Choose Life

(crossposted and edited from Coffee and Chemo)

Our lives are filled with choices.

Almost two years ago, when I learned about my diagnosis, I made a choice, a conscious choice, about how I would live my life.

I stumbled, by accident, on frightening survival statistics of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer: only 20% are still alive five years after their diagnosis.

I determined right then and there that I intended to be part of that 20%.

I wish I could remember which angel directed me to the fabulous article by Stephen J. Gould, “The Median is Not the Message”. I think it might have been someone from Sharsheret, a wonderful Jewish American organization that provided me with tremendous support in those devastating initial weeks, before I found appropriate support here in Israel.

If you have not read it already, then I recommend doing so now. Go ahead. It will reshape the way you view the world.

I read “The Median is Not the Message” and realized that my determination to “beat the odds” is a rational possibility and not just “wishful thinking.”

Meanwhile, Moshe (my husband) was reading everything he could about my disease. My dear, loving, sensitive husband was devastated by the statistics.

I knew that Moshe, for whom logic and cold science are fundamental to how he views the world, needed to read the article.

That article was the greatest gift I could give him.

But I did not stop there. I had already begun formulating my 20-year-plan.

I figured that if I did end up living for another 20 years or more, it would be an aweful shame to live all that time worrying about dying tomorrow.

Besides, I joked, I “just need to live long enough for them to discover a cure.”

There is so much research going on every day, who knows what new medicines and miracle cures might be just a few years down the road?

We do not know what the future will bring. So why live expecting the worst? What a waste of our valuable time and energy.

In the past, I loved the adage “expect the worst, hope for the best, and you will never be disappointed.” Suddenly, this approach to life no longer served me well.

I shifted paradigms.

I chose to expect the best.

I chose to believe that I would live, that I would have a future.

In Parshat Nitzavim (the Biblical passages of Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20) which we read on Shabbat (the Sabbath), just before Rosh HaShanah (the Jewish new year), during the time when Jews are focussed on self-evaluation and repentence, Moshe Rabeinu (Moses, our teacher; not my husband) addresses Am Yisrael (the Jewish People) and proclaims:

הַעִדֹתִי בָכֶם הַיּוֹם, אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ, הַחַיִּים וְהַמָּוֶת נָתַתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ, הַבְּרָכָה וְהַקְּלָלָה; וּבָחַרְתָּ בַּחַיִּים, לְמַעַן תִּחְיֶה, אַתָּה וְזַרְעֶךָ
(דברים ל:יט)

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed (Deuteronomy 30:19)


7 Responses to Choose Life

  1. throwslikeagirl74 says:

    Great article and great post! 🙂

  2. Spruce Hill says:

    Yes great post! 🙂

  3. Marinkina says:

    Да,aleks,побороть лень, действительно иногда очень сложно..

  4. Jenster says:

    What a beautiful post, RivkA!

  5. You are a true inspiration!

  6. whymommy says:

    I loved the Steven J. Gould article too! I’m glad you found it, and that you’ve made the choices you have!

  7. Thanks for all the positive feedback!!

    (it makes staying up until two in the morning, “just to finish my post,” feel a bit more valuable!)

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