Ice Cream, Sufganiot, Schwarma, and Steak

Posted on December 15th, 2011

There is only one known cure for stomach cancer. If the cancer is localized, then an operation in which the stomach is removed is performed.

On the other hand, if the cancer is determined to be inoperable, the cancer will spread throughout your system, even with aggressive chemotherapy. That is why gastric cancer is the second most lethal cancer in the world.

As far as I can tell, you have to fit into one of two categories to be eligible for this operation:

Either the cancer has to be caught relatively early, in Stage 1 or Stage 2. This is somewhat rare because the disease does not usually present symptoms until it has progressed.

Or you can be Stella.

Now fortunately, while Stella was not in the first category, she is definitely in the second. So we are very much looking forward to the January first operation.

Well not exactly.

Yes, we know that this operation  is a blessing from above and will save Stella’s life. And that really is all that counts.

On the other hand, having a stomach removed is a little bit more complicated than my frequent, spontaneous toenail-ectomies during running season. Yes, you can live without a stomach. It is not so important.

A brain — that’s very important. A heart — critical. But the stomach? The stomach is a like a holding area that allows us to eat huge quantities of food and then spend the rest of the day engaged in non-eating activities while the food is allowed to slowly digest.

So people without stomachs can still eat. They just have to do so in small quantities throughout the day.

Not fun but not too bad when compared with the other possibilities for people with stomach cancer.

Well it sounded like "periwinkle"

And it’s not just the stomach. The surgeon ran through all the stuff he will take out. I think he said ‘stomach, lymph nodes, spleen, derailleur, and her periwinkle.” Of course I may have misheard since after I heard that the operation would be possible, I was just too giddy to pay attention to all those medical terms.

For a few weeks after the operation, Stella will be on an all-liquid diet.

My son Max shaved his head in solidarity when Stella lost her hair. I wonder if he will be hitting the chicken broth in January.

But for right now, we are actively engaged in trying to eat anything yummy around. That means heaps of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Sufganiot (Israeli Chanukah doughnuts), cheesecake, schwarma, and steak, etc. (No, not at the same time.) That means going out to restaurants with friends and giving the old stomach one last chance to do its work.

"Pre-Op Diet"

Of course Stella does not have to worry about gaining weight since she is sure to drop quite a few pounds in the next few months. For myself though, I either have to leave my dear wife to struggle through all the ice cream and cheesecake on her own, or just exercise a little more. Since I have been with Stella every step of the way, I cannot abandon her now as she embarks on her grand eating tour. I figure each pint of B & J is about another hour of running. Not a problem.

Sure there is more preparation for the surgery than eating like a horse. We have had X-rays, and heart scans, and blood tests. Next week we go for a “pre-op” that I hope will not be led by young people who are “pre-med.”

And finally, in the grand count down we will light our Hanakiot (menorahs), look at the flames, and understand completely that miracles are not just Bible stories of days long ago. They can happen every day, and just as I once wrote that lives can be shattered in a single moment, they can also be put back together again just as fast.

See you at the makolet, sushi bar, Gavna, etc

Gotta run. It’s milkshake time.

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel


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  1. Bill Landau says:

    No,no, not the derailleur! Anything but the derailleur! (Gail claims that it was her derailleur that hooked me.)

  2. Dafna says:

    I’ll make sure to eat some B&J’s in solidarity as well, and look forward to eating real food with you again, b’H” around Pesach.

  3. Stephanie Frumkin says:

    Enjoy your eating fest! This story is truly a nes. I am so happy for you guys. May Stella have a refuah shelaima and the operation and recovery go smoothly. I will continue to daven for you, Stella.

  4. minka says:

    Dear Stella and Yarden,
    I was on a liquid diet for WEEKS and it was FINE!!!!!!!!!!! i didnt miss food and since then i try to drink more liquid than i did before as it is soothing and wonderful. I suggest that together you do the liquid diet too! after all yarden, as you said, you have been there with her through it all. …….
    so here is the question: are you allowed to drink “ensure”?????? if so well it is as delicious as a milk shake anyday! and i lived on an ensure for breakfast (i was full after), one for lunch and then some liquid broth, and for supper, liquid chicken soup that was a bit concentrated and delicious! it is very doable. and for energy, apple juice is super.
    i actually didnt know you can live without a stomach! i hope that in japan they do this surgery too, since stomach cancer is common there.
    so if they remove the stomach why couldnt they do this before? so what if the tumor was large? oh well, what does it matter. what counts now is that stella fly through the surgery with ease and she recovers completely and the cancer leaves her body totally, and forever! dear g-d, please please, hear my prayer and please grant stella a life to 120. ok, g-d, 110 is enough too. i will compromise on that. ok g-d?

  5. Paul Goldstein says:

    As my beloved Grandmother used to say, “Es, kinder, es!” Looking forward to having this all behind us with smiles, G-d willing.

  6. Tammy Berman says:

    What a blessing. Enjoy your eating days only to be combined and continued with your living days. I don’t remember ever being so happy to hear that someone will have an operation! Betaiavone.

  7. Sarah says:

    Your family’s joie de vivre is an inspiration. Make mine Edy’s French Silk – it’s divine! (To clarify, it’s ICE CREAM.)

    Have a good Shabbos and eat hearty!

  8. Tova Rubenstein says:

    Hey what’s wrong with two spoons of B&J (- melted of course – liquid-) every couple of hours?? May we all be well enough to keep sipping ice cream together for many years to come!!

    What a way to celebrate chanuka -by spreading light – joy and miracles!!

    Shavvat Shlom
    Tova & Yitzchak

  9. aviva rosen says:

    I hope I can help with the eating craze when I see you/1

  10. Greg Neilsen says:

    I’m all over that Chunky Monkey for ya…. Will be thinking and praying for you and your family. Very happy you can get the surgery. There are countless people here who would give you a stomach if we could. If only I can find someone to give me a brain dump…… Isn’t Einsteins brain in a jar someplace. Gotta get some of that….


  11. Joshua Frankl says:

    Great blog cousin! Super terrific news! Love to all from all. Chag Chanuka Sameach!

  12. Just wanted you to know that I have been following Stella’s progress, though we’ve never met, and have been davening for her daily. My son Moshe is friends with Max.

  13. Rev. Rocky says:

    Stella, Jordan, Family,
    Our thoughts and prayers are with each of you as always and also with the surgical team that God has assembled for this operation. Know that God will be in that operating room because He is motivated by His unconditional love for Stella and her family. May God open the windows of heaven and pour out His blessings upon you like never before. Yes! God is still in the business of preforming miracles and this is our prayer from Drumright, U.S.A.
    Rev. Rocky & Carol & Cameron………..

  14. Moishe Lewack says:

    Stella, Jordan:

    May the operation go well and Stella, may your recovery go even better. Pam and I will be davening for a speedy and complete refuah shleimah for you, Stella. Hopefully there will be new lyrics to Mi Yimalel next year. Chag Chanuka Sameach.
    Love Pam and Moishe

  15. Sarah says:

    Dear Stella & Jordan –

    Emil & I are so happy to hear that the Stella weathered the surgery (never a given!) and is on the road to recovery. When we didn’t hear any news on Sunday . . . or Monday . . . or Tuesday . . . I was really getting worried that no news was bad news. Fortunately, Daniel E. had good news from s/o in Potomac and was able to ease my mind.

    Wishing you a smooth, speedy and complete recovery,

    …….. Sarah