Friday, October 29, 2010

Baruch Dayan HaEmet - Blessed is the True Judge.

My heart is broken. 
We have lost our friend, our cheerleader, our advocate. 

Baruch Dayan HaEmet - Blessed is the True Judge.

This is the blessing said upon hearing the news of someone's death.

About 11:10 AM this morning (Friday), RivkA passed away.

Funeral plans are in the process, and we'll post them as soon as we know.

May RivkA's family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Please daven (or send happy thoughts) for the memory of RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,RivkA's family

Please leave a message for RivkA's grieving family and friends on her blog.

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Update from RivkA

Yea!  RivkA must be feeling better and the hallucinating must be gone,
if she is up for company. Momma Mindy

 A post should be up here later today, as dictated by RivkA.

Important: As opposed to yesterday (Sunday) -- today friends are welcome to visit RivkA, for short visits.

Also, please be understanding that you may have to wait a bit to see her (depending on the number of people in her room).

Please understand that family conversations with RivkA will take priority over visitors.

RivkA’s looking forward to seeing you!

And she specifically told me last night, "tell people to check the blog for updates."

On behalf of RivkA,


Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,RivkA

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Death Be Not Proud

Posted originally by RivkA 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

While we are waiting and praying,
longing to hear good news,
I wanted to repost a blog from a year ago.


You know, I am good. I mean, I have cancer and everything, but I am good.

Mostly, I feel good, and I do things, and I even work a bit.

Most of the time, I do not feel that cancer defines me.

But it does.

I am unquestionably in the cancer world.

Even taking chemo in pills (at home), I still have to go to the hospital several times a month -- for doctor's visits and blood tests (every 3 weeks) and my bone treatments (once a month).

But that is not all. No, no, that is not all.

I also have to go to the hospital for regular CTs, MRIs, bone scans, echocardiograms, ultrasounds, and whatever other tests or procedures are deemed necessary by my team of medical caregivers.

Everywhere I go, I meet other cancer patients.

Over time, many of the cancer patients get better and "disappear" back to their "old life," the life without cancer.

But not everybody.

Some people, like me, are not going to get better. We meet regularly, week by week, month by month. We get to know each other. We get connected.

Many are like me. They are good. They are living with their cancer, and they are really living. Struggling, like me, but living. Even, I would say, living a good life.

But not everybody. Not all the time.

Sometimes people disappear and I do not know why. Have they simply switched treatment days or....? I am afraid to ask. Afraid to know.

It is hard. Hard to keep hearing about people dying of cancer.

Hard to keep my head buried in the sand, denying the threat of death, when death is all around me.

When I was first diagnosed, I stumbled onto the devastating statistics: five years after diagnosis, only 20% of women diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer are still alive.

I desperately needed to find other young women who were living with cancer for more than 10 years, to know they existed, to know it was possible, to believe that I could be one of them.

It was surprised (though I should not have been) that it was not easy to find these women.

I contacted Sharsheret, a support organization connecting young Jewish American women with breast cancer, who connected me with an amazing woman. Though extremely private about her cancer, she generously shared details of her challenges and accomplishments. She was still working, full time, as a professor in a university! She inspired me, and gave me hope. I spoke with her several times, until I found more local support via Beit Natan.

I just found out that, a year ago, she passed away suddenly, leaving behind 8 children. She battled cancer for around 10 years.

Her sudden death shocked those around her. But not me.

I have already learned: cancer is devious.

A cancer patient can seem fine one day, and the next day is critically ill. The situation can revert back to being stable or the patient can be dead within a few weeks. There is no way to know.

We never know.

Every death is devastating. Another reminder that living with cancer is uncertain.

Everything can change in an instant.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


footnote: Death Be Not Proud, by John Donne (Link includes full poem and Wikipedia article)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

RivkA's Message - Coping With Adversity

RivkA, from Coffee and Chemo,
 has been receiving more radiation and is currently hospitalized. 
On her October 6 blog, she lists her symptoms. 
Some of you can relate to her misery.

1.Lip still numb

2.Rt. Foot still swollen and sore

3.Still Balding from radiation.

4.Hands and Feet still red and peeling

5.Still bruise fast and heal slowly.

6.Still have severe back pain.

7.Still have hip pain and muscular pain.

8.Still have issues with constipation and stomach cramps

9.Still have low appetite and nausea

10.Still feel tired and weak.

But, you also know this about RivkA,
she loves to face whatever life brings
with love and optimism.

While in the hospital,
RivkA had a friend post a series of
videos from a motivational message she recently gave.
Her heart is still to encourage others
as they each face their own trials.

Follow the link to watch-

Her confidence and calmness is contagious.
May her words help you face your trials
with love and optimism.

(posted by Momma Mindy)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tough Times

(cross posted from Coffee and Chemo)

Summer is over, and I have been having a tough time.

Thank God, I had the strength to do things with my kids.  We all really had a great summer.

That said, I spent most of my time in bed.

I am still trying to find the right balance of pain meds.  This Thursday, I consulted with the pain specialist at my hospital and he said I should up the dose of my pain patch by 50%.  I will try it, starting tomorrow, when I switch the patch.

Meanwhile, I am so tired, I just want to sleep all day long.  I read a bit here and there, and then I am ready to go back to sleep.

The cancer makes me tired.  The chemo makes me tired.  The pain makes me tired.  The pain meds make me tired.  My kids make me tired.  Doing everything makes me tired.  Doing anything makes me tired.

Complain, complain, complain.....

Friday, July 23, 2010


We all face certain choices every day. Some are easy – paper or plastic, soup or salad – some are difficult – should we have another child or not? Being diagnosed with cancer gives one another entire set of choices; ones that have not been given any thought before the occurrence. These include chemo or not, radiation or not, and others. My choices were, lumpectomy, single mastectomy or bilateral mastectomy, and, reconstruction or not? I chose bilateral mastectomy, but I also chose to be tested for the BRCA gene since the history is so strong in our family. When the test came back positive, I knew I had made the right choice.

The choice for chemo was another that was not so difficult. One wants to do what they can to insure against recurrence. The choice for radiation was not so easy. By the time I was ready for that stage, I had developed a painful condition involving a nerve that had gone haywire in my armpit. Radiation has a reputation for doing the same type of damage that I was already experiencing. It was a more difficult choice. In the end, I chose not to have it, partly because of all the complications involved and partly because of the difficulties with my insurance company.

After treatment, there are still more choices. For those of us with hormone linked cancer, there are several different hormone therapies available. This was a choice that, initially, I thought was easy, but since has become difficult. The year prior to my cancer diagnosis, I had a stroke. I was extremely fortunate that the blood clot somehow was redirected into my eye, instead of my brain. I had a small blind spot for a short amount of time, but there were no long term disabilities. Since the hormone therapy drug, Tamoxifen, has been linked to increased risk of stroke, we went with one of the other choices. After taking Arimidex for about a month, I had a bad reaction to it. Very bad. I was hospitalized. In the psych ward.

It took a while to get at all figured out, but now I was faced with a new choice. Hormone therapy or not? Tamoxifen or not? Cancer or stroke? Which one was I willing to take a chance on? I din’t like this choice at all. I chose Tamoxifen, accompanied by Aspirin and said my prayers. So far so good.

Now I’m faced with another choice. Since my last surgery, I have been feeling increased amounts of pain in my shoulder area. They think it’s a compressed nerve, but they don’t know where it’s being pressed or what is doing the pressing. The pain goes all the way from my ear to the outer part of my shoulder, into my chest and partway on to my back. It’s a large area and it’s a severe pain. At first they started me on some medication that is commonly used for nerve pain, but my reaction was severe and similar to the one with Arimidex. It seems that I cannot tolerate drugs of that class at all. So my choice is live with the pain or live with the possibility of another bad reaction. I don’t like these choices at all. I don’t know what to do or who to turn to. I’d like a different choice.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's That Time Again

(cross posted from Momma Mindy's Moments)

It's that time again.

I had my six month routine blood work
to find out the status of the cancer
that has staked a claim on my body
with squatter's rights.
In a few weeks, I will have a sonogram.

In January, cancer was discovered for the third time,
but my body didn't absorb radioactive iodine,
so it couldn't be used as a treatment.
It's too soon for another neck surgery.
So I wait,
and wonder
if they will grow or spread.

I always feel a little apprehensive,
so I commit my concerns to the Lord in prayer,
and try not to take it back out of His hands with worry.

But, I always know,
that little band-aid on my arm,
could be the beginning of another life change for me.

As I was leaving, my endocrinologist cheered me on,
as she is good at doing,
by complimenting
"You're such a brave young woman."
The good news is,
she thinks I am young.

But, the brave part,
I'm not sure about.
I appreciate her warmth and her encouragement,
but I am not brave.
I just have cancer.

People with bravery
rescue other people from drowning and car wrecks.
Brave people jump out of airplanes,
climb Mount Everest,
live in the jungles as a missionary,
and walk on the moon.

I am not brave by character,
my situation forces bravery
because the only alternative
to living with cancer,
if you can't be cured,
is dying with it.

So, if that is all it takes to be brave,
I hope she calls me brave for
many years.
I would like to someday be a
"brave, old woman."

So, my heart and mind are swirling
with prayers and scenarios,
as I consider what the future might hold,
it's that time again.