Friday, December 21, 2012

The Cancer Club

hi everyone!  it's nearly 10:00 a.m. in the holy city of zefat.  i know it's been a really long time since i posted.  since the holidays, i have been running to gyn doctors, doing ultrasounds, taking biopsies, doing ct and pet scans,  and finally last week was diagnosed with cervical cancer.  i will be leaving my home for 8 weeks to undergo radiation and chemotherapy at a top notch hospital in tel aviv.  i will be staying in a hostel and arriving home for shabbat.

i have been shlepping back and forth to tel aviv for the past two months.  in between hospital appointments, i continued to work at the yeshiva.  i faithfully, cooked for them and mothered them as best as i could.  during chanukah, i fried up a storm.  i actually made latkes and homemade applesauce for them on the first day.  i don't think i ever fried up so much food in my life.  i fried corn fritters, turkey schnitzels, eggplant, and fish.  i continued to make hot soup and meals for the guys, until this week.  i couldn't go on.

i started having to sit when i peeled the veggies.  i know for many of you out there, this is a tried and true method of food preparation.  for me, it was a sign of defeat.  i knew it was time to take a break.  i was able to find someone to take over for me while i am gone.  i didn't want to leave them in the lurch.  i think this cancer thing is my chance to get away and finally take care of zelda.  i know this is an extreme test but i guess i need it.

to say that i am calm is a lie.  i am terrifed.  i am mortified too.  i am in a process of total submission.  my body now belongs to the technicians, nurses and doctors.  for someone, who has never been really sick, and mostly used homeopathic remedies, this is huge.  for someone like me, who is a homebody and never travels, this is huge.  for someone who needs to be in control, this is huge.  to suddenly be at the mercy of incompetent  bureuacrats  just to get to do tests, receive the results and see the doctors and get diagnosed, is huge.

i have been using up a lot of my energy and mornings, for the past couple of weeks, pursuing the results of my biopsy.  it took over 27 days to get a diagnosis and be told that the biopsy wasn't clear.  i have been terrorized by doctors in zefat from the beginning.  at my first ultrasound in the emergency room,  i was told that i probably had a cancerous growth.  i was hospitilized overnight to do a CT, even though i live nearby.  i was told that i would probably hemorhage, when i signed myself out of the hospital against medical advice, when they didn't perform the CT.  i returned the next morning.

 i was told that they wouldn't perform the biopsy unless i was fully anestetized in the operating theater.  i was also told that in the event of a serious rupture of the tumor, i would be receiving a total  hysterectomy.  i was scared to death of doing a biopsy. i was scared to death to be defenseless in zefat.  i asked for a second opinion with the top man in tel aviv at sheba hospital..  it took a month to get an appointment at the clinic.  in the meanwhile, the pap smear came back,  showing that i had a carcinoma.with 'squamous' cells.  i tried to look it up on internet and was abruptly, 'welcomed'  into  the world of cervical cancer.   i couldn't read any further.  i wasn't ready to know.  i still held fast to the fantasy that it was only pre-cancer cells.  i actually,  had tried to convince the doctors  that it was merely, a fybroid tumor at first.

the local gyn called me at home to tell me that the pap results weren't good. i had forgotton all about the pap. when i asked if i had the big or little C,  he just told me that it wasn't 'pareve'.  i ran to his office, which is located in my neighborhood.  he handed over the results in a sealed envelope.  he told me to go to the family doctor.  he didn't explain one thing to me.  he did finally,. give me a letter to fax to the sheba hospital to urge them to make an  earlier appointment.   i did receive an earlier appointment, but the incompetent secretary, forgot to call to let me know, so  i had to wait another 3 weeks to see the specialist.

in all honesty, i enjoyed the 3 week break from doctors.  i was terrifed of  them.  the specialist doctor proved to be my angel.  he spoke to me very nicely.  when you request to speak in english you are treated nicer here.  the doctors find it more sophisticated.  not so, with the bureacrats.  they get hostile.  they are threatened and behave downright, rude.  i did the biopsy and didn't hemorhage.  i was euphuric.  then i needed to get a pet ct.  and the 'fun' began. i was running to the doctor for the referral and waiting for the health carriers' consent.  who was i, 'zelda the elitist', who wanted to go all the way to the center of the country to do these tests.  didn't i know that angels didn't exist.  didn't i  know that bad things do happen in these places, too?  why not go to rambam in haifa?  what's so bad about waiting a month?   what can happen in a month or two???   we then started calling all over the country to get the earliest, possible  date.  i had appointments in 3 different hospitals until i got a quickie tour at ichilav.  then i was back to the doctor for more referrals and waiting for consent forms once again..

one morning shortly after the biopsy, i started bleeding.  i was in sheep panic.  was this the hemorhage that they had been warning me about from the start??  after a short time i was fine. i wanted to go to work.  my sister insisted that i see the doctor here.  the kids came to take me to tel aviv to check it out.  the doctor here said to go to the zefat hospital.. i refused so i  got another referral and away we all went.  it turned out to be nothing.

 the results of the pet scan  were ready in a few days.  i  still  had to get the incompetent sheba secretary to fax the ichilov people.  the incompetent secretary hesitated to fax the ichilov people.  she didn't 'like' the fax number i had given her.  she had my sister call her back 3 times with the same number.  each time she said it couldn't be right.  in the mean time, she agreed to send the fax.  i checked  with the impatient bureaucrat at ichilav the next morning.  they never got a fax from sheba.  i freaked and confronted the incompetent secretary. G-d bless her, she stood by her story.  she didn't know where she sent the fax but she was sure she sent it to the number i gave her.  she kept on mentioning the bellinson hospital.  i told her that dealing with her was like being in the twilight zone.    she got angry and hung up on me.  but you better believe she finally sent the fax and the results were in..

so now i had the pet results but no biopsy.  i threatened her that if i didn't have those results and a new appointment for the diagnosis then i would call the head of the hospital.  i also called patient's advocacy and got them involved.  so i finally got to see the specialist on tuesday. i waited 3 hours.  i also got to see the head of radiology.  what a character???  i went yesterday to start the process.  i was simulated.  i don't exactly know what that means.  it's a scan.  i was also tatooed.  my backside looks like a child played  tick tack toe on me while i slept.

i will be starting treatment in about 10 days from now.  i don't know if i'll have access to the internet.  i'd love to keep you all informed.  for those of you who pray out there, i'm known as zelda bat tcharna.   may we all have good news.  shabbaat shalom!

1 comment:

  1. Praying for you. A lot. maybe do the homeopathy in conjunction?