Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dancin' To Happy News

The call came in from my doc's assistant while I was helping Baily set up last night's party. I knew right away it was good news because the doc had her call instead of him. "No sign of recurrence." And I asked her about the blood test I took for "tumor markers" and my count was 15 when presence of cancer shows at 38 and is usually up to 100. Phew!!!! Then everyone I relayed the message to last night screamed, hugged and danced around with me.

I had such a fantastic time at that concert. I got to drive the lead singer of the 8th Day band to the Vet's Hall and found out he's a Chabad rabbi in Huntington Beach, close to where my parents live. He learned I was their biggest fan in S. Cruz. (Jason says, "their only fan in S. Cruz" but now other people know about them and bought their cds last night.) They sang my favorite songs and I couldn't just sit down and listen. But the songs that really hit home for me were, "Tracht Gut" and "Rain".

"Tracht Gut" comes from a Yiddish saying, "Think positive and it will be positive." It's a saying I've had in my kitchen for over 15 years. The song was written for their sister when she was 17 and was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She's 30 now. One of the lines is, "Met a little boy with big brown eyes, he said, 'Tracht gut vi tzein gut'. Met a little girl who had no hair, she said, 'Tracht gut vi tzein gut'..." (Spelling? I don't know a lot of Yiddish.) You just have to get up and dance to this one.

"Rain" is a similar healing song that includes the Priestly Blessing in Hebrew. I LOVE the words of this song! "Wishes unspoken, desires unknown. A child cries in the darkness of her own. She's wishin', she's hoping, dreaming of a time just to feel a tear of joy. So take this blessing from me as your miracle is born and the answer to your prayer shines tonight. May the heavens swing open, let all your heart's desires rain down on you, rain down on you. I lift my hands above your head, your miracles approaching, your tearful eye, never dry, will yet behold the sunshine and soon, we'll all be DANCING TO HAPPY NEWS...Yivarechecha HaShem v'yishmarechah..."**

Dancing to happy news was my theme of the night. I was so happy. I couldn't stop smiling the entire show! Only Baily knew what this night really meant to me and when I said goodbye to the rabbi, I realized he knew too. He said, "Hashgacha pratis" is a term that the Baal Shem Tov taught. He added "pratit" to the term "hashgacha". The word hashgacha was always used to represent "Divine Providence" and when the Baal Shem Tov taught it, he added "pratit" or "individual". So we all can see our own individual Divine Providence acting in our lives.

I'm still shaking my head in wonderment. How could all of this happen in the same weeks and the same day and only hours before being able to dance to happy news? It's truly a miracle and I feel so blessed! So I found out that when they gave the go ahead for the menorah, no questions asked, Sholmie, the Chabad student center rabbi suggested to Yochanon that he ask his cousin to perform. Shlomie had no idea that I had loved that band for the past several years and had all of their CDs. Yochanon knew that I was wild about that band but didn't know that I had my PET scan coming up and that my results would come that very night, only hours before. This morning I thought, "I could stop writing this carepages after last night." But I probably won't.

My kids were struggling this week, sweating through studying for their PCS finals, so I was worried that they wouldn't get a chance to attend the concert. But Geoff brought them in time to hear the two songs I wrote you about. They didn't stay for the whole concert because Aimee had a headache (been getting them a lot since Halloween and finals) but this morning she told me she wanted to stay longer if not for the headache.

Anyway, perfect time to now fly off to Palm Desert to be with my parents for 10 days this weekend. Thanks again to all of you for standing by to hear my scan results. I hope you all have the holiday of your dreams too.

**The prayer of the Kohanim in English is, "May the Lord bless you and guard you. May the Lord make His countenance shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn His countenance toward you and grant you peace." (My dad's a Kohain and so is my brother. The lead singer/rabbi is the son of a daughter who's father was Kohain, like me - I'm the daughter of a Kohain and proud of it. He told me that they are usually very peaceful people and tend to be peacemakers between people. If a couple was in a fight, Aaron would go up to each separately and tell them, "Your spouse really wants to make up but he/she's too embarrassed." Then they would see each other later and make up. I'm proud to be a descendant of Aaron. But his sons played with a dangerous fire (light?) and got burned. I think I've got some of that in me too! So please remind me when I get too happy!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hanukkah Lights & Radioactive Lights

I've been pretty anxious this week about the PET scan. First I was told I'd be radioactive for 6 hours afterword and should sit in the back seat when Geoff drives me home. Then I was told I only needed to do that if driven by a pregnant woman. So truthfully, I didn't know what to believe.

The scan was this morning and I'll get the results tomorrow. What happens is they give you an IV with radioactive material and some floro-something-glucose. You've been fasting and so the body will send the glucose to the most active cells. That's how they find the bad cells since they grow the fastest.

This week has been one of pondering the connection between ignoring a lump in my breast and ignoring the signs of a scam. In neither case did I do what I needed to do - logically - to protect myself. My behavior is quite scary and my foolishness just shocking to me. What is this denial of reality all about? Why do I do these things? And what am I being a fool about right now that will bite me in the butt later?

That's why I kind of like not wearing my fake boobs lately. Aside from the fact that the only camisole that's comfortable gave me a rash on my stomach, I am enjoying just being who I really am. I also got myself a medical bracelet to protect my arms when I can't. Really, having a flat chest isn't so bad. It makes me look slim.

I like to remind myself of all I went through and to even scare myself a bit with the scenario that my doc will call me and say they saw something in the scan. Believe it or not, the scenario keeps me grounded. It makes me remember what it felt like the first time I was diagnosed. A little over a year ago. How quickly I forget.

There's something about staying in the dark, rather than being in the light of clarity that has to do with my tendency toward denial of reality. But the dark feels like light to me when I'm in denial. I think I've got this fabulous chance to get paid to shop or I've got this fabulous immunity to cancer with all the natural stuff I do. Then I get hit with the light and I find myself radioactive.

Maybe I just don't want to see the dark or believe in it. Do my clients love me because I am so accepting, understanding and boundary-less? Am I in denial about all of them too? I just don't want my blinders to hurt me anymore.

One dark thing I was sure of was those Nazi flags downtown. The rabbis from Beth El got to work on that and the landlord made him take them down. But then we had another battle with the public menorah that raised its head.

A couple of months ago I heard that the "atheists" in town were emailing and calling the rabbi to protest the menorah. He invited them to his house (like all Chabad rabbis do with everyone) and what I was curious about was, "were they Jewish?" Some Jews are not happy with public displays - separation of church and state and perhaps some fears about being thrown in gas ovens. But Chabad wears its Judaism on it's sleeve, hat, beard, tzitsis, and in your face. And no, they weren't Jewish and only one person showed up to his home.

Their conversation was interesting - of course, I had to ask the rabbi, what ever did he say to this person? The conversation revolved around this woman's fear of people believing in things that aren't real and she hopes for the day that everyone will believe in science and only science. The rabbi's response was to say something like, "Well, I'd be afraid if that happened again since people who only cared about science did some horrific experiments on my people in Nazi Germany."

Anyway, shortly after the Nazi flag fiasco, we started to hear about the city council telling the rabbi that their permit they've given over the years for the menorah lighting should have contained a requirement to have round the clock security. This of course would have made it financially impossible to have the menorah up. Well, the public rose up to support the menorah and the city council "caved". (BTW, all this occurred around the same time as my article was in the paper - and I realized that the editor protected me by cutting out anything that might have caused more controversy.)

So the rabbi wrote us all an email stating that Chabad was now going to host a concert/Chanukah party in tribute to the overwhelming support for the public menorah. He wrote: "The Lubavitcher Rebbe of blessed memory taught us that when faced with adversity, one must endeavor to rise not merely back to status quo, but to greater heights than before. That way the adversity itself becomes a tool for goodness, by becoming the impetus to greater good than before. Light comes not only after the darkness, but from within it!"

These words were really the theme I had rolling around in my mind all through my diagnosis and treatment this past year. They also remind me of the meaning behind the entire Chanukah story when the Hasmoneans won their battle to keep their religion despite Syrian-Greeks slaughtering pigs in the Holy Temple. On the 8 nights of Hanukah, the menorah increases in light each night while the band that will perform in S. Cruz is called, "the 8th Day": - the name may have something to do with Hanukah but I've been told that the #8 is a mystical number because it is outside of the normal 7 days of the week - and represents the miracle that occurred so long ago. The 8th Day band is an Hasidic rock band that has the rabbi's cousin as a member. I've always been their biggest fan in S. Cruz so I think the rabbi is holding this party just for me!!!!

So tomorrow night, I'm looking forward to celebrating more light in S. Cruz at Vet's Hall with the 8th Day band, along with a clean PET scan result. I'll write again this week to report the result to you before we go away for 2 weeks to Palm Desert to be with my parents.