.  I sent her with a bag of pretzels and some dried fruit (usually dried apricots).

Around third grade, my daughter timidly approached me before her school trip.

"Ima," she asked, hesitantly, "do you think you could give me something more fun for the school trip?  No one wants to trade with me."

That's when I learned that, not only do all the kids bring junk food, but, they all swap/share their junk food.

My sweet kid was the only one bringing "healthy" snacks, which the other kids clearly did not want.

"What would you like?" I asked my little girl, prepared to hear a long list.

"Maybe you could get me a bag of  Bisli (a popular Israeli snack) and a package of  hamtzutzim (sour sticks)?" she asked shyly.

"That's it?" I asked, certain there must be more that she wanted.

That was it.

I, sort of, felt like I did when I finished reading Bontshe, the Silent, by I.L. Peretz.  (If you have not read this short story, you should.  I.L. Peretz also wrote If Not Higher, which is my all-time favorite short story.) 

Such a modest request from my daughter. 

I felt shamed by what I had imagined she would request.

"I would be happy to get those for you," I told her right away, and delighted in her simple joy.

I remember thinking: Wouldn't it be great if it would always be this easy to make her so happy?

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

With love and optimism,

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What Do You Think? (about comments and emails)

************* warning: RANT *************

In case you were wondering, I read all of your comments, even on older posts (unless the system fails and doesn’t notify me, which does happen occasionally).

When I see a new name, I usually follow the link. I am always interested to know who is reading my blog and how they got here.

Every once in a while I receive a comment that turns out to be a “front” for some business. I follow the link and find a business website, rather than a real person.

I always delete those comments. If people want to advertise on my blog, they can contact me and make me an offer. But writing a comment, as if they care, when they are just looking for free advertising… that’s just wrong.

Last week, I received an email, following my post about mobile phones.

The email began friendly enough:
When I visited my childhood best friend Debbie in Tel Aviv about 10 years ago she told me then Israel was the most cell phone connected country. I know from your blog you’re fighting metastatic breast cancer—to the brain. Any chance you’d give up using your cell phone for your health? The frequencies they give off are not good for children’s brains and mostly likely not yours either.
She includes several links and a bit more diatribe, and then she gets to the sales pitch:
I am sensitive to the computers and TV’s. So due to this sensitivity I wear a [commercial product]*, which helps my body deal with background radiation and frequencies that are not in harmony with nature and living things.
*no free advertising here
She then includes a link to the product and indicates which one she uses.

Then she adds, in closing:
Just thought I would bring it up. Our family business here in Washington State has been doing mastectomy fitting for over 30 years and there are just some practices that are too risky for people fighting for their lives.
[Name] (child of two Hungarian Holocaust survivors)

I wrote her the following, brief response:
Please don't send me business promotions.
To which she responded:
You have a lot of nerve to respond in this manner to my email. I never sent you any *business promotions* or made any mention of selling anything to you. I sent you information about protecting yourself from ionizing radiation to your brain since you have cancer there already. After 30 years of helping women who have had metastatic breast cancer and even losing my dear sister-in-law at age 36 [who presented with two different primary breast cancers within a year of each other] to the disease, I believe I know some things about the women who have changed their lives to survive. Sorry you misinterpret things so badly.

Was it my imagination??

I wrote back:
You sent me an advertisement for a product.
That is SPAM.
I am sorry for your loss, but that does not give you the right to be rude to me.
I am bombarded with emails from people who are promoting their product.
I am just not interested in your business.
I thought I was being polite, and to the point.
Guess what, she wrote back again!
So what if I told you about a product. It was to help you—not for me to make any money. I don’t even know if the [product] is sold in Israel. I have given many of them just to help people in front of their computer. You have a problem that you only see the bad in people. I feel really sorry for you.
Do I need this?

I knew I should not respond, but I could not ignore her.  I wrote one more brief note:

please stop insulting me.

you do not know me at all.

if you have nothing nice to say, please do not write me again.
Am I out of my mind or is she a crazy woman?

It sure seemed to me, from what she wrote in her initial emails, that the business was hers. Even if it is not (as she seems to indicate in her final email, though I am still suspicious, due to her aggressive and insulting tone), asking her to refrain from sending business promotions hardly seems offensive to me.

Why do people feel they have a right to be so horribly judgmental and rude?

A friend of mine just closed her blog because of people who sent her mean letters. I did not understand, until now.

How can someone be so nasty?

Most significantly, why is it so hurtful to me, when I don’t even know the person and she means nothing to me??

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Advice from the Rebbetzin

"Avoid arguing, no matter what," responded the Rebbetzin, when I asked for advice, yesterday.

"You can not win an argument with a teenager," she continued.  (My father said the same thing.)

She suggested making a list, together with the teen, of all the tasks that need to be done: chores, homework, clean room, go to bed on time, etc.

Then allow the teenager to choose one task that s/he commits to doing, on her/his own.

Give the teen the control over what s/he chooses.  Then (and this is the hard part) ignore all the other tasks.

Repeat the process once the teen has successfully gotten into the habit of doing the task.

This might sound easy to you, but it feels increadibly difficult to me.

I know it makes sense, but that does not make it easy to "let go."

She said something else, too.

One of my children constantly wants to bring relatively valuable items on tiyulim (hikes).  The likelihood of these items getting lost is high.  I would like this child to wait until s/he is a little more reliable (read: responsible).  The child thinks (mistakenly) that s/he is already responsible (even though s/he still loses things all the time!!!).

The Rebbetzin suggests that these items are not worth fighting about.

"Let them lose these things," she advises, "They will lose things, and they will learn. Kapparah."

"Arguing only makes them dig in their heels, even harder," she says, about all these issues.

I know she is right.

I just do not know if I can do it.

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Quest for the Right Mobile Phone Provider

I am telling you, this whole project is giving me a headache!

We have three mobile phones that have been broken for over a month and one that works, but is not reliable.

We have to decide whether to fix or replace our phones and we have to decide whether to stick with our service provider or switch to a new one.

We have been Cellcom customers for years. But recently, I have been very disappointed in their customer service. A few months back, I discovered that they have been charging me more than they promised for YEARS and I just have not noticed, because I did not check the bills thoroughly. Of course, there is no record of the promise, so there is nothing I can do.

Then, a month or two ago, someone from Cellcom called to offer us better rates. They offered us two different plans for two different numbers. I wanted the same plan for both numbers, but they would not give it to me. They insisted that I could only take the plans that were offered for each phone. There was no way to get the cheaper plan for both phones.

Around the same time, we were contacted again, and agreed to have a representative come to our home to show us new phone models and discuss different payment plans. The representative never showed up, never called to cancel, and no one called to apologize.

You might ask: why would I even consider staying with this service provider?

The answer is simple: Their reception is good, all over Israel.

But, is that enough?

I am not sure.

Which is why I spent all afternoon, with a friend (really, an angel), going to all three mobile phone providers (Pelephone, Orange & Cellcom), and trying to figure out which will offer me the best deal for my family.

I have to check out one other provider (Meers/Motorola), consult with two friends who really know mobile phones, and then Moshe and I will review the information and make a decision.

It might be worth our while to order new phones in the States, which only further complicates the situation.

Neither of us has a head for this stuff.

I really wanted to take care of this before we leave for the US, but we might just have to wait.

I came home so completely fried from the effort of garnering information that I just got straight into bed.

Just writing about it, makes my head hurt....

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lurch, the creepy X-Ray technician

We finally remembered why Moshe needed another IV, after Igor (who was really nice, and not creepy at all) had inserted a Heparin lock so well.  Read on...

There is an X-Ray technician who I will not let X-Ray me, because I will not let him touch me.

For two years, I had to get full body (head to knee) X-Rays, every 25 weeks, as part of the bone-drug study.

Not only did Lurch, this technician, poke and prod me in a painful way, but he also made me uncomfortable. After I realized that not every technician touched me the way he did, I made sure that female technicians took my X-Rays in the future. He creeped me out.

So, when Moshe was in the ER and needed an X-Ray, I was concerned when I saw Lurch on duty. I hoped Moshe's experience would not reflect my own.

It didn't.

It was worse.

In addition to the poking and prodding, Lurch was completely oblivious about Moshe's IV. TWICE, Lurch caught the IV in the X-Ray machine and nearly pulled it out of my husband's arm, causing Moshe even more pain and discomfort.

In the end, Lurch inadvertently succeeded in ruining the IV, and it just fell out of Moshe's arm, spilling blood and saline all over the place. What a nightmare for Moshe (my poor hubby!), who could barely cope with the pain from the kidney stone, even with the pain killers.

 All I could do was to commiserate.  Lurch was the only X-ray technician on duty that night.

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's Nice When It All Works Out -- friends, Xeloda, PET scans, & Disney

I need to do a PET scan, to see how I am doing.

All the imaging techniques (CT, MRI, PET) scan our bodies in different ways and provide different information.

With a PET, you have to be off chemo for at least two weeks before the scan, otherwise the chemo can influence the results, causing inaccuracies.

So, I am going to be off chemo when we go to Disney!!

Not only will that mean that I will have a bit more energy (I hope!), but I will also be able to eat more, at least by the end of our visit!

We will be spending our last Shabbat with very close friends, who also love food and are amazing cooks!  I am so looking forward to fabulous food!! Not to mention, really good company!

We were not planning on seeing anyone during this visit, besides my parents.  Our focus is 100% on spending quality family time together.

But, because we want to get back to Israel as soon as possible, we will be flying out of Orlando on a Friday and spending Shabbat in NJ.  This way, we can take a motza"sh (Saturday night) flight back home, and arrive on Sunday afternoon.  The kids will have plenty of time to sleep, so they can get back to school on Monday.

My friend was going to come visit me in Florida, until we decided against it. We were both disappointed that we would be "so close and, yet, so far away."  Then the flights, not only made a visit possible, but, made it necessary!

Things really seemed to be falling into place!

When I return to Israel, I will do an MRI of my head and a PET CT of my body.  I always get a bit anxious when I do tests.  I have learned, the hard way, that the results can surprise you, not necessarily in a good way.  Our last head MRI certainly surprised us, davka (on the contrary) in a very positive way.  So, you never know.  Still, until we get the "all clear," there is definitely a cloud of tension and anxiety.

But that is not where my head needs to be now.  (I mean, let's be honest.  My head is always in the clouds.... it just does not have to be in those clouds!)

I am going on vacation!!

We are going to have so much fun living in our fantasy world!!

I am so unbelievably psyched that it will be a chemo-free vacation!!

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

With love and optimism,

Friday, November 20, 2009

Where the Magic Begins....

I am not a supersticious person, but I did not want to write anything.... until we had our tickets.

Well, now we have them, so I can share our news:

We are going to Orlando!! 

Some very generous people have made it possible for us to go and we are SO EXCITED!!

We have not had a real family vacation for ten years! 

The last time we went to Orlando, we were on the way to my brother's wedding.  We couldn't really afford it then either.  But I had just gotten over a year of post-op infections, following a "simple" hernia repair that turned into a nightmare, including two month long hospitalizations:  the first time for sepsis (by the time my best friend convinced me to go to the ER, I was already going into shock); the second time coincided with Pesach, which I spent in the hospital, away from my kids.  Having such a serious infection (I did not realize I could have died until months later), made me understand that "life is short."  So we went to Disney and Universal and had a magical family experience.

Our kids were really little then.

For years, we have dreamed of taking them to Orlando when they were older.  But we could never justify the expense.

When I mentioned this dream, during one of my visits with our oncologist, he told us "don't wait"  -- not because I have cancer, but because you never know what the future will bring....

Moshe and I LOVE Disney and Universal.  They are our favorite places in the whole world (besides Israel). We went there, for the first time, on our honeymoon.

Moshe's fantasy job is doing programming for Disney (and working in the underground studios).  But you can't work in Orlando and live in Israel.....

I wanted to wait until the Harry Potter park opened, but that will not be until the spring.

The thing is, right now, my chemo is in pills, so traveling is much easier.  We don't need to worry about infusions or how to get them or how to transfer the medication.  But, we don't know for how long this chemo will work.  No one knows what drugs I will be taking this spring....

So, we are not waiting.

If we could, we would go once a year.

There is so much to do in Orlando, and we are such little kids (don't be fooled by these "grown up" bodies), we could play there forever!

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why Do Kids Make It So Hard To Help Them???

For the second time today, I found myself fighting with a kid who I was trying to help!!

Why do they do that???

I drop what I am doing, give them all my attention, and they get mad at me.

I do not get it!

They ask for my advice, then argue with me when I give it.

They ask for my help, then criticize me for not helping the way they wanted.

They whine; they cry; they scream; they yell.

You know what?  In the end, I am whining, crying, screaming and yelling too!

I shout at them: "I am done helping you."

Then I keep helping them anyway . 

(Yeah, yeah, I know that is inconsistent and sends mixed messages.  Tell me something I don't already know!)

I do not want to leave them with their problems.  I want to help them find a solution.

I want to fix everything.

Most of the time, I do a pretty good job.

So, why do they make it so hard???

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, November 15, 2009

God was Good to us Today

My son is fine.  But for a matter of seconds, our news might not be so good.

Riding home from school, he was hit by a car.

I cannot describe the primal fear I had, driving to the hospital to meet my son who was arriving by ambulance.

Driving, I reminded God of our deal:  I accept that He gave me cancer; in exchange, He has to keep my family, especially my children, safe.

I prayed the whole way:  "God, please let me handle this well and let my son not have any permanent damage."  I kept repeating this prayer over and over.  (OK, there were a few primal screams in there as well, but I really tried to focus on breathing slowly and staying calm)

Moshe was called to the scene of the accident, to talk with the police.  While there, he interviewed several eye-witnesses.  They all said that the driver did not slow down, despite the signs, before entering a blind intersection. (For those who know Katamon: She was driving down Hildesheimer and our son was riding down HaTzfirah)

Moshe had wanted me to go to the scene of the accident, while he met our son at the hospital.  I knew that I could not handle the scene of the accident.

I called my sister, who dropped everything and met me at the hospital.

My heart stopped when I saw my son lying on the bed, on top of a back-board, with a neckbrace.

It was all just a precaution.

The Orthopedist came in and did a thorough exam of my son.  Then he called me in to see my son do a couple of knee-bends.

We walked out of the ER a few minutes later.

God had mercy on us.

I am so grateful.

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

With love and optimism,

ps. For those who are wondering, we have already checked our mezuzot!

pps.  We are extermely grateful to the teacher from his school, who just happened to pass by after the accident, and accompanied our son, in the ambulance, to the hospital. 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Welcome To My World -- Needles, Veins and Black & Blue Marks

Moshe is home and doing a lot better.  Thanks to all for your concern, support, and help!  I do not know how we would manage without such a loving community to embrace us!

Drawing blood or inserting a Heperin lock is an art.

Some doctors/nurses find a vein, seemingly effortlessly, while others insert the needle under your skin, then start poking around, because they missed the mark and the needle is not correctly inside a vein. 

I cannot stand it when people hurt me with needles. I have a "one-chance" policy. You get one chance to poke around my veins. If you fail, no second chances.

True, everyone can have a bad day. But, I am sorry, get your practice on someone else!

On Friday, when we arrived at the ER, the triage nurse did not insert the needle well.  I could see Moshe grimace in pain, as the nurse poked the needle around, under his skin. The nurse finally removed the needle and began looking for another point of entry.

"Please have someone else insert the needle," I asked softly.

"No problem," responded the nurse, and directed us to the surgical ER. I was so relieved that he was not insulted and so readily forwarded us to someone else.

Igor, the next nurse who tried, got the needle in, relatively painlessly, on the first go. (Thank you, God!) (Am I the only one who meets someone names Igor and immediately thinks of Young Frankenstein??)

We don't remember why that IV was removed, but when Moshe needed another IV, one of the doctors inserted the needle... not well, but it was in.

That was on Shabbat. 

As you will recall, I left Moshe on motzai Shabbat (Saturday night), fully convinced that he was much better and would be released the following morning, (Silly me!) only to receive his call Sunday morning, about how miserable his night was (more details here).  He told me how that same doctor inserted an IV three more times during the night, and none of them were inserted well.  His last IV caused him excruciating pain, and it took the staff around FOUR HOURS to remove it!

"You let her poke you FOUR TIMES????"  I almost jumped out of my skin! 

"I'm coming right away," I almost cried, "I will take care of you!"

RivkA to the Rescue!!

I switched into high gear.

When I got to the hospital, I was not my usual, charming self.  I was all business.

Moshe had an excruciating headache;  he was clearly dehydrated (he was not allowed to eat or drink, because he might need a surgical procedure).

I went out to the desk, and told the doctor on duty that I wanted to get a specific doctor from oncology to insert the IV.  The doctor on duty replied "I am also good at inserting an IV."  I told him, "OK, but you only get one chance."  He laughed.

He thought I was kidding.

The doctor inserted the needle and started poking around, finally removing it in failure.  Then he started looking for another vein.  "Don't poke him again," I commanded.  I smiled as I added "I told you; you only get one chance."

I repeated that I wanted to bring in the doctor from oncology.  "How do you know he will come?" the doctor and nurses asked me.  "I know him," I replied, "He will come, as a favor to me."  I spoke confidently, and they acquiesced. (I hoped I was right)

I left quickly, before they could change their minds or have someone else poke him.  The oncology ward was on the same floor, just across the hall.

I entered the oncology ward and was relieved to see there was no one waiting for blood tests or an IV.  I asked the doctor if he would do me a favor and insert an IV for my husband, who had been tortured during the night, by the doctors in Urology.

"The doctors agreed?" he asked, careful not to step on anybody's toes. 

I assured him that I had cleared it with the Urology staff, and he came right away. 

He took one look at Moshe's bruised arms and said, "There are plenty of good veins here."  Without further ado, he inserted a needle straight into the vein.  After a few seconds of discomfort, Moshe confirmed, "it doesn't hurt."

That IV was good for the remaining 3 days of Moshe's hospital stay.

Mission accomplished.

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

With love and optimism,

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mothers with Cancer - Saying Goodbye

To understand, first please read about how I was censored.

Mothers with Cancer finally approved my farewell post, four days after I submitted it.

The post itself is rather benign.  Obviously, if I had written my reasons for leaving, the post would not have been approved.

Meanwhile, the comments are interesting, and not at all benign. 

I wonder if the blog administrators are going to start blocking comments as well.

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let "Mothers with Cancer" Know What You Think

I used to be a proud member of a communal blog for Mothers with Cancer. I was happy to share my experiences with a wider audience and, in that way, to help more young mothers who are coping with chronic cancer.

That was before I was attacked and penalized for writing something politically incorrect. My post was pulled and my status changed (details below). Future posts, by me, would be censored.

Occasionally, there have been political posts on the blog and that bothered me. I felt these posts to be divisive. I was particularly put off when, following a left-wing (pro-Obama) post, I posted a counter opinion, and my post was pulled. After I made an issue about the hypocrisy, the original post was pulled as well.

Recently, members of the blog wanted to discuss the new US health care reforms. I again objected, as I felt the issue could be divisive and alienate mothers. As there are plenty of forums for discussion the politics of cancer, I felt that our communal blog should be a place where we just stick to posting about mothering and cancer.

It was decided that as long as authors identified themselves, and wrote a disclaimer ("this post represents the sole opinion of its author"), then political posts were acceptable.

I disagreed, but I was outvoted (though there was no official vote).

So, recently, I posted according to the rules about the about the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Middle East Conference on Breast Cancer, and the compliance of Komen for the Cure in the boycott of Israeli participants.

I received one comment "This is very disturbing news to hear. Thanks for letting us know."

Then my post was pulled.

I received this letter:

It is with deep regret that I must tell you that I have pulled your latest blog post, entitled "Some People Hate Jews More Than They Hate Cancer." The content is inappropriate for our blog, in that it can be viewed as confrontational, divisive, accusatory, not directly on topic of mothering through cancer, and contains statements defaming another cancer support organization that, in fact, have been refuted by the other organization. This post opens us up to being sued for libel, among other things, and that is something that I cannot risk. Since we are not an incorporated nonprofit body, any lawsuit could be brought against all the members of the blog, and I will not allow that to happen to the other 22 mothers with cancer that write for this blog.

As a result, your account status has been temporarily changed to a "contributor," which means that future posts must be approved by an administrator before they are posted.

I am truly sorry to have to take this action, but I must put the welfare of the group above all other considerations.

I was in shock.

First of all, I followed the guidelines: I identified myself and I qualified my post.

I can also verify my claims. I did my homework before writing the post. I have been in touch with the foundation, as well as several other sources. At this time, I have even more information (which I will post soon) confirming these facts.

To claim that I put the group at risk for “being sued for libel” is completely ridiculous. Not only is there no malicious intent (a necessary condition for a libel suit, along with false information), but I can verify my claims, which are all true.

The objection that the post is “not directly on topic of mothering through cancer” would equally apply to the US health care reform plan, but the latter is an acceptable topic for the blog.

Any political post is, by its nature, “divisive.” There are at least two sides to any controversial issue. Any view opposing an injustice, can be termed “confrontational” or “accusatory.”

It is only partially true that the post "contains statements defaming another cancer support organization that, in fact, have been refuted by the other organization." Komen for the Cure denied the statements, but did not refute (i.e. disprove) them. I can verify my claims, they cannot.

Check it out yourself. Several Israelis were initially invited and scheduled to attend. Ask Susan G. Komen for the Cure for the name of ONE participant from Israel. I have asked them for this information several times. They cannot name a single Israeli participant, because there were none.

Not only did Komen for the Cure enable the boycott, but they continue to blatantly deceive the public about this issue, both on their website and in response to email queries.

These issues, both the boycott and the deception, really bother me. They are so important, that I blogged several posts about them and plan to post more.

I thought the issues might interest/concern other moms with cancer. That's why I posted to our communal blog.

Apparently, this is information that the managers of the blog do not want people to know.

Clearly, only one type of political thinking is acceptable on the Mothers with Cancer blog.

Other opinions are a “danger.”

Well, no one need fear my dangerous opinions anymore. I won’t be posting them on that blog anymore. I suspect no one else will either.

After all, that’s what happens when free speech is curtailed. People who want to remain on the inside keep their mouths shut.

I posted a benign farewell post to the group, but the moderators of the group did not even have the courtesy to post it.

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

With love and optimism,

Home at Last!

We were in the hospital for FIVE days!

How much do you really want to know?

Friday, we were in the ER, where the surgeons and urologist deliberated over the source of Moshe's pain and which department should be managing his case. This went on for HOURS.

I was relieved that the head surgeon, on duty, insisted we take things slowly and not rush into surgery.

At 1:30 AM, they finally decided to keep Moshe in the ER. At around 2:30 AM, the nurse (an angel!) broke "protocol" and let me sleep on an extra bed. (Thank God!!)

Just a few hours later, EARLY Saturday morning (5:00 AM is an ungodly hour!), Moshe was moved to the surgical ward. Thus ended of my sleep for the night! (if you can call 2-3 hours a "night's sleep"!)

Shabbat morning, Moshe still felt pain, but, by the afternoon, he "only" experienced mild discomfort.

I was convinced, based on his dramatic improvement, that he would be released on Sunday morning.

Saturday night, Moshe's parents came to visit, and I went home to get a good night's sleep.

I actually felt so confident that Moshe would be OK, that, after I took care of our kids, I went out to a special Melaveh Malkah at our shul.

In the morning, I woke up early, at 6:00 AM, (still an ungodly hour, if you ask me) to wake up the kids. Then, still exhausted, I went back to sleep....

Only to be woken by a phone call from Moshe. "I had the most miserable night," shared my husband, the man who never complains.

Oh, the flood of guilt!!! (Never mind that Moshe would not want me to feel guilty! I was out having fun while he was suffering! I should have been there to help and protect him!!)

I jumped out of bed, and started gathering what I needed to take to the hospital. I was really tired, and not moving so fast, when I got another call. "They doctors want to do this procedure...."

I dropped everything I could and did my best to get to Moshe, as soon as possible. It still took me over an hour! By the time I arrived, the doctors had already left the ward.

We learned later, that the doctors interpreted Moshe's questions as objecting to the procedure. In fact, Moshe asked questions simply to try to understand what the doctors wanted to do, and why.

The delay turned out to be a gam zu l'tovah (good thing).

Moshe had had a low fever on Saturday night, indicating an infection and possible danger to his kidney. That was why the doctors wanted to rush him into this procedure. But, having "missed" that first available slot, he had to wait. By the end of the day, there was no time and we were informed that the procedure would be the following morning (unless he had more fever, in which case they would rush him to surgery, even in the middle of the night).

I stayed with Moshe that night. (I was not about to abandon my husband a second night in a row, when he clearly might need an advocate!)

I was prepared to sleep in a chair all night (not so good for my back, but what can you do?). No need; God was really good to me. There was no patient in the bed next to Moshe's, so I put on sheets, and crashed.

We pulled the curtains around us, and I took off my headscarf -- it was so hot in the room, I would sleep better without it. I also knew the nurses would see my bald head and, hopefully, be less quick to evict me.

At one point, a nurse came in and gently explained that it really was not acceptable, as they might need the bed. I assured her that if a new patient needed the space, I would move right away. God bless her (another angel), she let me stay, and I was able to sleep through the night (mostly).

Monday, since Moshe had no further indication of a fever, the pressure was off, and the doctors decided to "wait and see."

Monday afternoon, Moshe's parents came again, and I took a break to teach swimming.

I planned on returning to the hospital right after I finished teaching.

When I actually finished teaching, I dreaded the thought of returning to the hospital. I felt utterly and completely exhausted!

God bless Moshe, he assured me that it was ok for me to stay home.

I took care of the kids, who appreciated a little parental attention by that point, then CRASHED.

This morning, I again woke the kids at 6:00, then went back to sleep. Moshe called when he woke up (as I had asked him too), and assured me that I could return to sleep. I did.

I woke up, at 10:27 AM. I could not believe I slept so long! I rushed to call Moshe, who was cool as a cucumber.

I made my way to the hospital and, within a few hours, Moshe was released. Yay!!

It is so good to be home, together!

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, November 9, 2009

Just an Observation -- Humor

My eldest called her Abba (father) today, to find out how he is doing.

Moshe explained to her that he is feeling much better, but the doctors want him to keep him in the hospital "for observation."

Without missing a beat, she responded, "Abba, you should tell those doctors that we want you home for observation!"

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

With love and optimism,

Role Reversal

Last Friday, we had plans.

Moshe finally was going to take down the succah (we were all sick after Succot, so the succah stayed up longer than usual).

I finally was going to clean off the Shabbat table (we were away for several weeks, so things piled up....) and cook for Shabbat (we were having guests, for the first time in ages).

Well, you know what they say, "Man plans, God laughs!"

Friday morning, Moshe woke up feeling severe abdominal pain. All he wanted to do was stay in bed.

Now, let's clarify our traditional roles:

When I am do not feel well, I need serious TLC. Every 10 minutes, or so, I announce that I am in pain or not feeling well. I want sympathy. And compassion.

Not Moshe. He is stoic. He never complains. Really. Sometimes he acts so "normal" that I forget. Then he will gently remind me that "I am not complaining, but I still do not feel well...."

So when I saw Moshe writhing in pain, I insisted we call the doctor, who insisted we come in right away. DUH!!

Of course, the doctor then sent us on to the emergency room. Double DUH!!

(Can I leave out the really embarrassing part, when I just "pop" into the pharmacy for some drugs I need, but the whole thing takes way longer than it should have, and by the time I returned to Moshe his pain was even worse! I felt horrible!!)

It took us less than 10 minutes to get to the ER, but by the time we got there, Moshe was beyond miserable. I did everything in my power to move things along and, thank God, they took us in right away. Still, everything takes time!!

The quick version (I will try to post more details later) is that the doctors first thought the source of the pain was from an umbilical hernia, requiring emergency surgery. The head surgeon ordered a CT, just to make sure there were no other problems. The CT revealed a small kidney stone (3-4 mm), which seemed the more likely source of the pain.

Moshe has been in the hosptial (Sha'are Zedek) since Friday. He is currently "under observation," in the Urology Department.

He is no longer suffering from severe pain, just "mild discomfort."

Since there is a 90% chance that the stone will pass on it's own, the doctors are adopting a "wait and see" approach.

At this time, their only concern is risk of infection, which can cause kidney damage.

If they can eliminate this concern, they will release Moshe.

Meanwhile, I have been with Moshe the whole time, except for Saturday night and now. I am off to teach swimming and then I will return to the hospital.

It has been a trying time for both of us.

And a bit strange.

Our roles have been reversed, "The Caregiver" has become "The Patient" and "The Patient" has become "The Caregiver."

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

With love and optimism,

Friday, November 6, 2009

Girl's Night Out

Two weeks ago, when my girlfriend, RD, asked what would be a good night to get together, I told her Thursday, November 5th (tonight).

It did not occur to me for a second that I might still be so tired.

But all I had to do was get in RD's car, and she would drive. So I did.

We gathered at the home of another girlfriend, LM, and were joined by another four women.

LM is a serious baker, so she had some delicious treats. I was so glad that, earlier this evening, I did not have enough room in my tummy to eat the meat lasagna that our good friend, MH, brought us for dinner!! (I did have a nice bowl of her hearty, parve, tomato soup!)

LM had also made hot apple cider!! There is nothing better than curling up on the couch, under a blanket, with freshly baked cake and hot apple cider, and watching a light, fluffy "chick-flick" that makes us laugh!!

Just what the doctor ordered!!!

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"This mess is so big..."

"This mess is so big, and so deep, and so tall. We can not pick it up. There is no way at all!" (Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat)

This, basically, sums up my life.

Even before cancer, I found it difficult (read: impossible) to maintain order. Apparently, a chaotic environment is typical for someone with ADD. I struggled as a student, then as a single, then as a newly married wife. For a while, I managed to maintain a semblance of order.

Then I had kids.

Then I had illness (a year of post-op infections, following what was supposed to be a "simple" hernia repair, including two month-long hospitalizations).... and three small kids!

Then we moved (always a nightmare, even in the best of circumstances).

Keeping my home in order was a losing battle... and I was losing, big time!

I kept waiting for each "crisis" period to pass, so that I could "catch up."

But there was always some new crisis waiting around the corner.

Having cancer has only exacerbated the situation.

I am even more tired and overwhelmed than before.

I cannot catch up on my own.

But I do not want to live like this.

I feel like a kid who is not cleaning her room, except I am responsible for an entire house!

For years, I was able to "ignore" the mess. But not anymore.

The accumulation of "things to do" and "things to fix" and "things not to waste" is massive.

My husband would just throw everything out. But that is too hard for me.

I need to sort through it all.

But the task is enormous and overwhelming.

I need help.

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Boycott supported by Susan G. Komen for the Cure

For those who read Hebrew, read this letter from the IMA (Israel Medical Association), to the Israeli Foreign Minister, protesting the boycott of Israeli physicians who were barred from participating in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Middle East Breast Cancer Conference.

Here is the into to the letter:

על רקע החרמתם של רופאים ישראלים בכנס המדעי הגדול על סרטן השד, שהתקיים בשבוע שעבר במצרים, שיגר היום יו"ר ההסתדרות הרפואית איגרת לשר החוץ ובה הוא מביע דאגה מהתופעה המתגברת בעולם, וקורא למדינת ישראל לפעול בתקיפות נגד החרמת רופאים ומדענים ישראלים בעולם על רקע פוליטי.

In light of the boycott of Israeli physicians at the important scientific conference on breast cancer, that took place last week in Egypt, the chairman of the Israel Medical Association dispatched a letter to the Foreign Minister in which he expressed concern about the increase of this phenomenon worldwide, and called on the State of Israel to work resolutely against the boycott of Israeli physicians and scientists in the world due to political motivations. (my translation)

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

People Hate Jews Even More Than They Hate Cancer

Cancer is an equal opportunity disease. Cancer can attack anyone, at any age, in any place. Cancer attacks us all, every race, religion and ethnicity.

In today’s global community, doctors and researchers are working together, sharing information, to advance treatment and, hopefully, discover a cure.

Or are they?

Apparently, there is something even more important than fighting cancer: fighting Israel.

Israeli doctors and scientists are at the forefront of cancer research and development, particularly in the field of Breast Cancer research.

Doctors and patients, all over the world, benefit from the medical contributions of Israeli physicians and scientists.

Yet, Israeli participants were unceremoniously uninvited to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Middle East Conference on Breast Cancer, held in Egypt, by order of Egyptian Health Minister Hatem el-Gabali. There were no protests, outside of the Jewish world.

Nancy Brinker, founder and head of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world's largest breast cancer advocacy organization, denied that Israelis were barred from the Cairo conference. This directly contradicts reports from the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization that confirm that Israelis were, indeed, barred from the conference. Rather than criticizing the Egyptian boycott, Susan G. Komen for the Cure lied to the public.

In stark contrast, during the same week, after the Turkish government barred Israel from participating, the US cancelled a major NATO joint military exercise with Israel, the US, Turkey and Italy. Though cancelling the exercise cost the US millions of dollars, both the US and NATO refused to hold the exercises without the participation of the Israel contingent.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure chose not to cancel their conference or move it to a location where everyone would be welcome. They also did not remove their sponsorship. In so doing, they actively supported anti-Semitism, as did all the participants.

They condoned a policy in which fighting Israel takes precedence over fighting cancer, or finding a cure.

The symbolism here is too dramatic to ignore.

Anti-Semitism is like cancer. It spreads destruction, under the surface, while the host seems perfectly healthy. When the disease has spread so much that it can no longer be ignored, there is often no longer any way to stop it.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, by acquiescing to the ban against Israeli participants, has contributed to an attitude that is contrary to its stated goal – finding a cure.

Apparently, fighting Israel is more important than finding a cure to cancer.

It is too bad that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure has chosen to affiliate itself with people who hate Israel more than they hate cancer.

To my utter disappointment, I can no longer support any activities sponsored by Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

For more info:
Jerusalem Post:
Stop boycotts of Israelis at international medical conferences, IMA demands, and Army drill canceled due to US outcry
Israel National News:
US Org. Hosts Cancer Meet, Israelis not Welcome
KUNA (Kuwait News Agency):
Turkey opts out of military maneuvers with Israel
Israel Hits Back at Turkey

(hat tip: Lurker, Carl)

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

With love and optimism,

I'm Famous (tee hee!)

Ever meet someone who is well known?

Well, years ago I met Barbara Sofer, a Jerusalem Post columnist, whose opinion pieces I actually read.

We met in the locker room at the pool. We talked while we changed, and were quite friendly.

Since she is a more public figure, I occasionally learned about life-events in her family, some happy, some not. But I switched pools years ago and, though I knew she would recognize my face, I did not think she would remember my name, or recognize it in an email. So, though I thought of sending her a "mazal tov" or a condolence email, I did not; I did not think she would know who it was from.

Well I guess I should have sent those emails, because I recently received a "remember me?" email. We met again at The First JBloggers Conference and she did, indeed, remember me from the pool!

She asked if she could quote from my blog and refer readers to it. (Is the sky blue?)

I was so touched that she remembered me and that she knew about my cancer/blog.

She wrote a very nice piece and was very kind and generous in what she writes about me. You can read the full article, The Human Spirit - Embracing Pink.

Towards the end of the article, Barbara Sofer writes "Matitya's blog somehow manages to be unbearably sad and inspiring."

I know my posts have been particularly heavy recently.

Still, I don't want my blog to be "unbearably sad."

Life is good!!

What do you think?
Is my blog sad?
Is a sad blog good or bad or both?
Please be honest!

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

With love and optimism,