I can remember going to church when I was little. We dressed up in cute outfits and piled into the car with my mom and dad. When my dad died when we were all so young — I was almost six, my sister was two-and-a-half, my brother was 15 — we stopped going to church. It was almost as if my mom couldn’t understand why something so terrible could happen to our family on God’s watch. I get the reasoning. So many terrible things happen all over the world. How can God stand by and do nothing?
Perfect example: This week my close friend, the one who holds the Seders every year, got some terrible news. Her mother has ovarian cancer. This terrible diagnosis comes on top of the already-heavy load she’s carried for the past five years. You see my friend’s husband has multiple myeloma, a serious blood cancer. He’s been in remission but his numbers are going up, which means the cancer might be coming back. Tomorrow she’ll spend the entire day at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Her mom’s appointment — where she’ll find out a treatment path — is at 9:45. Her husband will get the results of his blood tests in the early afternoon. It sucks.
We spent an hour on the phone last night. I tried to keep her from going to the Bad Place. My friend has an amazing and enviable relationship with her mom. Her mom is her rock. When she is nervous about her husband she can always turn to her mom. Now both of her rocks are ill. How can she make it through with both of them sick, she wanted to know. I didn’t know what to say. It’s just not fair. (And it makes my husband’s intestinal issues seem like a splinter, right?)
During our chat I tried to tell her to remain calm. Not to think the worst. The reporter in me had to look up and report back on all the amazing trials that are going on for those suffering with multiple myeloma. (There are more than 180 in New York State; 61 of them are still actively recruiting.) Then I told her about some of the excellent work that’s being done for ovarian cancer. Intra-abdominal chemotherapy, where they bathe the stomach cavity with chemo while blasting more chemo into your blood stream is getting good results, for example. And the five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is no longer as dire as it once was. Almost half of the women diagnosed today will live for more than five years. And as a woman, you can do things to boost your own survival rate. A study that came out earlier this month links diet with long-term outcome. Women who ate well had a “survival advantage” over those who didn’t. My friend’s mom is a fighter. She’s going to do everything she can. She’s going to eat right. She’s going to have the best doctors. I don’t even have to think about which side of that 50 percent she’s going to fall into.
Anyway, as you go about your day today, please think good thoughts for my friend and her family. And while you’re at it, send a little love my husband’s way, too. He’s going for a test to see if he’s got long-term damage in his intestines as well as check to see if that fourth surgery he had in February actually worked. In fact, if you pray, say a prayer for everyone. I don’t think God has any pull when it comes to who gets sick or who gets better, but I do think that the power of our minds and our energies combine and can elicit change. Let’s make a little change for my friend’s mom Mrs. S., her husband Mr. B., and Mr. S, my hubby.
p.s. For the portion of my readers who are, at this minute, saying, ‘What the heck!?! This blog is supposed to be about food and health and chemicals and high fructose corn syrup. What’s with two blogs in a row related to religion?’ I say this: This blog is not turning into a religious blog. I promise. Again, I’m not even that religious. Religion and sex are the two things you’re not supposed to talk about and I keep doing both. Sorry, and tomorrow we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled complaints and gripes.