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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Letter To You

 Dear friends and family,
Just 2 months ago I was dying. The tumors in my liver and other vital organs were out of control. My life was in tragic danger and all doctors and oncologists that know me had run out of treatment options. 

Two months ago, my liver was so enlarged and full of cancerous tumors; I looked like a heavily pregnant woman. We practically called off celebrating our only son’s Bar Mitzvah and it was likely that I wasn’t going to live to see my Zach becoming a Bar Mitzvah at all.

As you know, my dearest ones, we have been scouring the earth for something - anything to save my life! As I blogged, back a couple of months ago, my father found one clinic that gave him hope. In Istanbul, Turkey, of all places! Thankfully not too far to be completely out of reach - my parents fully researched this place known as: ChemoThermia.

At the end of August, I began receiving treatments here, in Istanbul. Treatments that make me wonder if this is what it’s like to be in Hell. 

I decided, in my heart, that I would continue coming for treatments until my first pet ct. I believed with all my soul that these treatments would save my life. Usually the first scan is performed after 4-6 rounds of treatments. 

As you know, I’ve been in treatment both in Israel and America and as of the end of 2017 they no longer had anything to offer but an impending death sentence. Denial kicked in and so did complications, hospitalizations, pain and suffering.

A few days ago, I had a pet scan in Israel and my oncologist and the radiologist were shocked yet very happy for me.  Objectively the improvements are stunning! The radiologist said, “It’s a good scan!”. My oncologist in Israel said, “You made my day!”, with great emotion and perhaps even a glistening of tears in his eyes, “Whatever you’re doing is working....” And that’s the best news I’ve received in at least 4 years!

Today, my dad and I sat with my Doctor S. here, at ChemoThermia, and reviewed the scans together. As I’d done together with my husband and Professor C., in Israel, just 2 days ago, I saw the evidence with my own eyes.  Every tumor has responded in some way to the treatments! Some tumors completely disappeared. 

As of July 30th, my spleen was one big mass of cancerous tumor and now all active cancer, in my spleen, is resolved! My liver was 3 times normal in July and now it’s back to a normal size. Many tumors have disappeared from my liver and the ones that remain are smaller and glow less strongly on the scan. We reviewed slice after slice of the scan and witnessed the dramatic improvements with tears of happiness in our eyes; my heart racing. 

Now I’ve seen the good news on the actual scans with both Prof C. in Israel AND Dr S in Turkey. I’m exhausted to my core so it’s hard to be emotional right now however, knowing that this Hellish treatment is working against the cancer is phenomenal! 

Let me be clear: I still have cancer.

I still have cancer and this is the ONLY treatment that’s caused tumors to shrink or disappear in 4 years! Today, my life is in less danger but I must continue doing my job which, is coming to Turkey and receiving these grueling treatments and paying for them.

I have osteopenia - severe calcium deficiency and fragile bones. My sternum is broken along with other some bone fractures. The greatest news is that my vital organs are less burdened and more able to function. 

Objectively the improvements are stunning. Just 2 months ago I was dying - my life was coming to an end and now all the news is positive! The only negative part is having to be in treatment yet that’s obviously what’s given me a new chance at living. 

Please continue to pray for my complete recovery. Perhaps consider contributing to my cause; my treatments in Istanbul, Turkey.

With Love,


Monday, October 22, 2018

A Message to My Only Son

Genesis Chapter 12

1And the Lord said to Avram, "Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you.אוַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־אַבְרָ֔ם לֶךְ־לְךָ֛ מֵֽאַרְצְךָ֥ וּמִמּֽוֹלַדְתְּךָ֖ וּמִבֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑יךָ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַרְאֶֽךָּ:
2And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will aggrandize your name, and [you shall] be a blessing.בוְאֶֽעֶשְׂךָ֙ לְג֣וֹי גָּד֔וֹל וַֽאֲבָ֣רֶכְךָ֔ וַֽאֲגַדְּלָ֖ה שְׁמֶ֑ךָ וֶֽהְיֵ֖ה בְּרָכָֽה:
3And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you."גוַֽאֲבָֽרְכָה֙ מְבָ֣רֲכֶ֔יךָ וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ֖ אָאֹ֑ר וְנִבְרְכ֣וּ בְךָ֔ כֹּ֖ל מִשְׁפְּחֹ֥ת הָֽאֲדָמָֽה:

Mazal tov to you, my beloved and only son, Zachariah! This past Shabbat was your Bar Mitzvah. My dear husband and I rented the fanciest hall in our city, hired caterers and music and had decorations prepared...

 And then we realized - perhaps now isn't the time for big adult parties. It's been my dream for years to plan a Bar Mitzvah celebration fit for a 13 year old boy and his friends and that's what we did. The fancy hall was cancelled, caterers were juggled and a most beautiful 25 hours of celebrations ensued!
 It's truly a once in a lifetime moment that a mother gets to go to Shul (synagogue) and hear her son read her favorite parsha from the Torah; Parshat Lech Lecha.

 In this parsha, we learn that G*d spoke to Avram, and told him him, “Go from your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.” 

 Many of our friends, who were present at the Kiddush after Shul, are blessed and were lucky enough to have experienced making Aliya (moving to Israel) to the HolyLand. I looked around our Shul hall into a sea of friendly faces; our beloved friends who baked fancy baked goods and made gorgeous platters of fruit and vegetables, and even one dear friend made THREE types of homemade herring for the occasion!

 It takes immense faith to "go from your land" and make a new home in the Middle East, however in 1991, I arrived in Israel with my parents and 3 of my 5 brothers and in 2000 my future husband, your Abba (father) made Aliya to marry me - but that's a whole other story....

 Chasdei Shamayim, Hashem blessed us with 2 perfect daughters and when the time came for #3, I yearned for YOU, Zachariah, a son. Perhaps my yearning wasn't as painful and profound as our mother, Sarah and Father Avraham, however I prayed night and day for you, my beloved son to come down from the Heavens to be our child; our son.

And God said to Abraham, "Your wife Sarai-you shall not call her name Sarai, for Sarah is her name.
טווַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֔ם שָׂרַ֣י אִשְׁתְּךָ֔ לֹֽא־תִקְרָ֥א אֶת־שְׁמָ֖הּ שָׂרָ֑י כִּ֥י שָׂרָ֖ה שְׁמָֽהּ:
16And I will bless her, and I will give you a son from her, and I will bless her, and she will become [a mother of] nations; kings of nations will be from her. "טזוּבֵֽרַכְתִּ֣י אֹתָ֔הּ וְגַ֨ם נָתַ֧תִּי מִמֶּ֛נָּה לְךָ֖ בֵּ֑ן וּבֵֽרַכְתִּ֨יהָ֙ וְהָֽיְתָ֣ה לְגוֹיִ֔ם מַלְכֵ֥י עַמִּ֖ים מִמֶּ֥נָּה יִֽהְיֽוּ:
17And Abraham fell on his face and rejoiced, and he said to himself, "Will [a child] be born to one who is a hundred years old, and will Sarah, who is ninety years old, give birth?"יזוַיִּפֹּ֧ל אַבְרָהָ֛ם עַל־פָּנָ֖יו וַיִּצְחָ֑ק וַיֹּ֣אמֶר בְּלִבּ֗וֹ הַלְּבֶ֤ן מֵאָֽה־שָׁנָה֙ יִוָּלֵ֔ד וְאִ֨ם־שָׂרָ֔ה הֲבַת־תִּשְׁעִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה תֵּלֵֽד:
 Unlike Avraham or Sarah, I didn't laugh. I cried tears of joy - still only in my 20's.... and when you were 8 days old, we brought you to "the altar" of the Shul and a special bond was created, as a “sign of the covenant between you and Hashem" - just as Avraham was commanded.

 G‑d told Avraham that, he will be made into a great nation and we know this to be true and everything that G*d does is good!

 From the moment that I first held you in my arms and looked into your kind eyes, I knew you would be the son I prayed for. 

 Zachariah, you are adored by all who know you. You are intelligent beyond your years - how many boys can solve a Rubiks Cube in mere seconds?! 
 If I had to choose one attribute that stands out the most, it is your selflessness and chessed. Your kindness goes beyond that of the average young man or boy. You put others first and emulate the chessed of Avraham Aveinu. Wherever I go, I hear that very sentiment; from your teachers and rabbis, other parents, and of course your family.

 From birth, you were a happy and content infant and child. Zachariah, you're not known to complain and through your gratitude for everything that you have - you are a content person. In your content and gracious nature, I see the greatness of our Father, Avraham.

On Shabbat, Parshat Lech Lecha, you reminded us of the greatness of Avraham and the gratitude that he possessed.

 Avraham's life was a life full of contentment because even when times were were difficult, he never stopped being mindful of all of the great things that Hashem blessed him with.

 I hope that you will continue to walk the path of Avraham:
welcoming and caring for others

 You, Zachariah, are full of gratitude for what you have and this contentment, this gratitude will take you far in life.

 And so his story begins; the story of my son, the young man, Zachariah, the content and kind one who I pray shall continue to walk the path of contentment, kindness, and gratitude.

 I am truly grateful to have witnessed the day my only son became a man - in the eyes of G*d and the holy Torah. Bless you, my son, I will love you forever.

Please continue to pray for Ahava Emunah bat Chava Ehta

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Second Day Of Treatment At Chemo Thermia....

My dad and I are currently in Istanbul, Turkey. I'm receiving treatments at a prestigious clinic, attempting to save my life using both conventional and well-known varieties of chemotherapies as well as scientifically studied and proven treatments which, focus on cancer as a metabolic disease.

We landed in Istanbul, Turkey earlier this week and began consulting in person with the physicians at the  Chemo Thermia Clinic. Over the past months and weeks, my physical quality of life has declined drastically. When we arrived at the airport in Tel Aviv, I was already having difficulty walking. Luckily, I received wheelchair assistance. The flight was under 2 hours and by the time we landed, I could no longer walk on my own and was again assisted with wheelchair assistance from the aircraft to the waiting driver, who arrived to pick us up from the clinic.

We're staying less than a 5 minute walk from Chemo Thermia Clinic and have been driven back and forth whenever necessary because at this point in time, I'm unable to walk more than a few meters.

On Tuesday evening, I completed my first treatments at the clinic. It was one of the most difficult days of my life. I received infusions of vitamins, antioxidants, anti-nausea, 4 types of chemotherapy, and Avastin. I also received two of the most intensely grueling treatments I've ever experienced: hyperthermia and oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber.
Hyperbaric O2 chamber
We returned to the hotel and I could no longer stand on my own two feet. I cried and climbed into bed and went to sleep.
I slept through the night without painkillers and the next morning was able to walk from our room, to the lobby, and to the awaiting car.

The treatments on Wednesday were less grueling yet very tiring as I received intense local treatments, oxygen, and infusions of antioxidants. I also spent an hour in the hyperbaric O2 chamber. 
On arrival at the hotel, I was able to walk in, take a shower, and walk around the room. Feeling even the smallest positive changes in my condition is certainly encouraging.

Since we've been here, we've met patients from all over the world: Iraq, England, Scotland, Africa, the USA, Russia, and of course many non-English speaking countries throughout Europe and Asia. The bond that these patients share is that they arrived at the clinic with stage 4 cancer and within 3 months many of them have clean PET CT scans! Many of these patients are in remission and it's remarkable to view their PET CT scans. We have been talking with everyone we can about their journeys - especially my dad, who has a lot of time to interact with other patients and their loved ones while I receive full days of treatments.  My dad and I have met and seen scans from patients with many different types of cancer.

In addition to the treatments that patients at Chemo Thermia receive, we are also given many bottles of medications which are inclusive in the expenses of the other treatments. 

The Chemo Thermia Clinic is using methods to kill cancer that are not new. They're in direct touch with top researchers including professor Thomas Seyfried of Boston University who until now does ALL  of his research in the labs - on mice and rats. Dr. Abdul Slocum works closely with Professor Seyfried and as a medical practitioner, Dr. Slocum is able to treat patients using the models developed by researchers like Professor Seyfried to treat cancer as a metabolic disease using so many modalities as well as conventional chemotherapies which, every oncologist is familiar with.

The case studies speak for themselves.

We met Brian with stage 4 esophageal cancer who was expected to live with his advanced  state for only 8 months. He has been very friendly and forthcoming in sharing his personal story with us both in person and on the Clinic's website where there are many other success stories available for viewing.

I am here... and we are praying for similar results - hopefully remission! There are countless stories and people eager to share them! 

Please continue to pray for Ahava Emunah bat Chava Ehta.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

It's (NOT) About Me

I hope that my beloved readers have had a wonderful and blessed summer. 

Summertime can be difficult for working parents or those who already feel the financial strain of both the last and impending years. 
Summer is hot!
Summer is expensive!
Summer is a wonderful time for both the trees and the flowers to grow.... and the children seem to need the miracles of summer-sun too.

As Summertime approached, I greatly feared how and what I could do, in my gradually worsening condition, to make positive summer memories for my family and myself. While the world has been away on summer vacations and trips, working, and whatnot, Cancer has been on full time high drive, making my life more and more difficult to enjoy in any physical sense.

I am thankful and blessed to have such loving and special people in my life. The love and kindness that is showered on my children and my whole family comes from such pure and modest loved ones and I am careful about what I'm willing to share. Believe it or not, there are some things that I keep strictly private.

While I seem to stay in a perpetual state of "everything is great" and "As long as I can live like this for years and years.... I'm happy and fine".... That state of being physically able to be "happy and fine" while in constant pain has become unbearable. 

I've reached a junction. Mortality is becoming stronger and stronger. The PET CT scans show the progression. Without me needing to actually even see the results, I know.

My dad went to work researching treatments.  If you remember past posts about the Ketogenic Diet and Lifestyle, you'll know what we have been looking into and I'm even surprised that that was back in May, exactly a year after investigating the last very important treatments that I underwent at UCSD, in San Diego, California.  

The professor that’s famous for the current treatments we're about to try is Professor Thomas Seyfried, a professor at Boston University, known for his cancer research and specifically treating cancer as a metabolic disease. 

Of course with every treatment that I do, we’re hoping for miracles. The treatments I am going for are NOT experimental however I must remember that my hope must be stronger than my expectations; nothing is promised to me and each day that I am given is an invaluable gift. 

My dad researched the treatment and the science behind it and we believe that it could save my life. We wish to and plan to work together with every member of my oncology team; weighing in on their experience and expertise in every way that we can while making choices and decisions about my care. These treatments are only available for humans in Istanbul, Turkey, which is where I will be traveling to, with my father this week, to begin treatment.

I’ve read and watched many research papers and videos and compiled what I believe to be a good cross section of the methods used at Chemo Thermia Clinic in Istanbul, Turkey.

This is a scholarly article from Professor Seyfried‘s book: 

Below is an approximately 1 hour YouTube video presented by Professor Thomas Seyfried of Boston University including a lengthy interview with Dr. Abdul Slocum. 

One of the things that Professor Slocum had to say which, impressed me was a personal understanding of who I am and what I believe in regarding my own disease, regarding myself being an exceptional patient. Dr Abdul Slocum - who is the one who’s become an expert on the details of my case has made it pretty clear that he’s memorized my PET CT scans and patient history. This treatment is really important for me as my illness has progressed and I needed to find something that is special and specific to my body and course of disease. While Dr.s Slocum and Mehmet Salih iyikesici recognize the advanced state of my disease, they’re still optimistic about treating me because I keep myself strong and fit physically and because I have an exceptional patient’s outlook and attitude. They have witnessed that people who are exceptional in that way do better overall in treatment and have better prognosis’s when their will to live is very strong; like mine. My physical fitness is very important to them and the fact that “I am NOT cancer” and that I choose to live an almost normal life IN SPITE of cancer gives me the status of an exceptional and compliant patient that will follow through even with “annoying/difficult” physical challenges as part of the treatments. They’re absolutely NOT making any promises however they feel that I’m a very good candidate for metabolic treatment of cancer and it will be given in tandem with multiple types of chemotherapy: Taxotere, Avastin, Gemcitabine, Cisplatin and Doxil. The doses are low and given in tandem with the other treatments. I'm pretty sure that I will lose my hair (again) but we don't know yet.

I am excited and terrified about this next stage in my treatment and my life. I'm doing it - not for myself - but for my precious 5 young children who, need a mother. I pray that this will be the beginning of the end to skepticism as I did promise myself that I would "never do chemotherapy again"

My life isn't about me. My life is a miracle and a blessing and I will do all I can to give as much of it as I can to my family and of course to serve the Almighty Above.

Please pray for Ahava Emunah bat Chava Ehta

Here we go.....

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Six Years of Cancer

Six years.
July, 2012

I knew something wasn’t right. For some time I’d been feeling sluggish, bloated, tired, and simply “not me”. I kept going back to my doctors; anyone who would listen to me for any type of support. I pushed hard because I felt that something was wrong yet none of my doctors were alarmed and my basic blood counts were all normal aside from the vitamin D deficiency. I was deflated and felt alone and misunderstood. 

As a busy mother of 5 young children, including a breastfeeding tot, I had run out of choices other than to accept that perhaps there wasn’t “anything wrong with me”. I resigned myself to being a 36 year old wife and mother who was no longer fit and energetic - even though I’d always been the example of good health in body, mind, and spirit.  In 2012, I felt haggard and run down. I was no longer the energetically inspired mommy that I’d always strived to be. 

I was depressed. 
I felt like a failure.
I was misunderstood.
My family doctors let me down.

The irregular spotting that I experienced a few days earlier was a sign. I immediately made an emergency appointment with an obstetrician gynecologist and went on to wait impatiently through a day and a Shabbat to arrive at that terrible day....

July 22nd, 2012 arrived and I eventually arrived at the emergency room after visiting the ob/gyn.
July 22, 2012 - Emergency Room
Ultrasound was a disaster.
CT scans confirmed that the disaster was cancerous.

July 26th, 2012: I underwent major surgery to remove an aggressive and cancerous tumor - the size of an average newborn baby - from my abdomen and life has never been the same.

I had surgery on a Thursday.
July 26th, 2012 - post surgery

I remained in the hospital over Shabbat.

Then it was the saddest day on the Jewish calendar: Tisha B’Av - The 9th day of Av.

This evening, as the sun set, the 9th of Av began. It’s actually the 10th of Av because when 9 B’Av lands on the Sabbath, it’s not observed until the following day. 

The saddest day of the year reflects the destruction of both Temples - may they be speedily rebuilt in our time! May Mashiach arrive.... now! Please G-d!

Six years.
Six years of blessings - I am alive!
Six years that the L-rd continues to bless me with miracles!
I pray to continue to be blessed with such miraculous blessings everyday.

Thank You G-d for all You provide!
Thank You L-rd, All Mighty, for your love and for saving me from death so many times.

I am sometimes sad for the moments that I’ve missed yet I remind myself how very blessed and lucky I am that G-d blesses me with another day on this earth.

Another day to breathe.
Another day to celebrate motherhood.
Another day of life.

Thank You God!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Thank You G-d For Not Giving Me What I Always Wanted...

Our family started out like a modern-day American family. There was Mom and Dad, then came me, a couple of cats, a dog, and my adorable little brother, Eli.

We were a happy family of four. I didn't really meet many families who had more than 2 or 3 kids but then one year, my mom got sick. She was REALLY sick. My mom was so ill that she had to be in the hospital and we didn't know when we'd see her again. She had a neurological illness which, we suspect was Guillain Barre Syndrome. It was scary.

During or after that time, my parents realized what was most important in their lives I guess or maybe they felt that they could have lost my mom and she was really so good at being a mom; why not add one more to our family? I remember being told that I was going to have a baby brother or sister! I was so extremely excited because I'd always wanted a baby sister! My parents hired a midwife and they planned an early 1980's home-birth.

As the pregnancy progressed, my mother's belly doubled and grew so large, for such a fit and smaller-framed woman, many people stared and made comments about the possibility of twins. She just laughed. It was the time before mass ultrasounds were performed and the midwife was keeping everything professionally measured. There was one baby in there and I prayed every single day for a baby sister! I collected pink baby onesies and dresses. When friends gave us gifts of little boy or girl clothing, I caressed and held onto the girly outfits.

Suddenly, mere weeks before the due date, a second heartbeat was detected and the measurements showed the telltale signs of twins growing! My parents went privately to see an Ob/Gyn and sure enough, there were the two huge and fully formed twins staring back at them on the ultrasound, almost too big to fit on the screen! How I prayed and prayed for a baby sister and now my chances had just doubled!

My mom went into labor only 2 weeks before the twins due dates and the next morning my brother, Eli, and I received the exciting news that we had two new identical twin brothers, Matt and Levi. Over 15 pounds of heathy bouncing baby boys! I admit, I was disappointed for a few minutes. G-d, hadn't I spent enough hours each day praying for a baby sister? 

As my brothers grew, we all grew more and more in love with them. We were a house of 3 brothers and me and our bigger family was wonderful.

Years passed and the 1990's came. My parents decided to expand our family again. I was certainly going to have a baby sister this time! Sure, I was already a teen, and I'd never have the little sister I'd dreamt of playing dolls and house with yet still, I was desperate for a little sister. I prayed daily for the sister of my dreams. 

This time around, we were living in Israel and every pregnant woman had ultrasounds and because my mom was considered to be having an "elderly pregnancy" at the ripe age of 39, she was encouraged to have an amniocentesis and therefore we knew early in the pregnancy that my dreams of having a baby sister were yet again not to be. My 4th sibling was destined to be Gabriel Josef, another brother. Was I disappointed? Only for a few minutes. I was mostly just so looking forward to having another baby in the house and the whole family was very excited to meet the first Israeli-born child in our family. I was 16 when Gabriel was born and quite enjoyed the mistaken assumptions that I was his teenaged mother when I carried him in a baby carrier or pushed him proudly down the street in his baby carriage.

Around the time that little Gabriel was six or 7 months old, my mother became very sick again. She was bitten by a sand-fly and contracted a debilitating illness known in Israel as: Shoshanat Yericho; the Jericho Rose. Her leg swelled up to painful proportions, she suffered from pain, weakness, and a very high fever. There was little my mother could do but rest and try to care for baby Gabriel and the rest of us.

After about four or 5 months, my mom was finally well enough to start her road to recovery. After so many months in bed, unwell, and not eating, you may have expected a very frail and emaciated woman to emerge yet that wasn't the case. My father even made the faux pax of commenting on what seemed to be a growing belly on my mother... the same week that she made a delicious chopped liver delicacy for Shabbat which, had come to symbolize a craving that meant one thing; Mom is pregnant! I remember literally jumping up out of my seat for joy! My mom was probably pregnant and I MIGHT be getting a baby sister! Please G-d! I began to pray...

I was already a senior in high school. Many of my friends already thought my obsession with babies was a bit unusual. I loved looking after my younger brothers and never needed to be asked. I volunteered. The day after Shabbat, my parents were already anxious to visit the doctor and I couldn't wait to find out if my little sister was finally on her way!

Being that my mother was already in her 5th month of pregnancy (surprise!) it took only a quick minute with the ultrasound to discover that baby boy #5 was on his way to our family. This time I was disappointed more than the other times because I knew that this was definitely the last chance I had to have a sister as my parents were both in their 40's. Luckily I had a few months to get used to the idea before my youngest brother was born on the night of the Pessach Seder in my final year of high school. I stayed home to take care of my brothers and as soon as my mom walked in the front door, she handed me my new brother so that she could cuddle little Gabriel, who was most certainly in shock. I immediately fell in love with little baby Josh and have loved him dearly ever since. I quickly forgave G-d for giving me 5 brothers and not a single little sister.

In 2006, My brother, Eli, gave me my first sister, Briana. My brother Levi gave me my second sister, Hadar, and Matt gifted me with my third younger sister, Maya. I am more than blessed with the most wonderful sisters that a person could have!

I'm so thankful that G-d said, "No," to my prayers for a biological sister. In doing so, a great kindness was bestowed on my entire family because I carry the BRCA1 mutation, inherited from my father. Who knows if that's the reason? Nobody but G-d, however we are all spared the worries of breast and ovarian cancer possibly preparing to prey on one of my sisters. When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, at such a young age, it suddenly became clear why I never had a biological sister and I'm forever grateful to You Almighty L-rd, King of the Universe. Thank you for giving me 5 healthy brothers and thank you for my fabulous sisters-from-other-misters. I love them as much, if not more, than any biological sister could be loved.

Monday, May 14, 2018

It's All Right And Part Of Life To Feel Sad

I have many reasons for sharing my journey. Spiritually and emotionally, I receive so much strength, it touches my soul so deeply, from countless people in our community and around the world. I'm convinced that my challenging cancer journey is also a test and a blessing. One of the great things about sharing my journey publicly is, not only the loving and supportive feedback I receive from people who tell me that my writing has helped them through a difficult time or inspired them in some way, but also the kindness that I receive from people who were complete strangers one moment and have come into my life in any number of ways.
In my early childhood, I had the charming bedtime rituals of childhood fantasy. My mom had the patience of a saint and it felt like she allotted endless time making our bedtime rituals enchanting and memorable with books, stories, and songs. It must have been the late 70’s and early 80’s and my brother, Eli, my mom, and I cuddled up together every evening on the bottom bunk bed. First we read books and then we sang songs.
We had multiple rounds of hugs and kisses and the worst part, for me, was when it was time for my mom and dad to leave the room for the night. I dreaded the dark and worried about falling asleep. Even with the soft constant glow of a nightlight my fear of the darkness and night was always there until I was at least 10 or 11. The fear of night added something to our bedtime rituals; my mom or dad always put on a record for us to listen to as we drifted off to sleep.
We had quite a collection of vinyl back then and I had my favorites. Some nights we might have only listened to one side of the record, but most nights my mom or dad had to come and flip the record several times for me. My brother, Eli, had it easy and drifted of to sleep in minutes. I remember listening to my all time favorite, Free to Be… You and Me over and over and over again.

That LP with the pink jacket was a record album and illustrated book that came out before I was born. Back in 1972, celebrities of the era  including Alan Alda, Rosey Grier, Cicely Tyson, Carol Channing, Michael Jackson, Shirley Jones, Jack Cassidy, and Diana Ross sang the songs and narrated the stories.
You can listen to the entire album on Spotify.
The concept of the album was to encourage gender neutrality. The narrative of the record praised values like tolerance, uniqueness, and taking pride in individuality and your own identity. One of the main messages of the record was that boys and girls can do anything. That was how I grew up: free to be me. I always loved music and I usually have music playing in the background; sometimes only in my imagination – in my head. In every situation I star in imaginary music videos somewhere in the back of my brain. For a while, when I was feeling sad, "my Song" was: “It’s All Right to Cry,” performed by football hero Rosey Grier.

The science of tears is that, we need them to keep our eyes lubricated. Tears are universal.  My Google research proved to me that humans are the only species that cry for emotional reasons. The flow of tears have other purpose beyond the flow of salty water. When you cry, your heart rate increases, you sweat, your breathing slows and you sometimes get a lump in your throat. Red puffy eyes and salt water in tandem with the Fight Or Flight system known as the sympathetic nervous system take over your life for whatever amount of time is necessary.
Some researchers claim that suppressing tears is a physical health hazard. There’s a saying attributed to a British psychiatrist, Henry Maudsley, “The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep.”
Fear, helplessness, frustration, sadness, and anger have the potential to make us cry. Joy and relief can make us cry tears of relief or happiness too. 
Life is a cry-fest and it should be. If you care enough to cry then your life is meaningful. It’s alright.
If you can feel then you are alive. 
I still think that the artistic exploration of crying by song writer, Carol Hall and her conclusion expressed in her 1972 song is brilliant and timeless.
It's All Right To Cry by Carol Hall copyright - 1972
It’s all right to cry
Crying gets the sad out of you
It’s all right to cry
It might make you feel better
Raindrops from your eyes
Washing all the mad out of you
Raindrops from your eyes
It’s gonna make you feel better
It’s all right to feel things
Though the feelings may be strange
Feelings are such real things
And they change and change and change
Sad ‘n’ grumpy, down in the dumpy
Snuggly, hugly, mean ‘n’ ugly
Sloppy, slappy, hoppy, happy
Change and change and change
It’s all right to know
Feelings come and feelings go
It’s all right to cry
It might make you feel better
It’s all right to cry, little boy
I know some big boys that cry too
I miss hearing that Free To Be You And Me Record crackling away as I drift off to sleep and I still sing it in my head quite often and I remember ALL of the words.
Please continue to pray for Ahava Emunah bat Chava Ehta