Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Message Of Hope And Priorities

It's Cancer
Tony Snow

People respond in different ways to such news. My first reaction was to think it was cool, in a bizarre way — as if I had been inducted into a club known not just for its danger and darkness, but also for promising survivors something precious and rare: a fuller glimpse of life itself.

That feeling didn't last long. Within hours, the novelty dissolved and panic set in. My wife and I lay numbly in bed, fretting about what might be. A neighborhood friend had died of cancer only weeks before, leaving behind young children. We both thought, "What if ... ?"

Meanwhile, I felt pings and pangs in every conceivable organ and extremity. I interpreted transitory pains as evidence that micro-tumors had begun spreading wildly throughout my body and were attacking with fiendish efficiency. At one point, I mistook normal, allergy-related sinus pain for a brain tumor.

Fortunately, this panic didn't last long, either — mainly because I received a very important visit from a friend. She came over to our house, armed with books and advice. Lounging on the couch, she talked about how she survived simultaneous cancers of the breast, lungs and lymph nodes.

There's nothing quite like a pep talk from a cancer survivor, especially one who by normal calculations ought to have died long ago.

Here is the most important thing she said: "When I was sick, my husband and I would sit in a group with other women who had the same thing. We sat in a circle, the same people each week.

"Some looked strong and vigorous; others were pale and weak. But none of that mattered. We discovered that we could figure out who was going to live and who would die just by looking into their eyes. The ones who were afraid didn't make it. The ones who were pessimistic didn't make it. The women who made it were the ones who wanted to live, and were ready to fight. Some of the big, strong women weren't ready to fight."

From that moment on, I haven't felt a pang of fear or trepidation. My friend inspired me to stop acting like a passive nut-job, performing diagnoses based on toe twinges and random gas pains, and to get moving. Suddenly, I couldn't wait to enter the hospital, where a terrific surgeon removed my colon, and then to undertake a six-month course of chemotherapy, complete with annoying side-effects and days of dreary exhaustion.

And so I did.

Winston Churchill once noted that there is nothing quite so thrilling as being shot at without effect. One can say much the same thing of grappling with cancer, with one difference: When a bullet passes, you know it. When cancer passes, you have to wait at least five years to mop your brow in relief.

Still, the last few months — my time of surgery and chemo — have been the happiest and most thrilling of my life. They have confirmed lessons that seem at once too good to be true, and too important and vital not to be.

Here is a short inventory:

Faith matters. Prayers heal. Love overcomes.

People want to do good for others; they just need excuses.

Fear is a waste of time. The worst that can happen is that we'll die — which happens to everybody, anyway. Until the Grim Reaper comes knocking, we're alive.

We can count our hardships, but not our blessings.

Life does not revolve around us. It envelops us.

There is no condition that someone else has not already overcome.

Nothing makes one feel more alive than the prospect of death and the requirement that one fight for the things that give life its richness, meaning and joy.

Seven months into my little adventure, I love my wife and children more than ever; relish my work more than I could have imagined; and feel joy that I cannot begin to describe. I also have some street credibility when it comes to counseling cancer patients. I now can do what my friend did: Dispense a little advice and encouragement, so someone else can replace fear with hope and anxiety with determination.

Which leads to the final healing lesson. When you find a good thing, don't be selfish. Pass it on. You'll feel better — and so will someone you love.

A k'sviva v'chasima tova to all.May Hashem bless all that need a refuah shleima, and ALL of Klal Yisroel.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is cancer, a natural way to die, part of the beriah, a not so subtle hint?

Show us the way, uoj.

Sunday, October 02, 2005 9:56:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

B'Rosh Hashana Yikasavun, u'vYom Tzom Kippur Yichasamun,
Me Yichyeh Ume Yamus,

Sunday, October 02, 2005 10:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your entire inspiration for the holiest of days is a goys bout with the big C? Not a quote from the talmud? Heaven help all those who take you seriously. Charles from Brooklyn.

Sunday, October 02, 2005 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Above idiot anonymous,
Nothing to be learned from a "GOYS BOUT WITH THE BIG C?"
Heaven helps with JEWS like you!

Monday, October 03, 2005 12:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

way to go uoj.

you are on the money.

rosh hashonah is serious and life threatening.

we can learn from everyone, except prince charles, duke of eden borough, late of brooklyn.

Monday, October 03, 2005 12:38:00 AM  
Blogger Shlomo said...

To Unortho Gross DK and anyone else that I may have offended in recent posts I sincerely ask mechilah. As everybody knows the subject matter of this blog is controversial and each of has strong opinions as to various issues related to the current state of yiddishkeit, and things tend to get way out if hand.
I think we all agree that there are many crucial issues facing k'lal Yisroel that must be addressed and remidied. I also think that we all want the best for k'lal yisroel.
Ostensively the ultimate goal is for the Jews to do teshuvah and these issues would evaporate.
Unfortunately we see soaring amounts of kids at risk, we have machlokes after machlokes in both the chassidishe and the yeshivishe oilim. Unmanageble costs of living etc... etc... and many other problems addressed here. I still think the way it's presented here is a tremendous chillus Hashem, but I bear no ill will to anyone here.
Im yirtze Hashem we should all have a gut gebentched yahr and a k'siva v'chassima tovah, and we should all be zoiche to a geulah shleim b'karov.

Monday, October 03, 2005 12:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where there is potential for chillul Hashem there exists the possibility of kiddush hashem.

As for me, I can only quote to each of us, the words of the sage, y.y, "wow. aren't you afraid?"

Monday, October 03, 2005 1:39:00 AM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Gam Lecha!
Actually in my private life I am very shy and soft spoken.
I mean all GOOD people no harm.
I am outraged by what is going on in Yiddishkeit, and I am doing my level best to call attention to it in a way that attracts the most attention possible.
Dialogue is the crucial start of change.
Ksiva V'chasima Tova, All The Very Best.

Monday, October 03, 2005 8:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So why don't you quote talmudic sources? You are enamored with the non jewish world and get all your inspiration from them. Your best response when someone takes you to task is ''get off my blog'' How sad. Charles.

Monday, October 03, 2005 9:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"when someone takes you to task..."

UOJ is imitating the divine, charles, when he threatens everyone with exile from his blog.

An unorthodox jew has the right to be radical, idiosyncratic, unusual, different. If you want lectures in talmudic discourse, try ohr somayach, aish hatorah and daf yomi.

happy new year.

Monday, October 03, 2005 9:23:00 AM  
Blogger חיים טוביאס said...

ייש"כ פאר אזא ניכטערע אויפוועקונג צו אוזער געזונט, זאלסטו פארשריבן ווערן צו א גוט געבענטשט יאר

Monday, October 03, 2005 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

R' Chaim,
Gam Lecha!
Kol Tuv!

Monday, October 03, 2005 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Who the hell are you to denigrate Goyim?
You do not come to my blog for divrei Torah, If you want to hear divrei Torah from me come to one of my classes!
Never mind, I don't want behaimas in my class.
You are the classic example of the IGNORANT JEW that I rant about.

Monday, October 03, 2005 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can uoj chant as well as he can rant?

the runt

Monday, October 03, 2005 1:56:00 PM  
Blogger Quit Smoking said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Get-A-Free-House said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 7:31:00 PM  
Blogger Clickbank Mall said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 10:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

charles has been chucked?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 11:23:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...


Thursday, October 06, 2005 1:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the la la la was very good.

uoj rocks.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 4:12:00 PM  
Anonymous the booger said...


Didn't know you had a soft spot in your heart.

Tony Snow's battle highlights something all of us are know is going on in the frum community; the big C is hitting with ferocity. I'm sure all of us know of a family that has a member suffering from this disease. Look at Sloan-Kettering...Satmar Bikur Cholim is a fixture there...Hashem Yiracheim.
When did one ever see so many yidden of every sect and denomination there? Unprecedented.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 4:23:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Most people think (blog people that is), I don't have a heart, period.
Shana Tova!

Thursday, October 06, 2005 5:42:00 PM  
Anonymous harvey said...

I bet you uo that the guy who responded in yiddish is afflicted, and your post helped him.
god bless you.
you keep ranting at the animals, i am a diehard fan.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 5:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cancer was created for the frum community?

Thursday, October 06, 2005 10:24:00 PM  

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