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Monday, April 30, 2018

It's A Journey Not A Destination

For an entire half year, my beloved extended family embraced me and cared for me in every way. I'm forever thankful and definitely blessed to have such infinite unconditional love. Every 3 weeks, I traveled 3-4 hours each way to UCSD Medical Center to receive expensive and somewhat experimental yet very promising oncology care. I was never alone - my family constantly supporting me and accompanying me in every way possible. My UCSD team provided hope that I was just short of a promised improvement and possible cure. 

That didn't happen quite as we had all hoped.

I'm still here.


November 1st, 2017, I boarded a plane from San Diego, California, and began my long journey home; back to Israel. I didn't have any confirmation of what would happen next. Would I return in 3 weeks to receive more immunotherapy (Keytruda) to treat the tumors growing in my liver? All other plans pointed to yes yet in my heart of hearts; deep below in my own thoughts, I think I knew that my body was breaking down and I was nearing some sort of disaster and I needed to be in Israel where my medical insurance and doctors would be able to treat the many expensive and emergent issues that I was about to go through. 

Luckily - we pray and continue to hope - SBRT treatment with Prof. Andrew Sharabi of UCSD may have caused a reaction with delayed results but we can't know. The body is a mysterious place where secrets do lurk. It's all faith... thats what there is to grasp and hold onto for dear life. My air and my life is pure faith in believing that not only am I trusting G-d's Will on my journey - that I'm also making sure to stay informed about new treatments as well as listening and working together with my wonderful conventional oncology team.

My main focus was getting back to my husband and children. I hadn't been home for nearly a half year! I'd put my children on a plane, back across the oceans, months ago to begin school. I was an emotional mess - held together by some kind of invisible glue like a Kintsugi (the Japanese art of repairing broken vessels with gold paint/glue).
Kintsugi is a Japanese art form in which breaks and repairs are treated as part of the object's history. Broken ceramics are carefully mended by artisans with a lacquer resin mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum. The repairs are visible — yet somehow beautiful. Kintsugi means "golden joinery" in Japanese.


Prayers and learning of Torah in my honor continue to uplift my being. The unconditional love that surrounds me by family, friends, and strangers keeps me alive!

Shortly after I arrived home, in Israel, it seemed that I was falling apart limb by limb. First we received news from the PET CT results that my liver was in a catastrophic state. All tumors had picked up super-speed in their growth and were beginning to affect my liver function. My blood tests were all wrong! I began another treatment which, seemed to have side effects that could kill me, the least of which being that it turned every hair on my body snow white, not to mention induced chronic vomiting which, led to a weight-loss almost incompatible with life. 

My last post from November 22, 2017 alludes at both my optimism and my fear of the worst. As far as I could feel, I was dying. Death seemed to loom over my sickbed; over the special electric air mattress that soothed my growing bedsores and my bone-to-mattress contact from being so emaciated. I could no longer walk. 

First, I had emergency surgery for yet another incarcerated surgical incisional hernia. Next an ambulance was summoned  when I couldn't stand or walk due to a tumor mechanically interfering with my left hip joint. I was rushed to have radiation therapy to irradiate and shrink it.

Miracles. Miracles. Miracles.


I spent day after day, week after week in and out of the hospital; in a state of unconsciousness and consciousness....my medical team trying to help relieve my pain while worried about my zombie-state. At one point everyone around me thought I was sneaking medical cannabis because I was so incoherent and unintelligible. I wasn't touching anything. That was my natural state: incoherent and detached from reality.

My body began to produce liters of malignant fluid known in the medical world as, ascites. My belly swelled up to inconceivable proportions and required draining - at first up to 3 liters daily through a tube inserted into my belly.

I'm still alive... I was still living but everything had changed and seemingly for the worse. I lied down in my bed almost 24/7 for months - only rising for minimal necessary moments. I could no longer walk further than our front gate to the car which my husband and I took many rides to the emergency room and hospital in. This went on for months and I know that I missed many milestones in my children's lives and will never get those moments back. It's gone yet I remember very little from that period of time that surely brought so much pain and suffering to my family.

Right now, life is not the same life that it was. It's as if I've crossed over into another dimension for many reasons. Many of the experiences and things I have in my soul are too delicate to put into words. I would sound infirm and possibly crazy. 

Full tilt ahead. 


I can walk to our front gate now. The Almighty King Above makes the rules. Like I've said many times, I'm just a broken vessel; dust, clay and broken. The arms are below - braced to catch me - in perfect form but nothing is promised. There are no promises in Life and more mysteries in medicine. 

So I take each day as it comes - literally. 
One. Day. At. A. Time. 

Each and every single day is a gift. In recent days, here, in Israel, we experienced the miraculous all-powerful destruction that something like unexpected weather can have on an entire nation. When flash floods hit the South of Israel, taking the young, healthy and innocent lives of Israel's finest young students. It happened in a matter of minutes. 
10 young souls - victims of the Southern Israel flooding tragedy
The land was dry and then the water, like the floods during the Biblical time of Noah and the Ark, swept their healthy young 18 year old bodies away! These promising young women and young man had their entire lives ahead of them! No person dreamt, in their worst nightmares, that they would live out their last days in April 2018. No one predicted that.

I cannot help but see all human life - our arms intertwined - hopefully our souls interlaced; embracing each other as we all hang on and we too dangle from a high dry cliff not knowing when that flood may come - or not. We must not stay still awaiting the floods! We must move and change and seek purpose. Every individual has their own reason for blessing this Earth with their presence to build and be.

Our lives and our journeys may be different but our vulnerability as people with a Human Condition are the same.

In the new dimension in which I live, there is even less fear and uncertainty. My faith has risen like the very deadly waters that may rise. Whether by illness, accident, disaster, or natural means, we are all vulnerable beings. This is not a fear; it is a reality. Life is short and we can only do with it what we decide for ourselves. Each of us on our own private journeys. Some journeys may appear more dangerous, more challenging, or difficult to bear. I assure you that we all carry pain in our hearts. Every soul is in need of a hug, some love, unconditional kindness.

These realizations have taken away my abilities to have anger. I may never know what the anonymous person across from me is thinking or dealing with yet I know it is something. 

I smile. I say hello. I try to be kind.

Acknowledge that we are all intertwined - soul to soul.


Remember: your happiness is a part of your journey and NOT your destination. Nobody knows your final stop. Nobody but the King Of The Universe.

Amen. Thank you G-d for each breath that you give me! Bless You G-d for this moment.


I am forever grateful for the gift of each and every day of life Almighty L-rd.

Thank you to my dear friends and family - near and far - for your continued prayers and support.

PLEASE continue to pray for me: Ahava Emunah bat Chava Ehta

25 comments:

  1. This post is incredibly powerful and beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. I pray that you have a return of your physical strength and can share much time with your beautiful family. Thank you for the beautiful and important message you shared with me today. I look forward to keep reading your insights and thoughts.

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  2. Yet again, a heart-wrenching, awe-inspiring , and (Yes) uplifting piece.
    We love you

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  3. You are an inspiration. May Hashem grant you a full and speedy recovery. We are all praying for it.

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  4. Dearest Ahava, you are beyond amazing. Your depth and intelligence is sincerely overwhelming. I pray for your complete recovery everyday, because you deserve it, your family needs you, the world needs you, and I certainly need you. You are so so so beyond!!!! thankyou

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  5. While I'm not sure if you read these comments, and while I may show up anonymously, you may remember me as I have just had the pleasure and honor of meeting you this past Shabbat....your frankness, your boldness, your gutsiness and your strength come through via your writing, but amazingly come through in the first 30 seconds of meeting you. I pray that you will have many more years on your adventure and journey with your amazing family....

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  6. Shellie GrafsteinMonday, April 30, 2018

    Again I am awestruck at your courage and emunah as you journey down this most difficult path. You are incredibly inspirational. Davening every day for your complete recovery

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    1. Thank you so much for your priceless prayers!

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  7. I never met you, but feel so deeply connected to you and your messages. Thanks for sharing truth and for being vulnerable.
    I think of you often and pray my heart out.
    Thanks for giving us a glimpse of this eternal spiritual message.

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    1. BH! Our souls are intertwined whether or not we have met in person or not - that is the goodness that we can achieve via social media. We can use these means for goodness. Thank you so much for your blessings and prayers! May you be blessed infinitely with good health!

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  8. I have never posted before but have been reading your blog for a long time, periodically checking in and praying for your well being. It's a cliche, I know, but you are very inspiring. Wishing you continued strength, joy and love in each and every day.

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    1. Bails I certainly don’t view your words as cliches at all! Your support is priceless! May Hashem bless you and your loved ones!

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  9. I pray for you every day Ahava Emunah! XO

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  10. Refuah Shleimah
    We just don't understand Gd, His plans and wisdom.

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  11. You are a continuous source of inspiration of positivism, seeing the good, appreciation of life and your surrounding and your emotions reach and touch so many. Continuing to pray for full refua shlema.

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    1. 🙏🏽 Amen 🙏🏽! Thank you for your heartfelt prayers!

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  12. You are such an inspiration. I say that with every blog. And just now, I decided, I would like to write a song for you. This is a hobby I have - writing tunes to pasukim, words from the Siddur, psalms, etc. I wonder if you read these comments? If yes, I would be grateful if you would share with me a phrase, a mantra, a pausk, something... that I can compose music to, as a gift and as a blessing to you. Please let me know. Shiragura6@gmail.com I hope to hear from you.

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    1. Thank you Shira! Please do good deeds or anything positive with me in mind. Every prayer means the world to me! Ahava Emunah bat Chava Ehta

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  13. Thank you for these loving and encouraging words! I read every single comment and am in awe of the unconditional kindness of strangers! Thank you and bless you!

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  14. Thank you for your perspective and for taking the time to share it. It helped me tremendously today be grateful. And that is a great gift.

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  15. Ahuva, thank you for sharing your beautiful words. Have you ever investigated the work of professor Thomas seyfried? I listened to a podcast with him last week and it seems he is working on curing cancer from a totally different angle, metabolically, and it seems to be extremely successful The podcast I listened to was on the 2 keto dudes podcast but Dr seyfried also seems to have many videos on YouTube.i just wanted to let you know in case you're not already aware of his work and it might be helpful. Wishing you a refua shelema, Deborah Meghnagi

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    1. YES! The Ketogenic Lifestyle is absolutely a part of my miracles!!!! I'm living and breathing ketosis.... thank you for caring enough to mention it. I also listen to their podcasts.... my parents are so into it too!

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  16. This post is included in my very latest blog roundup Blog Round-Up, Lots to Read.

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  17. I'm so happy that keto is helping you!! Praying for its continued efficacy. Dr Seyfried talked about a drug that blocks glucosamine I think? Which is the other food source available for cancer cells once they can't get glucose... Wishing you the very best Deborah

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    1. Thank you - yes there is a school of thought that glutamine blockers which, are found in an anti-malaria medication, are recommended. I’m looking into getting those medications.... hopefully

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  18. Hello Ahava Emuna! May Hashem bless you with a Refuah Shleima! Amen!

    As I am sure you already know IYAR is the month of healing..as well as a segula I read. I tried to copy and paste but Im not so good with those things. There is a lot of info if you google. You are such an inspiration and you write so beautifully. May Hashem bless you with many healthy happy years! Amen!

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