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Archive for September, 1998

L’ Shana Tova (Happy New Year): Feeling Fine and Very Hopeful

Tonight is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  Best wishes to you and your
loved ones for a healthy, happy, sweet New Year.  It is a joyous holiday for
us.

I just re-read my journal entry from July, and it is striking how much
things have improved since then.  There continues to be no sign of cancer.
My blood counts have improved dramatically. I have not needed another red
blood cell transfusion since the hospital stay on July 23 (that’s more than
eight weeks so far), and my hematocrit is still 28 and hemoglobin 9.3 –
they’ve stayed above 27 and 9 all through these 8 weeks.  My white counts
have always been above 2.5 and usually above 3.0 for these 8 weeks.  All
these numbers are encouraging signs that my bone marrow is recovering.  And I
lasted four weeks before my last platelet transfusion on 9/17, instead of the
1-2 week intervals earlier this summer.

We’ll never know to what extent I’ve been helped by the Procrit injections
(also known as Epogen), the Cortef (taken to counter any possible auto-immune
reaction to my own blood), Dr. Beer’s nutritional and herbal strategies to
nourish my bone marrow and fight a yeast infection (vitamin B12, folic acid,
vitamin C, and remedies for a yeast infection) or the passage of time.  But
in any case, I’m feeling much more energetic, and we are feeling very
grateful that things are getting better.

My digestive system is also just fine – I’m eating everything and enjoying
food with no digestive problems.  I take a heaping tablespoon of Metamusil
every day, which seems to make a difference, along with the herbs and
vitamins.

My platelets are still dropping regularly, but the interval between
transfusions may be getting longer.  I had platelet transfusions on July
23 (when I got out of the hospital), July 31 (to “stock up” for the trip to
Israel), August 9 (10 days later, at Hadassah Hospital in Israel), August 21
(12 days later), and September 17 (27 days later).  It’s not yet clear to me
whether the 27-day interval is evidence that my bone marrow is doing a better
job with platelets, or whether it is a fluke related to the quality of
platelets I received.  But in any case I have had to spend much less time on
medical care – just a weekly blood test and a monthly platelet transfusion.

Our trip to Israel was wonderful.  The first week centered around our cousin
Joe Yudin’s wedding at Megiddo, an ancient historic site.  Joe arranged for a
week of touring and activities for his non-Israeli visitors, and we enjoyed
being with the other relatives and friends in Tel Aviv, at a kibbutz near
Megiddo, and in Jerusalem.  We spent ten days at the Mount Zion Hotel in
Jerusalem, which we loved – it was a historic building with terraced
gardens and a swimming pool and fabulous views of the old city.  We
especially enjoyed meeting third cousins in the Bograd family whom my sister
Naomi had recently discovered – we took them to dinner once, and then they
made a Russian feast for us for Shabbat dinner at their home.

Margie and Sarah are back at school.  Margie has chosen a “social activism”
curriculum for this semester, including courses in international human
rights, environmental studies, economics, urban studies (sociology), and
Spanish literature.  She’s also active in a variety of social action
activities, as student chair of the New Haven soup kitchens, a leader in the
Yale environmental group, and in the Hillel social action committee.  She
tells me that last year she tried to get to know as many people as possible,
while this year she is more focussed on getting to know fewer friends more
deeply, especially by having “dinner dates” with one friend at a time.  I
love the way she sets goals for herself and then just goes ahead and carries
them out.  Margie had a great summer at home in New York City working as an
intern at the People for the American Way.

Sarah has just started seventh grade and she has begun weekly meetings with
our new rabbi in preparation for her bat mitzvah on January 23.  She is now
the tallest woman in our family (just under 5’2′), and her shoe size is
bigger than mine. During the summer, Sarah enjoyed acting classes – a one
week musical theater class, a three week acting class at her sleep-away camp,
and a one-week improvisation course.  Both Margie and Sarah are looking
beautiful these days.

Ken continues to enjoy his work helping plan new deals for customers on the
trading floor at Bankers Trust Company.  He also has been helping out with
the kids at the synagogue, telling stories, and playing with new kids
(while I talk to prospective adult members, Ken enchants their kids).

I’ve continued to work intensely on synagogue volunteer work, both as
membership chair and as computer chair.  We’ve gotten three donated
Pentium computers and new software and I’m working furiously on evaluating
the new software, entering data into it, learning how to make best use of it,
and suggesting improvements to the developers.  This involves learning how to
solve problems in Microsoft Access and Seagate Crystal Reports – I’m looking
for someone who can serve as mentor to me in working with these programs.

While I was begging for Pentium computers for our synagogue, I discovered
that many, many people had unused older computers or computer parts
cluttering their closets.  I’ve found a wonderful Web site, “Share the
Technology,” where you can offer used computers to neighboring nonprofits
(and where nonprofits can list requests for donations):

http://www.libertynet.org/share

I’ve gotten a lot of satisfaction from getting to know groups that are able
to make good use of older computers, and arranging for them to receive
computers from my relatives and friends and the synagogue.  I’ve gotten to
know a community center and a school that can still use more.  So far I’ve
helped give away five computers and lots of parts.  If you have computers you
want to donate and need help doing so, feel free to ask me to help.

My work as West End Synagogue membership chair has been thriving – we had 16
new members this month, and our Hebrew School enrollment has increased from
28 to 52 (and may still grow more).

I’ve accepted an invitation to be a speaker at a panel on accountability of religious
organizations at the conference of the National Association of State
Charities Officials in Portland, Oregon on October 6.

In spite of, or perhaps because of the cancer, this has been a rewarding
year for our family.  The love and support of family and old and new friends
has been so important to us.  Thanks to all of you who have been there for us.

Jewish tradition tells us to ask forgiveness of friends and relatives in the
ten days before Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement.  We are expected to settle
outstanding issues with human beings before we approach God for
forgiveness.  (Ken asked to be included in the next sentence): So, if we have
done anything in the past year to offend you, we ask your forgiveness.

Love,

Harriet

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