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Monday, January 14, 2013

Where's My Prize?

Yesterday, I completed my final chemotherapy treatment. I don't know what I expected but it wasn't that. When chemo ends, it just ends. Well, that's how it goes in my case - a very lucky case, I know. I had a successful surgery back in July, and the chemotherapy was prescribed to knock out any cancer cells that dared to linger or have the chutzpah to rebuild cancerous empires in my body.  There's this tiny invisible person inside of me saying, "Okay, so you finished 5 months of chemotherapy. You're done. What you you want?!! A prize?" Uh, yeah - damn straight I do! Where's my certificate of completion? My extended warranty? I want the laminated card that states my achievements and a declaration... I want the lifetime guarantee; signed, stamped, and sealed with a golden emblem. Where's. My. PRIZE?

The clock gets reset and we start something new; follow-up. A CT scan here and a check-up there. I actually flipped out. I cried. I shook with emotion. My questions and demands don't really have Human answers. Not the fair kind. I was forewarned by my oncologist that it would be a process and I should have listened to his gentle kind words. I left the oncology day ward feeling empty and lost and even a little bit doomed. There's no modern day miracle test to detect ovarian cancer or recurrence. No "ovarian-oscopy". No smears. No definitive blood tests. Like the primary disease itself, the main hope for early detection is slightly short of an act of divine intervention. Picking up on the slightest symptom and being able to identify it is the only hope second to being cured, of course. I've reached the point that I aimed for from Day One of the diagnosis; remission. Life goes on.

Speaking of prizes and life....

After a long and emotional day including chemo and some unrelated drama, I drifted off to sleep with my subtle worried thoughts finally taking a rest. At around nine thirty at night my phone sang loudly- a call from my SIL (Sister In Law). Her waters broke! ...How quickly can I meet them at the hospital for the birth? Within minutes I was dressed and out the door! I arrived at the hospital, in Jerusalem, parked the car and RAN to find my brother and SIL. I watched, in complete awe and amazement as my SIL gracefully and so naturally directed strength and faith into birthing her precious baby daughter. Just after 1:00 AM, I was blessed with one of Life's most exquisite moments as my brother and SIL shared their intimate birth with me. It was the first time I ever participated in a birth that didn't involve me becoming a mother. Seeing two people, who I love so much,  bring their daughter into the world is the ultimate climactic vantage point of G-d's greatest gift. What a beautiful, miraculous gift Life is! 

There is no prize and there are no promises. There are only gifts - every moment, every single day. I completed chemotherapy. My own journey took me from wondering about my own life and its fragility,  a successful surgery, through an up-and-down roller coaster ride beyond even the cliche's wildest imagination... to the perfect, miracle of my newborn baby niece being born into a room filled with love and hope. Love and hope for now... and G-d willing a wonderful future.



  2. What a beautiful post. I am a regular reader of Aussie Dave's site and have been "following" your story for months. I admire your fortitude and that of your husband.

    May Hashem grant you and your family the strength to continue, and of course a speedy refuah shlema.

    And mazal tov on your new niece. :-)

    1. Thank you so much Anne! Amen!

    2. Dear Erika,

      As I read your last post the tears are streaming down my face with sorrow and with joy. Sorrow for what you have been through, joy for your beautiful new niece, for your family who have shared this journey with you and who, I pray, will keep you company in all the years ahead.

      I wish there were lessons in fortitude!

      Hazlacha and many berachot.


      (Elisheva's mum in London)

  3. Now that that shit is over we need to meet for about a gift from God!

  4. Mazal tov Erika and mazal tov Bri, and families! What a wonderful way to hear about the birth! Blessingsfor continued great health, ad 120 bsimcha!

  5. What a gift for you to be at your niece's birth.
    But also: what a gift for HER. To be enfolded in her aunt's love, right from the get go.
    An amazing way to mark the end of chemo.

  6. There IS a prize...
    It comes next Sunday, when you wake up, roll over and go, "Oh, craaapppp!!!!!...I mean, Yyyeeeeesssssssss!!!!...I don't have to lay in the stinky hospital all day while they pour poison into my veins!!! This is REALLY great!!!"...And the REALLY good part of the prize is, you get to receive it again NEXT Sunday...and the Sunday after that...and the one after that...and...You get the idea...

    Congrats...the prize is on the way


  7. I love you, Erika. In my book, you would get a neck full of gold medals!!! (But, I agree...a new niece is much more valuable a prize).

  8. I read all your posts and this one made me cry. You write so beautifully. Miriam [(Buckman) Goldstein] @->--

  9. Mazal Tov Erika for everything - for being done with chemo, for being in remission, for your new neice, for being at the birth! Thank G-d! I was at the birth of my nephew a few weeks ago and still have not come down from the experience. I bless you that the greatness of that moment, when you watched your neice enter the world, stays with you and gives you strength when you need it and may you go from simcha to simcha to simcha... and all in good health! Chayn Fogelman