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Cancer and Holidays

Posted 4/22/2016

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  Passover begins this evening. Although I am not Jewish, I am married to a Jewish man, and have spent many years celebrating this holiday with dear friends. This year feels poignant because our annual hosts are moving soon from their home of many decades. They make this move, as many do, with both sorrow and anticipation, moving to a condo where the expense and the responsibilities/work will be less. I am certain that this evening will bring a flood of memories to us all, and I will be thinking, as I do on every holiday, of all of you, all of us, all of the women whom I have known and loved and lost.

  Over the past few weeks, I have been part of many conversations about Passover, preparing for the Seder, remembering a mother or grandmother's recipes, and, sometimes, painfully acknowledging and fearing this may be the last spring. On these notes, I commend this wonderful essay by Susan Gubar to you:


A Bittersweet Passover: Cancer, Remission and Change

Despite good news about my cancer treatment, it has been a hard winter, so I am looking forward to Passover. By retelling the story of the Jewish people’s escape from slavery in Egypt, the Haggadah — the text recited at the annual Seder — celebrates deliverance and springtime renewal. How would its rituals and prayers resonate for me this year, when cancer concerns were unexpectedly supplanted by other tribulations?

Alesha, the research nurse of my clinical trial, informed me in February that she and my oncologist were requesting an amendment of the Phase 1 study rules on my behalf. Since August 2012, I have driven up to Indianapolis every month for tests that have charted my vital signs and the CA-125 blood marker of ovarian cancer. The signs remained good, the marker stayed low, and each month Alesha passed over another bag of the experimental pills. Soon the leash tying me to the hospital will loosen. Maybe I will get two or even three months of pills all at once.

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