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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Eilat 2010 -- Day One: Hai Bar, Check-In, & the Beach

I would have liked to walk around Hai Bar first, before driving through the “safari.” But our crew was so exhausted when we arrived, at least half of them announced that they had no intention of walking anywhere.

So we drove around the safari, which was very cool, though not quite as exciting as I remembered. We took our time and watched the animals interact with each other. By the end, everyone was “into” the experience.

When we finished the drive, all family members were willing to do the short walk through the zoo area.

Admittedly, we were all a bit zombie-like.

Luckily, since we are members of the National Parks Association (“matmon”), the entrance to the zoo was free and the safari was half price. So the whole experience was pretty cheap (12.50 NIS/adult, 6.50 NIS/child).

And we had fun.

Then we drove the rest of the way to Eilat and checked into the youth hostel. We were lucky; they allowed us to check in several hours early.

Even though I am the one who drove the whole way, Moshe crashed (as predicted) and I took the kids across the road to the beach. The water was freezing!! We all played around for a bit. I could not stay in the water that long. I got out and dried off and then sat on the rocks, watching my kids collecting shells. To their surprise, the shells started moving! They discovered that each shell housed a teeny, tiny crab! The spent almost an HOUR watching the crabs. Eventually, I declared that we had to go.

Moshe was fast asleep when we got back to the hostel. We all showered, except my son (who fell asleep while waiting for his turn). The girls and I ate a small snack, from the food I had brought with us, and then we crashed too.

We all slept soundly until our alarms woke us for breakfast….

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, March 29, 2010

Chag Kasher V'Sameach -- Happy Pesach!!!

While Pesach cleaning at Casa RivkA is always minimal, this year, we set a record! 

I did as little as humanly possible!

That said, I still have plenty to do today, Erev Pesach (Passover eve).

Hopefully, I will post about the rest of our Pre-Pesach vacation in Eilat during Chol HaMoed (the intermediary days of Passover), Wednesday - Friday.

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday!! 

Chag Kasher V'Sameach!!!

If you are not Jewish, have a wonderful Tuesday!

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Eilat 2010 -- Drive 'till You Drop!

We left for Eilat 2 hours later than I had planned.

The plan was:
Pack in advance, see Annie (performed by Israel Theatre), and leave from the theatre.  Drive ‘till we drop, then pull over (i.e. park in a gas station) and sleep ‘till the sun wakes us. Then drive to Hai Bar and see the animals early in the morning, while they are still active. If there is time, stop at the Yotvata Restaurant to eat. Then continue to Eilat and check into the youth hostel, where Moshe would sleep (assuming he would be tired from driving all night) and I would take the kids to the public beach, just across the street.

It seemed like a decent enough plan. The first night would be a bit rough, as would be the next day, but we would go to sleep early, to make up for the lack of sleep the night before.

“Man plans, God laughs.”

We forgot that two days earlier, on Sunday night, we had a wedding in Nes Tziona (near Rishon L’Tzion). We left the wedding “early,” but it was already close to midnight when we began our drive. Moshe had to get up early Monday morning for a professional conference in Tel Aviv. He did not have time to sleep enough. Monday night, Moshe skipped the play, to finish packing and rest a bit. Besides missing his company, this meant we would have to come home to pick him up before we left for Eilat.

As the kids and I were finishing packing, I remembered I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up my chemotherapy. I had placed the order earlier, but the drugs hadn’t arrived yet. For two day, I had frantically argued to get my medication on time. Even as I was driving to the pharmacy, I was not sure I would be able to get all my medication (it had arrived, but there was still some technical “glitch” to resolve).

If we were going to make it on time to the play, we had to leave for the pharmacy before Moshe came home. We would not even have time to pack the car before the show.

It did not matter. Packing took longer than Moshe thought.

Between the wedding, the conference, the driving, and packing, Moshe was exhausted. He suggested we sleep at home and leave in the morning. I knew the drive would be tough, but I did not want to leave in the morning. We are the slowest family in the world and we NEVER get out of the house on time. If we waited until morning, we would lose the whole day. I offered to drive for the “first shift,” so Moshe could sleep.

Well, not only did Moshe not fall asleep right away, but our son “could not sleep” either. By the time they finally fell asleep, we had already been on the road for several hours. I do not know how I managed to stay awake and alert, but I actually found the drive strangely relaxing.

The most significant advantage to driving so late at night (we did not leave Jerusalem until after midnight) is that there are almost no other cars on the road, eliminating most of the stress associated with driving.

By the time I was ready to pull over, we were almost at Yotvata. In the end, I drove all the way to the Yotvata Restaurant (three and a half hours from Jerusalem), and parked in their parking lot.
Twenty minutes after I fell asleep, someone knocked on my window. Another driver was stuck and needed a jump start. I hate to say no, especially when someone need help, but I was too tired to get up. I just could not help him. I just could not help him. I apologized, explaining that I had been driving all night, and he would have to wait. I was able to turn over and fall back asleep. Unfortunately, Moshe and some of the kids had a harder time, especially my son. He did not manage to fall back asleep and kept waking me, out of frustration and exhaustion. I could not get angry at him, he was so tired and just wanted to sleep. But I could not help him either.

Eventually, my eldest woke up too. The two of them went exploring, finding a small park with climbing objects and a mini-omega.

When the rest of us woke up (none of us having slept all that well), we had a nice breakfast at the Yotvata restaurant.

Then, we continued on our way. Hai Bar was just another 8 km down the road…..

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vacation -- Anticipation and Excitement

A blogger described an upcoming vacation and received this comment:
"Thanks!  I need new furniture!"
So, I am posting this three days after I wrote it, as we are already on our way back home!

I am so excited!

We NEVER go away the week before Pesach! 

Like most Jews, that is our busiest week of the year, filled with cleaning, sorting, cooking, and all sorts of "things to do!"

I know a few people who vacation during that week.  I am in awe their ability to be so organized and put together!  They leave for vacation, knowing their home is already ready for Pesach, a WEEK in advance!!

I could never get it together that early.  On the other hand, wouldn't it be nice.....

Well, this year, we are doing it!  We are going away for three days, during the week before Pesach!

If it were just my vacation, I would totally camp out on the beach! But Moshe does not like camping and he does not like the beach!  So, when I found out we could "piggy back" on our friend's time share (haver mevi haver), we made reservations to stay at the Club Hotel with our friends. It is a five star hotel and we would have a full suite to ourselves for only 700 NIS ($175) per night, for two nights.

Then we found out that the deal did not include breakfast.

Since I do not eat much, that did not deter me, even though I love hotel breakfasts. The lack of a hotel breakfast did bother my family, especially Moshe. 

The cost of adding breakfast was outrageous (about 200 NIS, or $50). We could buy fresh bread, cheese and vegetables for a fraction of that amount!

I decided to contact the youth hostel, which was next door to the hotel. Rooms cost 521 NIS ($130) for youth hostel members (you can purchase a family membership,for just 50 NIS ($12.50), when you check in), and includes breakfast. We would all bunk in one room, with two bunk beds plus a cot.

No pool, no slides, no microwave in the room. Those "extras" did not really interest Moshe.  Since we planned to be out and about during the day, they did not matter to me either.

Both places include air-conditioning (a "must" for Moshe) and a mini refrigerator (not a "must" for me, but a big "plus").

Since I would be just as happy to sleep on the beach, with no A/C and no breakfast, I gave Moshe the choice: Fancy room, with comfy beds vs. cramped room with breakfast.

He did not even hesitate.

My eldest was a little disappointed about the downgrade (she likes the comfy beds!), but, given the choices, she agreed with her dad.

We all enjoy having breakfast prepared for us!

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Bargain

Posted with the approval of my eldest daughter (the protagonist in this anecdote)
(the title was her idea!)

Lately, my angel of a daughter has been having not-so-angelic fits.

I called her in, to talk with her about her recent behavior. She expressed her frustration as well.

She recognizes that sometimes our conflicts are a result of her fits. She also thinks that sometimes our conflicts are a result of my fits.

I acknowleged that she might be right.

She suggested : "I'll make with you a deal:  You do everything I want, and I won't do fits."

We both had a good, healthy laugh at that!

Then, I suggested the opposite: that my daughter do everything I want, and I won't do fits.

She liked the first option better.

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stolen Sleep

When I was a kid, I often had difficulty falling asleep.  My father tried to teach me all sorts of relaxation techniques, like clearing my mind (I would imagine the expanse of space), or slowly relaxing each part of my body, beginning with my toes and working my way up to my head (my dad claims he sometimes has to do it twice, but never completes the second round).

Somewhere along the way, either during my year in Israel or my first year of college, I hit the point of "perpetual exhaustion."  I was so tired, and overextended, that I could fall asleep anytime, anywhere.

Once I am asleep, I am a very deep sleeper.

When we were little, my mother put a match under the smoke detector so it would go off in the middle of the night. She wanted to see how long it would take us all to get out of the house.  The alarm went off for 15 minutes.  None of us, not my father nor any of us kids, stirred.

Even today, if you wake me out of a deep sleep, I will say anything to make you go away.  Then I will fall back asleep.  I will not remember what we said.  Most likely, I will not remember that you woke me.  And, if I, by some chance, remember that someone/something woke me, I will not necessarily remember who or what.

During college, a friend once walked up to me and, with angry and frustration, asked accusingly, "WHERE WERE YOU?  I WAITED FOR AN HOUR BY COLLEGE WALK!"  I did not know what she was talking about.  Apparently, she had called when I was asleep, and we had agreed to meet at a certain time by the gates to Columbia University.  Not only did I not remember making a date, I did not remember that she had called or that we had spoken.

When my kids were little, they would come into my room and talk to me. I would respond with utter nonsense and they would start to cry.  My husband would get upset, but I would just respond to him with nonsense as well.  When I woke in the morning, he would attack my behavior, "why do you say those things to the kids?"  It took him years to realize that if the kids woke him up, he should respond!  I can not control what I say when I am that deeply asleep.

I viewed my ability to sleep so soundly as "one of my brachot" (blessings).

I did not relate to the Jewish concept that if you wake someone who is sleeping, you are actually stealing their sleep ("gezel shayna").  I would fall back asleep, undisturbed.  No one was robbing me of anything.

Recently, that has changed.  I still sleep well, but not always.  I often can turn over and return to sleep, but not always.  More and more, I wake easier and find it more difficult to fall back asleep.

I am not sure if this change is a result of chemo or just getting older, or both.  Either way, I do not like it.

My kids used to leave me alone in the mornings.

Now they wake me up all the time.  Sometimes it is not on purpose.  In the past, they could be as loud as they wanted.  Nothing woke me up.  Now, sometimes just hearing their voices is enough to wake me.

But sometimes they wake me, on purpose, for stupid things.  They do not hesitate to wake me.

If there is something urgent, I do not mind.  But if they simply forgot to ask me something the night before, I want them to figure out a solution on their own!  I do not want them waking me for something they should have planned in advance.

I am tired of children stealing my sleep!

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Technical Difficulties

There is something seriously wrong with the internet "tashtit" (infrastructure) in our area. 

I've been calling every other day, wasting at least an hour each time, either to be told that there is no problem (at that particular moment) or that there is a problem in the area (that will be solved some time in the future).

If you do not hear from me for a few days, do not worry. 

I am hoping they will solve the problem soon!!

Meanwhile, all morning it did not work and now it does, but  I can not post, 'cause I gotta' run. 

We have a wedding tonight and we have to leave in an hour!!

At least there is food in the 'fridge, so I do not have to worry about what my kids will eat for supper!

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Upset Stomach

My stomach is so unhappy.... it makes me unhappy.

I was in such a good mood today. 

I am excited about Pesach and all the wonderful plans we have! 

I had my bone drug today, so I spent the morning at the hospital.  I had a date with a good friend who I have not seen in a long time.  It was great to spend the time with her.

Overall, it was a good morning.  My enthusiasm for our Pesach plans spilled over into every conversation I had, with friends, with acquaintances, with hospital stafff, etc.  I felt good.

Mid-morning, my stomach started hurting (again).  At first it did not bother me much.  As the day progressed, it only gotten worse.

I had to take a nap in the afternoon, rather than spending time with my kids.

When I woke, I did not feel better.  I am popping Lopi-Care (Imodium), but it has not helped yet.

To make matters worse, I am out of my acid-reflux medication (Omprepradex), so that is bothering me too.

In short, I feel physically miserable, and that makes me feel emotionally miserable.

Moshe's not home yet and the kids are fighting (over the computer -- what else?) and I cannot deal with it well, because I have no emotional resources left.

Oh, and my back hurts, and I have athlete's foot (again!  I NEVER had it before I got cancer and now I get it all the time!!), and dry hands, and my markers are still creaping up.

Have I mentioned lately how much I HATE HAVING CANCER?!!!!!!!!

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

2 Tired 2 Post

Full and busy day.

Want to post, but just cannot.

All is good.


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

With love and optimism,

It Happened Again

(read this post first)

Same kid, different circumstances.... but not all that different.....

Both Moshe and our child woke up extra early, so the child could get to school for an excursion with some kids and a counselor/teacher from the child's school. 

Moshe and the child were already in the car when the child was given an instruction that the child did not want to follow.  The child expressed dismay in an unacceptable manner.  Moshe got out of the car and refused to take the child to school.  The child felt crushed and angry.

I tried to intervene and the child, again, behaved with disrespect. 

Thanks to a very insightful comment from DK, following my previous post on this topic, I understood that the child was too upset to learn from the experience. 

So, I focussed on understanding and reflecting my child's feelings. 

When the child was calm enough, I received a sincere apology, along with a desperate request to take the child to school, which I did.  On the way, I was able to explain the child's mistakes, and guide the child both in accepting responsibility and  in beginning to think what the child can do differently.

One step back, two steps forward.

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Our Life is a SitCom! - The Missing Tube of Toothpaste --Humor

Scene 1: (hall, with towel cabinet, and doors to family bathroom on right and guest bathroom on left).  Enter husband, holding three new tubes of toothpaste.  Husband places one tube in family bathroom and one tube in guest bathroom.  Husband then places third tube on the towel cabinet in the hall, just for a moment, while goes to get travel bag.  Exit husband.

Scene 2: Enter wife.  Notices, with joy, new toothpaste tubes in bathrooms. Starts to exit, then notices the tube of toothpaste on the towel cabinet.  Wife takes toothpaste and puts it in the utility room (adjacent to the family bathroom), where the family stores extra toiletries.  Exit wife.

Scene 3: Enter husband, with toiletries bag.  Husband searches for toothpaste tube to put in bag.  Husband looks on the towel cabinet, but cannot find it.  Husband searches all over.  Husband searches and searches, feeling increasingly confused and frustrated.

Scene 4: (20 minutes later) Husband is still searching.  Wife calls from bedroom "It's late, I thought you felt tired."  Husband calls back, "I am tired, but I can't find the tube of toothpaste I put down."
Wife replies, "The one on the towel cabinet?"   Camera close-up on husband's exhausted face.

Scene 5: (cut to wife, lying comfortably in bed) "Why didn't you ask me?  I put it away."

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

With love and optimism,

Friday, March 12, 2010

Teach Your Children Well

Sometimes, a parent needs to let their children fail, in order for their children to grow.

For a long time, I have not been able to do this.  I continue to "save the day."  I constantly solve problems that my children should be solving for themselves.

This morning, one of my children woke me at 7:15 am for help.  The child had a Bar Mitzvah at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, and did not know how to get there.  The child wanted to arrive early, for the first part of the event: observing the staff free birds.  The child planned on taking a bus, but did not know which buses to take or, it turns out, even where the place was.

The child could have gotten this information in advance.

I would have been happy to help the child find a ride, or figure out which buses to take, or draw a map.  Had the child planned in advance, the child could easily have gotten to the Bar Mitzvah (without waking me up in the morning).  Instead, the child got up early, and discovered that getting there by bus would not be simple, or quick.

When the child woke me up, I did not want to wake up, but I did. I made several suggestions to the child, who then proceeded to argue with me about "what ifs."  When the child finally followed through with my suggestions, over an hour later, it was too late.

I still tried to help the child, and, at one point, was ready to drop everything and actually take the child. 

I wondered if I was doing the right thing.  Maybe I should let this child learn, the hard way, to be more responsible.  Maybe missing this Bar Mitzvah would teach the child to appreciate that you have to be nice to people who are trying to help you, even if they are your parents.  Maybe, by not "saving the day," I will help my child learn the consequences of the one's actions, and inactions.  Maybe I was denying this child the opportunity to learn a valuable life lesson. 

Still, all my mothering love made me want to help my child.

With my car keys in hand, I casually mentioned that the child really should have talked to me in a nicer, more respectful way.  "You were mean to me," the child responded.

No apology, no responsibility.

I threw down my keys.  "I am not taking you."

My child has to learn that you cannot be rude to the people who are trying to help you.

"Do not wake me again for something you should have planned in advance," I commanded.

I was angry!

Too angry to fall back asleep.

Over the next two hours, I waited for my child to apologize.  Intermittently, my child attempted to "explain" things to me.  Unfortunately, the tone my child used to talk with me was full of hostility and aggression.  The child blamed me, accusing me of "not wanting to help."

I wanted so much to help my child.  But I could not continue helping under those circumstances.

I determined to let my child miss the Bar Mitzvah, in order to learn this lesson.

Then, when my child was "broken," and all the child's anger spent, my child finally turned to me, in sorrow.

The child had really tried hard to be responsible, waking up at 6:00 in the morning, in order to get there on time.  The child had tried to explain, tried to get help, tried to apologize. 

My child was so frustrated, so sad, and so resigned.  There was no longer any anger in my child's voice, just sadness.

It broke my heart.

I got up to give the child a hug.  To my surprise, my child allowed me to hug, and even stayed close, while I held on a little longer.  The child did not pull away.

I sat down and looked into my child's eyes.  I waited.

We spoke a little more.  My child continued to speak softly and gently.  We hugged again.  We looked into each other's eyes again.  I waited.


"Ask me again," I softly instructed my child.

"Would you please take me," my child asked, just as softly.

I wondered, again, if I was doing the right thing.  My child had already missed several hours of the Bar Mitzvah.  I hoped that was enough.

On the way, we talked.  I gently pointed out that the child could have been there three hours earlier.  As much as possible, without being too chastising, I wanted the child to understand the consequences of not behaving nicely.

I suggested that later, the child sit down and make a list of things the child could have done differently.  I offered to sit and help with the list.  I emphasized that the list would be about what the child could have done, not what others could have done.   Again, to my surprise, the child agreed.

When we arrived, I asked the child if I should wait, but the child said I should leave.  I would have, had GA not appeared at my window!  I watched my child meander to the entrance, then turned my attention to my friend.  Five minutes later, we were still chatting, when I saw my child meander out of the observatory, from the opposite direction. 

My child did not find the group and did not ask any of the staff for help.  Once again, the child felt helpless and did not know what to do.  I waited for the child to ask me for help. 

The child did not know whether to stay or go.

Finally, I asked "What do you want?  Do you want help?  Do you want someone me to come in with you?"

Quietly, the child answered, "yes."

GA was definitely my angel of the moment.  He offered to help my child find the Bar Mitzvah group, and they ran off together.  A few minutes later, GA returned to my car.  They had found the group.  My child was fine.

I was not fine.

I wondered if I did the right thing.

I am this child's mother.  I will continue trying to help, and I will continue to forgive, because I love this child.

Still, this child must develop responsibility.  That is part of growing up.

On the other hand, "losing three hours" of the Bar Mitzvah seemed like enough of a loss.  Especially considering the child really had shown initiative and responsibility, just not enough.  And the child really did attempt to behave properly, just not enough.

If I continue to swoop in like "supermom," then I am not helping my child learn responsibility.

In the "real world," people are not so forgiving.

But I do not represent the "real world."  I am the child's mother.  If my child comes to me with true remorse, how can I turn away?

What do you think???

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Talking about Cancer

The first time I was invited to speak about living with cancer, the hostess asked me how much to charge at the door.  I did not want anyone to refrain from attending because of money.  On the other hand, with all the additional expenses of cancer, I knew we could use any extra income.  I agreed with the hostess to put out a voluntary donation box;  no one would check who put what, if anything, in the box. 

I decided to "tag" whatever money came in, for my kids, for their future.  Any earnings from my cancer experience would be used to enrich my children's lives.

Almost a year ago, I spoke to a group that could not pay me right away. 

I only found that out, after I spoke to the group.

OK, I would wait.  In any case, it was only a small gratuity.

Still, any money I earn from speaking (or writing) is tagged for our "family fund."  It is for my kids.  Either for their future, or for creating family memories now, by doing things we would not have otherwise done.

A few months passed.  Nothing.

Half a year passed.  Nothing.

In another few months, it will have been a year since I addressed the group. 

To my surprise and pleasure, a few days ago, I received an envelope from the group.

More significant than the money, was the DVD they included.  They had recorded my presentation and sent me a copy.

Last night, I watched the DVD.

It has been many years since I saw myself on video.  (The last time must have been in high school, when I took a college course, at FDU, in public speaking.  They recorded one of our presentations, so we could be see ourselves.  My dad recommended I take that course, and it was one of the most valuable classes I ever had.  I used those skills throughout my professional life.) 

I have a lot of experience in public speaking.  I have also trained others in public speaking.  Yet, no matter how much positive feedback I receive, I almost always have some self-criticism about what I should have done differently.  I always wonder what I would have thought of my presentation, had I been in the audience.

Seeing myself on video, I got a chance to be a part of the audience.

I got a chance to view myself "from the outside."

It was fascinating to see myself as others see me.

Enough time had passed, that I no longer remembered what I talked about with that particular group.  Watching the video almost felt like watching another person.  It was interesting to watch "that woman" tell her story and share her insights.

I could not help but notice any time I fumbled over a word. But I also saw a very different me: confident, articulate, dynamic.

(If anyone can walk me through how to do it, I would post it on you tube.)

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"I don't need to talk with anyone else. I talk to you."

Unlike me, my kids are pretty private about my cancer.  They want to be like everyone else.  They are normal teens.

More than anything, they do not want anyone's pity.

My cancer is not a secret;  they just do not talk about it.

Last night, my eldest and I had one of our infamous, late night, heart to hearts.  At one point, she threw out a sentence mentioning the cancer.  I picked up the ball, and threw it back in her court, gently asking her to elaborate.  She caught the ball.

I cannot share more details.  Like I said, my kids are private.

I am grateful that she talks to me.  I am impressed by her maturity and her ability to identify, and share, her feelings.  She knows she can talk to me about anything.... and she does.  I am so thankful.

My daughter once asked me to delete a few lines I had written about her.  "Your blog is about your feelings," she clarified, "not mine."

She's right.

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, March 8, 2010

Blast Off!!

We have come, the darkness to expel
Fire and light, in our hands
Each of us, a tiny light
Together, we shine, mighty bright
(from a Hebrew folk song; my translation)
(traditionally sung on Hanukkah)

Whether it is one's focus, or just another one of life's challenges, cancer is discussed on-line in many different forums.

For me, the blogosphere best suits my needs.

When I was part of a group blog, I felt I had a powerful, virtual support group.

So, I decided to start a group blog that focuses on mothers living with cancer (as a chronic condition).

My goal: to gather at least ten bloggers to be part of our initial team. 

It turned out to be a bit more challenging than I expected.  But with patience, and a bit of perseverance, a new group slowly, and surely, began forming. 

My only requirement for joining the blog:  introduce yourself!

After that, the sky's the limit.

A few days ago, the tenth blogger joined our team.

We are ready to launch!


We are quite an eclectic bunch! We are religious and secular, Jews and Christians, believers and non-believers, right wingers and left wingers, private and social, funny and serious. 

What do we have in common?

We are all young moms and we all have cancer that is not going to go away.

Oh, and one more thing:

We are all determined to live life to its fullest!!


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

With love and optimism,

In The Beginning....

I did not believe I would get cancer. (Never mind that my grandmother had BC (breast cancer), and that my mother had BC, twice)

My mother told me to start getting check ups (mammograms) when I was 30.  I did not want to, but she would not stop bugging me.  Eventually, I went to my GP for a referral.  I informed him that my mother and grandmother both had breast cancer.  He responded with one question: "Do you have any aunts or cousins who had breast cancer?"  I answered, honestly, if a bit deceivingly, "no."   "Then you don't need to go for mammograms," he responded.  That was good enough for me.  I reported to my mom, and pushed the thought of BC and mammograms out of my mind.

A few years later, two friends of mine were diagnosed with BC.  They were my age!  Their diagnoses woke me up.  I went back to my doctor, who asked me the same question: "Do you have any aunts or cousins who had breast cancer?"  This time, I gave him a complete answer:  "I do not have any aunts or cousins; both my parents were only children, as was my grandmother."  Basically, there were no other family members who would get BC before me.  I was, so to speak, the "next in line."  In light of this "new" information, he agreed with my mom, "You should be getting regular mammograms." 

Then I asked him about this weird thing in my breast. I admitted, "I've felt it for several years."  He did a quick manual exam, and determined it was nothing to worry about. I felt he dismissed it very quickly.  A few weeks later, I went back and asked how he knew whether the thing I felt in my breast was really nothing (a question which had been nagging me since my visit).  He did another manual exam.  This time, he responded, "I want you to see the surgeon right away."  "Why now?" I questioned.  "Because it is bigger than the last time," he replied, heading out the door.  A minute later, he returned.  "You're in luck," he told me, "the surgeon you should see is in, and can see you now."  Without further ado, I found myself sitting in the surgeon's office, a little surprised at how fast things seemed to be moving.

The surgeon spoke with me for a few minutes, then did his own manual exam.  Then he gave me a referral for a mammogram, and directed me to a particular clinic, with one of the top radiologists in this field.  I got an appointment right away.  (I don't remember for sure, but I think the surgeon might even have called the clinic.)

The mammogram showed a "radial scar."  It was not a malignant tumor, but the shape indicated that it could become one in the future.  "It should be removed," I was told, matter-of-factly.

I scheduled the surgery, in the day clinic, at the medical center.  The tumor was removed.  The pathology was benign.  We were done.

After that, I went for annual mammograms and bi-annual manual exams by the surgeon.

The mammograms were especially tedious, because the visit (including the mammogram, an ultrasound, and a consultation with the radiologist) took all morning (at least 3-4 hours). 

At first, Moshe would accompany me.  Eventually, I told him there was no need.  It just wasted both our time.  These exams were routine and uneventful.... for five years.

In 2007, the radiologist noticed tiny calcifications in my milk ducts.  As part of his exam, he took a core biopsy.  A week later, his office called and told me that it is their policy not to give any results over the phone and could I please come in on Sunday afternoon.  I "knew" how long things took there, and told Moshe, who was in the middle of a "crunch" at work, that I would go on my own.  It did not occur to me that there could be any reason I would need him with me.

When I arrived, there was no one else in the waiting room.  Still, I did not feel any concern.

Then, the radiologist called me in.  He showed me the pictures from the mammogram.  He showed me the white spots that were spread throughout my milk ducts. He explained that calcifications and cancer cells often look the same.  Then, in a calm, quiet voice, he informed me that some of the white spots I was seeing were cancerous.

I did not understand.

The radiologist, quietly, and gently, continued to explain.  This is very early; most of the cells are contained in the milk ducts; there might be a small invasion into the rest of the breast tissue.... we will know more after the surgery.


I was in shock.

I was not at all prepared to hear this news.

I needed to talk with Moshe, but he was not there.

This was not supposed to happen.

I did not know what to do.

Thankfully, the kind staff did know what to do.  The secretary, with whom I had a warm relationship, gently guided me to a waiting room where I could be alone, and call Moshe.

I called Moshe.  Then I started to cry.

We spoke for a long time.

When I was calm enough to drive home, I thanked the staff.  They had already called my surgeon and arranged an appointment for me for the next day.

I drove home in a stupor.

I was still stunned.

This could not be happening to me.  I did everything I was supposed to do. 

I was not supposed to get cancer.

This could not be happening to me.

You might also be interested in this related post:  The Me I Was Before

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Playing Games

I skipped my Shabbat nap this week.

Instead, I spent the entire afternoon playing games with my son.

We had so much fun!  We played Pente, Abalone, Cartagena, and Settlers of Catan.

After I beat him at Escape from Cartagena, I asked him if he knew from where I learned my strategy.

He knew.

"From me," he answered, with a grin.

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

With love and optimism,

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pill Box

A few years ago, R, who was overseeing the research study on my bone drug, shared with me this observation:

Pill boxes do not help you remember to take your pills, rather, they show you when you have forgotten to take them!

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

With love and optimism,

Friday, March 5, 2010

CT -- Medical Update

The CT report was short and to the point:  no change.

No change = stable = good news.

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lost and Found -- with a little help

Wednesday (two weeks ago), I could not find my handicapped parking permit.

Israeli handicapped parking permits are small plastic cards (like credit cards).  Since the card is easy to lose, I always keep it in the same pocket of my purse. 

There have been times, I admit, that I put the card down on our Shabbat Table, "just for a minute."  However, since I am a bit paranoid about losing it (replacing it would be a nightmare), I am pretty diligent about putting it back in my purse.

This time, the card was not in my purse and not on the Shabbat table.

After searching for several minutes, I stopped to think.  When was the last time I saw it?

I knew I had it the night before, in my husband's car.  We used it, when we parked for shiur (our Torah study class).

I had a visual memory of taking the card off the dashboard when we got home, but I had no visual image of putting it in my purse or placing it (temporarily, of course) on the Shabbat Table.

I must have lost the permit, somewhere between the car and my home.  I had a strong sense that I lost the card while getting out of the car.
I called my husband, and asked him to check the car.

He thoroughly checked the car, checking under the passenger seat and in between the seat and the door.  He did not find it.

If the permit was not in the car, it had to be in the house.

The girls and I searched all over the house.  We could not find it anywhere.

I dreaded the thought of applying for a new permit.  (Imagine your DMV bureaucracy, then multiply it tenfold!)

I could not shake the feeling that the card must be in Moshe's car.

Later that night, Moshe and I drove to the fundraiser, where I was scheduled to speak.  When we got in Moshe's car, I reached below the seat, feeling around that area, hoping to find my permit.

Moshe assured me that he had searched with due dilligence.

"I know," I answered, certain that he had, but hopeful that he missed something, since I could not figure out where else it could be.

After a few seconds, I felt something with my right hand. 

With a flourish, I pulled out the parking permit.

"How did you find it?" Moshe asked, clearly astonished.

"Did you look for it?"  I asked him.

"You know I did," he responded, somewhat insulted that I was questioning him.

"Did you ask God for help?" I asked him.

"No," he responded, looking at me curiously.

I smiled at my husband, as I replied, "I did."

(with special thanks to EK, who taught me that it is ok to ask God for everything, even the little things)

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

With love and optimism,

Healing Hugs from Mommy

Even as an adult, when I am sick, I want my mommy.

My kids are no different.

When they do not feel well, they wants lots of hugs from their Ima.

We have a house full of sick kids.


It started with my youngest, who is better now.  She shared her cold with her two older siblings.  They are still sick.

Everyone needs extra TLC.

Everyone needs hugs.

I could not do much to help them; but I could give hugs.

I felt strong and protective.

Not this morning.

My nose is all stuffed and a have a sinus headache.

I am going to bomb my body with cold medication.

I really do not feel like getting sick!

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dry Hands

Xeloda dries out your hands and feet. 

The skin on the tips of my right thumb and my left index finger is cracked.


From dryness.

It hurts.

If I remember to put hand cream on it, all the time, the cracks will heal.

You might think that if I feel pain in my fingers then I would remember to put on cream.

You would be wrong.

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

With love and optimism,

Worthwhile Upcoming Events and Fundraisers (in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv)

Please help publicize these events.
Both concerts will be a lot of fun, and benefit a worthy cause!

Pelech, Religious Experimental High School for Girls
Our eldest learns there, and LOVES school (though she no longer admits it!)


Concert with Etti Ankri 
songs of Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi and more!
March 8, 2010 at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, 6 Nahon St., Jerusalem
8:00 Coffee and Cake
8:30 Start of Program
Tickets:  200 NIS All proceeds towards the Scholarship Fund at Pelech

For ticket reservations and advertisements: galit@pelech.org.il

Diamond Page: 20,000 NIS -- includes 4 tickets
Gold Page: 10,000 NIS -- includes 4 tickets
Silver Page: 5,000 NIS -- includes 2 tickets
Full Page: 2,500 NIS -- includes; 2 tickets
Half Page: 1,000 NIS; Quarter Page: 500 NIS; Eighth Page: 250 NIS


Ma'agan/Tishkofet (Life's Door)
They run wonderful programs and support networks.  I am currently taking a jewelry making class there.

Gala Concert: with David Da'Or and Tuvia Tzafir
Exhibit: "With a Blink of an Eye," by Dr. Rahamim Melamed-Cohen, inspiring artist and ALS patient
Monday March 8th, at 7:00 pm at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Reception will include a light dinner.

Tickets: 250 NIS, 350 NIS or 1,000 NIS

To place an advertisement in their Journal, see here

For more information:  http://www.tishkofet.co.il/

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

With love and optimism,

Purim 2010

Purim was great!

We had a full house for Megillah reading!  All the chairs and couches were filled!  All together, we were 18 women and girls.* I’d say that's a respectable turnout!

RJ read chapters 1-4 and 6, ABC read chapters 5 and 8-10, and I read chapter 7 (with "voices").

Everyone read well and I, for one, really enjoyed the reading.

Most women had to leave as soon as we finished, but a few hung around for a bit. 

As soon as our last guest left, I went to bed!  It was early, but I was exhausted. 

I had planned to take my kids to the neighborhood Purim celebration.  But it was so cold and rainy outside that we were all happy to stay home, crawl into our warm, comfy beds, and go to sleep.

This morning, the girls and I went to my eldest's school, to hear Megillah.  It was a lot of fun!  Moshe and my son went to a late reading, at our old shul.

My eldest did not feel well, and went to sleep as soon as we got home.

My youngest helped me prepare Mishloach Manot (gift packages). 

I had prepared lots of popcorn in advance, and my youngest filled sandwich bags, which we closed with fancy ribbon.

Then I took all the containers that I had saved for the past few weeks, and we put together about a dozen Mishlochei Manot.  We gave to our neighbors, and a VERY FEW close friends, and each kid chose two friends, to whom they delivered mishloah manot.  

This year, we participated in our shul's Mishloach Manot, which means that we did not deliver individual mishlochei manot to most of our friends in our neighborhood.  Everyone from the shul gets a list of who "gave" to them, along with a nice, but modest, Mishloach Manot.  The rest of the money goes to Matanot LaEvyonim (gifts for the needy) -- money for local families, and school books and supplies for local kids.

As soon as Moshe and my son came home, they left with my youngest daughter to deliver the Mishlochei Manot.  I tidied up a bit, then lay down to rest.

When they returned, we woke up my eldest and went to our friends', C&JV, for Seudat Purim (Festive Purim meal).  We had a lovely time -- good friends, good food, good conversation.  What more could you want?  (OK, maybe good liqueur -- but none of us are big drinkers)

We usually have our Purim Seudah with these friends, and we often hang out until well after Purim is over.

This year, we had an out-of-town simcha (celebration), right after Purim ended.

Of course, we did not end exactly "on time," and we had to take our kids home first, and then there was crazy traffic (there always is a lot of traffic on Purim).... We arrived at the simcha, an hour and 50 minutes late.  It was fine.

We did not expect to know many people at the simcha, and were pleasantly surprised to meet many good friends who we have not seen in a while!  Not surprisingly, we were one of the last people to leave. (Moshe probably would have been happy to leave a bit earlier, but he was very patient.)

We really enjoyed the simcha (the Bat Mitzvah of M&MF's daughter H), but we were happy to get home.

It was a long, full, wonderful day.

Oh, I almost forgot the best part:  We all dressed up together.  Moshe and I both wore Cat in the Hat hats, and our kids wore "Thing 1," "Thing 2," and "Thing 3" shirts and wild light blue "hair."

On Moshe's initiative, we bought the costumes when we were in Universal....  Just another way that we continue to enjoy, and treasure, our family vacation! 


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

With love and optimism,

* This year's participant:  From Baka and Katamon:  IS & YS; CV, AV, & RV; and our readers, RJ & ABC.  From the neighborhood, JB & E; TN & EN (I think); and 3 women who I don't know so well, one of whom brought her daughter (who learns in the school my youngest hopes to attend); and, of course, my girls and I.