Sunday, December 22, 2013

Another Drop In The Bucket

A few days ago someone said to me, in the context of what I had gone through - death came knocking at your door and you slammed the door in its face. I never thought of the disease that way, apparently that is how it might be perceived by others. The more I kept thinking about it, I realized the strong meaning behind it. However, I believe a survivor of a serious illness should not be an object of compassion, mercy, awe or admiration. Instead he or she, should be welcomed back to society as someone that can contribute something, from his/her experience, including the tools that helped him cope. Providing encouragement to otherwise, healthy people who might G-d forbid, encounter a similar personal crisis themselves or among their relatives. Unfortunately, reality is different. For those patients who were not lucky to have adequate support, socio-economic and psychological, and all sorts of reasons, the situation is not so simple.

Not everyone comes wrought out a crisis of an illness, and the end of the disease for many, is often a beginning of a new battle. It is likely that society sees in him now a vulnerable, fragile and unstable person, not so pleasant . Quite a few people tend to hide their illness in order to avoid being perceived as weak or pitiful. But often comes the moment of truth, the illness or the fact of being recently ill, are revealed, and with it come along conventional views and perceptions from society. In such a competitive and dynamic world, one that many find it difficult to catch up with the pace while being healthy, what are the chances of reintegration for those who were temporarily disadvantaged due to a disease?

One of the beautiful and amazing things I've discovered these recent weeks, were the positive energy and inner happiness that can be driven from a realization of a new idea. Since I decided to move the wheel and hit the road with the Pink Campus, I found myself in a state of unceasing doing. I have built connections with great and professional people, I was invited to meetings and created a stunning presentation. The highlight of it all was when I got invited to a TV program audition to talk about my pink dream. I found myself sitting in front of a camera and a charming interviewer, telling my story naturally and confidently, announcing that I plan to execute my venture and if necessary, devote my life to do it. When I came out I realized that this happiness of doing a thing you believe in, is the same thing that I was actually working to achieve for many other women, and this I believe is the enormous value of the project.

Entrepreneurship requires determination, inner strength and faith, in order to move an idea forward. On the other hand, the same features are required when fighting and beating a severe disease.
In the Pink Campus, women who have had one of the most difficult experiences one can undergo during her lifetime, will learn to channel their strength and determination, needed throughout their struggle, all in favor of new ideas, whether big or small, ending up being a little more prepared to start a new life. For this cause, I'm willing to do whatever it takes to see this project come into fruition.

Many women carry with them at the end of the treatments, a heavy burden like a stone, in their heart. 
Carriers of  non sympathetic genes, those that increase the likelihood that the disease will visit the other side or other parts of the body, are forced to return to their homes at the end of a round of long and arduous treatments, considering preventive care including additional non simple surgeries. My heart goes out to these women, who know that it's not the end of their journey.
My treat  at the end of treatments was not a burdened heart of stone, but rather, two large stones in my gall bladder, that started to cause me excruciating pain and discomfort for more than a week. Luckily I was so busy with all my venture, that I didn't allow  this incident to affect my mood much, despite the fact that in two days, I will undergo a minor surgery to end this trouble. After everything I went through and comparing to the pink future I predict, it's just another drop in the bucket, for me.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Dream Come True

I'll never forget that day in the biopsy room, almost a year ago when I discovered that I had breast cancer. I broke down in front of the nurse and asked despairingly, who would take my place and care for my four children and my beloved husband. I will never forget the words of that dear nurse as she said "till now you have been there for everyone else, now it's your turn for them to be there for you". Those whom are familiar with my first blog post, which is the first letter I had sent to all my acquaintances and family, I hated this new role and the fact that I would be now a source of concern and annoyance.

In retrospect, I'm glad to have been in the centre of the drama, and yet I avoided turning it into a huge dramatic situation. I'm glad I was able to be a source of strength and encouragement to others. At the end of the fight, looking back, I realize that what Iv'e derived from this chapter in my life, that I prefer more to think of as an experience, was mostly a positive added value.
And because I was privileged to know wonderful women that come my path, I know that my feelings are not unique and that other women share similar experiences due to their illness. I know that like me, they have found in themselves power and skills that would have not be revealed without passing through this ordeal.

Returning to ordinary life, I discovered that comparing to the professional and wonderful medical health care we receive in our country, the road ends with a missed opportunity. Female survivors who are not the same women they were before the illness, feel the need to make a profound change in their lives. Unfortunately, the stage of recovery is characterised mainly by talking about the feeling and need for a change, yet the chasm between words and actions is not easy for any of us, whether sick or well. 

As many of the wonderful things that happened to me lately, I happened to be at the right time and place - Google campus Tel Aviv, where I first heard of a program called - Google campus for moms. An Initiative that enables women on maternity leave, to learn how to bring ideas to the level of presenting it to investors. And after a series of another extraordinary sequence of events, I found myself participating in that program to try to birth and execute my idea - to build The Pink Strartup School - in order to teach breast cancer survivors entrepreneurship skills. 
Women with breast cancer do not undergo pregnancy during their struggle, but upon recovery, many of them feel as if they were reborn. Like women on maternity leave, they find themselves recovering with a significant amount of free time, which could be used constructively. 
I truly believe that a proper training program could bring great blessing to many women in their recovery period, and hope to continue to like minded believers until we see it coming into fruition.

While embroidering my pink dreams, I found myself this weekend in another dream, one that came true for a young couple who had decided to have their wedding party no less than on a ship in Eilat. Many thanks to Noga and Jonathan who invited us to participate in their exciting and extraordinary wedding cruise.
Special thanks to grandparents Yossi and Michi that had seized the opportunity and extended  the event into a family holiday weekend , which was just perfect timing.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A sister from abroad

One morning two weeks ago, my daily routine was rather unusual. On this morning, dear Moran drove me to the hospital as Eli had gone to a meeting and needed the car. At the end of my treatment I made ​​my way to the bus stop a few hundred yards from the hospital. I don't know how many of you share an emotional experience when listening to music, and how it can and influence you and penetrate into the depths of your soul. Everyone with their particular music, each one with their own taste .
And so it happened that I found myself walking that morning, with my amazing music in my ears, In such a heightened sense as if I could conquer the world. As I was walking, enjoying the pleasant morning air and trying to escape from the sunbeam down the road, It suddenly struck me that I'm alone as I faced numerous people coming towards me, from the opposite direction, probably to begin their working day in the various offices scattered around Ramat Hahayial area. And so it happened that under the influence of the music I was filled with a sense of inner peace and tranquility that led to thoughts about my current stage, the future to come and what will I be doing.

I was already at the bus stop and continued towards the shaded hill nearby to wait, when suddenly saw her.
A familiar face whom I recognised from the radiotherapy department. She stood behind the bus station also seeking shelter from the sun. I guess it was the influence of that strange emotional state of mind that led me, without thinking too much, to approach that girl and ask how she was feeling. As I turned to her and introduced myself, I was surprised at her answer in English with a Russian accent, telling me she doesn't not speak Hebrew. We continued the conversation in English and found out we were waiting for the same bus line - 142 which she said she had been waiting for half an hour... We begun to get to know each other, and then the bus arrived. We sat down together and when I asked her where she needed to get off, it turned out we were heading to the same area, getting off at the same station in central Tel Aviv ...

Introducing to you: Julia, an amazing young woman from Moscow Russia, that has come to Israel to be treated with her breast cancer disease. Her chemotherapy sessions were done alternately in Tel Hashomer and Moscow flighting back and forth, her surgery in Assuta, and now she is at the stage of the radiotherapy, at the same institution I'm being treated. 

Julia came to spend five weeks of radiotherapy with her five year old son and her father. They are not Jewish, and have no acquaintances in Israel . While she comes every morning to have her treatments, her son and father are having fun on the beach. Upon her return from treatment, she continues to engage with her work from a small rented apartment in central Tel Aviv, through Skype and Internet supported by her generous employers. And so my dear readers, I was privileged to meet a sister from abroad. I started to get to know her unique and outstanding life story, little by little, each and every day, when I had offered her to joine me on my daily car trips, that occurred in the same hospital, same treatment room, and same bed as follows - she was first, I was next.

Last week when I happened to come early to meet with my therapist , I visited the little hairdresser room is Tel Hashomer hospital. Believe it or not , I already needed a haircut ! 
It suddenly struck me when I looked in a double mirror what it looked like behind my neck. Very messed and non aesthetics. Six months ago, in the the same hairdresser room, I had considered shaving the hair that had started to fall out, but this time I received a very nice style to my fresh new grown hair, by an adorable staff who are doing wonderful volunteers work for free. 
While I was waiting there, an attractive young woman was waiting next to me, for her wig that was being treated and taken care while it was put on a special hanger. Her revealed real hair was as short as mine. When her wig was ready and placed back on her head, I did not hesitate for a moment and I said - you look lovely even without the wig. You should really consider saying goodbye to it. My comment was Immediately supported by the hairdresser and all other people around.

One week is left to the end of radiotherapy sessions. In a short period of time I will be able to put this experience behind me, but part of me refuses to do so. And I begin to understand that this part will never leave. The part of me that wants to make sure all other sick women reach the finish line strong and solid. This part of me wants to be alongside these women, who are required to look straight toward a not simple process of treatments and procedures on their bodies, and to be there for them, offer encouragement and help them believe and understand they will be fine afterwords.
In this pink awareness month and also in the less pink ones, they will always remain the true heroes of this damn disease.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Treatment #3



I'm negotiating with Avi that he should get out of bed. Raising the senseless argument that had he listen to me and gone to bed at 10 PM instead of 11:30 PM, his head would not be hurting now... After several tense moments, including non helpful threats to ban electronic games, I hand him a paracetamol pill, force him to take it and make him fly off to school.


A phone call from Avi, who sounds alert and full of energy, explaining to me that if I would not bring him at once, a board game and page labels which he forgot, he will not be able to attend a volunteer activity with his friends at a special children's school. Again I lose my temper, when just a few minutes earlier, I was able to eat a bowl of cereal. At least David will cooperate with me and --  get dressed quickly so we can be on time to provide Avi with his essential items for the day...


Children's school Journey dispersion ends - Little David is at kindergarten.

After such a beginning, nothing like a visit to the gym, to exhaust the rest of my renewed energy accumulated towards the end of my previous treatment. Unfortunately two good days were stolen from me due to the Passover holidays and the fact the last treatment started in the middle of the previous week. Fortunately I found a solution for training at the gym with a wig, by tying a bandana around my head, thus ensuring stability and gaining a natural sporty look. Amazing how I can fool everyone with that little fraud on my head ...


Le Moulin Bakery - better to take with me a fine sandwich, than eat the local AROMA cafe horror. I remember the good days of AROMA cafe15 years ago when it was a local empire in Jerusalem. Memories of the last sandwich Eli brought me from there at the hospital two weeks ago, were not so positive to say the least.


Tel Hashomer Hospital. Waiting for blood count results takes longer than usual, somehow time passes quickly here. Perhaps it is the music in my ears, perhaps my preoccupation with writing. No doubt that any place can be totally different than what it truly is in the eye of the beholder, with some rhythmic music in his ears. Particularly fine rhythmic music, this time - fila Brazillia, and no, nothing to do with typical Brazilian music. 
In the treatments department on one hand I'm pleasantly surprised when a station is immediately available for me, whereas very disappointed when I find out my nurse Iris is not here today : (

If there was any particular medical personnel with whom I spent more than ten minutes at a time and to which I became a little emotionally attached to, it was Iris. I notice my personal physician in the department is sitting right at the front desk, busy behind a computer. I'm standing right in front of her for a long time, but somehow it seems that she makes a special effort to avoid eye contact with the patients around her, and all my attempt to achieve eye contact with her failed miserably. I simply want to say hello... Later I will hear from Eli that she recognised him and said a very nice hello, so it looks like I was fooled by my imagination...

The nurse who previously told me to sit at one of the stations, helplessly informs me that  she doesn't know yet who will look after me today and that I should wait. I really don't like the distant feeling from the patients that prevails in the department. It's incongruous with the severity of the disease. I understand that there are a lot of patients, I understand that the nurses are busy. It still makes us - the sick people sort of helpless objects on a conveyor belt... And not that I'm spoiled. Then it hits me - this is what is called being sick in a hospital. Something I had luckily never experienced before, and even today I try not to think of myself in those terms. Thank God my visits in the hospital so far are relatively short, every two weeks for a few hours to be injected with the poison that should kill the disease. Speaking of the poison, It's also the place to mention that it does the job. The treatments are working, according to my physician and my surgeon whom we visited last weekend. The lumps had shrunk, and may even shrink more and disappear within the next treatments. Certainly encouraging news, but as my surgeon explained, it does not cancel the planned surgery and following radiations. Well, I'm sticking to the original big plan. My goal - to win at all costs.

Eli is sitting in front of me working vigorously - His last presentation created in the same environment we are sitting in today, was very successful and has contributed greatly to the hot phase it's currently facing with the investors.
I'm crying out for 'orange juice' infusion for over an hour now. My nurse Iris has taken the day off, and I am at the mercy of the other nurses who find it difficult to welcome me ... At least we found a position to sit and wait in. I'm about to fall asleep on the couch mostly due to the learning material I brought with me towards the Priority final course exam....


The nurse comes to connect me to orange juice infusion. She asks me substantive questions. She looks obviously tired from this day... in the background she is being called by her name, she is needed to finish up with more patients. My heart goes out to her. It is noted this is not simple for her. When I see Iris on my next treatment I will tell her how much I had missed her. I return to the music realms.


Leaving the treatment department  I didn't want to complain before, but I swear this time, from the beginning I felt pain from the infusion connection. While waiting for Eli who went to bring the car from the distanced parking (The sign on the local parking lot stated again: Cancer department - Full) I discover the swelling of my hand where the infusion was connected. It would not have happened with my nurse, Iris.

I'm so glad to find my dear  mother at our home again. She will be staying with me for a whole week. What -- fun. It is Independence Day tomorrow. If all goes according to the previous pattern, I will be able to go out in the evening and watch the fireworks. Do you know when I last watched a fireworks display with my mom? Seems to me that it was over 30 years ago....

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Treatment #2


It's the third time we come to the hospital and see the sign in the parking lot: "Cancer department - full" A sign that when photographed - the word "full" is not seen in the camera no matter how we tried. Eli and I think that there is a mystical meaning behind it...

He drops me off and goes looking for parking. I go and grab a place in line for my blood count. Within twenty minutes I'm done. While waiting for tests results I make attempts to build groups on WattsApp to update my wonderful friends consisting of many people. To my horror, I realize that a WattsApp group is not something discreet but common to all members. I decided not to mix and rather, to build only groups of people who know each other.
After I've gone and made groups I realized that there are people listed on WattsApp but do not use it regularly.... Well, regular SMS does great work with copy paste.

I was circling the department loby, when suddenly I spotted a hairdresser. Yesterday I discovered my hair started falling out. I would have forfeit the new & fresh successful haircut now and postpone it for the future...  Believe me, previously I would not dare to cut my hair, above the shoulders. Now I think I would go for short hair when it grows back. 
I thought that it would have been a good idea to remove it today had I brought my wig, and to stop spreading my hair around the block, car, elevator building, and our house.... :-)

Blood tests results arrived. Moving on to the oncology treatments department to discover once again, all positions are occupied, this time due to the holiday, Monday and Tuesday patients were mixed together. I'm waiting patiently while reviling a new electronic band I had downloaded from ITunes just before we left , called - Many coloured butterflies. Most successful in my opinion. I say hello to Iris - my serious thin blue eyed nurse - Today I will learn to decipher her great personality a little more. She did not recognise me until I said my name and then said briefly - "Put your folder on the table" and continued to the next patient.

We wait and accept the over load of patients in the treatment positions. Finally Iris comes back with a rolling table and an infusion pole, placing it near the chair were I'm sitting in the hallway. Eli takes a place in front of me and immediately takes over the power plug he finds, connecting his laptop to it. Someone has to work here. For me everything is cool. I immediately dive into the world of music and text messaging. Iris arrives again. She begins to ask questions, how am I? how I felt over the previous treatment? I tell her happily I feel very good, perhaps too good, and I'm wondering if this is normal? She says it's probably normal and that's great. I tell her proudly how I even did the cleaning for Passover and she says - I would give you an exemption for that. I tell her about the feeling of pleasure and relief knowing the cleaning is finally over with. Only those how know and apply this cleaning tradition, knows what I'm talking about (Eli even once found me proof that there is such a thing - depression from cleaning for Passover, there was a different terminology I can't remember exactly), Iris understood me certainly knew what I'm talking about. 

“Off we go” says Iris when she is done with connecting my infusion. Before leaving me at the improvised position, Iris wants to thank me for being understanding and patient under the great load. She explains that not all patients understand they need to allow the nurse to devot a few minutes to talk with the patient beyond connecting them to the infusion.I thanked her much for her patience and said I hope that I will never see such an over abundance of patients ever again.
I plunge back into the music. I was so absorbed in it, that suddenly I meet Eli's severe look saying that I was just informed that there is a free post for us but I didn't hear it because of the music in my ears ....

Eli is the ideal partner for this situation. I don't want to talk at all just sit and wait for orange juice to flow into my blood... Eli on his side dives into his work and writes awesome presentations for investors. They had better be impressed! If they could only imagine the circumstances. But in this case they would be too foolish not to invest regardless of the circumstances. Eli defiantly has a great idea and a wining case! I must also praise Eli for doing all sorts of distanced errands within the hospital. Local cafeteria ran out of all the cakes and most sandwiches are gone.It's Mimuna today - the feast of eating bread, remember? People do not eat bread for a whole week. No wonder they grab everything in sight.

I must also note that Eli needs a lot of patience with me. As time passes I become more and more blurred. Later I will cause him to take two wrong directions. One will be straight into the path only for public transport on Dizengoff Street. But we do it safely without getting caught or fined.... By the way, there we went to buy the most delicious selection of tartelette at the Boutique Central. If there was anything I could put in my mouth two hours later after treatment, it was that ...

Towards the end Michi and Yossi arrive - Eli's dear parents. It is a busy day for us. Immediately after treatment and being already five minutes late, we had a private meeting with the professor. The one who informed us she was going to go on a half a year sabbatical, immediately after I was officially received to Tel Hashomer hospital! And also only after I asked BTW if I would be accompanied by her at treatments. She only then told me I had to chose a doctor from a list she gave...The great expert professor, many recommendations we had received about her through the connections we were lucky to have by Yossi and Michi. 
On our first meeting she never gave us a clue for plans of holidays of any kind, except for a conference for which she made sure we met her just before she flew out. Annoying isn't it? this is way I could not resist and I dared to raise it gently to her today, while Eli gently urged me to respect the situation.

But do not worry. The Professor assured us that everything is Under Control - of hers. If necessary or should a dilemma arise, she is to intervene and give her opinion. That was what we wanted to hear. She was also glad for me that the treatment went well and was  nice and empathetic, while complimenting me on the earrings I was wearing. When we left I told her I should hope therefore that there will be no need to see her again, and she agreed with a smile.

Grandma Coco (Colette) my dear mother had arrived at noon. When we got home the laundry was all folded, and she had only storage dilemmas to deal with. The kids had spent the morning with Karen our beloved ex nanny who worked for us a few months ago.
I went to bed after I managed to eat some sweets from Boutique central and to drink lots of green tea. I waited for the feeling of heaviness to settle. The kids knew they had to give me some space today and not to be with me in the room. Except for a few invasions of hugging and kissing they accepted the decision.

Half an hour ago Grandma Coco comes to my room, as she bent over laughing and having difficulties to speak. When she calms down she tells me how she accidentally marched on the fresh new hand color painting done by little David with Karen today, that was put out to dry on the back porch. She told me how she saw her slippers leaving footprints on the floor and how she hopes that David will not notice the new twist created on his painting. I had a good healthy laugh for quite a few minutes. I'll be fine. May it continue like this.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Written Group Thraphy


Yesterday my dear Eli celebrated 46.

I feel better than ever, as if  I'm not really sick. As if I did not go through my first chemotherapy treatment almost two weeks ago. Passover eve was very nice. I received compliments on my new (short hair) appearance. Everyone was happy. At the end of the evening we left Michael and Avi with Grandma and Grandpa in Jerusalem. Sweet David changed his mind at the last moment. "I'm little" he explained, and was torn between his desire to stay as his big brothers away from Mom and Dad and very non sympathetic though he would be torn from us for a few days. So little David and big brother Yossi, retured with us to Tel Aviv city. David will light up our days and make Eli the happiest person when he will sing birthday songs on his birthday.

I decided to email my dear Dutch instagram followers who were wondering about my sudden disappearance from there, and thank them for their prayers and healing wishes. 
I started thinking about  the positive way my written expression in front of friends and family, affects me with my illness. It looks like I invented some sort of written group therapy that could be a replacement for an actual therapist, just like that. I believe my mental strength would have not lasted without these great people - relatives and almost total strangers - being such an excited responsive audience thanking me and saying they draw strength from my words.

My personal decision to win this battle is one thing, but making a public statement in front of different people, most of them very dear to me, had forced me into a commitment. Such a commitment which is very hard to break. I do believe it's a matter of character but I also believe that regardless of ones nature, one can and should try this method in similar cases. It's like a magic circle. I really feel good most of the days since I received  the orange juice infusion. I do not know if one feeds the other - the statement that everything is not that bad along with the relatively good physical feeling - it's working and that's what matters.

What encourages me to think on the bright side, is the will to stay someone who inspite of her illness, can feel good and be happy, and not become pathetic. There no such satisfaction when I realize I can do something in return for the concern of my friends and family for me, through writing and sharing what I'm going through. The decision to be happy and not break down was influenced allot by my dearest Eli who requested from me this one thing - to try to be happy, otherwise my sadness will break his heart. And I tried and I keep trying. There are always reasons to be happy, we only have to be able to retrieve them from the pile of worries  we usally deal with in our life.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013



The day I was so afraid of has become one of the happiest days since I had discovered my illness. I went with Moran to the wig shop intending to remove my hair that was about to fall out soon enough. I hesitated whether to remove all of it or leave a short haircut. "The only difference are the clips" said Ronit the hairdresser. Really? So please bring me the clips that enable the wig to attach to real hair, and fix me up with a nice haircut so I can wear the wig only when needed. After all, religious girls wear wigs over their natural hair all the time, no?

"Make it a "Barbara" haircut", said Rivka the owner. And Ronit cut it short at the back leaving a respectable mane of hair in the front, one that makes my head looks fresh and young - the spitting image of my son Yossi who will turn 15 soon. I personally cut his hair a month ago and was amazed to discover a beautiful young man hidden underneath very long hair which had reached the length of a woman's hair, and, which covered his face and gave him the look of an introverted and withdrawn child .

And so it happened to me, who never dared to change and shorten my hair style, to stare at my completely new image, and receive compliments from all around me. I even forgot the actual reason we were gathered here today ....
Once again I made a switch in my mind. I am now having a haircut, though, also taking a wig as a backup. This new hairstyle will last for Passover eve, and probably the rest of the holidays. For two weeks I will be able to enjoy my new image. Grab compliments, enjoy the moment and not think about the time when it will all disappear for a while, until it grows back again. I went happily with Moran to a coffeeshop, my new hairstyle grants me a special mood, and I had dared to be happy.

We came back for the final measurements of the wig, giving it a nice hairstyle. Reluctantly, I decided to go out with the wig and to show up at home to present it to my mother, Eli and the kids. Then - in front of everyone - I pulled it off my head revealing the real surprise - my new hairstyle which appealed to everyone.

The final days before the holiday were good. I could hardly sense the chemotherapy in my body. I had enough energy to do the final polishing up of the house for the holiday. I felt good and I was happy.

I thank God who gave me strength and energy to enjoy the holiday. To be able to show off my strength, and to prove it was not fake, but, was the result of truly feeling good, both mentally and physically. The road is not too difficult, for now. I have nothing to complain about.