Thursday, April 16, 2009

Surgery Postponed

I met with my surgeon this week and he had me down for surgery at 3pm on the 23rd.

I didn't want to be fasting all day going into this surgery so we changed the date to the 30th instead. It gives me one more week to recover from the last chemo anyway and more time to take the Chinese herbs that keep my immune count up.

The surgeon says that this surgery has very little blood loss which made me feel better. Just postponing it one more week has been such a relief. It's given me a chance to just be happy chemo is all over with before going into the next thing. I'm still tired from the last chemo and need an extra week to feel normal.

I've got lots of TV shows tivo'd and I plan to really rest as much as I can. Doris recommended resting up instead of what I was thinking of doing - organizing and cleaning up. If I feel energetic I will do some of that, but I just don't feel energetic right now.

I even skipped the Moschiach's meal at Bailly's. But I had a nice lunch there yesterday all by myself along with Stefanie. I enjoyed talking with the rabbi and eating Bailly's yummy, pure Pesach food. Bailly's parents were there too, from Crown Heights and it was nice to see them. Her father reminded us that matzo is the bread of faith.

My sister-in-law Wendi sent me a link with 3 videos by a woman who's an incredible inspiration. She's awesome and so cute in her journey with "canser". She's been on interview shows and written books and has a DVD - all of which I'd love to get for myself. Do check her out. If you like what I've been writing, you will flip over her. Watching her videos reminded me of what the rabbi told me about Esther and how Mordechai told her that the Jews were going to be saved on Purim by someone whether she decides to step up to the plate or not.

He reminded me of that yesterday and said he was thinking of me when he spoke about it on Purim. I thought of the time I was asked to be PTA president for Westlake. At first I said, "NO". And after I went home and thought about it, I realized someone would be PTA president and I began to understand what was being placed in front of me. Not only did I fathom how it would help many of the transfers from Natural Bridges for ME to do it but how much it would uplift me to offer myself to that role. A job is placed in front of us and we get to either take it on with the best we have to give or we don't.

I'm glad I get another 2 weeks before I take on my next assignment.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Matzo & More Matzo

We enjoyed our small seder that we hosted at our home with Geoff's parents and our good friend, Jerry. Having Jerry there really gave me a lot of energy and made it a very special night. Jerry's been one of my supporters here on the carepages from the beginning of my journey. I wore one of my blond wigs and felt like I was normal again.

This has been a difficult week in some ways. One way had to do with finally telling the kids that I was going to have mastectomies. Geoff and I were not on the same page with whether we should tell them or not. I wanted to and thought it was the right thing and best for them and best for me. Geoff didn't want to devastate them. It took awhile before he was ok with the idea. It helped when he called the Katz cancer center at Dominican hospital and asked for their opinion.

When I did tell the kids, they were devastated, of course. Luckily, I told them before they had to leave for other things which helped to get them off the subject and back into their own lives. Unfortunately, I was left home alone, crying over how much I have to put my kids through. I decided it was the right time for me to put in the DVD that Wendi had recommended, "13 Going on 30". It did the trick. I really enjoyed it and was able to take my mind off of the depressing thoughts.

Later that evening, Jason, Aimee and I played some board games together and did a puzzle (thanks, Glenna). We were playing one game and Aimee kept rolling the dice and not getting to move time after time after time and it made us all laugh hysterically, so hard our bellies hurt! It just reminded me that we are all resilient and will make it through all of this. I just didn't want to have to hide something from them that would be so obvious. I was reminded by a couple of friends that playing those games and laughing was probably a release from the tension of hiding this from them.

(Maybe I should tell you what I said when I told them about the surgery because this could be useful to someone else sometime. First I told them that in 2 weeks I'll be having surgery and I'm looking forward to getting all this treatment over with so we can go on with our lives. Then I told them that Daddy and I decided that the best way to make sure I never get this cancer again is to have my breasts removed. Then I said that there were things I could wear that would make me look normal most of the time. Then I stopped and asked them if they had any questions. I will leave their reactions out of this to protect their privacy. But I did tell them that this was a 2 hour surgery and that the surgeon said it was the least complicated one that I could have and makes it most likely that I'll never have to face this disease again. I also told them that it was easy because there are no muscles in the breast and they are outside the body and they won't have to go inside my body to take away all the cancer. I answered their questions as best I could without going into too much detail but had to be reminded by Geoff to stop when I went into what didn't need to be told. Then I told them that they could always ask me anything they wanted and I would not be embarrassed or feel bad. Then I reminded them that if they couldn't talk to me, they could talk to Dad and if they couldn't talk to either of us, I named adults they knew that I thought they'd be comfortable talking to.)

So this Passover I've been motivated to try different recipes using matzo meal and potato starch and matzo farfel - for the kids sake. I made some muffins, popovers, and granola. The kids always go to school during Passover and they try to stick to not eating humetz (bread) for the entire 8 days. I think it's been embarrassing for them through the years to bring matzo sandwiches and have kids ask them about it. Kids do say mean things about Jews and my kids have experienced that too.

This week and next, up until the surgery, will be like "matzo and more matzo" for me! You may know this already, but humetz (bread or any flour that has touched water and risen before being baked) represents the ego or arrogance or the belief you are separate from G-d and everyone and everything else. We are not supposed eat any humetz all Passover and not only that, but not be in possession of any humetz in our homes or anywhere else. (It's a huge spring cleaning experience for many Jews). Matzo on the other hand, is baked off before the dough has risen and represents humility and Oneness. So we eat matzo in preparation for the ultimate gift of receiving the Torah which happened 49 days after leaving Egypt. This time, we hope not to build a golden calf by Shavuos - 49 days from now when we celebrate receiving the 10 Commandments.

Going to surgery is like that 49 day preparation for me. I just have to go and leave my own wishes behind if I want to live without fear in the future. I have to surrender my own will and do what is being asked of me. The dreams have started about not wanting to do that and fearing to do that. This is going to be a challenging week.

So I'm scheduling lunch dates and tea dates and walking dates with friends. That's all I can do is connect with the love that's in my life and try to remember that when I get mad at Geoff - it's because I'm on edge right now and it's not about him. And it's not because I'm a bad person. Geoff can be a huge emotional support to me right now when I remember to use him for that and remember that I'm irritable and on edge for a very good reason.

One thing I always love to do during Passover that will be very healing for me this week, is go to Bailly's house on the 8th day - the last day. Of course she does everything anyone could ever do that could be a commandment for Passover. I see her actions as a super-committed spiritual practice that encompasses her entire life and am inspired though I don't do anywhere near everything she does. (Including, among many other things: covering over her kitchen counters with material so that the humetzdik counters won't leach into the pure kosher-for-Passover meals.) But anyway, the 8th day is the Moschiach's Meal where they finally dip some matzo into some water and say goodbye to Pesach and hello to the world to come.

Here's a quote about it from their site:
"Moshiach's Meal
The last day of Passover ("Acharon Shel Pesach") is particularly associated with Moshiach and the future redemption. The Haftarah (reading from the Prophets) for this day is from Isaiah 11, which describes the promised future era of universal peace and divine perfection. Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov instituted the custom of partaking of a "Moshiach's meal" on the afternoon of the last day of Passover; in addition to the matzah eaten at "Moshiach's meal", the Rebbes of Chabad added the custom of drinking four cups of wine, as in the seder held on Passover's first days."

So let me know what your favorite ways to eat matzo are. My favorite is with a bit of cheese melted on top. Or with cream cheese and sardines with a sliced tomato! (My dad taught me that one.) Or with the chopped liver that Rosey gave me that I hope boosts my red blood cell count. Hope your holidays and seders went well.