Stella’s Story

Stella’s Story


Stella Ogata Frankl was an amazing person that I was blessed to be best friends and soul mates with for 28 years.

One evening she felt a pain in her stomach. A few days later, we were told she had 6 months to live.

When I we returned from the emergency room that June night, people started asking questions. Questions to terrifying for me to answer. So I started writing.

  • June 24, 2011: Married to a Rock Star
    Lately, I have been asking people to pray for my wife’s health. We are anxiously awaiting the results of a biopsy performed on “something” (excuse the medical term) that they found in her stomach. No, they have ruled out leftover cholent beans. Now, I don’t really care if you are a black-hatted, beard-to-the-ground Satmar Hasid, a lesbian, pregnant Reform rabbi, … Read more
  • June 30, 2011: Sing a Song for Stella
    My Friends, I promise to be honest with you and share with you what we are going through. It is very helpful to us both to know that we are not alone. Far from it, there are people all over the world who are praying for Stella and rooting for us. So I promise that we will keep you all … Read more
  • July 3, 2011: We have something to tell you
    Dear Friends, We need to tell you something. It’s something we have known for a couple of days “unofficially,” but it is still difficult and frightening to say. Especially now that it is official, confirmed, with no more “slight chance” of error. I am going to whisper it at first. Lean in close, this is tough to write. Stella has … Read more
  • July 4, 2011: Three Cups of Cancer, To Go
    The only thing we have learned to expect these days is the unexpected. Here we thought we would have a “day off” and I even planned to get a little work done. That’s when the doctor called and asked us to come in for a “quick” procedure. Now, I have learned that words like “quick” have different meanings when it … Read more
  • July 4, 2011: Looking forward to chemo
    Is it Tuesday? I think it is. No, I know it is. But only because I checked. But sometimes, I feel that time no longer has the same boundaries as it used to. When did this whole nightmare start? Just a week ago? Maybe a few more days, maybe a few less. The test from yesterday was “good.” So now … Read more
  • July 5, 2011: Stella is glowing
    Stella is Glowing People have asked me about the picture of Stella that I used on the homepage. You know the one of her in the baseball cap with a big, glowing smile. It’s my favorite picture of her because it really represents her personality so well. Here’s the scene. Last year, we had planned a big family vacation with … Read more
  • July 6, 2011: Words that Scare, Words that Comfort
    Today’s post was hard. Why? Because we have nothing to report. No tests, results, meetings, etc. I originally thought that it would be nice to have a day “off,” but it wasn’t so great. Someone described  dealing with cancer as “hurry up…..and wait.” It is very true. One day the Doctor calls and says “could you just swing by the … Read more
  • July 8, 2011: Diagnosis
    To all of our friends, in America, Israel, and all over the world, We have been overwhelmed by the love that we have felt from all over. The davening (praying), people making meals, and everyone asking what they can do to help. Words cannot express our gratitude for the support that we have received. We are sorry that we have … Read more
  • July 14, 2011: Shabbat Shalom
    Perhaps the most striking thing about the lives of Orthodox Jews  is the weekly Shabbat — Sabbath. A complicated set of rules and traditions governs every aspect of our lives from the time the sun sets on Friday evening until the appearance of stars on Saturday night. While it may look like a period of restrictions — no work, driving, … Read more
  • July 15, 2011: 2:15 AM
    I didn’t write a post today. It’s not that I didn’t have something to say. There were a few things I was thinking of. I could have written about going to the “chemo orientation” which is a bit like orientation to a summer camp. Except that there was no mention of horseback riding or canoeing. Instead, the camp activities included bouts … Read more
  • July 18, 2011: Chemo Part I
    As soon as we get home today, I know that we will get a million phone calls asking how chemo went. So I figured I might as well explain. The fact that I am writing at 2:30 in the afternoon rather than at 2:30 in the morning might also be a good thing. Here’s how chemo day works. When we … Read more
  • July 21, 2011: I don’t know what to say
    I was speaking to a friend the other day and he mentioned that a number of people had not been in touch. They care very deeply about our situation, but they are afraid to approach me because “they don’t know what to say.” I got news for you my friends. I don’t know what to say either. But if you … Read more
  • July 25, 2011: Roller Coaster
    I feel we are on a roller coaster. Sometimes Stella feels fine one hour and the next she can barely get up. I hated Shabbat. (Am I allowed to say that?) No offense to the people who brought over all the great food. We really appreciate it. But even if the Iron Chef himself schlepped over the food, I could … Read more
  • July 29, 2011: Give Me a Week
    The whole “day by day” attitude that I have had just isn’t working for me. Days are simply too short and they end too quickly. Focusing on each day means that nights are rotten. I simply can’t sleep and find myself pacing around at all sorts or weird hours. Even the dog is telling me to calm down and get some sleep. … Read more
  • August 4, 2011: Home Cooking
    It’s Thursday afternoon, and I can smell chicken cooking in the oven. Stella is feeling great, the kids are home, and she is making everyone’s favorite dishes for Shabbat. When people cook for you and bring over prepared food, it’s very nice. We really can’t thank everyone enough who has helped out. But it’s been too long since we have … Read more
  • 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 … Read more
  • August 10, 2011: It Hurts
    I know it’s the chemo and not the cancer, but it is so painful to see Stella suffering. This cycle has been really bad so far. I sit holding her hand and just wish there was something else I could do for her. Sorry, but this is not going to be one of those upbeat positive entries. In many ways, … Read more
  • August 19, 2011: Running, Biking, Coping
    First of all, Stella is feeling much better. The way it works is like this. Every third Monday she has chemo at the hospital. This makes her “uncomfortable” for about a week. (Note: For those who don’t speak Stella, “uncomfortable” means a state far beyond what any of us could deal with. It’s a bit like when I say the … Read more
  • August 29, 2011: A Ray of Hope
    I could have written about a lot of stuff tonight. I could have written about the visit of Stella’s parents and just how wonderful that has been for all of us. And I think I will. Just not now. I could have written about today’s chemo treatment, about my thoughts when seeing the diversity of cancer patients — Arab, Jew, … Read more
  • September 15, 2011: Celebrating Life
    When we first got the invitation about a month ago, we didn’t know if we would be able to go. It was the wedding of a daughter of close friends and an event that we would never, ever have missed back in the BC (before cancer) days. But of course, the life where we were in total control (or thought … Read more
  • September 28, 2011: Dear God
    I write just a few hours before Rosh Hashana. I write with overwhelming gratitude in my heart for a wonderful life. I live in a land that glows with your holiness, a land where my ancestors once lived. And I am privileged to be part of a movement that seeks to rebuild this amazing land and maybe in my own … Read more
  • October 7, 2011: Glass Statues
    I hate the nights the most. I can’t remember the last time I made it through the whole night. It’s quarter to three in the morning and I have a 18km trail run planned in a few hours. Doubt that I’ll be sleeping before then. At least when I’m running all I need to worry about is making it up … Read more
  • October 12, 2011: Chag Sameach
    Our Friends: Just a short note to wish all those who have been following the situation that they have a Chag Sameach. (Joyous holiday) I am sure that the impending release of Gilad Shalit — despite the heavy price — is a reward for his family and friends who never gave up hope through all of the last five years. … Read more
  • October 23, 2011: Longing for the Dawn
    I have said before that the nights are the hardest part for me. I have lain awake countless times at around two or three in the morning, when my strength is gone and keeping the nightmares at bay is just too much. Eventually, I give up on trying to get back to sleep and just “long for the dawn” as … Read more
  • October 28, 2011: The Ride of Hope
    First, if you are new to this blog, let me catch you up. My name is Yarden Frankl and six years ago I moved from Potomac, Maryland to Neve Daniel, Israel with my wife Stella and our four kids. For six years we have had an amazing life filled with equal loads of satisfaction and pride for our choice to … Read more
  • October 31, 2011: Like This
    Go ahead and click “like” on Facebook, trust me on this one. If you were to tell me six month ago, that my wife would have cancer, that it would not be curable, and that she would need nasty chemo treatments every three weeks, I would be miserable. But you know, everything is relative. Tonight we celebrated that very news. … Read more
  • November 6, 2011: Join Me
    I have gotten several e-mails that say something like this: Yarden, I would like to join you for your ride although I am not in shape and have not ridden a bicycle in over ten years. In fact, I am not sure where my bike is or if it has wheels. But I want to be part of your ride. … Read more
  • November 10, 2011: The Ride of our Lives
    Liveblogging the Ride Yarden is on the road riding to raise money for families in Gush Etzion who are dealing with illnesses. 6:05PM – Rav Matanya Ben Shachar, rav of Neve Daniel, spoke briefly to inaugurate the ride. Yarden’s message to Stella was “I’ll let the riding speak for me.” He did one lap, came back to find Stella in … Read more
  • November 13, 2011: The Ride
    231 kilometers. 12 hours. Over 90,000 shekels raised. Over 1,000 people following on the blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Countless spirits raised. What an awesome night. I want to say at the outset that it is very difficult to put into words what the “Longing for the Dawn” ride has meant for me and Stella. Throughout the night, we could feel … Read more
  • November 24, 2011: God is Listening
    Five months ago Stella and I sat in the Oncology Department of Shaari Tzedek and were told that she had no chance. We were told that Stella had stomach cancer that had progressed too far to be operable. The cancer had spread outside her stomach and could not be cured. We were told that Stella needed immediate chemotherapy. The chemo … Read more
  • December 1, 2011: Kilometer #38
    I have run five full marathons. Despite the fact that each one is unique and stands apart in my memory, during all of them I got to experience what I call the “Kilometer #38” syndrome. After running 38 kilometers, you do not feel at your best. No matter who you are or what pace you have been running, I don’t … Read more
  • 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 … Read more
  • December 21, 2011: Cheque Please!
    Yesterday we went to Shaare Zedek Hospital (where Stella will have the operation) for our pre-op tests and meetings. Throughout the morning, Stella was examined by the surgeon, anesthesiologist, surgical ward head nurse, and the hospital accountant (so we could have our bank account checked.) That’s a joke, although we did need to drop off a post-dated check equal to … Read more
  • January 1, 2012: Stella’s Army
    Last night I lay in bed next to Stella watching the e-mails and comments come in from members of “Stella’s Army.” We were in the hospital and I was much relieved that the night staff did not try and throw me out of bed. I guess Israeli hospitals are different. When I asked someone if they were going to bring … Read more
  • January 4, 2012: A New Day
    Last night I came home from the hospital and tried to write an update. But I was exhausted and depressed and had nothing really significant to say. Since the surgery, Stella has been in a great deal of pain, both physical and (as I could tell from her usually smiling face) — mental. She was utterly despondent and nothing I … Read more
  • January 5, 2012: Something for the Anger
    I may have made a mistake. In my euphoria over the news that Stella could have the operation, I made the assumption that the hard part was over, that cancer had been defeated and now we could just celebrate the victory. But real miracles take a bit longer than a Hollywood version. The Doctor assured me that reaching this stage … Read more
  • January 8, 2012: Stellush
    Well, it only took a week (and half the time she was asleep) but Stella seems to have charmed all the staff of the eighth floor. No, she has not been able to make chesed meals for the other patients, but her friendly demeanor and attitude reverberates well with nurses who are used to being yelled at by people in … Read more
  • January 9, 2012: Letter from Mom
    I didn’t feel any need to write an update today. But then my Mom (who had come with my Dad to help out) asked that I send her letter out to “Stella’s Army.” Dear Stella’s Army: On our flight and since getting home, I keep thinking about what you are doing for my family. To me, you are the meaning … Read more
  • January 18, 2012: False Peaks
    A few years ago, someone told me about a mountain bike trail that was supposed to be extremely challenging. The Asgad Ascent is off in the middle of the Judean Desert. I had seen the meandering path listed on my maps, and one day I decided to tackle it. I had been riding that morning with friends by the Dead … Read more
  • January 27, 2012: Downs and Ups
    When you ask me how Stella is doing, I might answer you. Or I might turn my back on you and scurry away. Either way, you will have my answer. So now I probably confused everyone. Didn’t Stella have the miracle operation? What happened to “She will be cured, she will be cured……(breathe)?” Yes, that IS still the hope. But … Read more
  • February 11, 2012: Just Don’t Think
    I was riding with some friends one time in the desert on a challenging and beautiful path. At times the path narrowed into a tiny ridge that curved around the desert cliffs with about the width of my handlebars. Scary but also exhilarating. I am comfortable with that sort of riding. As long as the trail is uphill or flat, … Read more
  • March 5, 2012: Why I smell like a Pomegranate
    I know, I know. I have not written in a couple of weeks. Actually, that’s not true. I have written a number of posts since Stella got home from the hospital last month. It’s just that right before I am about to hit the “send” button, I re-read the posts and decided not to send them. They were not the … Read more
  • March 15, 2012: Bring. It. On.
    Today’s chemo appointment was postponed. That’s not good, not bad. It just is. But since Stella will not be dealing with the side effects tomorrow morning, I have decided to run the full 42.2 kilometer Jerusalem Marathon. Yeah. I know. It’s freezing, raining, and the wind is just howling outside my window. But you know something? Who the hell cares … Read more
  • March 19, 2012: Jerusalem Marathon: A Beautiful Day in the Pouring Rain
    Of my six marathons, this year’s Jerusalem run was by far my favorite. It was the coldest. It was the wettest. None of the others had gale force winds and, yes, several hail showers. Yet despite the extreme weather, I can honestly say that I had a blast. We left Neve Daniel at 5:00 AM in complete darkness. I ran … Read more
  • April 3, 2012: Tel Aviv Marathon – The Sun Comes Out
    I know, I know. You’re not supposed to run two marathons so close together. You’re supposed to let your body rest for a few weeks. And in normal times, that would be sound advice. But we’re not in normal times now. So as long as Stella is feeling alright, I’m going to keep on running. We both want to focus … Read more
  • April 16, 2012: Kayaks Over Chemo
    As we sit here once again on the seventh floor of Shaare Zedek, last week seems like a dream. I planned the trip months ago with the full knowledge that our chances of actually getting away for a family vacation were like…. were like the chances of a football team that barely made the playoffs winning the Super Bowl. But … Read more
  • April 27, 2012: Trying to Understand Suffering
    I always try and wake up an hour before I have to leave for a race. Sometimes that means waking by 4:00 AM, but I need to do so because I am always nauseous the morning of an event in which I know I will be suffering. It’s weird. It’s like my body is trying to convince my mind that … Read more
  • April 30, 2012: Gotta Song in My Head
    (Oooh la la la…) Want to get in my head? Usually not advisable, but today, at least for a little while, come on in. (Na na na na na) I know there’s a song playing in there now. So let me turn it down for a sec just to fill you in on what’s going on. According to the Doctor, … Read more
  • May 16, 2012: The Happiest Day of My Life
    It’s pretty clear that over the last year, I have had some of the worst days of my life. I have had the scariest days, the angriest days, and the saddest days — all since last June. But you know what? I have also had some of the best days of my life too. And yesterday…. Yesterday was the happiest … Read more
  • July 12, 2012: Cool Down
    After a particularly tough run or ride, it is highly recommended that you do what is called a “cool-down.” It means you jog around for about 10 minutes and try to let your body get over the torture you have just put it through. I hate cool-downs. When I run, I like to hit the finish with nothing left in … Read more
  • July 26, 2012: No Way to Treat Heroes
    Let me paint a picture for you. You have cancer. You go for a chemo treatment. You know that the chemo can kill the disease, but it won’t be easy. You arrive at the treatment center in the morning. First you line up for a blood test. You need to pass this test before they let you have the chemo. … Read more
  • August 3, 2012: Night Run
    Starting last night around midnight, a group of us ran from Bet Shemesh to the Kotel, a total of almost 39 kilometers. We got there just as dawn was breaking and were able to daven (pray) as the sun came up. A night run is a completely different experience than running during the day. Often, with just a flashlight mounted … Read more
  • September 25, 2012: Cancer Roller Coaster
    I got one thing wrong last year. I thought that the whole cancer experience was like a long, dark night. We had to just focus on “reaching the dawn,” waiting for the sun to finally rise and restore our lives to what they were before cancer blotted out the light. But now I know it’s a bit more complicated. You … Read more
  • October 4, 2012: I Didn’t Want to Write This
    I didn’t want to write this post. I hoped I never would have to write anything of the sort. I had dreamed and occasionally let myself believe that the cancer movie was over for good. I could release the army and remove Stella’s name from prayer lists. We could just go about with our lives as before, with a whole … Read more
  • October 9, 2012: Fight Like Hell
    I wasn’t going to write today. But I can’t help it. On the one hand, I feel that I need to reassure everyone that just as we defeated cancer against all odds before, we WILL do so again. I can write that both of us are determined and ready to do battle and then everything is going to be alright. … Read more
  • October 10, 2012: Battle Plans
    The language surrounding cancer is nasty. It’s worse than Klingon. After awhile, you get sick of hearing words like Tumor, Carcinoma, Disease. Even the chemo drugs have nasty sounding names. Our Doc told us about one drug that goes by the name Zometa. Fine for the U.S., but in Israel they needed a fast name change because no one wants … Read more
  • October 12, 2012: My Wife Has Cancer — I’m Going for a Bike Ride
    We moved to Israel seven years ago to “live the dream” of a better life for ourselves and our children. And for six years, with fulfilling jobs and a wonderful community, our lives did indeed feel dreamlike. And then the dream went dark. It all started when the Doctor said: “It’s definitely cancer.” My wife Stella was diagnosed with late … Read more
  • October 25, 2012: It’s Not about the Bike, It’s about Stella
    I have been getting quite a few e-mails from cyclists who want to join my ride from Mount Hermon to Neve Daniel. While I really do appreciate the desire to help out, let me give an explanation and then an alternative. Riding from the Golan into the Bekaa at night is dangerous. Luckily for me, I have a number of … Read more
  • November 7, 2012: Rain Delay
    Both my crew and I were very prepared and excited for the big ride tomorrow. I got over a stomach bug and Trep was still in despite a nasty crash and falling on his knee. So while earlier in the week, the status of the ride was uncertain, we had reached the two day countdown and were all set. And … Read more
  • November 15, 2012: Why Do You Need to Do Such a Crazy Stunt?
    And so my friends, it all comes down to this….. Well, not exactly. The truth of the matter is that we have already succeeded beyond the average person’s wildest dreams. (I have some really wild dreams. There is nothing I would say is beyond my wildest dreams.) Between sponsorship of the ride and Stella’s Army bracelet sales, we have raised … Read more
  • November 19, 2012: The Ride — Im Tirtzu (If You Believe)
    So now I must try and find the words to describe the ride… but I don’t know if it’s possible to describe how it felt and what this ride meant to me, and to Stella. When I rode the last kilometer through crowds of people cheering me on and screaming “Go Stella’s Army!” to beating drums, I was so overwhelmed … Read more
  • December 9, 2012: The Mountains of Potomac
    A while ago, I asked Stella if she wanted to travel somewhere, anywhere in the world. I suggested that we could go someplace like Switzerland and look at mountains. Isn’t that what people with cancer are supposed to do? Go see mountains and contemplate the meaning of life? Travel to exotic places — places that you always wanted to visit. … Read more
  • December 17, 2012: Renovating for the Dawn
    Today Stella and I are sitting for our seventeenth chemo treatment. Once again we sit under the fluorescent lights, surrounded by the white hospital walls. The chairs are lined up against the wall in “bus station” style seating. No, it’s not terrible. Cancer is terrible. The chemo that fights the cancer can be terrible. The blood tests and scans and … Read more
  • January 1, 2013: Smile
    When you think of the word “medicine,” you usually will think of some nasty substance that you have to drink, eat, or inject. No one likes to take medicine. It’s just something you know you must take to make whatever is making you sick go away. If you have cancer, then the medicine is particularly nasty. But you must take … Read more
  • January 16, 2013: Beautiful
    My wife has lost all the hair on her head. The operations have left several large scars on her body. She is very, very thin. Not in the coveted “super-model” way. Yet with everything that this disease and its treatments have thrown at her, I think she is the most beautiful being on the face of the Earth. There is … Read more
  • January 21, 2013: Slip Me a Mickey
    I’ll start with the stuff that isn’t quite so great. But that’s just so that I can get to the exciting stuff. We just switched chemo. The medicine we were on was not doing enough. The fact that the side effects were very light was nice, but unfortunately nice doesn’t cut it when you’re dealing with cancer. We don’t need … Read more
  • January 30, 2013: Blood, Sweat, and Fears
    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 … Read more
  • February 8, 2013: Turning a Nightmare into a Dream
    I’m holding my daughter’s hand on Disney’s Rock and Roller Coaster. We are singing Aerosmith at the top of our lungs while the coaster plunges us round and round and upside down. We speed through the darkness and are just in awe of this ride. We get off and our first thought is how to get back on and do … Read more
  • March 4, 2013: Jerusalem Marathon: A Wonderful Break
    It wasn’t my intention to write this post from the ER. But that’s the situation. I hope by the time you read this we will be home safe and sound and today’s little adventure will be forgotten. But let me back-up a few days. On Friday I ran the Jerusalem Marathon. It was my third time running Jerusalem (which makes … Read more
  • March 8, 2013: Recovery Week
    The week after a marathon is one of my favorites. You still feel the pride of running the big race, of getting through all the hard parts in one piece, and now you can relax. I do a few runs and bike rides just to loosen up and help heal any damage that occurred during the marathon. I always feel … Read more
  • March 11, 2013: Adjusting Expectations
    A few years ago, I was in Tiveria getting ready for my second marathon. I had trained meticulously for this race. I devoured every e-mail from the Bet Shemesh running club and ran every training run at the precise pace that would enable me to hit my goal time in the big race. I was as obsessed and focused as … Read more
  • April 15, 2013: Never Give Up
    First the most important update. Last night’s CT scan showed dramatic improvement. The cancer has shrunk significantly. Our Doc texted me a thumb’s up icon. (He is a man of few words. But we don’t mind the picture.) This morning in shul it felt like Yom Kippur. Fourth time this year. I knew that during the minyan — at the … Read more
  • May 14, 2013: The Key to Mountain Biking/Dealing with Cancer
    I will be the first to admit that of the various sports I do, I am least competent at technical mountain biking. Unlike running, road riding, or even riding on packed trails, mountain biking demands mental effort as much as physical. While riding a twisty, rocky, trail — especially one with lots of steep drops — you have to constantly … Read more
  • June 4, 2013: Anniversaries
    Yesterday, Stella and I “celebrated” out twenty-second wedding anniversary. Some pasta from the Gush Etzion winery and a few episodes of a television show were all we could handle, but after twenty-two years, we don’t need an elaborate party. If twenty-two years sounds like a long time, keep in mind that we actually met each other Freshman year at Colgate, … Read more
  • June 7, 2013: The Run for Stella
    We started the run at four in the morning in the dark. Thirteen of us met behind my house in Neve Daniel for a 36 kilometer run to Bet Shemesh. I was thrilled that Stella got up and came outside at the early hour to see us off. Especially this week, to see her in good spirits able to start … Read more
  • June 28, 2013: How Much Can the Body Take?
    Every runner has hit the “wall” at some point. I have seen the strongest, most experienced runners have days where they were forced to shuffle until the end of a run. Sometimes the reason is due to mistakes. Maybe you didn’t drink enough, didn’t get enough sleep, didn’t train enough, trained too much etc. And sometimes there is no specific … Read more
  • July 12, 2013: Did You Win?
    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. … Read more
  • July 29, 2013: Man Plans, God Laughs
    To say that we were excited about our vacation would be a gross understatement. Since I have really been unsure if Stella would be well enough for us to go until a few days ago, I was ecstatic when we finally arrived, tickets in hand, at the airport. We were going to return to Florida and had a whole range … Read more
  • August 7, 2013: Seizing a Moment in the Sun
    In the last two years, we have taken a number of wonderful, amazing vacations. We have gotten to spend time with family and do some incredible things. Yes, even swimming with dolphins. Yet every single time we have embarked on one of these trips, we knew we were rolling the dice. Every time, we have the front of our heads … Read more
  • August 13, 2013: Acceptance
    Stella is home. She is with our beautiful family, in our beautiful house, in our beautiful yishuv, in our beautiful country. She is not giving up the fight, and we do still believe that miracles are possible. However, it is becoming clear that we are reaching the end of what modern medicine can do for her. We are in a … Read more
  • September 1, 2013: Hitting Rock Bottom
    I hit rock bottom. Literally. I had been running on a rocky trail in the middle of the night. At first I felt fine. I got into a nice rhythm. I was with friends, and our goal was to run about 40 kilometers to the Western Wall and pray at sunrise. But it was dark and the trail had lots … Read more
  • September 3, 2013: Dear God – Again
    Dear God, This is the second time I have written an open letter to you before Rosh Hashanah. Two years ago, when Stella was not given much time to live and much less to live well, I pleaded on her behalf. I enlisted friends to pray for her, and these friends became an Army. And you listened to those prayers. … Read more
  • September 27, 2013: Holiday of “Joy”
    Almost all Jewish holidays involve a religious commandment to do something unique. So we eat matzah on Passover. We eat and sleep in special outdoor “booths” on Sukkot. We don’t eat or drink on Yom Kippur. You can go right down the list and every time there is a Jewish holiday, there is something that we are commanded to do … Read more
  • October 4, 2013: Big Sweaty Hugs
    I have been spending a lot of time with Stella and it is time that I really cherish. Every minute, day and night. And that will never change. But sometimes I do miss doing regular stuff. Which for me means running along crazy rocky trails all through the night. But I have to be honest. I don’t always enjoy running. … Read more
  • October 30, 2013: The Post Without a Title
    I’ve been meaning to post for awhile. I just have not been able to find the right words to express what is going on. There are some situations that are truly beyond words. And it feels that the nightmare within a nightmare within a nightmare that we are now in twenty-four hours/day is one of them. Stella was “fine” until … Read more
  • November 4, 2013: Laughter in Hell
    I’m in hell. We all are. There’s no other way to describe it. Stella continues to deteriorate and we really don’t know when this will end. But I’m not going to talk about that. Instead, I’m going to tell you a few stories. I love these stories: Because they’re true, because they reflect how remarkable Stella is, and mostly because … Read more
  • November 8, 2013: I Need Your Prayers
    Friends, I need you to pray for Stella right now. I don’t care what language or faith you pray in, I need your prayers. But before you respond. Before you “like” or tell me you are on it, I need you to hear something. There’s a catch. A very difficult catch. I do not want you to pray for Stella’s … Read more
  • November 17, 2013: Saying Goodbye
    I can’t sleep. I just ate half a loaf of chocolate babka with enough sugar to keep me going for a week. So I think now would be the right time for me to write what happened from my perspective. I warn you first, this post may get rough. The lyrics that I have put it are all from the … Read more
  • November 20, 2013: Shiva
    Shiva week is over. The chairs and guests, and food have been put away. The home that was turned into a medical clinic and then a synagogue is slowly being transformed back into a home. There were many amazing stories that were told about Stella over the week. This one was my daughters’ favorites: I received the following e-mail one … Read more
  • November 21, 2013: Shiva – The Rabbi’s Visit
    Here’s another story from the shiva that people seemed to like. Rabbi Singer is our (I guess “my,” but it just seems wrong to write that) spiritual mentor from Potomac, Maryland. But he is much more than our (again, I’ll just leave it I guess) “Rabbi.” He is one of the wisest and funniest people I know, usually not a … Read more
  • November, 24, 2013: At Least You’ve Got Meatballs
    As human beings, we have a natural desire to comfort others. We want to find the right words that will ease a friend’s pain. Especially with men, if something’s broken, we want to say something that will fix it. We’re not that great at silent empathy. So when there is a great pain, many people feel the need for even … Read more
  • December 8, 2013: Crashing
    You’re riding through the desert and on top of the world. Everything is going perfect. You feel at one with the bike. The air is crisp and cool and you revel in the understanding that you are having an experience that very few will ever understand. You hammer away at the pedals, up and down the desert hills. Nothing can … Read more
  • May 25, 2014: Stella’s Last Gift
    “I need to tell you something before you go to sleep.” “What is it? Are you feeling ok? Do you need anything?” “No, listen. I think this is it. I don’t think I’ll wake up in the morning.”