I am overcome with many emotions as I write this email. I am not sure of the direction as so many thoughts are racing in my head. First and for most we have tremendous gratitude to Hakodosh Baruchu (G-D) for helping us reach this point in our journey thus far. Although, there is more to come, we are truly filled with joy as we close another challenging and exhausting chapter of the Refuah (healing) treatment. “No More, Never, Never..uh uh uh” was a song we used to sing in school. This song now has new meaning and refers to all the treatments that Benny and all the Cholim (ill) have completed and IY”H will never, ever have to again.
Today, we completed 12 sessions of radiation. I say “we” because it was a group effort. Other than Benny laying on the table by himself for the actual treatment, he was never alone. He had tremendous support from his loving family and friends (some that we know personally and other’s that have enrolled as a Team Benny Members, whom we have not yet met).
When I think of the 12 treatments and how it relates to us today, I reflect on last weeks Parsha. It discusses the greatness of the Twelve Tribes, their qualities, attributes, and greatness. Suppose each time Benny was getting a treatment he was being infused with these characteristics of our great Shevatim (12 Tribes,) one treatment per Shevet?! We also completed the Sefer Bereshis with Chazak Chazak (strength, strength). This is what Benny and frankly his parents needed to get thru the final stretch.
This coming week we begin Sefer Shemos. We begin with the birth of Moshe and conclude with Hashem telling Moshe that the Geula is near.
Having completed 5 rounds of Chemotherapy, MIBG, Stem Cell Transplant and now Radiation, we now enter the final phase of this very lengthy treatment called Immunotherapy.
(Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer and to reduce treatment-related side effects.
The therapy is used to:
- Halt or suppress the processes that allow cancer growth
- Help the immune system identify cancer cells
- Promote the body’s natural ability to repair or replace cells that have been damaged by cancer treatments.
This therapy is given over a 6 day hospital stay, once a month, every 4 weeks for 5 months. Confusing right?!)
Four treatments K’neged (corresponding) to the four exiles we have gone thru as a nation. B”H now we are in the final phase in preparing for the Refuah/Geula (Recovery/Redemption). Rav Avrohom Schorr says (retold by Meira S.), the four exiles, Rome, Bavel, Yovin, Ma’dai, when you take the first Hebrew letter from each word you spell “Rabbim.(many)” When we as a nation act in Rabbim (many) we are in exile. When we unite together as Yochid (one), the Geula will come. Immunotherapy is the body working together as one, to rid the bad and make room for the complete Refuah Shlema to dwell permanently IY”H (G-D Willing).
So how does one celebrate up to this point? Well, we started off by bringing in doughnuts for the staff at UCLA. They in turn presented Benny with a gold medal (rightfully earned), a stuffed super hero Grover and an award certificate. As we headed out and walked to our car in the parking lot, we sort of shouted hooray! yippee! wohoo! Is was too difficult to hold in the excitement. Benny and our son Shmuel Tuvia laughed and thought we were silly. I have to say, it felt great!!!
Grover tried taking Benny’s spot for radiation today!
As I drove out of the parking lot, as I had 11 times prior I hadn’t noticed the building across the street until today. It looked so familiar (check out for yourself below)
When I looked closer I saw the words “Chabad House!” I never knew that it existed at that location. It was so appropriate to discover it on our way out. When I think of the Chabad, I think of unity and all their the extraordinary effort they go to in spreading the greatness of Hashem, in order to bring the Geula Shlema (Final Redemption). I hope it was a sign that the Refuah and Geula are on its way!
We had a couple of hours at home before we had to head out to CHLA to meet with Benny’s oncologist. B”H I was able to prepare dinner and run to the local grocery. While shopping for Shabbos I bumped into the holy Rebbetzin L. who was filled with excitement that Benny finished treatment. Reb. L was actually buying ingredients for a cake that she plans to bake for Benny for Shabbos in honor of his completion of radiation.
The celebration continued later in the day at CHLA with danishes that we brought for our Dr. and hospital staff. We had a lengthy discussion about the next step in the process. Well, that really didn’t count as a celebration! The doctor mentioned maybe we should open a bottle of champagne. And that is exactly what we will do, tomorrow night IY”H by Kiddush. Shabbos can’t come soon enough!
Later this evening I received a couple of emails from special friends stating that they will be dropping off more homemade treats for Benny and our family. A way of showing their happiness and genuine feelings that they are in our journey with us all the way! The pumpkin muffins were delicious Judy P. Thank you!
The emails, the calls, the unbelievable tasty treats honestly take the pain and suffering out of the mix and replace it with true joy and tremendous strength to keep going.
The hour is late. My eyes are closing. No radiation in the AM – hooray!