In honor of my wife’s memory, and to help continue her amazing legacy, I will be republishing over the next few months some of her writings, which not only give an insight into how amazing she was, but really helped inspire so many people around the world.
My plan is to also publish her writings in a book, along with testimonials from those who were somehow inspired or helped by her (whether by her writings or good deeds). If that includes you, please send your experiences to me at israellycool-at-yahoo-dot-com.
And a Pink Guitar
First published April 4th 2014
I decided on Tuesday, after receiving news for the second week straight that my blood counts were too low for chemo, that in two days time I would be getting my chemo no matter what. The first week, my white blood cells protested and the second week, it was my platelets. I had a count of about 51,000 (normal is between 150,000-450,000/mcL). I asked my oncologist, What can I do to increase my platelet count? The answer: Nothing – just wait, only time can heal it. But I don’t have time!…. I cannot come back here next week! Pessach (Passover) is coming! So I asked, May I come back and try again on Thursday, in two days? My oncologist looked at me with a tilted gaze, the kind eyes twinkled and he said, It’s very unlikely that your blood counts will recover in such a short time but if you’re willing to come back here, I’ll do what I can to make it happen. David and I left cognizant we’d be back in less than 48 hours. I was deflated knowing we were giving cancer the advantage again. Come on blood! Stop betraying me! I need to be treating this, not letting yet another week go by without chemo!
The next two days were a bit somber. There really isn’t any way to force red blood cells to proliferate for the purpose of taking chemotherapy drugs. I already begged my oncologist to, “just give me a transfusion or something to make my cells behave,” but that’s not an option. Blood transfusions are to save lives in critical situations. If chemo is administered after a transfusion, the cells are decimated. It’s like trying to contain sand in a sieve… completely futile. By Wednesday night, I was a complete mess. Even though I’d prayed and willed my bone marrow to comply, it might not have been enough.
On Thursday morning, I woke up with an extra jolt. We flew through the morning routine and arrived at the extra busy Oncology Day Ward by 8:40 am. I was pumped. Suddenly, I knew I’d be getting chemo and I was happy about it. A couple of hours later, we received confirmation that my platelet count had gone up to 93,000 which, was just enough to receive treatment!
While enduring the usual waiting around, I was uplifted with company of women I’d met along my life journey and my cancer journey and reunited with in the Chemo Lounge. My room mate, R., from my last surgery, L. from the cancer retreat, and an old colleague from my days of working as a physical therapist. Coincidences don’t exist, so when I meet people I didn’t expect to see, I’m honored; I get excited. Tali, a special soul, and a longtime NICU nurse, 1 floor up, came to visit me too. Sometimes, I withdraw into my own bubble at chemo and I can’t really socialize with the other patients. Other times, I speak a lot with the other oncology patients and it really inspires me and gives me strength. Thursday was a good day. We made it into a really happy day in the Chemo Lounge at Shaare Zedek Medical Center… and there was even a Medical Clown. We finally signed out after 2:30 pm, with an appointment in 21 days time. I’m free!
This was my first time getting a dose of Gemzar only. I did receive a reduced dose due to the trouble with my blood counts so I have no idea what to expect. How bad will I feel? I hope not too bad but I really don’t know. Shortly after arriving home, we had a surprise home visit, organized by my brother, Eli, and his wife, Briana and accompanied by my DH, my mom, brothers, SIL, nephews, niece, our children…… Rabbi Shlomo Katz! My brother, Eli, and R’ Shlomo go way back to yeshiva high school days in Raanana and California days.
Friends for about 20 years. They share many memories and one of an infamous friendly basketball game with Matisyahu about 8 years ago… Strumming on my daughter, Maya’s pink guitar, R’ Shlomo agreed to cover his friend, Matisyahu’s amazing song, One Day. One Day is a family favorite, especially for my son, Zachariah, and the lyrics speak to me – today more than ever. #happylanche