Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm so Excited!

After a few months being insanely busy writing my blog into a book, I finally handed in the rough draft to a publisher!

I'm really excited, but so nervous. This is where all my hard work gets torn apart and nitpicked by a bunch of people who see it as business and not as a piece of my heart. I'm nervous but in a good way. I know it's going to be a long process to publish, but I can't wait to get this out.

I'm a little worried about what the reception will be with this as a book and not just some random blog. I hope readers will like it just like people seem to be enjoying my blog so far.

I'm a little afraid to put such a personal thing out there to the real public where my name will be displayed on bookshelves in Judaica stores and where random unknown people will be able to talk about my experiences and actions without even knowing who I am first.

I know I am likely to be judged and criticised, but I still think that my diary should be out there for the people who will grow and learn and get chizuk and even a good laugh out of it.

I don't even know why I'm posting now; things are so premature- the book probably won't be out until sukkos anyway. I guess I just need the support of my readers right now... :-)

Eventually I'm going to have to shut my previous posts- all the ones from 2003 and 2004 because no one would buy the book if its all online. I feel bad about doing that because the original purpose of this blog was to give chizuk to those who needed it and I feel stupid taking a profit from people who I could be helping for free, but thats they way things work in publishing.

Sorry for warbling, but like I said, I'm nervous!!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Blurt Poem

Okay, rushing out to work, but I just finished the poem I meant for my friend. Mind you, she hasn't seen it yet, so I'm hoping she can keep off my blog until tonight when I have a chance to deliver it!

When you’re feeling down and kinda sicky
And life seems like it’s very icky,
And you greet visitors halfhearted
And they say things that are retarded.

Just think of Blurt!

The game where people shout and scream
And don’t know what they really mean
And are busy yelling themselves blue,
Not bothering to listen to you!

It’s the game of Blurt!

When the nausea from chemo totally gets you
And it seems like normal people just forget you
And when the callers just invade your space
And you feel like yelling them into place

Just think of Blurt!

The game where players get ahead
As they switch places in the other’s stead
And try to figure out the definition’s word
And you wonder if the question was actually heard

It’s the game of Blurt!

When you feel like no one hears you
Because the people who come near you
Make you feel like a forgotten item on a shelf
Because they came thinking about themselves

Just think of Blurt!

The game where it’s about YOU winning
And where the thinking stops right at the beginning
Like when chesed people come to call
and dont know what they are doing at all!

Its the game of Blurt!

When people talk without using their brains
And Blurt! out things that sound insane
Just laugh and try to join the fun
And then you’ll end the game before everyone

Just think of Blurt!

Where players don’t know what cancer is like
And try to do good, though it don’t come out right
And I guess you’re doing a mitzvah just to let them
And then they finally leave and you can forget them!

It’s the game of Blurt!

I know that Blurtiing is not your speed,
But you need to think that they’re in need
They need to feel good about who they are,
And use you to do chessed and maybe get far

Just think of Blurt!

But in the end you come out the winner
(C’mon Chemo makes us sick kids so much thinner!!)
And the other players think they won too,
It’s really all up to you!

It’s the game of Blurt!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


The title says it all.

I grew up on the game blurt. I guess it's one of the games that are the making of English teachers.

The game is a deck of cards with dictionary definitions. One person reads the definitions and the other players need to blurt out the word the definitions are describing. The pressure and competition between the players are what make it so stressful to get the answers out.

I found this game today while shopping for Chanukah presents. It was at a great price and I was so thrilled to see my childhood favorite on sale for a third of the usual price that I grabbed a set for a friend and another for myself.

My husband wanted to know what I was going to do with the game and I said I was going to put it away until I had three daughters to play it with. He's still groaning.

The other set is for a friend who is going through chemo. She's having a very hard time dealing with those people who can't stop saying inconsiderate things to her about her illness. Being sick is hard on her and having to deal with the added stress of weird people doesn't help anything.

When I saw the game Blurt I had to think of her. It made me laugh that Blurt was her whole problem. It was the problem of people just blurting without thinking.

Like in the game, the players are just aiming to get what they have to say out in the open and they aren't listening to anyone else. Sometimes they try and blurt out the answer before they even finish hearing the question.

I feel like Blurt is the life of every cancer patient. People talking over you and not even listening to what you have to say before they start jabbering themselves.

All they want is to get ahead in the game, they just don't realize how idiotic they all sound shouting and jumping to find the right answer.

In Blurt the answers are regular words. In Cancer, I think the answer is Blurt!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

It's not just the Outsiders

Sorry I haven't been writing lately, but things are insanely busy as usual.

Anyhoo, I know that this blog has been a little (okay a lot) negative about how outsiders who don't necessarily understand how cancer patients feel, are sometimes tactless when it comes to making comments and in some of their actions.

I tried not to come down too hard, but there are some people who just beg to be mentioned for their idiocy and lack of common sense.

For example, I have a recently married friend who was just diagnosed with a tumor. It was a scary time for all who know her because it was a long waiting period to hear whether the tumor was cancerous and if she'd need chemo or not.

It was also very sad because only a few months earlier she had been a joyful kallah at her wedding and now her new life was disrupted for something so sinister. There were rumors spreading that her husband was going to leave her and all sorts of horrible things that of course weren't true and were just hurtful to my friend and her family and of course, her new family.

She came home from her surgery erev Shabbos and was feeling so ill, that her mother in law didn't let her go home, and took her in for the weekend. (She still has a bunch of little siblings at her parents house so going there wasn't ideal for resting up.)

The tumor was officially a secret until it was discovered to be benign and that she would not need chemo, but that Shabbos no one really knew what was going on except for her close friends and family. Alas, people talk, and of course, rumors spread, no matter how hard you try to keep it under wraps.

Early Shabbos morning, while my friend was still asleep, one of her friends knocked on her mother in law's door to ask how my friend was doing. She wasn't a particularly close friend and she wasn't someone my friend would have liked sharing intimate details of her life with. She asked the mother in law if there was anything she could do and the mother in law declined. The friend hung around, making no move to leave until she finally asked, "So, she had a miscarriage, right? Everyone is talking about how she was rushed into the hospital because she lost a baby."

You can imagine my friend's reaction when she heard the kind of things being discussed about her and that there were people out there who didn't even think that it was not appropriate to knock on the patients door to ask personal questions.

I should really add that to my list of DON'Ts - no personal questions!

Okay to stop bashing the ones out there and focus on the wrongs of people that are part of "My" crowd. ;)

I was stopped randomly by someone who heard from someone else who read my blog that I had been sick. This woman had a son who had just been declared in remission and all she wanted to do was tell me about every single doctor's visit her son had ever had. She was telling me things that I'm sure her eighteen year old son would die if he knew she told me about, and she was keeping me while I was on the way to an important appointment.

I know she needed to talk to someone who understood, and I did understand, but I didn't know why it had to be outside in the rain when it was freezing and I was rushing somewhere without a coat.

I have no idea why she thought that I needed to hear everything about her son's body and why she felt so much better after asking me some really personal questions too.

She asked my opinion on all her son's chemo and his radiation and if I knew his doctor and if I knew the doctor why didn't I go there too. I had defend my choices to her and then assure her that her choices were right too. Mind you this is already AFTER her son was declared in remission this summer.

I am glad to be so open about my illness and more than happy to help anyone, but there's a limit to how much of my privacy I'm willing to give up.

Some cancer people feel like this is something they want to overcome and forget and then there are others who need to go through all the weeny details over and over again.

Personally, I am very open about my illness, and its hard for me to forget because it was at a very important time in my life- it marked the split from being a teen in school to getting married. I had no time to readjust to real life again, it was from one episode to another.

But as open as I am, I have another life too. Now that I have been busy redoing my blog so that I can publish it as a real live book, I've been finding it so hard to relive all those experiences. I don't regret that I wrote them down, but its so hard to go through them even on my own, and when I am stopped by strangers who demand my life story, I have a very hard time coping.

I want to be able to help everybody, but I think people need to help themselves first by deeply considering other people and their feelings. I don't say this as a negative, I say this because I think everyone needs to work on this. Cancer related or not. Being in touch with the feelings of others is something seriously lacking in this day and age where people are doing things mostly to get ahead.

I would even say that 80% of the girls who volunteer for Chai Lifeline only do it to get into Camp Simcha. I know this because I get calls from people I don't even know asking me if I can write them a recommendation to be accepted. They beg me to tell Chai Lifeline how amazing they were to me when I was sick and yadda yadda. Sad thing is that I'm not the only cancer patient getting these "do me this huge favor" calls.

I just gave a report card comment to a girl that I wanted her to be more aware of the feelings of the girls around her. It wasn't meant as a bad comment at all. I just wanted her to be aware that some of the things she was doing were not going over well with her classmates.

Well her parents came to PTA this morning LIVID. They claimed I hated their daughter and totally washed the floor with me.

To be honest. I do hate their kid now that I met the parents. I understand where her attitude comes from and I know that whatever I will say won't make any difference because her parents think I'm a liar and that I am an incompetent teacher.

I laughed in their faces (yeah, I guess that does make me incompetent) but I was so hurt inside. Not for me. I know not to take those people personally. I hurt for all those people just like me out there who are faced with insensitive talk and gestures just because others are too stuck up to listen for what we are asking.

It doesn't hurt to think of others feelings once in a while. It doesn't take much to realize where common sense is needed, and it doesn't take that much to take a little bit of advice sometimes, even if it is a little bitter.

I look at this girl and her parents and think that one day there might be a cancer patient who is going to cry because of a comment my student might make. All because she refuses to think that she can do any wrong.

We all do wrong. I'm still working on that list of dos and dont's - really! its just taking forever because things like this keep happening.

I think that before we even do a cancer list- we should do a checklist- a personal one. We all need to think, "Who might I be hurting when I say or do this or that?" I need to think before writing a comment on a student's record card that might be interpreted wrongly, and parents need to think about how to talk to a teacher who works hard to help their child, and others need to think of how their well meaning actions might be taken the wrong way by someone like a patient, or to be honest; anyone else.