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August 8, 2011: Fighting Cancer

On Sunday, I had a work meeting downtown. After the meeting, I got on the bus to go home. It was hot and a whole crowd of people were pushing to get on, knowing that most would not get a seat. An older woman avoided the crowd by getting on the bus from the side exit and sitting in a free seat. I happened to be one of the first ones on through the regular entrance. As I was moving back, she handed me her ticket and asked if I would give it to the driver so he would know she had paid.

I took her ticket and tried to make my way back to the driver. This was difficult because people were getting on who were intent on getting a seat. I said “excuse me” in my nicest Hebrew and explained that I needed a second to get up the the driver. But there was one guy who just didn’t care. Rather than letting me through, he pushed me and yelled “move!”

Something in me snapped. I have been walking around with a lot on anger lately. Usually, I can get it out when I run. That’s why some people have said they see me snarling when I go by. But on Sunday I woke up too late for a run.

So without thinking I pushed right back and yelled “F…. You,” right in this guy’s face. He responded by punching me in the chest.

I started losing control and pulled my fist back and for a second wanted nothing more in the world than to beat the crap out of him. In my mind, this guy was Stella’s cancer. I could finally do something to protect her instead of sitting around feeling helpless.

I heard people on the bus start to yell while others jumped out of the way. But mainly I was consumed with rage. I pulled my fist back and was about to throw the first punch I have thrown in a few decades.

But just then I saw an image of Stella frowning. I instantly knew that this was not going to work out well, and she would not have appreciated bailing me out of jail the day before chemo.

No matter how rude this guy was, he was not my real enemy. He was just a guy, not cancer. I dropped my fist and let him pass by. (He did get an earful from the irate older woman who I was helping.) Once again the feeling of helplessness returned.

Today Stella had her second chemo. She was excited to be there because unlike getting into fights on a bus, getting anti-cancer medicine pumped into your body is really fighting cancer. We watched together as the first one, which has a bright red color, dripped from the IV bag into her arm and we both thought of more commandos jumping into the battle. They are outnumbered, for sure. But Stella is the General and she remains confident that the chemo commandos will get the job done.

The other thing that made things a bit better today was that during chemo, I downloaded and started reading this book called “Anti-Cancer,” on Stella’s new iPad. The author, a physician himself who was diagnosed with brain cancer, makes a few fascinating observations. One of them is that all the frightening statistics include everyone with the same condition. They do not differentiate those who have mentally given up with those who are actively fighting back by keeping a positive attitude, eating right, exercising, and supported by a strong group of family and friends.

What he found was that a person’s chances were directly related to the above. While there are no guarantees, one stands a much better chance by taking positive action.

So while Stella would NEVER use a cuss work or punch out a rude guy on a bus, that is exactly what she is doing to this cancer that won’t “get out of the way.” Unlike me, she is reaching back and about to cold cock that cancer right in its face.

As the book says, the support of a circle of those who love you is as important as the chemicals. So consider this the virtual IV.

Thank you from both of us.

Yarden and Stella

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