Words that Scare, Words that Comfort

Posted on July 8th, 2011

Today’s post was hard.


Because we have nothing to report.

No tests, results, meetings, etc.

I originally thought that it would be nice to have a day “off,” but it wasn’t so great.

Someone described  dealing with cancer as “hurry up…..and wait.”

It is very true.

One day the Doctor calls and says “could you just swing by the hospital right now?” and you end up spending half a day there.

Other times, like today, you wait all day to hear test results that just don’t come.

I assume that since it’s now Thursday or Friday (it’s actually 3:00 AM, kinda of in between,) that we must wait until Sunday now to hear the results of the PT Scan.

But what do I know, this is our first time on this ride.

Two weeks ago, I could not say the word “cancer.” The word itself had a power. It felt like if we said it, it would indeed be a possibility. So even though we knew that it was in fact possible, I couldn’t even say the word. I would just get all choked up by the very thought.

There were other words that made me freeze. One day (evening) in the hospital (before the diagnosis,) I happened to look at Stella’s chart. It was all in scribbled, doctor’s writing Hebrew except for one word, “tumor.” I saw that and literally froze. I became a zombie for a few seconds (minutes,) until my friend was able to snap me out.

Now I am trying to take away the power of these stupid words.

Cancer, cancer, shmancer, dancer.

Tumor, Roomer, Schumer (Chuck?)

I still have trouble with the word “oncologist.” For some reason, I get a mind blank and find myself mentioning that we are meeting with the orthodontist, ophthalmologist, or ornithologist (Stella is having her bird checked.)

Another friend suggested that when I freeze up, I focus on a mantra to talk my way out of it.

So first I looked to Mr. Comeback from Cancer himself, Lance Armstrong, for the words of wisdom. I have always liked his quote “pain is temporary, quitting last forever.” It is what he focused on when going through cancer treatment (as well as hammering up the Alps at the head of the Tour de France.) But it isn’t that helpful to me since I am not the one who will be going through treatment.

So I turned to the Chumash, the Bible, for an inspiring phrase. Our friend has a blog called Ki Yachol Nuchal, which is Hebrew for “We shall overcome it!” Joshua says it when the spies come back and tell him that they are afraid that the Land of Israel is too dangerous. They saw giants and said the land would eat everyone up. Joshua knows about the struggles that the Israelite s will face, but also knows that with God on their side, they can accomplish anything.

Now that’s pretty darn good for our situation, don’t you think?

But there are times I feel just overwhelmed and even saying “Ki Yachol Nuchal” is not enough.

That’s when I rely on the words of a friend, who is also one of the wisest men I have ever met.

When I told him that the thought of Stella with cancer was just too much for me to handle, he calmly said:

“Yarden, I hear what you are saying, but with all due respect, you’re full of crap. Of course you can — and will — handle this.”

So when I lie awake at 3:00 AM (or find myself writing posts like this one at that time) and find my worst fears creeping into my brain, I have to chase them away by simply saying:

“Yarden — you’re full of crap. Everything is going to be o.k. Stop listening to your fears and think of the day this will be a distant memory.”

As always, thank you for your e-mails, comments, likes, and prayers.

It’s still a bit too early for my run so I am going to try and grab some sleep now.

Good night/morning.



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  1. Naomi says:

    What a real, beautiful, painful post Yarden. I am davening for Stella, wish I could do more for you. Refuah Shleima – Good Shabbos!

  2. david berman says:

    hang in there. you write super well.

  3. Sharon Baratt says:

    Remember the story about King Solomon’s birthday gift? (Credit entirely due to Robin Ely Goldstein) The bottom line of the mushel is: When things in life are terrific & wonderful remember that this, too, shall pass; when things in life are worse than horrible and you’re looking up to see bottom remember that this, too, shall pass. (credit entirely to Robin Ely Goldstein) This has helped me get through so many challenges in my life.

    Many hugs to both you and Stella! Much love, also.

  4. Golda says:

    Stella and Yarden – thinking of you and wishing you a shabbat shalom. A Shabbat of strength and emunah – in all the brachot hashem has given and will continue to bestow upon you. My dad (zl) survived auschwitz, fought in the war of independence in 1948, and through decades of cardiac illness, he made it with emunah and optimism, his daily mantra ‘today will be a good day’. So it should be for you…a good day today and tomorrow and the day after that…shabbat shalom, from golda and Ned (zahava and nadav)

  5. Amy Werbin says:

    I think Joshua was pretty wise :)! ‘We shall overcome’ is a great mantra. It symbolizes that we are a Klal; a community. We come together to support one another and give each other strength. It may not be our personal experience, but it affects us all in a ripple effect. Yarden & Stella, we are all here to support you — lean on us when you need and draw strength from us! We will repeat this mantra too…We shall overcome!!

  6. rutimizrachi says:

    I just have this picture of the entire yishuv, watching you running a slow-motion race… the “Chariots of Fire” theme is playing in the background… and further in the background is a kind of cheer… It’s all in slow-mo, so it’s hard to discern exactly what the crowd is roaring… Ah… it’s getting louder. There it is! It’s “Yarden, you’re full of crap!…” And Stella is there, nodding with that beautiful smile…

    Okay. Humor not be the best medicine for you. But that image is going to get me through the bumpy days.

  7. rutimizrachi says:

    (And thanks for the shout out, my friend…) Live strong.

  8. Sari says:

    Now I’m up at 3am, reading your post, and wishing my brain were working half as clearly as your does at this hour. But, just a note that while the waiting is extremely difficult, I’d like to think of just one other cliche – ‘good things come to those who wait’ – and to pray that for Stella, and for you, this will be true.

  9. Sari says:

    ps – that is obviously NOT me in that picture – I have no idea why it keeps showing up – if you’re looking for something to do at 3am, maybe you can help me with this puzzle? 🙂

  10. Josh says:

    Well done Cuz! Be well. We are thinking of Stella and you guys. Love from all of us to all of you. The Jersey Frankls

  11. Marcy says:

    I’d like to think that aside from Stella’s usual glow, she was even more flourescent on Thursday not from her PT scan, but because she rode with us Thursday morning. We biker broads are tough and since Ms. “Ki Yachol Nuchal” is one of us, Stella has the message of strength surrounding her! Shabbat Shalom.

  12. Sarah says:

    I’ve often thought that the limbo of waiting for a decision or a response is the hardest state to be in – although this may not apply when “Your wife has cancer” is the alternative. In any case, may Hashem give you and your family the strength to deal with the challenges and uncertainties ahead, and may He grant Stella/Tzuriya Kochevet a complete and speedy recovery.

  13. Rev. Rocky Hankins says:

    Good Morning Stella,Tzuriys Kockevst & Yarden & Family,

    Good things, truly do come to those who wait. Keep telling yourself, I’m not giving up. I am struggling but I’m not giving up. I’ve slowed down a bit, but I’m not giving up. It takes a litle longer these days, but I’m not giving up. The vicissitudes of life have caused my vim and my vigor to wane, but I’m not giving up. God desires that we not live in a weakened state but have power to tread over scorpions and serpents. Power to over come all things. Power to make it through yet another day. God’s Word tells us that His power works best in our weakness. There are a lot of things that can make us physically weak but there are more things that can make us spiritually strong. So my sister and brother, remember, God’s grace is sufficient. There is power, wonderful working power in our weakness. Today in your weakness, you just want the pain of uncertainty to go away, but through this same pain your faith in God is growing. Today in your weakness you want the cancer to go away, but through this bump in the road of life your faith is growing at the same time. Today you want answers, but through the endless agony of waiting your faith will grow to understand that peace doesn’t mean the absence of conflict in our lives. Today we all just want this season of your life to pass but through this season you’re growing to understand that God is there right beside you, He will never depart from you, this is His solemn promise and God has never once broken any of His promises. Not one! I think back to the journey our family took when my son Scott was diagnosed with this terrible disease and a very dear friend of mine described it this way to me and it seemed to have a great deal of meaning and comfort to our family. We are only humans walking down a narrow winding path with only a candle to light our way and its hard for us to see much in the darkness of life but God is sitting on His throne has the flood lights on, He can see everything from beginning to end, fom Alopa to Omega. God is still in charge, He knows what is best for all His children. May He bless you both, your families, your friends and love ones until your cup runneth over with grace, love, mercy, compassion and peace that only He can give.

    Hug’s From Drumright, U.S.A.
    Rocky & Carol & Cameron……………

  14. Nancy says: