Leave a comment

Cancer Chronicles 6

During all the testing and doctor visits, emails were coming in fast and furious asking when I would be returning to Israel. I had met so many interesting people on the last trip, people that I felt very connected to and wanted to build relationships with. I could not answer them. Nor could I answer anyone in Cincinnati, or New Jersey, or elsewhere about our plans until I told my children about my breast cancer. And I was determined to tell them in person.

We arranged to visit my children in New Jersey immediately after Passover. I had received my first chemo treatment on a Wednesday and Thursday afternoon I had to come back for a shot to prevent nausea. That meant driving to N.J. on Friday, something I hated to do because there was always a risk of not getting there before Shabbat started.

We got up about 4:30am and were on the road at 5:30am. I am used to doing this 11-12 hour trip with very few stops and arriving fairly full of energy. Not this time. I was bone tired and so was Mick.

The next morning I was too tired to walk to shul. I stayed with my daughter-in-law and my newest grandson, Charlie, until it was time to go to my daughter-in-law’s cousin’s house for lunch. After two hours at the table, Mick and I begged off and went back to my son’s house and both passed out.

The tension was building up. Finally Shabbat was over, the children were put to bed, my son and daughter-in-law looked at us expectantly, knowing that something was definitely up.

Since my entire life I have been exceedingly healthy (thank G-d), and full of energy, it was a shock to them, but they were calm, asked pertinent questions and asked what they could do to be supportive.

The next morning, Mick and I drove to my daughter’s house to share the news with her.

For a moment I want to regress and share a story about my children that occurred when they were about twelve years old. It was the Christmas season and I had to work from early in the morning to late at night, as my store was in a mall. I had made a tuna casserole early in the morning and left directions for them put it in the oven.
I got a frantic call from my daughter, saying that the oven was on fire and that she wanted to call the fire department but that her brother would not let her. Knowing the Chicken Little and Mr. Cool dynamic, I calmly asked if she had shut the oven door and asked to speak to David.

I remembered that I had asked one of them the night before to put the chicken away that I had made in the broiler. I guessed that the chicken had been refrigerated but that the greasy pan had been left in the stove. It had.
My son came to the phone and within seconds said, “Oh wait a minute, mom, the other phone is ringing.” I hung up and dialed again. He assured me everything was fine.
Of course, the real story was in the middle. Grease was all over the kitchen and embedded in the ceiling fan. No amount of scrubbing was ever able to remove that grease.

So Saturday night all was calm. Sunday morning all was emotional. Both were with lots of love and support.
We were now headed back. Suddenly I had aches and pains everywhere. Shooting, throbbing, aching, twitching, debilitating and nerve wracking. It was a long drive home and my bed never looked so good as it did late that night when we finally reached Cincinnati.

On the next visit to the chemo center, when I told the nurse about it, she asked what possessed me to make a trip like that after chemo. I felt like asking her, what possessed her not to warn me about some of the symptoms. I had been hearing about people who sailed through chemo and were able to work the entire time. Surprise, surprise.

Leave a comment

Cancer Chronicles

When I discovered I had breast cancer, I saw no reason to discuss it with anybody except my close family. My plan was to go through all the necessary medical procedures but other than that, I wanted to lead a normal life. However, the out pouring of concern and curiosity about the process by those that care about me and how I am enduring the process, has prompted me to write about the experience. Hopefully it will help others. Of course, one can go online and find beaucoup information on cancer and cancer treatments, but these entries will be more on how my trust in G-d, and my self- taught optimism keeps my spirits high and keeps me worry free.

I am not a model patient. If I am told to get a mammogram once a year, I wait two or three. Plus I do not have much faith in the medical system as I have been misdiagnosed many times. Years ago, a day before I was to have a hysterectomy I decided to get a second opinion. Didn’t need it; only some antibiotics. On another occasion when I was sure I had skin cancer I was told “no”, and I had to go to several doctors and insist on a scraping at which time I found out I had basal cell carcinoma on my nose.

When I do get a mammogram, they always tell me that my tissue is dense and they need more x-rays. They usually tell me to wait while they check the x-rays. This time they dismissed me. I had waited over three years to have this mammogram, much to the dismay of my physician.

A week after the mammogram I was on the road to New Jersey to visit my children and grandchildren. From there I flew to Israel (Naharyia) where my husband resides. While I was driving to NJ the X-ray Department called and instructed me to return for more x-rays. They found a troubling spot. I asked if this was the same spot they found last time. “No”, this is the right side; last time it was the left side.” I laughed and said, “Sure. I’ll be back in two months.” (Remember, I told you I am a rotten patient.) And then I forgot about it. I had a great visit with my family and an absolutely wonderful time in Israel meeting fascinating people, working on my memoir and doing the bookkeeping for my property management business. Also,  the gynecologist had performed a breast examination a month before the mammogram and I was told everything was good.

A week after my return, I remembered and made an appointment.

to be continued


Leave a comment

David Needs to Battle Goliath Again. But this time, David Needs Your Help

I had the opportunity yesterday morning to speak on the Brian Thomas Show (550KRC). Brian is a very well informed, dynamic host of an early morning radio show that hosts a variety of guests on widely ranging topics. The interview lasted nine minutes and during that time I was able to squeeze in the main talking points that I am asking all of you, on behalf of the organization Never Again Is Now, founded by Stan Zir  http://www.nain.info/jumpstart/ to present to your congressmen, either by letter, or better yet by telephone.

Their website is full of information as to why they are requesting that six million Americans, Jews and Christians, speak for the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust. I beseech you to please take action and ask all those that you know to take action. If you belong to an email group, or attend meetings, please get the word out.

The talking points we suggest:

Increase sanctions on Iran

Freeze all their USA assets

Supply Israel with the Stealth Bomber 2 capable of dropping 30,000 pound bombs. These bombs are capable of going way below the surface in order to knock out Iran’s nuclear bomb plant

Please join Never Again is Now on Facebook, post the video on your page, and promote Never Again is Now to all of your contacts. We need voices in every American city organizing people to speak out for the six million Jews murdered in World War II.

God Bless you.

Leave a comment

Somebody Is Watching You: Part II

When I am rehabbing houses, my shopping involves hitting all the fine emporiums, such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Surplus Warehouse, Sherwin-Williams and even the dollar stores. I have purchased enough paint, just from the Spring to now, to paint a foot-wide line that would go from New Jersey to Salt Lake City, Utah. So ,they know me in Sherwin-Williams, but not by name. I am sure I am memorable, if for no other reason, then the incident where one of their customer/friends took off, mistakenly, with my keys.

The folks in Surplus Warehouse love to greet me by name when I walk in. You’d think I was a celebrity! I am not one of their bigger customers as I mostly purchase laminate and tile for flooring from them, but we always have a great repartee. One of the men takes joy in reminding me about the time I locked my keys in the car and had to wait for Triple AAA. (There seems to be some evil karma involving  my keys.)

That said, most of the time and in most of the places, I am anonymous when I shop. Or, at least I thought I was. But there are always people watching.

Recently, when I was checking out of Home Depot with some small purchases, and brooding about a broken boiler in one of the properties I manage, the clerk said, “Is everything okay? You always look so happy and today you are not smiling.” If you had asked me if I ever saw her before, I would have said “no”. Yet, this woman remembered me, and remembered me as cheerful and friendly. I really felt like I had let that clerk down by not being a bright spot in her day on that occasion.

Generally I try to treat people with respect and appreciate what they do for me. I strongly believe in that old, worn out saying “what goes around comes around.”

Year ago, I had a small monthly newspaper (a good news newspaper in New Jersey), and was calling on an advertiser. On that particular day, he  was nasty to one of his workers. I said to him, “You just made that guy feel badly, and now he will take it out on someone else, maybe one of your customers.” He looked at me quizzically and asked, “You really think so?”

I asked him to think about the last time his wife was nasty to him and how that affected how he treated the next person. “Nouf said,” as they say.

Any way, yesterday I was in the dollar store looking for some wire for hanging pictures. After exhausting my patience and not finding it, I approached a woman restocking the shelves. She stopped what she was doing and walked me over to point out what should have been already obvious. I looked her in the eye and smilingly thanked her for helping me.

She was ready to walk away, but then said, “You don’t remember me (she was right), but you showed me a house and my circumstances changed and I was not able to rent it from you.”

My husband always says that he would not want to be in a police lineup with me choosing the criminal because I don’t look for details. I guess he is right but I have no recollection of ever having seen that woman but I was so happy that I treated her with respect since she “knew” me.

There is no hiding. Someone is always watching. For me, I try to remember that it is the Almighty. That usually keeps me on my toes.


This painting is now framed and hanging on the walls at Amma’s Kitchen in the Roselawn neighborhood of Cincinnati


Someone is Watching You ©

By Joan Gross

A friend sent me a story in an email. Possibly it is true, or maybe it is a yarn woven to teach us a lesson:

“Several years ago, a rabbi from out-of-state accepted a call for a community in Houston, Texas. Some weeks after he arrived, he had an occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much in change.

As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, ‘You’d better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.’

Then he thought, ‘Oh, forget it, it’s only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare, they will never miss it. Accept it as a gift from G-d and keep quiet.’

When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, ‘Here, you gave me too much change’.

The driver, with a smile, replied, “Aren’t you the new rabbi in town?’

‘Yes,’ he replied.

“Well, I have been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I’ll see you in shul on Shabbos’.

When the rabbi stepped off the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said ‘Oh Rebonah Shel Olam (creator of the world), I almost sold a Jew for a quarter.'”

This story brought to mind a conversation I had recently on the night of a recent birthday. A teenager, now married with his own family, lived with me and my children for his last two years of high school. That was over twenty years ago. He stated that I had a big influence on him. I expected him to speak about the fact that he obtained a master’s degree from a prestigious university, especially when no one in his immediate family had ever attended college. He was a bright boy and he used his opportunity well.

Instead, he spoke about a broken glass.

During his childhood, whenever he broke something he was yelled out and he said it always made him feel badly. After all, he had never done it purposefully.

He went on to say that in the very beginning when he came to live with us, he was washing dishes and broke a glass. He was really upset, thinking to himself,  “You were doing me a favor to keep me in your home, and I broke your glass.”

He continued, “I went to you to confess about the broken glass and you said to me, ‘Well, you know where the garbage is.'”

That sentence, he related, “taught me that there are many different ways to handle a situation and it has been a lifelong lesson that I remember when I want to be angry about someone else’s mistake.”

Someone is watching us, and hearing every word we say. Many times our biggest good deeds may go unnoticed or unappreciated, yet, some little action or word can change someone’s life.




Hafook. Or, All About Trying to Learn a Language ©

By: Joan Gross

I learn words but a week later the words just sail out of my mind. A strong breeze just carries them away.

Or I may remember the word, but not the meaning. Take the Hebrew words “bakbok” and “boobah” for instance. I mix them up. One word means bottle and the second doll.

Worse, and my husband does the same thing, is we confuse the words “calev” and “kelev”. One is milk and the other is dog. It is a little embarrassing to go out and order coffee with or without a dog instead of with or without milk.

A friend taught me to order coffee by saying café hafook. Otherwise you get a tiny cup of very strong coffee. I had no idea what the word meant, but it worked. I got good coffee with milk and not a dog.

My husband was expecting someone to hang a political banner outside our living room window. The man showed up an hour and a half late, full of apologies which we could only half understand. We were thrilled though because we have not figured out how to remove the screen or the window and we were going to watch carefully to see how this man did it. It’s not just the language that is strange when you move to another country. Everything is different.

The man removed the screen. He took out the window. He climbed outside and hung the banner and in the process cut his finger. We scrambled to find him a band aid. He carefully replaced the window and the screen and was packing up his belongings when our neighbor walked in. She took one look at the sign and yelled “haffook.” The sign was upside down. The poor man had to go through the entire process again to put the banner right side up.

I was left pondering how “afook” applied to coffee and the banner and figured out – maybe not correctly but enough to satisfy myself – that when they make coffee “afook” they heat up the milk in the cup, and then they add the coffee–upside down from serving the coffee and then adding the milk.

But my affair with “hafook” continued. I was in Tzfat (also known as Sefad) with my husband. He was in a class learning digital marketing and I was set loose to shop. I was in a store looking at scarves, and suddenly the owner of the shop came to me. She touched my dress. What is this about I wondered. Then she pinched the seam at the side and pulled it out for me to examine. “Afook” she exclaimed. My dress was on inside out.


“Hafook” I will remember. It will not sail out of my brain but remain embedded forever. If only I could actually experience other words instead of learning them by rote. I would actually learn to speak Hebrew.


The Tired Purple Dragon, A Red Dog and The Unhappy Clown

Children have to make important decisions every day and their choices affect how they feel about themselves, their friendships and the formation of their character. In these three stories, the protagonists deal with a pesky sibling, stealing and poor self image.

“A Tired Purple Dragon”: Andy is fed up with his little brother Michael tagging along after him and his friends and decides to lose him. Hours later Michael cannot be found and Andy is being questioned by the police.

“A Red Dog”: Mr. Grotsky loses his wallet when a red dog rips off his pocket. Best friends Daniel and Nathan find the wallet containing $200 and now their friendship is endangered.
“The Unhappy Clown” is the story of Alex whose classmates call him clowny. An encounter with a very sick hospitalized boy teaches Alex that being a clown is a good thing.


ImageThe three stories are available on an ebook version of your choosing for $0.99.