Did You Win?

Posted on July 12th, 2013

A few years ago, I ran the Tiveria Marathon and finished with a great time. I was very proud and happy with my accomplishment. When I got home, I started telling a friend about it.

“I had a great run in Tiveria.”

“Really! That’s Terrific! Did you win?”

“Eh, no.”

“Well what place did you come in?”

“About 215th”

“Oh. Is that good?”

Of course, I don’t blame him. He was thinking that I was in a competition and said I did really well. Why would he not expect that I might have won? How could he know that despite any dreams to the contrary I may have, there is no way that I or anyone else reading this blog is going to win a major marathon. Elite athletes from all over the world come to these things. Not only do they train full time, they have natural gifts that only a tiny fraction of the world’s population have.

It is not that I wouldn’t enjoy winning a big race, but let’s face it, it is not physically possible. And that’s fine with me because setting a personal best is my real goal when I run.

This week we got what I consider great news. The marker that measures the activity of the cancer was “very good.” Technically, it was “3.6.”

And that means as much to most people as saying that you ran a marathon in 3 hours and 14 minutes.

Absolutely nothing.

So it is only natural to get questions like:

“Does this mean that Stella is cured?”

“Does this mean that you won’t have to do any more chemo?”

Unfortunately, the answers are both no. We are told that there is as much chance of Stella being completely cured as me winning a marathon.

BUT — that fact does not mean I can’t be ecstatic about the news. Because it does mean that the cancer is not spreading and that we can take a month break from the chemo. And perhaps we will have future breaks in treatment to be able to do the things we want to do. And that’s the real, achievable goal.

You have to have realistic goals. Otherwise whatever you are doing, you are sure to fall short and that can be really depressing.

If I thought that the only reason to run a marathon is to win, I would never run. It’s like giving up on cancer treatment because you know it can’t lead to a complete cure.

Sometimes you can set a personal best just by getting out of bed.

And if THAT is our goal, then we will keep on achieving it for a very long time.

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel


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  1. Linda Dempster says:

    Good news for everyone! after the time prediction for Stella 2 years ago I am not giving up on believing she can beat this totally! I have faith Stella you can win!

  2. Sarah says:

    Beautiful analogy, really puts things in perspective. Good Shabbos to you, Stella, and the kids.

  3. Gary says:

    You are both winners!

  4. Kira N says:

    Thank you for bringing the analogy to help clarify.
    One of the things I’m learning in our path is that people have well-meaning questions, but often they don’t match the answers that I can provide. Hence my recent post: the importance to just “be there” holding hands and offering support. It’s not about the questions OR the answers – it’s about the relationship that’s much deeper. (Dare I say “not about the bike”?!)
    Of course, I don’t know what your numbers mean… and it doesn’t matter that I don’t know. What I know is that you (both of you) are an inspiration, and I am blessed to have you in my life to share our milestones and our grief.
    Praying for strength and continued “good numbers” for both of our families. Amen!

  5. Mush says:

    Good news – enjoy the month “off” and what a great time when the kids are on vacation!

  6. Dror says:

    Beautiful piece and so true

  7. Lauren Lieberman says:

    So glad to hear the news that you’ll get a month off from treatment. The analogy and writing are beautiful. Sending love, Lauren