Each Day Is A Gift: Thoughts Going Into The High Holidays
I am so very lucky. Each day is a gift. Like many others, I wasn’t one of those who did monthly breast exams, but I did find something that shouldn’t have been there. I checked with my doctor, during my yearly exam, and, after some prodding from me, agreed that I should have it checked. A lesson for everyone is to go with your feelings — you are your own best advocate.
July 2, 2019, started me down a pathway I had always feared. Sharing my breast cancer diagnosis with my young adult sons was one of the hardest things ever. Yet, all of them were so supportive. As much as I wanted my surgery to be done ASAP, I had to wait. Prior to receiving the diagnosis, my husband and I had scheduled a trip to visit our youngest son who was working in Israel for the summer. There was no more to do before my surgery, so off we went to Israel. It was really inspiring to be in the land of our people…praying at the Kotel (wailing wall), (in a way I hadn’t on other visits) and relaxing (as much as I could) by the Mediterranean. I knew that once I returned home, the road in front of me would be challenging.
Fortunately, my lumpectomy went well and I started chemo just before Rosh Hashanah and just after school started (I am a preschool teacher at my synagogue). Although I was not able to attend synagogue for the High Holy Days, my family, friends and community rallied behind me. They organized numerous meals to be brought into my home. There were countless phone calls, emails, challahs, flowers, and more. I truly felt the love of my family and our community.
During this time, I researched and tried to do what I could to help myself. Someone had mentioned Sharsheret and I went on the website. I reached out and almost immediately received a return email, immediately followed by a phone call. My Sharsheret social worker was my new friend-I could talk to her and she was there for me. She also sent thoughtful materials that helped both me and my husband during this process.
I went through 5 months of chemo, not one day by myself. Friends and family always…that’s what helped me and got me through those difficult times. I had begun chemo with a positive, upbeat, “I’m going to beat it” spirit. It wasn’t easy, but I dotted every i and crossed every t and did all that was asked of me.
In December, my Mom passed away. Honestly, I sunk to a new low. My last chemo was January 30. To this day, I don’t remember most of December or January–but, I kept on going.
In March, I started my radiation treatments, which, for me, were so much easier than the chemo. This coincided with the beginning of COVID. Each day I drove myself to radiation. Everyone in the world was trying to figure out how to live with COVID and I was figuring out how to come back from a cancer diagnosis–and how to live with COVID.
Throughout my treatment, I kept telling myself…when I am finished with my treatment, I will…..there was a list. I have had to make changes…emails, phone calls, ZOOM calls instead of dinners and celebration thank you parties.
I have gotten through my treatment. I had hope. I have persevered. I have made it. I am NED (no evidence of disease). It still doesn’t end. There is always something. But, I did what I set out to do. It has been a year since I was first diagnosed. Rosh Hashanah will soon be here. I think differently than I did a year ago. I appreciate every day. I am always looking for the good. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. It is difficult to do in this COVID life we are leading, but don’t give up. I am moving into this New Year so appreciative- a new level of appreciation, of my health, my family and my friends.
I will happily celebrate Rosh Hashanah this year, albeit, differently than the past. I have been given this year and I look forward to all that this year will bring (and future years). I am also happy to share my experience and what worked for me. I want you to understand that so many of us have gone through this, in different ways.
We haven’t let this get us down.
We have reason to rejoice and come back even stronger.
I appreciate all that my Sharsheret social worker and Sharsheret have done for me. I have felt a connection with this organization. In February, I was proud to organize a Sharsheret Pink Day with the nursery school staff at my synagogue. Sharsheret is there for you…let them be a part of your life too. As we approach the High Holidays, please consider adding Sharsheret to your list of charities.