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December 15, 2011: Ice Cream, Sufganiot, Schwarma, and Steak

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.

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.

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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