Three Cups of Cancer, To Go

Posted on July 4th, 2011

The only thing we have learned to expect these days is the unexpected. Here we thought we would have a “day off” and I even planned to get a little work done.

That’s when the doctor called and asked us to come in for a “quick” procedure. Now, I have learned that words like “quick” have different meanings when it comes to hospitals. Here we were figuring we would swoop in to the hospital, do this procedure and continue with our day. Not exactly.

When you hear phrases like “ten minutes” in a hospital, the actual meaning might be “an hour.” It might be “three hours.” And it might even mean “all day.” The only thing it will most definitely NOT mean is “ten minutes.”

So after the procedure (which I will get to in a minute,) we were shown to a small room with a bed and a chair (you can guess which one I got) where we waited for “observation.” This was an ideal situation for my new iPhone. Or it would have been… if I had remembered to keep the battery charged.

Without the Internet, magazines, or any distractions (admittedly poor planning on my part), the whole process was about as much fun as taking a long flight that goes nowhere and has no movies. The only thing to do is try and get some sleep in a chair (and play with the blood pressure machine until the nurse caught me and scolded me.)

By the way, another concept related to hospitals that makes no sense is food. I am firmly convinced that the entire Israeli socialized medical system is being subsidized by the sale of tuna sandwiches in the cafeteria. The price of the tuna, the pie, even the ice coffee bears no understandable relation to the cost of the food. Eating anything at the hospital makes even the food at airports seem both tasty and reasonably priced.

But I digress.

They wanted to take some fluid from Stella’s abdomen (I know, I know, TMI — but that part is crucial to the story.) The good news is that a CT scan showed the cancer had not spread to her chest and now they just have to make sure it is not creeping up elsewhere. So after the procedure we had what I think (and hope) is an “only in Israel” experience.

The nurse came out of the procedure room and handed us what looked like several cups of take out (take away for Israelis) chicken soup for Shabbat. When I asked her what exactly we were supposed to do with a few cups of cancer, she said that we had to find our doctor and give the soup to him. Of course when we took the rather nasty containers up to the floor our doctor was on, we did not see him. We did see a big crowd of people hollering for attention at the reception desk.

So I took the special packages from Stella (who is a bit more shy than myself) and pushed my way up to the front of the desk. I set them down in front of everyone and boldly declared “This is the fluid from my wife’s abdomen. Our doctor wants it.”

That seemed to do the trick. The crowd backed a way a few steps and piped down.

So now we are waiting for them to sample the soup so we can move on to the next step on this journey.

Throughout everything, Stella still smiles and thanks every doctor, nurse, and orderly. She is still feeling alright and taking her famous six A.M. walks with the dog. I can never feel too depressed when she gives me her sweet smile with the sparkle in her eyes. If you know Stella, I’m sure you know the look I’m talking about.

The song for the day is an old favorite from Tom Petty that all of us in the forty and up crowd will recognize:

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day, you see one more card
you take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part.

Baby, your the only one that’s every known how
To make me wanna laugh like I wanna laugh now
I said yeah, yeah

The waiting is the hardest part

I’ll be your bleeding heart
I’ll be your crying fool
Don’t let this go too far, don’t let it get to you

The waiting is the hardest part


Share this article: Tell a Friend


  1. Karen Rabin says:

    Hey Stella,
    Just letting you know I was thinking of you and wanted you to know that my grandfather had stomach cancer and beat it. He lived to be 89. Not long enough as I miss him to this day(he’d be 114 now, little too much to expect), but not too shabby.
    Knock ’em out!(tears down my face as I write).
    May you go from strength to strength,both of you.
    Love you so much.

  2. Stew Gottlieb says:

    Just to let you know that Susan and I are davening for a Refuah Shlaima

  3. Ellen says:

    Thinking about you all and davening for you every day. Loved Yarden’s “drasha” on Stella’s Hebrew name, and I now think about this every time I say it. (And, Stella is simply a star.)

    We are the few among so many who will be available for whatever you need.

  4. devora zack says:

    hey yarden – stay brave and strong with your unique humour and spark.
    stella – you are so incredible and special and your love and life force energy is the strongest around. i miss and and love and pray for you daily. love, devora xoxo

  5. aviva rosen says:

    Jordan, where are you digging up these songs? Good job! Good thing those 3 cups didn’t make it down to the cafeteria next to the tuna sandwiches! Keep the updates coming…
    With lots of love from Potomac

  6. Debbie and David kaler says:

    you are in our thoughts and prayers. We know you can beat this !!!!!! They say humor is the best medicine and Yarden is such an inspiring writer, his thoughts permiate our souls and imbue us with the strength to help you beat this. Take care…… The kaler Family…..

  7. Ken says:

    Hey Stella and Yarden,

    Hang in there! Much love from Philly comin’ your way.

  8. Donna Goldman says:

    Hi Stella and Jordan,
    You are in our thoughts and prayers – both of you. Just remember that statistics and survival rates don’t mean a thing. You are you – not a statistic – and you both are surrounded by love and support. It will bring you through this experience.
    A year or so before my own cancer, and while my sister in law as coping with hers, I remember reading Cokie Robert’s book about her mother’s cancer and how that experience changed everyone in all the circles of connection. It was a very powerful book, and it changed my thinking.
    I am now 10 years out from my stage 3 melanoma – so I know that you will all change and grow stronger, as will all your friends, family, and their friends and family as we all support each other. Life will never be quite the same, but it will always be special.
    All my love and prayers,

  9. libby anfinsen says:


  10. Sarah Cohen says:

    Stella and Jordan, words can’t even begin to express. You are in my prayers every day. May you always have laughter and high spirits to get you through the tough times ahead. Love, Shane, Sarah and kids

  11. Poppy Wagner says:

    Dear Stella,

    I am Sari Holtz’s grandfather about whom you inquired concerning my cancer (now in remission). I know where you are at and can only suggest to you that there is “light at the end of the tunnel.”

    You will be in my prayers and I know that Sari will keep me continually informed as to your welfare.

    May Hashem grant you a refuah shelemah bi’mehayrah.

    Poppy Wagner