Blood, Sweat, and Fears

Posted on January 30th, 2013

The day, like almost every Monday, starts with a blood test. As soon as we get to the hospital, blood is drawn from Stella’s port and tested by the lab to see if she is strong enough for the day’s treatment. Occasionally, low blood cell counts have caused the cancellation of the day’s chemo. While we usually dread the chemo sessions, there is actually something quite unsettling when the day is cancelled.

We get all psyched up (I put on my favorite shirt in the morning and pick a song of the day) and mentally prepare ourselves for the ordeal. While Stella takes a reflexology session, I go on Facebook and rally the troops. I guess that we feel when we are doing the chemo, we are actually fighting the cancer even if it’s tough. So when the day’s battle is cancelled, it leaves us at a loss. I am quite nervous while waiting for the test results.

A few months ago, Israel was poised to launch a ground invasion of Gaza to stop the rocket-fire coming out of the strip. Although such an operation would have been difficult and certainly caused casualties, I heard from many soldiers who were bitterly disappointed when it was cancelled. They would rather go through the hardship and risk because they knew they were going after terrorists and protecting Israeli civilians. After psyching themselves up for the battle, it was a bit of a let down to stand down.

So even though there are obvious differences, I think we can relate.

If the blood test is all right, then Stella first gets a bag of saline and then if that goes o.k., she gets a few bags of the nasty. That’s when things usually get difficult for both of us. Stella often starts to feel sick and knows that the feeling will last most of the week. I drive myself nuts with worry for her and just try to will the medicine to go faster so I can get her home and into bed. Safe. (Yeah, right.)

I don’t really sleep at night. I get a few hours here and there and watch the clock creep towards dawn. I am exhausted most of the time, but instead of sleeping, I exercise. Like nuts.

Suffering in the Alps

Suffering in the Alps

Right now I am doing the “Tour of Sufferlandia,” an eight day indoor cycling stage race. The workouts are videos that you watch while riding your bike on an indoor trainer. They are very, very intense and by the end everything in sight is covered in sweat. For me, they are a real escape. Instead of sitting next to Stella in chemo, I am racing up the Alps with the best bikers in the world. For an hour or two, I have my own reality and can get away from the fears that now accompany us every minute of the day.

What is really cool is that there is a Facebook group for those of us who enjoy riding ourselves into a mush each night. Usually riders comment on their experience with the day’s stage, talk trash, make jokes, etc. But when I posted that I was doing the ride after 8 hours sitting next to Stella in chemo, I got some wonderful messages of support from all over the world.

Here’s an example:

Yarden- we ALL should be riding for you and your wife. Woke up sore, destroyed, and deflated but after reading your comment above, I just rearranged my work schedule to come home at lunch and ride Stage 4. I wasn’t going to ride until tonight, now I can’t wait

Whoever you are, we love you.

And that’s good. Because feeling connected with people keeps us both going.

For those who did not read or understand the subtle way I gave an update in the last post, let me be more clear.

The cancer became resistant to the last chemo treatment we were on and started to grow. Stella has been switched to a much more aggressive medicine. It’s like putting down the pistol and bringing in the tanks. And while tanks are much more powerful in destroying the enemy, they tend to wreck pretty much everything in their path while doing so.

So this chemo has been very hard on both of us and the kids. We have been spoiled the last few months because Stella was feeling good. Now she has treatments on Mondays two consecutive weeks with the third week off. The effects last almost the entire week.

That means that we need to bring back the old rules. Please e-mail before visiting. Please talk to me before you decide to make us a meal (Note: this is NOT a request for meals.) And please forgive me if I tell you to F* off. (No, I don’t really do that, but I can be quite nasty when things are not going so well.) Remember the tip: If you hear music despite the headphones, and I’m singing/screaming, avoid at all costs.

And, of course, please continue to have Stella in your prayers.

The difference between running and bike riding is that running is constant work. On the other hand, when you are on a bike, every now and then you come to a nice downhill. You sit back, feel the breeze, take a drink and just coast along until the next hill. Then you have to work hard again.

And that’s what we have to do now.

And ride for the dawn.

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel

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Comments

  1. rutimizrachi says:

    Your comparison about the war (or near-war) is very apt. As is your allusion to bringing in tanks to replace a pistol. Keep sweating your way toward the dawn, dear friend. Stella’s Army will keep doing our best to cheer you both on toward ultimate victory. Charge us, as needed. The sidelines are here for you. Just call.

  2. Carol Ginssberg says:

    Yarden and Stella,
    We love you and think of you always and continue to daven with all our hearts, all our strength and all our might.
    Marty and Carol

  3. Devorh {Debbie} Kler says:

    I just can’t write as eloquently as you, Yarden. What can I say ? Where can I find the words to express my love, concern,compassion for all of you? The depth of my feelings are so deep, there are no words in our vocabulary to express these emotions. I’ve known you all for so many years and have been blessed to share a plethora of lifes experiences, mostly good. Now it’s hard. I daven evryday for all of you. Where do you get the koach do exercise the way you do? There are day’s with my illness that I it try’s to bring me way down, like beridden down. I’m at the point where I won’t let it win anymore. I’m just so over it all , no more !!! How do I find that inner strength that Stella have to physically get up and move through the pain. We all need eachother and it does take a village,a world,Hashem to get through our journey’s. I am praying for this chemo to do it’s job, with less down time and more fun time. G-d Bless…..

  4. Iris says:

    Thinking of you both.stella always in our prayers.
    re your comment: “And please forgive me if I tell you to F* off. ”
    Yarden – you never needed an excuse before to do that :)

  5. Moishe says:

    Yarden and Tsuriya Cochevet (Stella)

    You are always in our thoughts and prayers. May only victories and smiles come your way, as you both fight this pernicious disease. Regards and Love from Maryland, U.S.A.

  6. Charles Feinstein says:

    Having been through this fight with my late first wife, the only advice I can give you comes from Rabbi Nachman of Breslov: “You are never given an obstacle you cannot overcome”. This is from Likutey Moharan II, 46. My prayers are with you and your wife. Never give up!

  7. zahava says:

    Words feel so miserably inadequate. You, Stella and your kids are in our constant prayers and thoughts. Wishing you all strength, health, and courage. Stella’s Army joins you in a vigil of love and prayers for healing!

  8. Ruth Novice says:

    As I read your blog I am thinking how it must feel to get such treatment, and how it must feel to see a loved one suffer this way. If my thoughts and prayers could heal you, you would be cured tomorrow. I have such empathy for those who suffer–Hashem spared me most of that. Baruch Hashem.
    So keep it up, and when you are cured at the end, I will, b’n celebrate with you.
    All my thoughts and love.
    Ruth

  9. Ruth S. says:

    I am not much of a rider, but I will walk to the Kotel for Stella and beseech the heavens.