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Thursday, November 25, 2010


This coming Monday (22 Kislev / 29 Nov.) marks Rivka's shloshim (thirtieth day since burial). Rivka's family and friends will be visiting her grave that morning at 10:00 am, to recite Tehillim (Psalms) and Kaddish. All who wish to attend are welcome.


The Tehillim and prayers that will be recited can be found here.

Rivka's grave is at the following location in Har HaMenuhot:
גוש צ', חלקה ק"א, שורה ב', קבר 1
(block צ', plot ק"א, row ב', grave 1)
[Note, however, that we will gather first by the gate at the entrance.]

If you are planning on attending, please leave a comment in order to help us ensure that there will be a minyan present.

May RivkA's family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Please daven (or send happy thoughts) for RivkA bat Yishaya HaLevi.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A New G'mach - In Memory of RivkA

The following initiative is being launched by RivkA's friends, with the blessing of RivkA's family.

Dear All,

We want to tell you about an amazing Tzedakah/Charity opportunity we are launching in RivkA's memory: A Breastmilk Pump Lending Service (Gemach) to serve the women of Jerusalem and region with top-of-the-range, new pumps.

The idea for the Gemach came from RivkA’s friend Noa Hirsch-Choritz, a certified lactation consultant, during the funeral while Moshe recounted the story of RivkA breastfeeding her youngest daughter while hospitalized. It suddenly became clear how we could honor RivkA's memory with something she was truly passionate about. While there are various pumps available for hire, no service currently exists in Jerusalem offering modern, high-quality pumps (the kind that lactation consultants recommend to patients). This was something that RivkA- a staunch breastfeeding advocate, educator and La Leche Leader- wished to change.

And so, the Gemach idea has taken shape. "Meneket RivkA", (the name chosen for its biblical reference, meaning "Rivka's Wet-nurse") will be initially housed in the Jerusalem Breastfeeding Center in Talpiot, with a satellite branch in Gush Etzion. Uniquely, lactation consultants will provide free professional consultations, “fittings” and advice for each woman renting the pumps, which will be loaned at a nominal charge based on models provided by other successful pump gemachs around the country.

We hope to raise enough money to purchase up to 20 pumps, incorporating several models. We've built an initial budget and have plans for strategic growth together with The Eden Center, the mikva/women's center project which RivkA wholeheartedly supported.

It is envisaged that Meneket RivkA is developed over time into a full-service breastfeeding center, providing subsidized lactation consultations, La Leche League support groups, pre-birth breastfeeding classes and of course, low-cost/free breastmilk pump rental.

We truly believe that this project is really in consonant with RivkA's thoughts- she believed that breastfeeding knowledge and skills should be available to everyone, without pay (as is La Leche League's directives). We think this would make her really happy. We are overjoyed to have received the blessing of her family in creating this project, and we hope that all those who shared her vision, or who wish to honor her memory, will consider supporting us. No donation is too small to realize this dream.

To read more about the project or to make a donation- please visit www.meneketrivka.org or email meneketrivka@gmail.com

Or, you can donate directly here:

UPDATE: Tax-free donations can now be made to Meneket Rivka via the Eden Center on "Israel Gives"

May RivkA's family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Please daven (or send happy thoughts) for the memory of RivkA bat Yishaya HaLevi.

With love and optimism, RivkA's family

Join the "4 RivkA" Lotsa Helping Hands Community

Anyone interested in being on the "4 RIvkA" community list, where you can volunteer to help RivkA's family, please join "lots of helping hands" by clicking on the following link:


May RivkA's family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Please daven (or send happy thoughts) for the memory of RivkA bat Yishaya HaLevi.

With love and optimism, RivkA's family

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Shiva Update

RivkA's family will be concluding shiva this Friday, November 5th, after mincha which will start at 12:30 PM.


The family would like to eat/rest on Thursday between 12:00-15:00 and 18:30-19:30
(i.e. no visitors at these times)

Also, please no visitors after 22:00 pm.

Thank you for all your visits, condolences, emails and support.

Tefilot / Prayer times:

Shacharit - 7:00am [Help is needed strengthening the morning minyan]
Mincha - 16:40pm
Maariv - 17:20pm

If you need directions to the shiva, you can contact me at muqata@gmail.com

May RivkA's family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Please daven (or send happy thoughts) for the memory of RivkA bat Yishaya HaLevi.

With love and optimism, RivkA's family

The Eulogies for RivkA

RivkA's family requested that the video-recorded eulogies from RivkA's funeral be posted.

They are being posted in sequence, from top to bottom, in the order they were given. Each video clip states the name of the person who gave the eulogy, and the language it was presented in.

Updated: Moshe part 1

Moshe, part 2

May RivkA's family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Please daven (or send happy thoughts) for the memory of RivkA bat Yishaya HaLevi.

With love and optimism, RivkA's family

Monday, November 1, 2010

Important Shiva Hours Update

At RivkA's family's request, the shiva hours have been changed:

The family would like to eat/rest between 12:00-15:00 and 18:30-19:30
(i.e. no visitors at these times).

Also, please no visitors after 22:00 pm.

Thank you for all your visits, condolences, emails and support.

Tefilot / Prayer times:

Shacharit - 7:00am [Help is needed strengthening the morning minyan]
Mincha - 16:40pm
Maariv - 17:20pm

May RivkA's family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Please daven (or send happy thoughts) for the memory of RivkA bat Yishaya HaLevi.

With love and optimism, RivkA's family

The Blogosphere Remembers RivkA

The JBlogosphere (world of Jewish bloggers) has a weekly roundup of interesting and noteworthy posts called "Haveil Havalim" which has been going on for more than 5 years.

This week, the founder of Haveil Havalim, the Soccer Dad blogger, dedicated this week's "Haveil Havalim" in its entirety to RivkA's memory, and compiled a list of blogs (though not exhaustive) that remembered RivkA over the past week.

The RivkA memorial tribute: Haveil havalim #288 - the good name edition

Additional Tributes:

Memories of RivkA
, by a Mother in Israel
The Eternal Optimist, by Brian Blum/Israelity-21c

More will be posted...

Reminder: Davening (prayer times) & Shiva (family condolences) at RivkA's home:

Shacharit at 7 AM
Mincha at 4:40 PM
Arvit at 5:20 PM

During 12 - 3 PM every day the family will be on a break, so please do not come during those hours.

Visitors should not come later than 9:30 PM, to allow the family for private time as well.

If you need directions to the shiva, you can contact me at muqata@gmail.com

Update -- The following request originally appeared last week in the comments section, and we're reposting it now, open to all. Not just bloggers...but anyone who was positively impacted by RivkA.
RivkA has asked me to compile a book.

She would like her friends to write about any positive impact she has had on your life, any way in which she has touched your life.So, get... thinking, and get writing, and please EMAIL me your contributions, under the heading: "Written for RivkA."

It doesn't have to be long, but it can be as long as you want it to be.



May RivkA's family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Please daven (or send happy thoughts) for the memory of RivkA bat Yishaya HaLevi.

With love and optimism, RivkA's family

Sunday, October 31, 2010

People Came to Say Goodbye

Over 1000 people came for the late night funeral of RivkA, overflowing the building. The large crowd gathered outside and listened to the eulogies via loudspeakers.

Bloggers continue to write about RivkA:

Carl in Jerusalem
was at the funeral tonight and wrote about it. [link fixed]

Baila wrote about RivkA.

Batya from MeAnder remembers RivkA.

The "Nad-Ned" blog has a beautiful post with wonderful photos of RivkA.

Frume Sarah writes about RivkA "Across Space and Time"

"Miles to go before I sleep" remembers RivkA...

The eulogies tonight were video-recorded and we hope to post them at some point.

If you write a blogpost about RivkA, please leave the hyperlink address to it in the comments section.


May RivkA's family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Please daven (or send happy thoughts) for the memory of RivkA bat Yishaya HaLevi.

With love and optimism, RivkA's family

Saturday, October 30, 2010

10 PM Funeral Arrangements (Update)

RivkA's funeral will be at
10 PM this evening
(Saturday night)

Signs around Jerusalem mistakenly say 8 PM, but the funeral will be at 10 PM.

Davening (prayer times) & Shiva (family condolences) Details:

Shacharit at 7 AM
Mincha at 4:40 PM
Arvit at 5:20 PM

During 12 - 3 PM every day the family will be on a break, so please do not come during those hours.

Visitors should not come later than 9:30 PM, to allow the family for private time as well.

If you need directions to the shiva, you can contact me at muqata@gmail.com

Shavua tov,


May RivkA's family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Please daven (or send happy thoughts) for the memory of RivkA bat Yishaya HaLevi.

With love and optimism, RivkA's family

Friday, October 29, 2010

Funeral Arrangements

This post is being continuously updated till after RivkA's funeral/livaya - please go to the bottom for updates.

The funeral for RivkA will be held Saturday evening, Moetzei Shabbat at 10PM.

It will be at the Kehillat Yerushalayim Beit Hesped in Givat Shaul, Jerusalem, across from the Herzog Hospital (on Har Hamenuchot).

Update: The family is looking for friends of RivkA who would like to volunteer to do "shmira" and say tehillim next to RivkA from 4 PM this afternoon (Friday) through Motzei Shabbat at 6 PM at Shaarei Tzedek Hospital (bring warm clothes). Each shift should be between 4-6 hours, based on the number of volunteers.

Shiva information and additional details will be posted.

Map to get to the Beit Hesped (you can click the map and enter in your address to get directions)

View Beit Hesped Kehillat Yerushalayim in a larger map

Update: People speaking at RivkA's funeral are requested to speak in English (if they can) so that RivkA's family from the USA can appreciate your thoughts as well.

Update: As is the Ashkenazic custom in Judaism, after a person dies, they are referred to by their name, and as the son/daughter of their father. Therefore, for those who are praying in her memory, her name is RivkA bat Yishaya HaLevi.

Saturday Night Update: Reminder -- the funeral is at 10 PM, Saturday night, and NOT at 8 PM as it appears on signs around Jerusalem. Shiva information and additional updates posted at the top of the blog. (Or here)

May RivkA's family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for the memory of RivkA bat Yishaya HaLevi.

With love and optimism, RivkA's family

Baruch Dayan HaEmet

Baruch Dayan HaEmet - Blessed is the True Judge.

This is the blessing said upon hearing the news of someone's death.

About 11:10 AM this morning (Friday), RivkA passed away.

Funeral plans are in the process, and we'll post them as soon as we know.

May RivkA's family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Please daven (or send happy thoughts) for the memory of RivkA bat Yishaya HaLevi.

With love and optimism,RivkA's family

Friday Morning Update

8:15 AM -- Friday Morning, Erev Shabbat Chayei Sarah.

Good Morning.

RivkA's resting and her pain management seems to be under control.

For the past day, RivkA is less interactive that she was earlier this week and she is resting almost all the time. Though very weak, RivkA is aware of her surroundings and hears much of what's going on around her.

A few comments from her family:

1. Visitors are encouraged for short stays! However, only 1 or 2 friends are being allowed in at a time, so you may need to wait. The family very much appreciates all her friends coming to visit, because it also helps the family if they need to step away for a minute, as they don't want to leave RivkA unattended. RivkA knows there are people around her, and she takes comfort in that.

2. There is a notebook in RivkA's room. Please ask for it so you can write your thoughts or stories about RivkA in it. RivkA and her family would love to read what you have to say. Moshe has been reading blog comments, emails, and stories from the notebook to RivkA. Private emails can be sent to: thematityas@gmail.com

3. The exact quote from RivkA on Sunday evening was: "I am now in a different state" (RivkA's sister asked that it be corrected.) There is another sentence or 2 she said which we'll try to post at some point.

4. Many people participated in yesterday's "Race for the Cure" event for breast cancer awareness in Jerusalem, and there were people that carried signs with RivkA's name on it or had RivkA's name on their shirts. RivkA and family were very touched by this, and if anyone has photos of those signs/shirts from yesterday, please send them. You can also post them to her wall on facebook (and we'll post them here as well if you don't mind --you can send them to me here as well at: muqata@gmail.com)

Wishing RivkA, her family and friends, a restful and peaceful Shabbat weekend.


PS: Here is an article in today's Jerusalem Post (link updated)

Update: Here's a photo of RivkA's friends at the "Race for the Cure" this past Thursday in Jerusalem.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.With love and optimism,RivkA

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mid Afternoon Update

Thursday, Mid Afternoon Update, 3:30 PM

RivkA's pain-management doctor reported to Moshe that he believes RivkA's pain is less than before due to the procedure this morning.

RivkA is mostly quiet now or sleeping.

Moshe told RivkA that her blog is now being updated as she requested, so that her many friends can be kept in the loop.

I'm reminded of RivkA's post from 2007, "No Droopy Eyes Please"
Okay, so here is the deal: I don't want people to look at me with sad, "droopy" eyes.

I don't want people to think of me and feel sad.

I don't want people to see me and feel sorry.

I don't want to be the cause of worry and concern.

I know that when you first hear the news, it's a bit of a shock. So it's okay to be sad in the beginning (I was too). But don't stay there!

You can ask me anything.

I'm totally open.

I don't mind talking about the cancer or what's going on.

Chemo certainly affects the day-to-day of my life, so there's no ignoring it.

But I really don't intend to hang out in some dark, depressing emotional pit.

So here's what I want:

When you think of me, be happy.

When you see me, smile.
(Read the rest of it here: "No Droopy Eyes Please")


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

With love and optimism, RivkA

Thursday Morning Update

Good Morning.

RivkA's night was an extension of yesterday, as she was in a lot of pain. The doctors have readjusted her pain management this morning, hoping it will give her some relief. (Will update on this a bit later today)

RivkA isn't as talkative as earlier, but she (and her family) are very appreciate of the friends who come and speak to her for short visits, even if she has her eyes closed.

The JBlogosphere is expressing its care and love for RivkA in blog posts everywhere...here are a few that I found quickly:

Treppenwitz's "Thoughts and Prayers"
Batya's "RivkA on my mind"
Robin's "RivkA Update"
This week's JBlogosphere roundup "Haveil Havalim" was dedicated in honor of RivkA.

In fact, if you google for "RivkA bat Teirtzel" there are over 22,000 results of caring people who are publicizing her name, so that prayers, tehillim, and happy and healing thoughts are directed on her behalf.

If you write a blog post about RivkA, please leave a link to it in the comments section.

Praying that RivkA will have an easier day.


Update: Kudos to all of those running in the "Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure" today in Jerusalem.

"Significant historic sites were lit in pink and hundreds will gather for the first Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® in Israel, as delegates from global and Israeli organizations gather to advance the breast cancer movement in a mission trip to Israel Oct. 25-28.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, is partnering with the City of Jerusalem, Hadassah®, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, and health, science and advocacy organizations for the historic week that will also launch the Israel Breast Cancer Collaborative.

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

With love and optimism, RivkA

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday Night Update

Today was a difficult day for RivkA.

RivkA was in a lot of pain for most of the day. Throughout the day she was being tended to by her family and hospital staff to try and keep her as comfortable as possible in her weakened condition.

This evening, RivkA's husband Moshe asked her if she wanted to see any of the guests who had patiently waited (and stayed) for a chance to see her, and she answered, "yes." Her friends were able to briefly see her, and that made RivkA happy.

The majority of people didn't get to see her today, but RivkA's family is encouraging people to come, on the chance RikvA might be able to see them at some point.

Hoping for an easier day tomorrow.


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

With love and optimism,RivkA

"I Feel Like I’m in a Different State…"

"I feel like I’m in a different state…" – these were the words RivkA repeated to us a few times, as she tried to put her thoughts in order for a blog post.

When I visited RivkA on Sunday evening, she was already very tired.

After some very difficult days during which she barely managed to communicate, Sunday was not just a “good day,” but an “excellent and amazing day,” as she spent quality time – quality communicative time, with her children, husband, parents and siblings.

By the evening when we visited, Rivka was exhausted. But she smiled at our jokes, laughed a bit, gave us a “thumbs up” for something she agreed with, and even laughed at a computer joke.

On Monday morning, RivkA’s brother sent me an audio note, where I heard RivkA request that friends come to visit her…and she was blessed with many friends who came to entertain her. She happily sang along as a friend played their guitar, and acknowledged the presence of the so many people who came to visit her.

On Tuesday, RivkA slept most of the day. When she was awake she was still rather drowsy. The vast majority of the many people who came to visit her weren’t able to talk to her, and instead spent time talking to RivkA’s family.

People are still welcome to come and visit, even though RivkA may be sleeping.

On behalf of RivkA and her family, please continue to visit, pray and send positive thoughts for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

RivkA’s friend,


PS: I'm sorry that there hasn't been more updates on the blog. Having discussed the issue with RivkA's husband, I will now be posting more regular updates.

Update: If you come for a visit, please plan on keeping actual visit time with RivkA, short. All the food that's been brought to the hospital is greatly appreciated, yet please refrain from bringing BAKED GOODS.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism, RivkA

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Update

A post should be up here later today, as dictated by RivkA.

Important: As opposed to yesterday (Sunday) -- today friends are welcome to visit RivkA, for short visits.

Also, please be understanding that you may have to wait a bit to see her (depending on the number of people in her room).

Please understand that family conversations with RivkA will take priority over visitors.

RivkA’s looking forward to seeing you!

And she specifically told me last night, "tell people to check the blog for updates."

On behalf of RivkA,


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

With love and optimism,RivkA

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Note from RivkA's Family

Posted on behalf of RivkA's Family

A note from RivkA's Family:

As her family, we know just how special RivkA is. It's no secret that she has friends from all over and from all walks of life. We are very touched by all you who have called to offer support and with offers to help. It reminds us that she is not just special to us, but to so many others.

Jackie, a friend and neighbor of RivkA's, has generously taken it upon herself to organize help for the family when needed.

If you are available to help please email Jackie your:
phone #
email address
what times you are available. (after work hours, mornings, etc....)
and if you have a car

Jackie's email: jzb6768@gmail.com
Jackie's phone: 052-424-6149

Thank you,
RivkA's Family

A note from Moshe:

I am moved by the many offers of help that I am receiving, but I am also finding myself overwhelmed by them.

In addition to the time that I am spending with Rivka and tending to her needs, I am also trying to devote the time, care, and attention to our children that they need from me at this very difficult time.

I very much appreciate the constant phone calls that I'm receiving from so many people, and the outpouring of love, concern, and offers off assistance. But at the same time, I am simply innundated by them, in a manner that is difficult for me to process and that affects my availability to the children.

We do indeed need assistance, but it needs to be channelled in a way that allows me to spend the time together with my family that we need right now to support one another.

Your expressions of support and love mean a great deal to me. Please, do not stop sending them -- but if at all possible, post them here, where I can sit and read them properly at at a time during the day when my time and attention is not needed elsewhere.

If you would rather send me a personal note, please send it to thematityas@gmail.com. And please forgive me if I am unable to respond to them at this time.

For all those who are offering assistance, please contact Jackie through the contact information above. And thank you so very much, from me and from the kids.


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

With love and optimism, RivkA

A week and a world – Change

The following post was written by RivkA and is being posted on her behalf.

A week and a world – Change
(written 19.10.2010)

A week passed with no posts and lots of other computer problems and I knew you would all start to worry...during that week.

I started to have some “real” problems –with my vision and speech starting to blur.

As time passed the problems really became serious – the pain increased severely and my liver began to fail.

I have spent the last half of this “silent” period in the hospital.

I wish I could end this post by reassuring you that all will be well. I cannot...but there is room for hope. The situation with my liver can change; we can find a balance of pain management that doesn't make me woozy and we can pray.

At the end of the day, it is God's challenges. God is our ultimate caretaker and we will be taken care of.

So, I'm still here and I am still “fighting the good fight.”

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

With love and optimism,RivkA

Religious Revelation

The following post was written by RivkA and is being posted on her behalf.

Religious Revelation
(started writing 18.10.2010)

Though not my typical response, I had a revelation on Sunday night, or l'yud chesvan tash”a.

After months of innocently observing my health deteriorate, and continuing blindfoldingly down the path, I realized where I am heading, I finally had a revelation.

I had something I wanted to do (wave your hand Harry Potter) and I begged God to help me make it happen.

I suddenly realized my prayer had just been answered:

On Parashat Balak (insert date here [June 26, 2010] ) we celebrated our youngest daughter's Bat Mitzva....

(This is where RivkA stopped writing since Yaffa came to visit and then a whole string of visitors came and then it was night and in the morning she wrote the post above. She still wants to finish writing this post. However, I pushed her to tell me the end of the story since I was too curious to leave her side without hearing it. This is what she said:)

The revelation was that God answered my last question in the positive and I would be ok for the Bat Mitzvah. I asked for that.

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

With love and optimism,RivkA

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

RivkA's Video: Coping with Adversity

Hi All.

This talk by RivkA was given in Gush Etzion on June 22, 2009, and she asked that I upload it and make it available for viewing on youtube. Her lecture is in 4 parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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

Posted by RivkA's friend,

Jameel (yeah, its a weird name.)

Update; In the spirit of this blog being RivkA's thoughts, the information about the tehillim request is being moved to the comments section.

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

With love and optimism,RivkA

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


My recent disappearance had nothing to do with my cancer.

We simply did not have access to the internet for a week or so.

Finally, we took advantage of someone who offered to help us and put him in charge of getting us back on line.


Here I am!

That said, my "situation" is not that great.  We still have hope, but things are not that great.

So we appreciate any extra davening and any extra mitzvot performed for our merit.

As I know more, I will keep you posted.

For now, we know that my liver is not functioning well, I finished this round of Whole Brain Radiation (today I had my last WBR treatment), and we are waiting for more blood tests (this Wednesday) before making any decisions.

In short, cancer did not cause the delay in communication, but the technical problems that we have been experiencing certainly include cancer complication.

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Few Harrowing Days (Medical Update - Sort of....)

Sunday Morning:
  1. Hadassah Ein Kerem:  Radiation
  2. Sha'are Zedek:  Chemo (Doxil & Denosumab)
    1. Doxil got canceled because it does bad things when combined with radiation. 
    2. Denosunab (bone drug) got canceled because my Calcium was too low.
    3. My platelets, hemoglobin, and various other things were also too low, so I needed two units of blood, BUT but it was too late and I would have to return tomorrow.
  3. Home: Canceled swimming lessons for the next day & Went to Sleep.

Sunday Evening: 
  1. Home:  My left foot ballooned up to 2-3 x the regular size; I could barely walk.
    1. My GP, concerned that thrombosis caused the swelling, sent me to the ER.
  2. Sha'are Zedek:  Ultrasound ruled out thrombosis. 
    1. Option: Spend night at hospital and receive two units of blood while sleeping (or go home and receive blood in the morning). Tired of running to and from the hospitals, the idea of killing two birds with one stone (i.e. getting the blood while I slept) appealed to me.  However, I would only stay if Moshe agreed to go home, to be with the kids in the morning and reassure them that everything was okay. After a bit of persuasion, Moshe agreed. I was so tired,  I slept quite soundly, despite all the beeping and buzzing.

Monday Morning:
  1. Sha'are Zedek:
    1. Woke up to discover I only received one unit of blood during the night.
    2. Received the second unit of blood.
    3. Ate three bowls of farina (solet, milk and sugar) -- I was hungry!
    4. A friend (SS) came to keep me company and, when I finished, to take me to radiation.
  2. Hadassah Ein Kerem: Radiation
  3. Home: Slept/Rested.

Tuesday Morning:
  1. Sha'are Zedek:
    1. Met with Oncologist, to discuss my liver.
    2. Did a Liver Scan (no results yet)
  2. Hadassah Ein Kerem:  Radiation.
  3. Home: Rest

Wednesday Morning:
  1. Hadassah Ein Kerem:  Radiation.
  2. Home: Rest.

General Info:
  1. Lip still numb
  2. Rt. Foot still swollen and sore
  3. Still Balding from radiation.
  4. Hands and Feet still red and peeling
  5. Still bruise fast and heal slowly.
  6. Still have severe back pain.
  7. Still have hip pain and muscular pain.
  8. Still have issues with constipation and stomach cramps
  9. Still have low appetite and nausea
  10. Still feel tired and weak.

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The State of My Liver: inconclusive (Medical Update)

We did a CT of my liver . 
Results:  Inconclusive

We did an MRI of my liver.
Results: Inconclusive

We did a PET CT of my liver.
Results: Inconclusive

We did a liver scan of my liver.
We do not yet know the results.

Some of the blood work regarding liver functionins is also a bit suspicious.

Still, nothing is conclusive yet.

Remember, a year and a half ago, when I discovered tumors on my brain and I freaked out about brain mets?  One of the things my oncologist emphasized was that tumors on my liver would be far more scary.

Not to worry, I am still not freaking out.

Another thing my oncologist emphasizes is that we do not deal with "what ifs."  We will not decide how to handle my current medical situation, until we know what it is.  So, until we know the facts, we wait.

Meanwhile, we have had a few harrowing days.

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

With love and optimism,

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Give Your Mouth a Rest....

A few weeks ago, I noticed an unusual numbness in my lower lip, as if I had received novacain at the dentist, but it did not wear off.

The 2 1/2 cm (approx.1") wide affected area included my lower lip, my gums, my inner mouth, my tongue, my upper lip, and even my cheek.

At times, I barely noticed the discomfort.  During the last few days, however, there have been moments when my speach was impared and moments when I felt severe discomfort, even pain.

I thought this might pass, but it seems to be increasing in severity. 

I am trying not to panic, but I do not want the situation to remain as is.

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Accepting New Limitations

(This post contains many religious Jewish references.  My apologies to those for whom this post is unclear)

I cried.

I love reading Torah.  Every year, I schlep my famiy to Baka/Talpiot, so that I can celebrate Simchat Torah the way I want.

I always read V'Zot HaB'racha

This year, in addition, I was offered the opportunity to read B'reishit for the Kallat HaTorah.  At least I had the forsight to make sure I had a back-up.

It took me longer than usual to learn the reading of B'reishit

I had no problem reading V'Zot HaB'racha. Like I told the coordinator, I can read that in my sleep. But the melody for B'reishit just flew out of my brain, as if I had not prepared at all.  I could not remember the notes.

Plain and simple, my memory is no longer what it used to be. I cannot avoid the simple, painful fact that I can no longer volunteer to read Torah.

Accepting this new limitation is really tough. 

Reading Torah has always been a profoundly moving, religious experience for me.  Nothing else has ever made me feel so intensely connected to God.  I really feel like I am God's mouthpiece, bringing His words directily to His people.

I take reading Torah accurately very seriously.  I am dilligent about correctly pronouncing the words and singing the cantellations.

I deeply love reading Torah.

To my great disappointment, I find that I can no longer read at a level that is acceptible to me.

In the scheme of things, this might seem like a fairly benign loss.

For me, this marks a significant limitation and really brings home the feeling of loss and disability that accompany cancer.
Crying helped me share with God just how sad I am.  It also helped me to accept that I need to take a step back and let someone else take over. 

It is hard.... really hard....

I know that, in time, I will learn to accept this new reality, as I have accepted previous changes and limitations.

For now, I am still sad.

I am not quite done crying yet....

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, September 27, 2010


I am finished!

I read all of Harry Potter!! 

OK, so most other fantasy fans finished the series ages ago.....  Not us. 

I started reading the books when my kids were younger.  I read the books out loud to them in English.  Then, we kind of lost steam in the middle of book four.  My son finished reading the series himself, in Hebrew, and the rest of us just sort of lost interest.

But now there is that new Harry Potter park at Universal's Island of Adventure, in Orlando, and we all want to go see it.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that my eldest had begun reading the series.  Excited, she informed me that she wanted to read all the books and see all the movies before we visit the theme park.  That sounded like a good idea to the rest of us, so my son reread the series in English, my youngest started reading the series in Hebrew (to be accurate, she started reading in English, but it took her too long, so she switched to reading in Hebrew and is already almost finished with the sixth book) and I started reading the series in English.

I could not put the books down until I finished.

I have been so engrossed in the books, that I have done nothing in recent weeks but read and sleep.  Admittedly, I did a lot more sleeping than reading.  However, every waking moment that I could, I burried my head in one of the books.

Now, I am done!

Tomorrow, we are going to a friend's home for a Harry Potter Marathon.  We plan on watching the first three movies (though if we run out of time, we might only watch the first two).

We are already planning our trip to Orlando, to visit the Harry Potter theme park. 

We saw glimpses of the park, as they were building it, during our visit to Orlando last winter.

I can't wait until my youngest finishes the series and we can all discuss the books together!

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Glow in the Dark (Medical Update)

I am going to start glowing in the dark.

I just started my third radiation treatment to my brain.

Just before my son's Bar Mitzvah, in July 2009, I had a month of whole brain radiation (WBR). The tumors shrank; some disappeared.  Even after 6 months, some of the tumors continued to shrink.

Just before my daughter's Bat Mitzvah, in June 2010, an MRI revealed two new tumors.  I had stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) on what turned out to be three tumors.  My recent MRI, showed that one tumor shrank, the other is stable. It also showed several new tumors... too many for another SRS. 

The radiologist, who did my intake last Sunday, recommended that we do another round of WBR;  she wanted to wait until this Sunday, so she could consult with the head off radiology, who was in Barcelona for a professional conference.  Moshe and I felt a little nervous about waiting, but we also felt good knowing that the department took the risks of this procedure seriously (particularly since the risks are elevated by repeating the treatment).

We came in on Sunday, and the radiologist was amazing!  She consulted with the dept. head before we even got there, gave us an update (basically, that the head agreed with their earlier decision), invited Moshe to ask the dept. head any questions he still might have, set me up for the simulation, and even for the first treatment!  Things moved much faster than I expected, but I am glad to have started treatment right away, especially after waiting the extra week for the head of the dept. to return.

So, I just finished the third day of radiation.  I will receive 18 treatments altogether.

This has impeded a bit on our holiday plans.

We, more specifically "I," will have to be in Jerusalem every morning, including Erev Chag, Erev Shabbat, and Chol HaMo'ed.

I have been having a tough time with this whole thing.  I am a bit devastated to have more tumors appear so quickly.

Quite honestly, I am scared.

I am trying to keep my chin up, but it is a challenge.  I just do not feel like saying "I am fine" when I am not, and I do not feel like explaining why I do not feel fine.

My emotions are extremely close to the surface these days.  I lose my temper more than I cry, but it would probably be healthier for me to cry a bit more.  I am feeling just a tad sorry for myself these days.

I have not even mentioned the hair thing....

Meanwhile, I am chugging along.  I even taught swimming today (and had great classes, if I do say so myself!)

I just wish I had a bit more energy, and I know that the WBR will knock me out and make me even more tired than I already am.


So, those of you who want to make a chemo or radiation date with me --now is the time!

(I was just kidding about the glowing part....)

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

With love and optimism,

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Year Blessings 5771 (2010-2011)

Wishing everyone a year filled with joy and happiness.

May we all enjoy good health and relief from our pain.

May God answer all our prayers in a good way.

This Yom Kippur, let us learn from our introspection and grow to be better people.

May we be sealed in the book of life for this coming year.

גמר חתימה טובה

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, September 13, 2010

Teaching Swimming -- Trials and Rewards

Last week, for the first time, I had such a difficult time teaching swimming that I wondered if I would be able to continue.  Given how weak I felt, I did not know until this morning if I would be up for teaching today.  Even if I could manage to teach, I worried that it would take everything out of me and leave me like a rag again.

In the end, I felt OK, so I decided to teach, and I am so glad!

I had amazing classes!!

My beginners all accomplished a new step forward and we were all so excited!

My advanced swimmers worked hard and had a very productive lesson as well.

Of course I felt tired afterwards, but I also felt great!

I love teaching and days like today make all the efforts worthwhile!!

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

With love and optimism,

Rosh HaShanah Preparations -- Where the Magic Begins

When we left, not much food was prepared.  Out of 6 meals -- we were invited for two, friends prepared one meal, and my sister prepared another -- that left 2 more meals to be prepared by my aspiring chef, i.e. my 12 year old daughter.

We met my neighbor on the way out the door, as we were leaving for the hospital, and I asked my son to mention to her where we were going and if she could stop by to check on my daughter from time to time, to see if she needed any help/advice with the cooking.

We also tried to reach my sister, who would be joining us for the first day of Yom Tov, to see if she could come early to help, given the current situation (that I was going to the hospital, mere hours before the holiday began).  We discovered later that my sister, who had prepared everything in advance, was out of town for the day.

When we returned from the hospital, to find the house peaceful and all set up, we assumed that our neighbor and my sister were responsible.  They were both quick to inform us that our kids had really done it all.  The kids had worked together and made it happen.

In fact, the kids even handled a small crisis (a grease fire in one of the cooking pots) calmly and responsibly.

When push came to shove, there was no pushing and no shoving.  Our kids cooperated and helped each other and did what needed to be done.

As we sat down together, to share the first festive meal, we thanked the children for pulling it all together, feeling both proud and extremely grateful.

I felt accutely aware of all the blessings surrounding me: my children, my sister, my husband.

God has blessed me with the greatest gifts of all. 

I was tired, I was weak, but I was home with my family.

There is no better way to start the NewYear.

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Self Doubt vs 20/20 Hindsight Vision

It is so hard sometimes to know what is the "right" decision.

Should I go to the hospital?

Will I get back home in time?

Should I let my Mother in Law pick up the kids and take them to my Sister in Law's, where they could spend the holiday with their granparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins?

What if she do not get home in time?

What if we do get home in time?

What is best for the kids?

What is best for the family?

What is best for me?

Well, it is after the fact. 

We got home in time, so it was good that we had the kids stay.

I feel a lot better, so it is good that I went to the hospital.

We made it home before sh'kiyah (sunset, after which time we are not permitted to drive), so it was okay that we left the hospital when we did.

But when we made each of these difficult decisions, we did not know what the outcome would be.

Wouldn't it be great to know in advance that everything would work out in the end?

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

With love and optimism,

Saturday, September 11, 2010

If You Can't Take the Heat.... Maybe You Need to Go to the Hospital

Wednesday, the plan was to cook.  My youngest daughter planned a menu of delicious recipes, and I was to be her assistant.

But when I woke up, standing on my feet for just a few minutes wore me out.  I had to go back to bed.

I did not feel well.

As the day progressed, I was not getting any better.

I began to worry... a lot.  I had absolutely no strength for anything.  I did not feel sick, but I certainly did not feel healthy.  I could not move.  I could not eat.  I could not even drink.  My body hurt.  My muscles hurt.  Even breathing hurt.

Moshe contacted my oncologist for me.  My doctor agreed that going to the hospital sounded like the right course of action.

It took a while to get out of the house, but we went, leaving behind a house that was no where near ready for a three day chag (holiday).

I got to the hospital and I could not even sit up for triage.  I went straight in to the ER nurse, told her I am an oncology patiend and need to lie down.  The nurse set me up on a bed right away, and she did my intake.

First, I told her how awful I felt.  Second, I asked if I would make it home for Yom Tov (the holiday).

One of the things I love most about Israel is that even the hospital staff "get it;"  they understand that you can be falling off your feet, but you want to be home with your family to celebrate the new year. 

Everyone on staff worked hard to make that happen.

I received two liters of fluids and a half liter of blood.  As the last few drops were flowing, they sent my husband to check out.  As he completed the paperwork, the nurses detached me from the IV, then we "ran" to the car. 

We got home two minutes before sh'kiyah (sunset), to find the food cooked and on the plata (hot plate), and the table set.

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Happy Little Home-Maker

I am so impressed by my youngest daughter.

A few months ago, one of her good friends from school gave my daughter a really nice cookbook for her Bat Mitzvah.

My daughter decided she wanted to prepare our meals for the holiday. She carefully went through her cookbook and chose the recipes she wished to prepare.  With a little teamwork, Moshe and I convinced her to settle on two main dishes and two appetizers.

On Sunday, I helped her prepare a shopping list.  On Monday, our friend who shops for us, took her shopping to pick up the ingredients she needs.  Today, Tuesday, she started cooking.

Since I was too tired to help much today, my daughter chose to start with a simple, but very time consuming, recipe; we both felt she could probably make it on her own.

She made Sambusas -- dough filled pastries.

The filling came out amazing and the Sambusas look great.  They do not seem to have puffed up as we expected, and we are not quite sure why.  Nevertheless, my daughter tasted one and they taste good.

Pretty impressive for her first dish!

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, September 6, 2010

Angels, Shoulder Pain, & Shiatsu

Sunday morning, I woke up with excruciating pain in my right shoulder, different from any pain I experienced before.  The focal point of the pain was deep inside my shoulder, and the deeper I inhaled the more it hurt. The pain felt like muscle pain, and I hoped it would work itself out during the course of the day.  Meanwhile, I concentrated on slow, shalow breathing. 

I slept almost all day, partially because I felt so tired and weak, and partially to escape the pain.

Nothing changed.

Midday, I contacted my friend who does Shiatsu.  She had quite a busy day, and asked if I would be up for a treatment in the evening.  Desperate, I told her she should come whenever she could and I would make it work.

I spent the afternoon helping my youngest daughter, who is really into cooking, go over what she wants to prepare for Rosh HaShannah, make a shopping list, and study for her math test the next day.  I do not know from where she gets her enthusiams about cooking, but I am trying to encourage her and be supportive.  She would rather cook than do math; I would rather do math than cook!  I really enjoyed helping her with math, but we did not have a chance to finish before she had to leave for gymnastics. 

Then my son came home. One moment he behaved so charmingly, the next moment he snapped at me, then he again acted like a perfect gentleman, then he bit my head off, and so on.  I had promised to help him make his lunch, and I was determined to fulfill my promise.  Waking up in the morning to make sandwiches for/with him is just too much for me.  I cannot do it. 

My eldest daughter behaved pretty much the same as my son: pleasant one moment, harsh and critical the next.

My kids completely wore me out!

I could not deal with any more stress.... I escaped into my bedroom.

A few minutes later, my angel friend callled: "Are you still up for a treatment?" she asked, ever so sweetly.

We usually do shiatsu in my living room, but I really needed a break from my kids, so she treated me on my bed. 

For the first time all day, I felt some relief. 

When she finished, I did not want to move.  I closed my eyes and fell into a deep sleep.

At one point, Moshe woke me and asked me if I felt comfortable the way I was lying.  I shifted to a more comfortable position, closed my eyes, and resumed my slumber.  Though I woke up briefly a few more times, I quickly returned to sleep, and slept deaply until the morning.

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

With love and optimism,

In addition to practicing Shiatsu professionally, Idit volunteers her services to me and to the Yuri Stern Foundation.

Idit has a wonderful, warm, and relaxing treatment room in her home.
For regular treatments or to treat yourself to something special:
Idit Amir
Idit Amir amir.idit@gmail.com

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Missing Blog Post

Anyone have any idea about how to find a blog post that seems to have disappeared?

I could swear I wrote one on Sunday night and it has vanished.

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

With love and optimism,

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tough Times

Summer is over, and I have been having a tough time.

Thank God, I had the strength to do things with my kids.  We all really had a great summer.

That said, I spent most of my time in bed.

I am still trying to find the right balance of pain meds.  This Thursday, I consulted with the pain specialist at my hospital and he said I should up the dose of my pain patch by 50%.  I will try it, starting tomorrow, when I switch the patch.

Meanwhile, I am so tired, I just want to sleep all day long.  I read a bit here and there, and then I am ready to go back to sleep.

The cancer makes me tired.  The chemo makes me tired.  The pain makes me tired.  The pain meds make me tired.  My kids make me tired.  Doing everything makes me tired.  Doing anything makes me tired.

Complain, complain, complain.....

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

With love and optimism,

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Hitchayvut from Hell

In order to receive medical care, our health funds need to provide us with a "hitchayvut," a document committing to pay for the process.

For most procedures, this is a fairly benign procedure, that is time consuming and annoying, but straightforward and not difficult.

It is a bit more complex when applying for some of the more expensive procedures, like a CT or MRI.

Sometimes, the health fund refuses coverage, but usually overturns the decision on appeal.

Recently, they continually refused to cover an MRI of my hip.  First they insisted I do a CT, until I provided them with the documentation that I already did a CT.  Then we sent another letter explaining that an orthopedist, who specialized in orthopedic oncology (or oncological orthopedics), requested the MRI, since the CT showed nothing.  The orthopedist wanted to verify that their are no hairline fractures, and felt an MRI might provide us with more information.

It took three months to get an MRI appointment, I thought I would receive a hitchayvut in plenty of time.

Instead, it took three months of arguing with the health fund, with the dedicated help of my GP and his staff.

As the appointment approached, I got increasingly anxious. 

At one point, I had this crazy conversation with my GP and my oncologist -- both who were convinced they understood the other.  My GP explained that my oncologist no longer thought the MRI was necessary, and my oncologist was convinced that my GP was working on getting the approval. 

I begged my oncologist to write another letter, which I then sent to my GP, who sent it in and.... got approval for the MRI, the DAY BEFORE my appointment!!

What a relief!!

My doctor's office sent the hitchayvut to the hospital.  I called to confirm the hospital received it.  They did.


"The code is wrong," Sharon told me.  "It should be Code 73721, for your "perek yerech" (hip)."

I panicked.

I called my doctor's office.  The secretaries promised to take care of it.  I would have to wait until the offices of the health fund re-opened for their afternoon hours.

Worse case scenario: I could leave a check deposit and they would work out the details afterwards.  The check would not even be deposited.

An hour, or so later, a representative from the health fund called me.

"The code is fine," she told me.  "The code is for your "agan" (pelvis) and your doctor's referal is for an MRI of your pelvis.  Everything is in order."

I breathed a sigh of relief and finally fell into a deep sleep.  My appointment was at midnight, and I needed to get some rest.

Big mistake.  I should have called the hospital again... (hindsight vision is always 20-20)

At a quarter to midnight, I arrived at the hospital and went to register for my appointment.

They could not find the hitchayvut. 

I told them that I had confirmed that afternoon that the hitchayvut was there.  They looked.  And looked.  The did not find it.

Someone else looked.  And looked.  And looked.  He started checking even those unlikely places....

And he found it.

I was so grateful. 

I really did not want to leave a check deposit.  That would be just one more thing to follow up....

The MRI staff took me in right away.

They did not fight with me when I insisted that the technician use the smallest needle they have (the yellow one they use for babies!) 

Then, they lay me down on the MRI machine.  I was so exhausted from the ordeal that, despite the loud banging of the MRI, I fell into a deep sleep.

After the MRI, the technician came to remove the IV.

She noticed that I was scratching my arm, and gave me a funny look.

"Do you itch?" she asked, still giving me that strange look.

I had not noticed. 

I paused for a few moments... then I noticed.  I itched all over.

She quickly gave me two pills (4 mg) of ahisten, an antihistamine.

She kept asking me if it was difficult for me to breathe.

Breathing was not a problem, but I defnitely itched.

"You are allergic to the contrast material," she declared, writing out a note.

She debated whether she should send me to the emergency room.  If she did, I would be there all night.

We waited another ten minutes.  I still itched.  I had no problems breathing.

I went home.

I really did not want to stay.

What a night!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel. With love and optimism, RivkA

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tests (Medical Updates)

Last night I had an MRI of my brain, to see how the tumors in my brain responded to the stereotactic radiosurgery that I had three months ago (you can read more about that experience here (1), here(2) , and here (3)).

Tonight, I have an MRI of my right hip, to verify that there is not hairline fracture or anything else that might be causing the pain in my hip and thigh.  Even though an oncological orthopedist (or is he an orthopedic oncologist?) requested the test, the health fund did not agree to cover it.  The health fund wanted me to image the area with a regular CT, but we did that aly  My GP is a miracle man. After three months, he finally got the health fund to approve coverage, just a few hours before my appointment!

I have to make an appointment for an ECHO, to check that my heart is not being damaged from the various chemotherapies.  Hopefully, I will be able to get an appointment for tomorrow, when I have to be at the hospital anyway.  More importantly, I want to schedule the test with the technician who is gentle and never hurts me when she does the test.

In another two weeks (exactly three weeks after my third dose of Doxil, and one week before I am scheduled to receive my fourth dose), I have a full PET scan to see what influence the Doxil and Herceptin are having on my cancer.

In brief, this month is full of tests that will, hopefully, give us an up-to-date picture of what is going on in my body.

Oh, joy.

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

With love and optimism,

Crossing Over to the Other Side

I finally succumbed to all the pressure and added supplements to my diet.

My youngest daughter, who is our milkshake maven, makes me a special "Ima milkshake" with about a third of a can of Ensure.

I can drink a large cup of milkshake every day or two.

I also have a powder supplement, that I got from friends.  I need to figure out how much to add to make a tasty milkshake.

It is difficult for me, emotionally, to be adding these supplements to my diet.  But I need to find some solution to being so weak and tired.  I know that I am not eating enough and if supplementing my diet will help, then I have to do it. 

I started supplementing, here and there, about two weeks ago.

I have not yet noticed a difference in my energy level.

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, August 30, 2010

School has Started!

My eldest started last Thursday, and my other two started on Sunday.

I got all their school supplies and have almost finished gathering all their school books.  Most of the school books we either had or are borrowing from friends.  There are still a few that we will have to buy.  I still need to ask a friend to actually go and get those for me, but I am waiting to be certain of what we need, so we only have to go to the bookstore once!

So far, everyone seems to be settling in. Even the madhouse morning rush seems to be under control.

My sweet son asked for me to make his lunches for him again, this year.

It is too much for me to do it all year long.  But I told him I would make his lunches in the morning for the first week of school, then I would make his lunches *with him* in the evenings during the second week of school.  After that, he would have to make his lunches in the evening on his own (though I will help him if he needs/wants it, within reason).  He agreed.  I am cautiously optimistic that we can make this transition smoothly.... (PLEASE, God!!)

Moshe has been driving the kids to school in the mornings, which is very positive for all around.  My son, who mainly rides his bike to and from school, also benefits from this arrangement.  My son loads his bike onto the car; Moshe drives him to the top of our hill, which is long and steep; then our son rides the rest of the way to school.  It cuts out the worst/hardest part of the bike ride, but still allows our son to benefit from the excersize of bike riding, and the freedom after school to ride wherever he wants.

Our youngest began a new school this year and is feeling more comfortable, with each day that passes.  She bravely chose a school that was clearly the best choice for her, but to which NOT ONE of her friends chose to attend.  She is excited to be learning with her previous drama teacher (who really is fantastic) and there is even a chance that she will continue learning with her previous English teacher (of whom we are also big fans).  So far, her mechanechet (main teacher) and her class seems nice, but it is really too early to tell.

Our eldest is getting used to some of the changes in her school.  She loved her mechanechet for 9th and 10th grade, but they get a new mechanechet for 11th and 12th. Her new teacher is actually one of the top women educators in Jerusalem, but I am not sure my daughter appreciates that yet.  I, on the other hand, am thrilled (and jealous!).  She also has a new math teacher, about which we are less excited, but still cautiously optimistic. Her previous math teacher really suited her, and that is no small feat!   Our daughter just need to pass the next two units of her bagrut (matriculation) exams and then she is finished with math classes forever.

The best news is that due to a scheduling conflict between her two majors, theater and art, she might be able to just take the art workshops, which really excite her, and not art history, which interests her, but not as much.

So, our year opens with lots of potential and we pray that we will all make it a good year!

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

With love and optimism,

Friday, August 27, 2010

Age Before Beauty

Wednesday night, my son had difficulty falling asleep, so he came into my bedroom for a late-night chat.

We were joking about this and that, when my son suggested:

"Ima, you should wear a wig."

"Why?" I asked him, wondering why he suddently made that suggestion.

"Because it's pretty," he answered, with a sweet smile.

After a pause, he added:  "...but you should get older first."

I looked at him curiously.

"Because 'age comes before beauty'," he said, with a twinkle in his eye and laughter on his lips.

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chemo Day -- Herception, Doxil, Blood & More

I knew today would be a bit crazy, I just did not realized how crazy it would get.

The day started out in a fairly benign way.  There was some crisis at the hospital, earlier this morning, so my meeting with the oncologist began an hour late.  But the meeting itself was fairly straightforward. We addressed my long list of questions, scheduled a bunch of tests, and had a physical exam.

During the meeting, one of the nurses came in and hooked me up to the Herceptin.  And so the day began....

On my way to relax in the day room, Moshe approached me in a panic.

"They can't find it," he told me, with a worried look on his face.

The insurance company, which provides the actual Doxil for me, had called yesterday to inform Moshe that the Doxil was at the hospital since Tuesday. 

Only, it turns out that they, in fact, had not delivered the Doxil on Tuesday, nor on Wedneday, nor today.

God bless my husband, he stressed out about the problem, but he fixed it all on his own, which was not quick or simple.  I did not have to worry about anything, because he took care of me.

I do not tell him often enough how much I value and appreciate the way he looks after me.  On the flip side, I am quick to comment when he falls short, which is just not a good attribute on my part.  I am working on changing this, but the change is slow.

Once everything fell into place, Moshe hurried off to work, much later than he expected.

To my great surprise and pleasure, LS, who had to do something that morning at the hospital, came to visit me and ended up spending the day with me.  The day ended up being much longer than I expected, and she helped me with all sorts of little details and necessary errands.  Moreover, she provided wonderful company, and made the time pass much more pleasantly.

Moshe had fixed the glitch so well, that I was able to start the Doxil as soon as I finished receiving the Herceptin.  In theory, I could have gotten out of the hospital at a decent hour. In practice, there is always someone who throws a wrench into the works... One of the nurses told me that my counts were low again and I would need to come in next week to receive another portion of blood.

I really did not want to come in next week.  I asked to get the blood today, but the nurse insisted there would not be enough time today.

Never someone to take "no" for an answer without trying to find a way around it, I asked (read: begged) one of the other nurses to help see if I could get the blood today.

As is, next week I have an MRI of my head on Tuesday, an MRI of my right hip on Wednesday (if I get approval from my health fund in time), and my bone drug on Thursday.  Three days at the hospital is enough for one week!

Also, though the promise that the blood will help with my energy level did not pan out the last time, I really hoped that this time the blood would help restore some of my energy,

With the help of this other nurse, and of my friend, LS, who ran around the hospital helping the process move along, we managed to get the blood in time.

The infusion finally finished around 4:15.

I walked out of the hospital at 4:30.

I had accomplished quite a bit. In addition to the chemo and the socializing, I mended two pairs of pants for Moshe, and a handbag for me.

I also drank two cups of pea soup, a cup and a half of iced coffee, at least a liter of water, downed several Percocets, and found a friend to pick me up and take me home.

Not bad, for a 7 ½ hour day at the hospital!

I was ready for a nap!

However, after being out all day, my youngest, who had been home, on her own, for several hours, needed some attention.  So, I kept her company while she ate.  To her chagrin, while I sat with her, I also helped eat most of her mango.... (she offered to share with me, but had not intended to share quite that much.)

After lunch, we sat on the couch and, in response to her lunchtime request, I told her the story of how Moshe and I got married. She knew most of the story, but wanted to hear it again.  I think she appreciated the story even more, this time around.

Afterwards, I headed towards my room, and my bed.  Somehow, I got distracted along the way, and got sidetracked sorting through school books.

Eventually, I could not stand on my feet any longer.  I headed off to bed.

I am beat!

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm Better Now

Sorry, did not mean to cause a stir...

I feel like I am living out some sort of bad Monty Python skit.

Scene1: we see an old lady, lying in bed, twisting and turning, and screaming in pain

Scene 2: we see the same old lady, skipping through the park, waving her arms, and singing. As she is skipping along, she meets her physician, and the following dialogue takes place:
Doctor: I thought you were dying?
Old Lady: I was.
Dramatic Pause - Doctor looks confused
Old Lady: ....I got better*
OK, so I am not old, and I am not skipping through the park, but I am no longer trying to escape from my body either.

I am still in pain, and we are going to up the pain meds, again. 

But I did not need to panic....

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

With love and optimism,

*For those who don't get/remember the reference:
Peasant: She turned me into a newt!
Sir Bedevere: A newt?
Peasant: ... I got better.
— Monty Python and the Holy Grail


I think I must have forgotten to switch my pain patch.

I usually record the change in my yoman (diary), but I did not record anything on Monday, when I should have put on a new patch.

Last night, I had to take two Percocets, so that I could fall asleep, and today, I have taken two Percocets another two or three times.  I have lost count.

Meanwhile, I put on a new pain patch.  They take about 12 hours to "kick in."

I am in such excruciating pain. I just want to crawl out of my body!

I have so much to do today, for my kids, and I cannot do anything.  I hurt so much that my brain is fuzzy -- not drugged out, just overwhelmed by pain.  I just want to cry.  I need to escape from this pain. It is so debilitating!

I do not even feel like talking, and I always feel like talking!

I used to think I was so tough, but I have such a hard time tolerating pain.

I am not so tough.

I want my mommy.

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Camping with the Kids-- Day 3

After Wednesday's brutal heat, I wanted to make sure that our belongings were packed and loaded onto the car well before the day got hot. 

We needed to leave by 12:00, so we aimed to leave at 10:00.  We probably could have left later, but we wanted to get home with plenty of spare time for my youngest to get ready and get to her friend's Bat Mitzvah.

My youngest woke up on her own and took an early morning dip before the rest of us opened our eyes.  I got up next and then my son.  I let her sleep a little longer, but once I had packed up all my belongings, we needed to wake my eldest, so both she and her sister could pack up their belongings.  Also, we needed to pack up the tent, which is one of the first items we needed to load into the car.

Even once everyone was up and moving, they were not moving fast.

The kids did not seem to grasp the urgency of the situation. 

I felt like a broken record,  repeating over and over:  "we need to get the car loaded before it gets hot, and we do not have much time!"

The early morning hours are fairly cool, but that does not last long.  I knew that once the sun rose a bit higher, we would lose all our shade and we would start feeling weighed down by the heat.  If that happened, packing up would become a nightmare.

I managed to get everyone moving, but they were slow.  My friend, who must be an angel, offered to help us pack up. She and her kids really pitched in and helped.  Once they joined us, we had ten pairs of hands at work!  All of a sudden, everyone was working and none of my kids (or hers) complained about anything. The cooperation was amazing!!  We were finished pakcing in a matter of minutes!

My friend had a big tiyul day planned with her kids.  My kids were ready to go home.

We pulled out of the campsite at 9:30, earlier than we had planned, but more than ready to be on our way.

I decided to treat my kids, and myself, to ice coffee.  We stopped at Tzomet Tzemach to pick up the ice coffee, and then drove straight to Jerusalem.

We could not agree about what music to play, so we did not play anything and spent the ride talking, joking, and laughing.

Along the way, the kids all expressed that they had a good time and were glad we went camping together.  Their appreciation made all my efforts worthwhile.

Everyone was tired when we got home, but all the kids pitched in and unloaded the car in record time.  I loved seeing them work together!

I think the ride home was my favorite part of the trip.

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, August 23, 2010

Camping with the Kids -- Day 2

Day 1 clarification: we started our BBQ around 9:30, not midnight

Despite loud, obnoxious music until around 4:00 in the morning, the night passed peacefully enough.  We were all so tired, we slept through all the noise. I will never understand Israelis who blast music from their cars when they go camping!

In the morning, my tent felt a bit too stifling, so I moved a mizron shetach (camping mat) and my sleeping bag into the area between the two sections of the large tent, where the shade from the awning kept the air cool, and continued sleeping.  People were already stirring all around us, but my crew slept on, oblivious to the activity around them. We all woke at our own pace.

Our morning passed without much ado.  My two younger kids ate leftover BBQ food for breakfast.  Only when camping can someone eat a hotdog or hamburger for breakfast!  I made do with a couple of slices of apple, which my friend had left over.

Then the kids went to wade in the Kinneret.

Though we had emphasized finding a beach with a lifeguard, the lifeguarded area was a short way away, and the lifeguard wouldn't even be there until 8:30.  I let my kids go wading together.  Both are strong swimmers, and neither intended to swim out into the middle of the lake.  After a while, I joined them.

By the time my eldest woke up, it was time for lunch.  We had yummy brown bread and pastrama (Turkey Cold Cuts), which I had brought with us.  By "we," I mean "my kids."  I just sat and kept them company, and drank a lot of water.

After lunch, we all went back into the water. 

At one point, my son wandered off on his own.  We could see him, hunched over, wading by the reeds.  After a while, he called out "I caught a fish!"  He rejoined us, holding his hands just below the surface of the water.  Sure enough, cupped in his hands, was a fish, about the size of a finger.  I touched it.  It felt wierd, and cold.  My youngest daughter also wanted to hold the fish.  She laughed as it tickled her hands with its fins.  She passed the fish back to my son, who released it moments later.

My eldest found the idea of touching a fish repulsive.

Periodically, a dead fish would float by.  We all agreed that was gross.  At one point, several dead fish floated by;  I found that rather off-putting.  I had enough; I left my kids to continue romping in the water without me. 

About an hour later, they had enough as well.

We all showered off, but remained in our swimsuits.

At around 2:30 in the afternoon, we tried to rest.  The heat was overbearing.

By 3:00 in the afternoon, the heat and humidity was unbearable.  We wet ourselves in the shower, so the warm breeze could cool us off -- God's own air-conditioning. When we dried off, we wet ourselves again.  Rinse, cool off, dry out, rinse again.  Repeat as needed. We did this for several hours.

At around 5:00, the air started to cool down, ever so slightly.  From 5:00 to 7:00, the was also a very strong breeze.  Our large tent knocked over, and I tore it a bit on the seem when I tried to set it upright. 

We all were just waiting to go to supper at The Pagoda, where there would be air-conditioning!  We had a reservation for 8:00.

Our friends from Sde Eliyahu decided to join us for dinner.  They picked us up on the way, so I would not have to drive. At The Pagoda, the AC area was not that cool, but it was crowded and noisy.  The host suggested we might be more comfortable in an area outside that was more secluded and cooled by dessert coolers.  We checked it out and all agreed to eat there.  My youngest, who is the most heat sensistive, like her father, sat directly in front of the two large fans/coolers.

The food was so delicious... and I could not eat it.  For weeks, I anticipated savoring their wonderful soup and eggrolls.  We ordered three different types of soups and I had a bit of each. That was it.  I was done.  I had one small fried wonton, and could barely manage that.  I could not even take a bite of an eggroll.  I watched as my family and friends enjoyed their meals.  I tasted a few pieces of crispy duck, but could not eat any more than that.  I did manage to eat a few bites of fried banana for dessert, but it was hardly satisfying.  At least my kids enjoyed the meal!  I did feel pleasure and satisfaction watching them relish their meal so much. That would have to be enough.

When we returned to our campsite, it was still hot.

My son informed his sister that he intended to sleep in his hammok that night.  I had hoped to sleep in the hammok, but I did not want to insist on it  I decided to sleep in his tent, but then my youngest daughter asked if she could sleep in his tent;  I deferred to her.  My eldest wanted to convince her siblings to let me sleep where I would be most comfortable, but I assured her that I would be fine and did not mind letting the kids sleep where they preferred. 

In the end, my eldest and I slept side by side, under the awning between the large tents.  We spoke for a few minutes, before drifting off to sleep.

It was hot.

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

With love and optimism,