June 26, 2014

Send Dunava to Bulgaria


There are only three more days left if you want to help Dunava get to Bulgaria. Our web campaign Send Dunava to Bulgaria closes on Sunday June 29 at 11:59 PM PDT. We're at 73% of our goal. Please feel free to share the link and tell your friends. Even clicking through to visit the page helps Dunava gain visibility. Thank you again to all those who have donated!

Post-Xeloda stuff

I finished my recent round of Xeloda last Saturday and by Monday the side effects kicked in hard. Painful numb feet (neuropathy and Hand-Foot Syndrome), cracked and painful hands (Hand-Foot Syndrome again), fatigue, diarrhea etc. Plus Rik is away and so I have picked up all his daily chores in the meanwhile, such as waking up at 6 AM to feed the dogs, walking the dogs twice daily, and more. It makes me more tired than usual, and perhaps that's why I feel the Xeloda after-effects more than usual.

I had my last major infusion (before going to Bulgaria) of Avastin, Aredia and Faslodex yesterday. It took more than three hours plus the time I waited for Dr G to sign the orders. (I do think he's the best, but getting the details done while I wait just frustrates me.) Then of course I had to fight rush hour traffic, feed and walk dogs. By 6 PM I was crashing. Good thing I predicted this would happen and moved choir rehearsal away from here so that I could sleep.

Rik texted me at 1 AM this morning. (I don't think he read the time difference correctly.) But it was our first chance to "talk" since he left. Even though texting is no substitute for a real conversation, we got caught up a bit.

June 19, 2014

E B, phone home!

I know you're out there….Hope you're feeling better and better every day and that you'll be back in touch soon. Wishing you a full and complete healing of body and soul.

June 16, 2014

6th Yahrzeit

Today is the sixth yahrzeit (annual memorial) for my father, may his memory be for a blessing. Last night I lit the 24-hour yahrzeit memorial candle, which is still burning as I type now.

Rik woke me at 6 AM this morning so that I could get to morning minyan (service) on time. I arrived by 7:10 and my friend D was already there. We had a minyan of 10 people by 7:45 or so. As the only Kohen present, I was offered the first aliyah. I'm sure my dad would have been proud, since he's the one who taught me how to do it. I remember my first summer at Camp Tel Yehudah. I had been offered an aliyah and I had to call home "collect" to get my correct Hebrew name from my parents. (You have to be old enough to remember what "calling collect" means.)

D ended up saving the minyan. No one had prepared the Torah reading, and when the man leading the services asked if anyone could sight read the portion, D said yes, if she could use a chumash (a printed book of the Torah). She did a marvelous job, leyning (singing) the trope (cantillation) in the lovely melody she learned from a friend. Imagine sight-singing a new piece of music, in front of other people, when the words are in another language, and you'll understand the feat D pulled off today.

In our congregation, at daily minyan, those observing a yahrzeit have the opportunity to hold the Torah scroll while reciting the prayer El Maleh Rachamim (God full of compassion). I held the Torah, sang El Maleh for my dad, and then told a short story about him:

When we were on a family trip to California in the mid-70s, we drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles. ALong the way we stopped at San Simeon for a night and stayed at a motel on the beach. We drove up and father said, "Take off your shows." We looked at hime like he was crazy. "Take off your shoes!" OK, we took off our shoes. Then, before checking in to the reception desk, he walked my mom, my sister and I to the edge of the beach, and told us to dip our toes into the Pacific ocean. That, he said, made us cross-country travelers. (As New Yorkers, we had of course been in the Atlantic ocean many times.)

It's especially sad to remember my father this year, when Father's Day and his yahrzeit coincided. Zichrono l'vracha, may his memory be for a blessing to all who knew him.

Shimon Shir ben Zalman haKohen uMiryam, 1985

June 13, 2014

Just feeling a little tired

I started round 17 of Xeloda this past Sunday. My tumor markers are up a bit, but Dr G says "that's just noise." Meanwhile I'm still taking my chemo cocktail and we might change to something else later this summer.

So far tithe Xeloda is making me feel a little tired, as usual. The Hand-Foot Syndrome + neuropathy + fatigue usually have me on the couch by 4 PM. Today the plain chocolate birthday cake for Rik and the walnut-black pepper biscotti he asked for are still in the oven. So my nap will be delayed.

It's not actually the sleeping so much, although I did take a major nap on Monday -- fell asleep around 4 PM, woke up at 9:30 PM when Rik said "Jill, it's time to go to bed," and after eating a leftover slice of pizza, got into bed at 11 PM, took an Ambien, and slept until 11 AM. That's not my usual pattern, when you hit the wall, you hit the wall. Hard.

I will fold clean laundry, make the bed, finish the cake in time to drive to G and D, and maybe snooze in the car. Rik's not home yet.

June 07, 2014

Feeling better and better

It's been a week full of feeling (mostly) well and energetic. I actually cooked every night, real food, not just pasta. I only seriously crashed on one afternoon. I led the Yizkor memorial service at synagogue for Shavuot, and was powerfully moved. The next day I realized it was the 25th anniversary of my friend Charisse's yahrzeit.

While I was out buying groceries yesterday, I went through the U Village's sidewalk sale and found a great pair of sandals to wear to Bulgaria and a red dress to wear on stage. Later we sat down to Shabbat dinner with 11 friends who ate everything! (Of course, they brought half the meal.) And today I led musaf services and sang one melody I learned from Charisse. That was a powerful moment too.

On the other hand, my feet continue to hurt from Hand-Foot Syndrome, I'm still trying to figure out travel stuff (although I did apply and was approved for the Bank of America travel VISA card, 0% APR for the first year, no annual fee, chip and sign, and NO FOREIGN EXCHANGE FEES! I should really make a travel to-do list.

And on the other hand,  as Tevye would say, the weather is sunny and warm, my garden is thriving even if I haven't weeded in weeks, and I came home from synagogue to find Rik asleep in the hammock with Boychik the dog. Some things are just perfect; wish I'd taken a photo.