Strength

I realized I had done myself a complete disservice at 5:30 a.m. on Shabbat morning, as I laid shivering on the bathmat of our bathroom floor. I had been vomiting for a half an hour already and I was too weak to get myself back into bed. It had been a rough night with the kids and five sleepless nights in the hospital coupled with the grueling regiment of high-dose methotrexate had taken its toll.

But I am strong, that’s what everyone says.

I vomit into a Kirkland garbage bag and feel the contents of my stomach burn through my throat. Upright, I close my eyes and sway back and forth hoping the motion will help with the nausea. My husband, beyond exhausted himself, keeps asking me to move off the cold bathroom floor and into my bed. I beg him for my pramine (anti-nausea meds), a cup of pomegranate juice with Normalax (laxative), and my bottle of Purelle. My seven year old is awake and tries to come see me, but my wise husband shields her from the scene. While he’s in the kitchen preparing the Normalax juice, she sneaks into the room and watches me through the crack of the door. With eyes closed, I have no idea she is there as I continue to shuckle back and forth on the bathmat. Later, she will ask me questions about why I was shaking and why I couldn’t get up off the floor.

In the hospital, I was focused and determined to get out in time for Shabbat and Shavuot. If that meant that I set my alarm every seven hours to make sure that the nurses hooked me up to the bag of Lukovoren, then that was what I was going to do. I alerted the nurses when my fluids were finished; every time the IVAC beeped because of air in the tube or low battery, I didn’t hesitate to push my IV pole over to the nurses station to ask for some help.

But I got this, right? I’m strong, at least that’s what every says.

Alone behind the curtain of my hospital room, I stopped sleeping at night when things started to go missing. I woke up at 1:30 a.m. one morning during the 24 hour chemo phase to find a strange man standing in front of the doorway of my room. I gasped and it startled him; he asked me if everything was okay in the room. He made his voice sound authoritative and so I responded that it was and he walked away. I closed my eyes again and when I woke up an hour later, the chair next to my bed was missing. This happened a second time, only this time I knew who came into my curtained off area to take a chair. I didn’t bother saying anything to my new roommate, she had just been diagnosed with lymphoma and was frightened. Her voice shook as she said the prayer before chemotherapy. But even with a steady night rotation of people who came to help me with bed time, staying from 8:00 – 11:00ish when I would either fake being asleep or actually just pass out from complete exhaustion – I felt too vulnerable to sleep at night. The lack of sleep was plunging me deeper into a depression.

 

According to my doctor, I’m from the Kibbutz. I imagine videos of 1940’s Israel, where women worked in the fields all day, helped cooked meals for the entire Kibbutz, and took turns doing guard duty. Like my own Grandmother, many of those women lost most of their families in the Holocaust; those women were the epitome of strength.

My parents arrived Shabbat morning to help, and the little ones met them at the door to give them the full report. Mommy has been vomiting! Mommy is swaying back and forth on the bathroom floor and she can’t get up! The Normalax kicks in and I am forced to find the strength to get up off the bathroom floor. After my first bowel movement in five days, I wash my hands and shuffle out of the bathroom. I use the walls for support and somehow manage to make it back into my chair. My Mom quickly covers me with two blankets. Gaby heads back to bed to catch up on much needed sleep and I’m thankful that my eldest daughter is still asleep. My Mom brings me a cup of water and my hands won’t stop shaking. I spill the water all over myself and the blankets as I tried to bring the cup to my mouth. I notice my son’s eyes go wide as he watches me; my daughter rushes over to try to help steady my hand so I can drink. Relieved that my parents are here to help, I close my eyes and drift in and out. Later, my oldest will sit at the dining room table and chat with me. They have all noticed that my hair is growing back and they are excited. I mention to her that maybe one day, she won’t even remember that I was sick. With a voice filled with melancholy she disagrees. She tells me that she will always remember the year she was nine when her Mommy had cancer.

The hematologists do rounds on Tuesday. I sit in my bed on the 7th floor of Shaare Tzedek Medical Center and wait for the crowd to gather at the end of my bed. I am strong, so they spend no more than two minutes with me. The strongest pain medicine I’ve been given is Acamol. 

On Friday night, unaware of what’s to come in only a couple of hours, I watched Gaby and the kids eat dinner from my chair in the living room. After I was released from the hospital and back home, I managed to cook a little bit for Shabbat and Chag while spending time with Gaby and the kids. Amazing friends dropped off meals and treats, flowers and well wishes. I rode the high of being home well into the weekend, happily covering my eyes to light candles. I never made it to the dinner table though, collapsing from exhaustion in my chair in the living room.

But after he was finished with his soup, my four year old climbed into my lap. I spread my blanket over his little body and he laid his head on to my shoulder. Within seconds, he was fast asleep. I cradled his warm, sleeping body and felt the tension release as his shoulders went slack and he sank further into a peaceful slumber.

On my own, I am not strong. Surrounded by Gaby and the kids, I turn into a fighter.

Regardless of whatever physical state I might be in right now, thank g-d I am home, and that has made a world of difference.

 

 

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Breaking the Cancer Bubble

It took about 20 rockets shot at the Golan Heights last night to truly break me out of the cancer bubble I have been living in for the past six months. It wasn’t a complete shock to me though. I’ve lived in Israel for almost 12 years now; I made Aliyah three days after the end of the 2006  war in Lebanon. Sadly, I’ve lived through too many “operations” to count, the last in 2012 when rockets were shot at Jerusalem. I stopped reading Israeli news years ago, I prefer to just not be emotionally stirred up by the headlines and constant threat of war and missile attacks. So, I made a pact with my husband, that he would only tell me the headlines if it was something I really needed to know about. Which is why, right after my treatment on April 17th, he started talking to me about the news.

I already knew that May would be a stressful month for me, two intensive chemo treatments scheduled two weeks apart with a biological treatment smack in the middle. I’ve made it through one difficult week in Shaare Tzedek that wiped away all my stamia and left me with a mouth full of sores, and just when I was starting to heal, I went in on Tuesday for what I pray is my final biological treatment that has just left me physically and emotionally fatigued. Next week, I’m back in the hospital for the second round of high dose methotrexate.

At Tuesday’s biological treatment, Gaby and I walked down the hall and knocked on Dr. Ashkenazi’s office door. It was already 1:30 p.m. and we had been in the day clinic since 8:30 a.m. During our meeting, I went through my list of questions as usual. We discussed neuropathy, which is a new side effect for me as the fingers in my left hand have been numb and tingling for a couple of days. We went through my numbers; my WBC’s are on the low side but Dr. Ashkenazi wants my bone marrow to kick in and bring them back up without the use of neupogen. I also already knew my RBC’s were low since I was feeling very breathless. When we got to the part of the meeting where we discuss the next meeting, there was nothing. I have another week of high-dose methotrexate in the hospital, then a repeat PET CT on May 22nd, and then nothing has been planned.

I started shaking and felt panicky.

I have been meeting weekly with Dr. Ashkenazi since December and to not have another appointment scheduled made me very nervous.

Could this possibly be the end?

The repeat PET CT will let us know whether or not I’m in remission. This is what we have been hoping and praying for. And then?

Life.

So, you can imagine just how angry I was this morning to hear that 12 rockets were shot at the Golan Heights.

I have not fought this hard to beat cancer, just to deal with this shit.

Please keep Israel in your prayers this week, and continue praying for Miriam bat Chaya and me Lior Shira Batya bat Chaya Yehudit.

 

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The Call

So much of this journey is similar to my pregnancies that sometimes, if I want to indulge my delusions, I tell myself that I’m really just expecting. I know, it’s just crazy to think that way, but I’m still trying to come to grips with my diagnosis. You’d think, after six rounds of R-CHOP, one round of spinal tap chemo and one round of Rituximab, I would get over the surrealness (is this even a word?) of this entire situation. Don’t worry, I have an awesome therapist and she’s helping me with this. But here’s the breakdown and why I get so caught up with everything:

#1) My stomach is huge – chemo bloat is a thing and since the numbers haven’t really moved on the scale, it’s a side effect of the meds and I actually look pregnant

#2) No period – R-CHOP brought on menopause

#3) Nausea – chemo induced nausea

#4) Clexane – during my pregnancies, I had to take daily injections of Clexane

#5) Exhaustion – chemo’s fault but very similar to the exhaustion one feels while being pregnant

#6) Hot flashes – I was always so so hot while pregnant, but this time it’s chemo/prednisone/menopause and not a baby

#7) Food aversions/cravings – while I’m no longer sending Gaby out at Midnight to find me some Ben & Jerry’s, I have been having food issues. Chemo has altered my taste buds so for me to taste anything, I need to use spices and sauces. The other day, I used some BBQ sauce on my eggs since I couldn’t taste anything.

#8) Mood swings – Absolutely. I have hard core mood swings, mostly from anxiety

#9) Heartburn – Chemo gives me heartburn, so did pregnancy. I take a daily dose of Nexium

#10) Back pain – It’s not as bad as when I was carrying an extra 50 pounds of baby weight, but spinal taps are rough on the lower back.

But then I look in the mirror and see my swollen face and my bald head, and I’m brought back down to earth. I know that the big difference is that I’m not bringing a life into this world, I’m trying to save my own.

Today, I’m sitting in my living room waiting for the call from Shaare Tzedek. The call to come in for a treatment regiment that will require me to stay for 4-6 days of high-dose methotextrate. The reason for the long stay is because this chemo has a high level of toxicity and so I spend about 24 hours getting the drug and then 3-4 days on IV fluids to flush it out of my system. The drug can cause severe damage to my kidneys and digestive system, which is why it is always given at the hospital. I need to do two rounds of this regiment which means another week in the hospital is in my near future.

So, I’ve got my Laura Ashley bag packed and I’m waiting for the call from the nurses on the 7th floor. The call can come at any minute and it could come today or tomorrow. I’ve taken off the entire week from work, talked to my kids about it at length so they can be emotionally prepared, and am just sitting here waiting for them to tell me it’s time.

The last time I waited for a call like this, I was 42 weeks pregnant with my eldest and she wasn’t interested in coming out. The amniotic fluid in my womb was starting to lower and my body was deemed no longer a viable host for the baby, which means it was time to be induced. It was a Thursday morning in early December and we were told to go to Hadassah Ein Kerem for me to be induced. In preparation, I took a long shower, blow dried and ironed my hair straight and put on my comfiest pair of Gap sweatpants, long-sleeve black t-shirt and a shmata. I remember thinking that I wanted to iron my hair because I wanted the baby to think her Mommy was pretty. I packed the same Laura Ashley bag, but instead of PICC line covers and hats to cover up my bald head, I put in boxes of chocolates for the nurses and anaesthesiologist and an outfit for the new baby.

When we go to the maternity ward, they put the infusion into my arm (doctors, tell me what this is called in English please! I keep calling it a hemlock and it’s not the right terminology) and told me to wait. And we waited and waited and waited until finally, they told me that they didn’t have room on the maternity ward and they sent me to a bed in the unit for high-risk pregnancies. We later learned that the woman in the bed next to me was possibly having a miscarriage and she spent hours just crying. The clock kept ticking and it was getting later and later at night, and Gaby needed to get some sleep. Finally, we called Dr. Yanai and asked her if we could just go home for the night and when the maternity ward had room for me, we would come back in. It was a process but Dr. Yanai cleared me to go home, and a nurse came to remove the infusion. We stole away from the hospital at Midnight, like thieves in the night! I remember giggling as the three of us jogged towards my mother-in-law’s car. We felt badass leaving the hospital, even though I was a little nervous that something bad could happen to the baby. We got home, put our cell phones in to charge with the ringer on high, and fell asleep.

I got the call at 5:30 a.m. Friday morning that the maternity wards was ready for me. I was exhausted but quickly pulled myself out of bed and hopped into the shower. I washed my hair and didn’t bother to blow it dry, there was no time. I put the wet strands into a messy bun while Gaby got himself davened and ready and my mother-in-law picked us up by 6:00 a.m. I skipped breakfast, which was a big mistake, and this time the maternity ward was ready and set up for me.

Thirty-six hours of hard labor later, at 6 centimeters dilated, I was just done. Exhausted, starving and an emotional wreck from a traumatic labor, I wanted her out of me. Dr. Yanai urged me to try pushing and I said no way, I wanted a hamburger. I wanted a hamburger with french fries and plenty of ketchup. I was starving and I was done. They had moved me into a laboring room and I heard Havdalah sung in the corridor. The hours were ticking down and I wanted her born before Sunday. Then her heart rate took a big dip and suddenly, everything went really quickly. I was wheeled into the operating room and she was born by C-section at 11:15 p.m. Saturday night. She was so so beautiful; they wrapped her up and let me give her a kiss before whisking her away while Dr. Yanai put my insides back together again. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, I was finally a Mommy.

So, I wait for the call today and think back to that moment nine and a half years ago. I hold on to the happiness of that moment in my life. I think back through the pain and difficulty of the labor to the end result, a precious, beautiful, amazing little girl. And I steel myself for the pain and difficulty that awaits me this week, and focus on the beautiful family that waits for me back home.

Please keep my in your prayers this week: Lior Shira Batya bat Chaya Yehudit

 

 

 

 

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The Ketubah

I pass my Ketubah hundreds of times on a daily basis, it is one of my most valuable pieces of art. Stretched and framed, it hangs on the wall right outside of my bedroom door. The calligraphy is magnificent, designed and crafted by hand by Asher Herzberg, my friend Eta’s father.  I had seen his handiwork before and, while going through my single 20’s, would frequently mention that I would love for him to design my Ketubah one day. That day finally came ten years ago and Mr. Herzberg gifted it to me as a wedding present; it is extremely precious to me.

Today, I found myself standing in front of my Ketubah. I was searching the words for something specific and I struggled to read through the Aramaic. The document, which essentially describes the groom’s responsibilities to his bride, mentions my virginity at least three times. It talks about Gaby’s responsibility to provide the essentials: clothing, food and sex. From what I could understand, the bride (that’s me) would get paid $180,000 dollars should something happen (divorce, not being able to fulfill specific obligations, I’m not sure). It talks a lot about money, and yet I have no idea where they came up with that dollar amount. It was signed by my husband and two witnesses. I did not get to sign this document; the entire signing of the Ketubah ceremony took place in a room full of men taking shots of scotch and whiskey and nibbling on sponge cake while I was seated in another room greeting friends and taking pictures.

I’ve watched enough TV and movies to be able to recite by heart Christian wedding vows. Many couples vow to honor and cherish each other in sickness and in health, till death do they part. The Jewish marriage ceremony doesn’t include any of those terminologies, we circle our grooms seven times underneath the Chupah (canopy). There is a reading of the Ketubah, the placing of the ring and a declaration, seven blessings before we sing about never forgetting Jerusalem, and then the groom stomps on a glass.

So, when Gaby placed my marriage band on my finger, there was zero contractual obligation on his part to stand besides me during sickness. Yet, here he is, day in and day out. For the past five months, Gaby has become both a single parent and a caregiver. He now shoulders the burden of running the household while working a full time job. He has negligible downtime a part from grabbing 20 minutes a day to workout on his treadmill.

Even with people making us dinners and the four hour help four days a week that we have with the children, Gaby is still on the front lines. He comes home from work exhausted and usually finds me either in bed or under a blanket in a chair in the living room. There’s clothing that’s been folded that needs to be put away, clothing that needs to be loaded into the washing machine, or the dryer, or hung up to dry on a hanging rack in our living room. There’s the aftermath of dinner to deal with: cleaning up and putting away food, loading and stacking the dishwasher, washing lunch boxes and preparing them for the next morning. He showers the little ones, coaxes them into pajamas, and sends them over to me for hair brushing and lice combing. Our babysitters read them books before bed, giving Gaby some time to tend to my needs. He brings me bowls of soup and mugs of tea, sometimes the pain in my back or legs are intense so he massages my limbs while telling me about his day. With our eldest daughter, he helps her study for her science test or sets up the laptop so she can complete a project. He tries to be patient as she struggles to unwind and get herself to sleep.

But it’s not just the physical and emotional needs that he has to deal with, it’s also the wrath and the mood swings and the verbal lashings that he has endured. The prednisone made me so so crazy that I would often verbally abuse him. I’m beyond ashamed about my behavior and the hurtful words I would hurl at him during moments of extreme pain. He has been nothing but loving, caring and attentive. Yet, I would barrel through the home like a category 5 hurricane. And like a palm tree in a hurricane, he would bend, but the roots of our relationship run deep and he weathered the storm.

But if you’ve ever walked outside after a hurricane, and really surveyed the damage, you’ve noticed that the lucky few trees that are still rooted to the ground don’t quite look the same. Some have lost many branches and fronds, others no longer stand as tall, their trunks tilted from the sheer weight of the storm.

Lately, Gaby reminds me of a palm tree after a hurricane. He no longer stands quite as tall, his shoulders weighing heavily with the burden of his life. His eyes used to sparkle with happiness, but lately they have become heavily creased and sad. The other morning, when I was too tired to get out of bed at 6:00 a.m. to help get the kids up, dressed and ready for school, I noted how difficult it was for him to simply stand up. He was quieter than usual and I could feel his depression. I asked him what was wrong but he didn’t want to talk about it. The guilt I have felt since diagnosis started to gnaw at me, my illness has become such a burden on him.

“This is just my life, there’s nothing else to say. This is my life.” I finally coaxed a few words out of him, and I felt his despair. There was really not much I could say though, because the reality of our lives is that it’s difficult.

So I stand in front of our Ketubah and search for those words, the ones that obligates him to be with me in sickness. The sentence that explains his actions these past five months. The words that have forced him to run from pharmacy to pharmacy to fill prescriptions, the phrases that requires him to shower me and dress me and watch over me as I sleep through cancer treatment. The terminology that binds him to me during moments of extreme anxiety, or fear induced meltdowns.

But there are just no words.

 

 

 

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The Children

Mommy, it’s important for me to read this book so I’ll know what to expect when I get cancer,” said my sweet seven year old.

We had just finished reading “My Mom Has Cancer,” one of the two books I was able to find on Amazon that I felt was appropriate for the kids, and my heart rate started to quicken. I felt a lump rise in my throat as I tried to concentrate on her words, as she continued to dissect every element of the story.

How do I respond? What is the right way to respond to this child?

There have been so many of these moments over the past five months, where I’ve just been at a loss for words. Moments when the questions asked have unclear answers, when I just don’t know how to respond.

How are the children is probably the question Gaby and I get asked most often. I usually shrug and say, I think they’re doing the best that they can given the circumstances, but there are days when I see just how much they are struggling and I feel ill equipped to help them. When I have a sleepless night because of their nightmares, or the newfound fears that we don’t understand but try our best to comfort.

“Mommy, when will I die? And when I die, what will I come back as?” asked my four year old a couple of days ago. Lately, he is obsessed with death and dying. He is confused about the concept. Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron (Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israel’s National Day of Remembrance) have added to the confusion between life and death. He talks a lot about Ema Kallus TZ”L, my Grandmother, and how she is dead. He knows that Papa TZ”L (Gaby’s Grandfather) is dead too. But he doesn’t understand that dead means gone forever.

When he asks me when he will die, I stroke his hair and pull him close. I tell him that it won’t be for a very, very long time, when he is a Saba Rabba ( a great-Grandfather). When he is old and his nose is long and he has hair growing out of his ears and over his eyes and he stoops a little bit and walks with a cane.  Who knows though? When he’s a Saba Rabba, he’ll probably zip around the neighborhood on a levitating skateboard; canes will be things people look at in a museum. His children will love and care for him, they’ll take him to the local barber to trim the grey whisps of hair that have grown over his eyes while his wife of sixty years waits at home with his lunch. A bowl full of artichokes (his favorite vegetable) and some Greek yogurt, with something sweet and chocolatey for dessert. This is the future that I hope for him, one of good health and old age, of companionship and love, of life and family.  This is the story I tell him, even though deep down I know the difference between what I hope and dream, and what is reality.

“If you have cancer, and Miki has cancer, when will I get cancer,” my seven year old has been having a hard time this year. It was already a difficult year for her, with a lot of changes, and we already knew that she doesn’t deal well with change. She graduated Kindergarten and started first grade at an all girl’s school across town in September. Her older sister is in a neighborhood co-ed school but we felt this school suited her best, so we separated them. While it’s the best decision for them both, it was hard for her not having an older sister to guide her through elementary school.

Because school is so far away, we signed her up for the van and as luck would have it, she is the first one to get on every morning. Shy and quiet in demeanor, riding the van alone was difficult for her and so I rode the morning route with her every day for almost two weeks before she was ready to ride alone. In the morning, she gets on the Arnona van, in the afternoon she comes home to Baka. Two different neighborhoods, two groups of girls, two separate vans. Over time, I would slowly hear stories about the girls on the van. They look out for each other; they share snacks and stories and the older girls watch out for the younger ones. She would come home with awe-filled stories about the older girls; about Maayan and Dassi, Liana and Miki, Ella and Liora. So when Miki stopped coming home on the Baka van, she was confused.  It was a week after I had started my first treatment when we heard that Miki was diagnosed with cancer.

Shortly after Miki’s diagnosis, Sivan stopped telling me stories about the girls on the van. Until late one night, after a meltdown that left her spent and breathless, tears streaming down her cheeks, she told us that someone told her that if she eats candy she will get cancer. She nodded when I asked her if the girls on the van talked a lot about cancer, but she refused to tell me anything else. She is loyal to the girls on the van, she won’t tell me anything that she fears might get anyone in trouble.

I can’t answer her question honestly. I pray that she will never, ever get cancer. But I don’t know what the future holds. I’m learning that having cancer isn’t a result of something that I did wrong, while I’m constantly searching for the reason.  I don’t tell her that. Instead, I tell her that she can eat candy without fear of anything but possibly cavities, and that if she brushes her teeth every morning and night it will minimize the probability of getting cavities. I don’t use words like minimize or probability with her though. I show her videos on Instagram where Miki’s dancing and smiling. She likes to compare our bald heads and she asks lots of questions, but just seeing her is comforting. We say Tehillim for Miriam bat Chaya together when I light candles on Friday  night.

“What will happen to me when you’re all better?” asks my nine year old. The question confuses me, and I gently prod her to explain what she means. “Once you’re all better, no one will think I’m special anymore. What will happen to me then?”

What she sees at special, I’ve viewed as “being a burden to other people.” People who have dropped their lives to help us with ours. Our friends and neighbors who have been cooking us meals for five long months. Teachers who have no doubt been cutting her some slack at school, friends and family and strangers who have been showering her with affection and attention, who buy her gifts and listen to her thoughts. When I’m better, all of that will change, and she will just go back to being herself.

Oh how I yearn for that day. For when I’m all better and I can cook meals for my family again, when I’m the one who is waiting for her outside the gates of her school at pick up. When I have the strength to do bedtime, to curl up next to her in bed and listen to the stories of her day.  When she has a cold or a fever and I can hold her in my arms without fear of germs. When I can be the one to help her with her homework, instead of the amazing volunteers at Zichron Menachem.

Whether or not I have cancer will never change the most important thing,” I respond. “You have been and always will be precious and special to me.”

Please keep Miriam Bat Chaya and Lior Shira Batya bat Chaya Yehudit in your prayers.

 

 

 

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20 Questions

I glanced at the clock and realize that I’ve been working in complete silence for the past three hours. I’ve been very productive in that time: editing blog posts, curating Pinterest boards, crafting terms and conditions for a giveaway, adding blog posts to WordPress, emailing employees tasks to do, responding to emails, updating my time on Harvest, sending a meme to a co-worker on Slack, emailing clients with questions, following up with influencers. I’ve done a days worth of work in three hours as I cram in as much as humanly possible before the start of Phase II of treatment please g-d tomorrow.

But last week, I played 20 Questions with Dr. Moshe Gatt at Hadassah University Medical  Center in Ein Kerem. Dr. Gatt is my second opinion doctor, the specialist I went to see hours after my confirmed diagnosis of diffuse large b-cell lymphoma back in December 2017. I like Dr. Gatt a lot, and it’s not because I truly enjoyed this article he penned years ago that I found via Google stalking, but he has a great bedside manner, came highly recommended, and he responds to patients via email and WhatsApp. That’s a huge plus in my book. While I’m still very happy with my care at Shaare Tzedek Medical Center and I 100% trust in my Doctor, I wanted the opportunity to speak with Dr. Gatt before I began Phase II of my treatment plan.

So, I put together a list of questions before our meeting and recruited the help of Gaby’s Aunt Della who joined me at the first meeting so it was very appreciated that she joined me at this meeting. The appointment was at 4:30 p.m. on a Tuesday and Gaby was knee deep in carpool and childcare.

The issue with using Sharap, which is basically where you pay a high fee for access to a specialist without going through your Kupat Cholim or waiting months for your appointment, is that the Doctors usually see people off hours. By the time we got to the -3 floor of the Shareet Institute building, the department was all but deserted except for a number of people scattered through the waiting room. Another plus of going with Della is that she didn’t automatically join the people waiting in the waiting room, she went through the wooden “gate” and towards the doctors offices in search of Dr. Gatt. We were on time for our appointment and wanted to make sure Dr. Gatt wasn’t just siting waiting for us.

We couldn’t find his name on any doors and a number of doors were closed, so we stopped into one of the offices with a physician and an open door and asked the Doctor if she could point us to Dr. Gatt’s office.  “Dr. Nasty,” as I will refer to her since I do not want to use her real name however I do know who she is, told us that she had no idea who Dr. Gatt was and blew us off. Weird, but okay. We considered asking another doctor, who was meeting with patients himself, but a hospital staff member passing us in the hallway was very friendly and pointed to one of the closed doors where a meeting was in progress. We thanked her for confirming his office and sat directly across the hall in a waiting area that’s marked “for employees only (the door was open!).”

Now, I should mention that my RBC’s were really low that day. They were under 10 and normally that could warrant a blood transfusion. But, since I’m thank g-d young and relatively “healthy,” my Doctor just prescribes lots of rest and in the past my body has rebounded. But, when my RBC’s are really low, I’m exhausted, it’s difficult for me to take a deep breath, and I feel like crap. So, I was thankful for the comfortable chairs and the ability to rest before our meeting. But it had already been a long day and I really just wanted to go home, crawl into my bed, and go to sleep.

Twenty minutes go by and I’m starting to get a little agitated. I decide to talk to the people out in the waiting room to make sure there was no one else waiting before us to see Dr. Gatt. You can imagine the people in the waiting room were just as agitated but after confirming that no one else was waiting for Dr. Gatt, I went back to wait with Della. In the office next door, a woman begins to cry and shout at the doctor, and I try to distract myself. I can’t emotionally handle the anguish of someone else’s pain and so Della and I try to talk over this stranger’s grief. By 5:15 p.m., I was pretty much done waiting and decided to knock politely on the door to confirm that Dr. Gatt was even in there in the first place. Five minutes later, the door opens and Dr. Gatt emerges all smiles. I tell him that we are his 4:30 p.m. appointment and he gestures for us to enter his office and then disappears.

There’s a draft in his office but otherwise, nothing else has changed in the four and a half months since our first appointment except for me. Before bone marrow biopsies and six rounds of R-CHOP chemo, night after night of prednisone inflicted night sweats and insomnia, daily Clexane injections and hours of bone pain from neupogen, weekly PICC line cleaning and what used to be a head full of Jewfro hair. During our first appointment, I sat in complete terror as Dr. Gatt explained my disease, my prognosis, and a treatment plan. During our first appointment, I had no idea what the next five months would look like, or what my life would suddenly become.

“I didn’t recognize you at first,” Dr. Gatt said, when he returned to his office.

I don’t recognize myself these days either, I wanted to respond, but held my tongue.

I wondered if he could see the changes beyond the wool cap covering my obvious bald head, or the deep dark circles beneath my eyes and the dry, ashy skin of my face. Time was short and so I launched into my 20 questions and he patiently answered every single one. When it came to Phase II of the treatment plan, Dr. Gatt and Dr. Ashkenazi differed on one specific aspect. Otherwise, they were both aligned and so even though I am not looking forward to spending 4-6 days in the hospital (x2), I accept that high-dose methotextrate is a necessary course of action for my treatment.

Midway through question #9, Dr. Nasty knocks on the door and enters the room unapologetically. She needs his help with what appears to be a specific note regarding a patient’s care and they confer for a good five minutes as Della and I sit in stunned silence. This is the doctor who didn’t even know who Dr. Gatt was and yet, here they were discussing a specific patient’s care. She exits the room as unapologetically as she entered and we return to my 20 questions.

But I can’t stop thinking about how awful she was to us, and how unnecessary it was for her to be so unbelievably rude. She could have said that she was too busy to help us, or she could have helpfully just pointed in the direction of Dr. Gatt’s office. She could have apologized for interrupting our meeting, which cost me a LOT of money that we already were made to wait for almost an hour. She could have just been a decent human being, but she chose none of the above. I’m truly thankful that she is not my physician. I don’t care how talented you are as a doctor, but if you’re a shitty human being, you’re worthless.

As Dr. Gatt typed up a summary of our meeting, Della asked her question. She wanted to know when my hair would grow back. Dr. Gatt answered “two weeks,” and Della pressed him to clarify. Two weeks from the completion of my last round of RCHOP, my hair should start growing back. I resisted the urge to run my hand over the sparse tufts of hair that remained. It doesn’t matter though, I don’t want any of the hair that’s still on my head to remain after treatment is done.

When treatment is finished, and the PICC line has been removed, I’m going to muster up whatever strength I have in me. I’m going to shave whatever little hair is left on my head until my scalp is smooth and then I’m going to finally go to the Mikvah. And when I emerge from those waters, six months of torture will hopefully be behind me forever, and I will truly be reborn.

Tomorrow starts Phase II of treatment, including a new type of chemotherapy drug. Please keep me in your prayers: Lior Shira Batya bat Chaya Yehudit.

Thank you!

 

 

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Fly

My tentative 7 year old daughter is hooked up to a harness at the Dino Park in Ashkelon. There is a crease in her denim skirt where the harness hooks together, and with tentative hands she caresses the ropes on either side. Her shoes and socks are off and with pink toenails, she gently bounces up and down on the trampoline.

“Fly for me,” I SMS to Gaby. “Tell her that I said she should fly for me!”

I’m not far away. I’m on a bed in a room with a view of rows of boats swaying ever so gently in the marina. The sky isn’t a brilliant, clean blue but ombre in color – white haze paints the sky ever so gently. Next to me, workers lift and lower a pulley system on the building they are working to complete. I’ve been hearing their music all day; Arabic words mixing with the Beatles soundtrack my in-laws left on before they went off on a tiyul with Gaby’s sister and her kids.

My numbers are low and so I’m indoors again today. I just took another neupogen shot and I’m waiting for the bone aches to begin. Over Chag, I craved pineapple. At 4:00 a.m., while wide awake from cancer insomnia, I learned that pineapple is full of magnesium which is needed for bone growth. I don’t know if that’s true, I read it on Buzzfeed, but it makes sense that my body is desperate for magnesium.

I have a cough that has kept me up for the past couple of days and my ribs hurt from the neupogen shots and the coughing. Still, my mood is much better than it was Erev Chag, and I’m slowly regaining my energy. Chemo has caused my throat and esophagus to swell so I’ve been eating mango ice pops and trying to drink water. My taste buds are gone so I don’t taste anything at all.

Yesterday, Gaby and I awoke at 6:30 a.m. and got into the car to head back to Jerusalem for the day. We arrived at my weekly appointment at Shaare Tzedek by 8:30 a.m. but the hematology-oncology day clinic was running on a skeletal crew. Dr. Ashkenazi is off on vacation and I wondered what he was eating that morning. Was he sitting with his family on a beach somewhere with a plate of Matza and an array of cheeses? I wonder if he is savoring the taste of food this Chag, if he is enjoying every bite while he relaxes in a world that’s far away from his cancer patients.

Tami, one of my favorite nurses, is working and so I wait for her on one of the chairs outside the nurses station. The unit is very quiet, I recognize only a handful of people. The emptiness is surreal; did cancer take a vacation over Pesach? Perhaps cancer is in Vallarta, Spain or Orlando, at one of the kosher hotels that I’ve been following on Instagram. On vacation cancer is enjoying BBQ dinner with well done french fries and sack lunches of cheese and smoked salmon, individual yogurts and platters of perfectly cut up fruits and vegetables.

I chat with Tami as she prepares to clean my PICC line. We’ve driven almost two hours for this procedure alone, Dr. Ashkenazi doesn’t leave any instructions for a blood count. There is no need, he has instructed me to take four neupogen shots this week. Please g-d, by our meeting next Tuesday, my numbers should be good enough to begin Phase II of treatment.

Tami is sterile and methodical in her PICC line cleaning, she is gentle when it comes to ripping the bandage off of the stitches that holds my PICC line in place. With gloved hands, she cleans the skin with alcohol and waits for it to dry. She places a new bandage over the PICC line to hold it securely in place. There are four syringes lined up like soldiers and I always wonder how they know which ones are the saline and which ones are the heparin. She opens the purple line and flushes it with first saline and then the heparin. She closes the line with a click and moves on to the white line, repeating the procedure. She sterilizes and cleans the blue plugs before telling me that I’m free to go.

I think about those words: “I’m free to go,” and ponder their meaning.

Before bed last night, I tell Gaby about my fantasy. About that moment when P”G Dr. Ashkenazi looks at me and tells me that this nightmare is finally over. I wonder how I will react. Will I scream with joy? Will I slowly absorb his words? When I leave Shaare Tzedek, will there be clouds in the sky? Who will be walking into the building as I am walking out? What will the air smell like?

Gaby laughs at me, at the level of detail and thought that I’ve placed into that moment. I smile wryly at him and shrug, “that is the goal I’m working towards, so I’m invested in that moment,” I explain.

Alone in my room, I follow Passover and Spring break through social media. Through Facebook and Instagram, I’ve watched the duck parade in South Africa, seen gorgeous gowns in Morocco, attended a basketball game in Brooklyn, climbed the snake path of Masada at dawn, splashed through a wadi up North, picked flowers in the South, packed vegetable boxes for the needy at Leket, made a door sign during a woodworking activity, tie-died shirts at Jerusalem’s first station, pushed a double stroller with bundled up children amidst brilliant swathes of white snow at the Bronx zoo, and gone on an Easter egg hunt in Utah.

Alone in my room, I scroll through photos of my children minutes away from me. I watch them cover each other in balls at the ball pit, cower together in fear while giggling as the T-Rex roars, and struggle to stay upright in an inflatable hamster wheel on water. I watch them push against the trampoline with hesitant toes as they struggle with their fear of heights, while knowing they are missing out on such incredible joy and sensation. The feeling of weightlessness, the rise and fall of their hair around their face, the dizzying drop in the stomach as they fall back down.

Alone in my room, I coach each one to push through their fear, to live in the moment, to fly.

 

 

 

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A cry from the depths

It’s 4:00 a.m. and I’ve been awake for an hour in a pool of sweat, my cheeks red and flushed from the prednisone, my bald head dripping sweat onto clean, white sheets. My chest hurts and I’m coughing up mucous, I wonder where I’ve packed my thermometer. I think about Tehillim 130, the psalm I’ve known by heart since elementary school.

“A song of ascents. From the depths I have called You, O Lord.”

I latch on to the word “depths” for I am here, I am in the depths. It is both a place and an emotional state. It is misery, it is suffering, it is pain.

It is trying to bring in Passover two days after a sixth round of R-CHOP. I think back to Nurse Tzipi’s words weeks ago, as she drew my blood and cleaned my PICC line at Shaare Tzedek Medical Center.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “But you’re going to have a hard Passover.”

I was warned and yet, I was hopeful.

I can turn it around, I can do it. I coached myself. The power of positive thinking, right?

From the depths, I clean all the chametz (leavened) food out of the fridge, each movement agony. The chemo has settled into my upper back and thighs, I can no longer crouch to clear out the vegetable bin. I know once I get down, I probably won’t be able to get back up.

From the depths, I battle bouts of nausea as the kids fight in the backseat of the car. They talk over each other calling my name, wanting my attention, but I cannot answer. We don’t have a vomit bag and it’s a long ride. They need me, but I cannot be there for them.

From the depths, my husband and I debate a pit stop at the gas station at Shaare Hagai so I can use the bathroom. It’s two days after chemo and I can’t share a toilet, it’s too dangerous for healthy people.  It’s also damaging for me to hold it in. I went twice to the bathroom before we left yet chemo makes me thirsty and steroids makes me pee. I don’t want to risk other people, so I decide to hold it in. It is a painful hour and a half drive in traffic to our destination.

From the depths, I stumble exhausted and in a haze from the restaurant back to my in-law’s apartment. Waffle Bar was a treat for the kids pre-Pesach but a poor choice for me. They were out of salmon and grilled vegetables. No soup or eggs. The chemo makes me nauseous, the prednisone makes me starving. It’s a terrible combination. I stop behind an electric box on the street and vomit.

From the depths, I wipe vomit on to my sweatshirt sleeve and shake off my husbands helping hand.  I am humiliated.

My seven year old starts to complain that she needs to vomit too.

“Mommy, I also have to vomit,” she says. Over and over she repeats the refrain, her hand covering her mouth. She calls to me again and again and I try to focus all of my waning energy on my steps to get back up the hill to the apartment. She won’t stop calling my name. I snap. I yell at her that she can vomit as soon as we get back to the apartment; she bursts into tears. At the elevators, I gathered her to me and apologize. I tell her I’m sorry she isn’t feeling well and we both cry.

From the depths, I hunch over a plastic bag in the bed and continue to wretch up dinner while my husband alone struggles to put three exhausted children to bed. I’m humiliated that I can’t even get out of bed to use the toilet, I’m ashamed. I beg him to close the door to give me some dignity. In the other room, the children fight and complain.

From the depths, I plead for my husband to help me. I tell him that this is suffering, that I am suffering. He takes the piece of bread placed onto the end table for Bedikat Chametz out of the room so that I can have some privacy. Returning, he searches for a box of tissues and sits next to me on the bed as I try to stifle my wailing so as not to scare the children.

From the depths, I look down at my huge, swollen stomach and think about what I was supposed to look like this Passover. A month after gastric bypass surgery and I should have been 20 pounds lighter. The black lace dress I bought back in September for this Passover’s Seder night hangs in a closet miles away. I will be spending Seder in my pajamas in a bedroom, door tightly closed. I look down at my stomach, pinch a huge chunk of fat, and inject myself with my nightly dose of Clexane.

From the depths, I think about my maternal Grandmother, who lost her second battle with cancer over Chol Hamoed Passover. I was a year and a half when she passed; her yahrzeit merely days away. I wonder how she dealt with all of this, how she handled the depths.  I think about the Passover plates my mother inherited from her; the dairy set with the stalks of wheat. In my childhood, I happily used them to eat plates full of Matzah and cream cheese, chunks of apple cake and bowls full of banana, strawberries and sour cream, my paternal Grandmother’s blintzes. I think about my own Correlle Passover dairy plates, with the similar design, gathering dust in a cupboard. They won’t be used this year.

From the depths, I cry while typing this post and wait for the dawn. To see the sun break over the ocean and hope the waves will carry me away from wishes of a different Pesach. I fight the depression, but it is hard. I wish the reason for my exhaustion was Passover related and not chemo and cancer.

From the depths, I accept my limitations for this holiday. I mourn never being able to have wine, let alone four cups, in my lifetime again. I try to make peace that I won’t be grating horseradish this year, or making special Haroset for my nut allergic daughters, or saying the special prayer our family says in memory of the Jews who fought during the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

From the depths, I think about Passover and redemption. Will I be able to break through the shackles of my illness?

Will freedom come for me this year?

 

 

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Pink Slippers & Phase II

As a child, my parents used to buy us shoes twice a year – before Rosh Hashanah and before Pesach. Early one Sunday morning, we would all pile into my Dad’s red Oldsmobile and drive over the Williamsburg Bridge, past the Lower East Side and into Alphabet City, to Richie’s Children’s Shoe store, which had the best quality shoes for the cheapest prices. Providing quality footwear for four kids was costly, especially since we all needed sneakers, school shoes, pool shoes (for camp) and Shabbat shoes. I remember my Dad making multiple trips from the store, precariously balancing shoe boxes stacked high, and filling up the trunk of the car.

But I loved everything about shoe shopping day: the smell of leather, trying on pretty pairs of shiny black or white (depending on the season) patent leather shoes, walking around the store to make sure they fit, modeling my feet in front of those half angled mirrors on the floor,  having Richie press down on my big toe to make sure there was still room to grow, and then walking away with a couple of new pairs of shoes for the season. Truth be told, I’ve never outgrown my love of shoes, and I still cherish the pair of prize Salvatore Ferragamo open toe, black kitten heel mules with a bow and gold accents that I purchased with one of my first paychecks from Saks Fifth Avenue back in 1999.

So I was truly puzzled when in Kindergarten, during “off season,” my Mom bought me a beautiful pair of slippers. They were pink with silver stars and white faux fur lining that felt really great when I put them on. I later learned that these were going to be my hospital shoes.

I can’t tell you the name of the hospital where I spent a couple of days having tubes put into my ears and my tonsils and adenoids removed, but I remember with such clarity climbing out of the bed that first night, slipping on those beautiful pink slippers, and searching for my Mother. My slippers made a squeak sound on the shiny PVC floor and I followed the lights and the TV noises to the “family room” at the end of the hallway. There, I found my Mom with her 1970’s short feathered hairstyle and large, dark glasses, sitting on a couch against the wall watching the nightly news with her eyes closed. I was petrified to sleep alone in the hospital room, chock full of other children, and I made my Mom take me back and sit in the chair next to my bed. I also remember meal time before the surgery, and one of the other kids in the ward asking me why I wasn’t enjoying the chicken nuggets and french fries he kept dipping into his ketchup. I told him that his food wasn’t kosher so I couldn’t eat it, to which he said it was too bad cause the food was really good. I remember feeling jealous and wishing I too could eat chicken nuggets and french fries.

And I remember waking up, strapped to the gurney, before the surgery. Now, I don’t know who messed up but someone didn’t give me enough drugs. I remember being in the room with my parents and then waking up in a hallway, my bed against the wall, and I wasn’t able to move anything but my head. They must have knocked me out in the room so I wouldn’t freak out but just didn’t give me enough drugs to keep me out. I tried to sit up but I was restrained by white straps. I told myself, oddly enough, that the white strap was a bra. I started to panic and tried to get out of the bed. I lifted as much of my head and shoulders as I could and caught a glimpse at the scene in front of me. What looked like another gurney with another child lined up in front of my bed and the doors to the OR were wide open. Doctors in green scrubs were working on a patient and that was scary enough for my little 6 year old brain to register cause I started SCREAMING! The doctors jumped and someone came running towards me. I was hysterical, tears streaming down my face, arms and legs trying desperately to get out of my restrains. I remember a black mask and that was the end of the nightmare. My next memory from the hospital is of my Grandfather begging me to eat anything on the tray. I refused, the pain in my throat was too great, and I wasn’t enticed by the ice cream or the cherry ices.  I agreed to taking small sips of apple juice from a straw and I would only drink if my Grandfather was holding the cup. I’m sure I was not a great patient but the surgery was essential and I went from having back to back bouts of strep and ear infections, to becoming thank g-d a healthy kid.

So, it’s no surprise that I have a serious hospital phobia. Yarden’s 36 hour labor ended up in an emergency C-section that kept us in the hospital for two days. As soon asI could, I got us checked out and into Hadassah’s Hotel Baby so I didn’t have to spend a minute more in a hospital room. By the time Sivan was born, I had an elective C-section and I checked myself out of the Hotel Baby a day before I was supposed to. My doctor called me, furious, and asked who gave me permission to leave?! I ended up going to her office to have my staples removed and she was not pleased with me. Tani’s birth was the worst because he was jaundice and they wouldn’t let me move over to Hotel Baby. I spent four night and five days with him in the hospital, and it was brutal. I got no sleep, someone stole the towel that I brought from home, and it was awful seeing him in the light box for two days. When we were finally able to go home, I had hoped that would be the last time I ever see the inside of a hospital.

I’ve been so, so fortunate that my treatment thus far has consisted of a couple of hours each week in the Hematology-Oncology day clinic. I’ve been able to get my chemo in the hospital and then go home to deal with the after effects. Tomorrow, please g-d, is the last R-CHOP session. I call this the end of Phase I, where we have been fighting the cancer in my liver, spleen, and bones.

After Pesach, we begin Phase II of my treatment, where the Doctors will begin to treat the cancer they don’t see. I’m going to be having two rounds of Rituximab, which is the “R” in R-CHOP. I’m also going to be having two round of Intrathecal Chemotherapy, which is basically a spinal tap where they inject chemo directly into the cerebral spinal fluid. I’ve had multiple spinals taps and four epidurals, so I’m not looking forward to this procedure.

And then I’ll be having two rounds of high doses of methotrextate chemo, which requires me to be hospitalized for between 4-6 days each round.

I’m not gonna lie, I’m absolutely petrified. I’m scared of how I’ll react to this chemo, I’m anxious about being away from my husband and children for so many days, and I’m petrified to be alone at night. I was able to make it through my hospital stays at Hadassah because I was so high and happy to have my babies that I didn’t feel scared about being alone. Truth be told, I didn’t sleep much with feeding scheduled for every two hours, and then Gaby was there first thing in the morning to spend the day with me and the new baby.

But I don’t know what awaits me on the 7th floor of Shaare Tzedek Medical Center, and the unknown is petrifying.

So, I’m trying to not think about it right now. I’m trying to stay focused on fighting this cold that I caught over the weekend and gearing up for Round #6 tomorrow. I’ve got my Crave t-shirt ready and my black Sperry Topsider slippers packed. They might not be those faux fur lined pink slippers of my childhood, but they remind me of home and provide just enough comfort to get me through the day.

Please continue to daven for me, especially tomorrow during treatment: Lior Shira Batya Bat Chaya Yehudit

Thank you!

 

 

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Catnapping and Cancer

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Israel, the sun was shining nice and strong, the flowers are blooming meaning allergy season is in full force, and the temperature is climbing! I had severe #FOMO for all my friends bracing for another Nor’easter as we haven’t had snow in these parts in quite some time. But, all that said, warmer weather means I can get outside more.

During Tuesday’s appointment with Dr. Ashkenazi, he said that my numbers were good! WBC’s were up to 8,000, platelets at 160,000 and my hemoglobin is back up to 10.1 so when I asked the doctor if that meant I could walk by myself, he told me that I could go dancing! I laughed because I haven’t gone dancing in years but I appreciated the green light to be a little bit more independent. I went to a therapy appointment right after seeing Dr. Ashkenazi and then decided to walk from Dostai street to Emek Refaim. It was glorious to just walk the streets of Jerusalem by myself again! I had my knapsack on my back, my PICC line covered and I just enjoyed moving. My thighs felt very heavy so it was slow going but I made it to my destination (Nisha) and managed to pick up some new Pesach games for the kids. But the long walk coupled with the strong sun really exhausted me and I hailed a cab home and popped into bed to do some work. My Mom brought Sivan home early for English lessons and thank g-d she had the keys since I was dozing in the bed.

I tend to do a lot of catnapping these days, especially since I don’t sleep well at night. Yesterday, Tani’s doctors kit fell out of his bed (BTW – my son wants to be a doctor – this Jewish Mama is very proud. He likes to be around to watch me do my shot, and he loves to play with his playschool kit. I think it’s his way of coping with my cancer.) at 4:30 am and woke up the entire house! I settled Tani into my bed and Gaby and Tani were able to fall back asleep but I was wide awake, so I got up and decided I might as well put in some work hours. I worked until 6:00 a.m. when it was time to get the kids up and out to school for the LAST DAY before Pesach vacation. Woohoo! By 9:00 a.m. the kids were out of the house, my cleaning help was here and Gaby was off to pick up the workers coming to move the ceiling fan in the kids bedroom. We bought the kids a bunkbed over the summer and discovered that the ceiling fan was way too close to the top bunk, so we weren’t able to use it. Since it’s going to be close to 90 degrees on Friday, we decided it was time to do the work to move the fan. It was a messy job but now we can put the fan on in their bedroom.

At 10:30 a.m., I met my friend Aliza for a walk and catch up session. I know Dr. Ashkenazi said I could walk alone, but it’s nicer to walk with someone! It was great catching up with Aliza and we took a really nice walk in the neighborhood. Up the hill to Beitar, down the hill on Yanofsky, back up the hill on Dostrovsky. My heart was pumping hard and my beret was soaked with sweat by the time we were done, but it felt AMAZING to just move. I also was impressed with our pace! It was not a stroll, we walked at a nice clip. By Noon I was back home and hard at work. I’m trying to do two weeks worth of work this week since I have treatment #6 P”G next Tuesday.  I ate lunch at 1:30 p.m. and took inventory for dinner and then went back to work.

By 2:30 p.m. I was wiped but I had a conference call at 3:00 so I looked around my house for something to keep me awake. I made a cup of Chai tea and settled back into my comfy chair with my laptop.

By 3:00 p.m. I was fast asleep.

I woke up at 3:40 p.m. and realized that I had completely missed this conference call! Cursing, I logged back onto my computer and saw the email from “P” who the company hired to take some of my workload while I’m going through cancer treatment. She was waiting on my uberconference line and wanted to know where I was.

Shit!

I picked up the phone and called her right away. I apologized profusely for being 40 minutes late for our call and fessed up that I had fallen asleep.

Her response?

“Well, what’s your excuse?”

I was a little taken aback by the question but I completely understood! It’s very unprofessional to just not call in to a conference call on time. I’ve been late to calls before for other reasons – typically when the call I have previously goes over – and I’ve always emailed right away to let the parties know that I’ll be late. But I have never fallen asleep on the job before so I was mortified and embarrassed. But I also think I have a pretty good excuse so I responded:

“I have cancer, so that’s really my excuse.”

That’s when I realized that we never told “P” the reason we needed her help in the first place. I thought that we had explained the situation during the interview process but I guess we never did. And right when I was going to tell “P” the entire story, she said that she thought that it was me because that’s what she found when she Googled my name.

Huh?

I’ll be honest, I have not googled myself in a really long time, but I wasn’t surprised that this blog would come up while doing a search (my SEO game could be much stronger though). What I was surprised about was that she fessed up to Google stalking me in the first place.

Now I know, we ALL do it. I Google people I’m interviewing for new positions or when I’m pitching a new reporter.  When I was single, I Googled the guys I was dating to make sure I really wanted to be dating them. And sometimes I’ll Google stalk people from my past just to see where they ended up today.

But the first rule in Google stalking is that you don’t ever admit to Google stalking.

So to”P” let me just say Hey Girl! And thanks so much for understanding that chemo is totally kicking my ass and I’m really sorry I fell asleep during our call. I’m hoping it won’t happen again but it might, so I appreciate your understanding.

Peace!

 

 

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