The medical facility where I received treatment is one of the most prestigious in the world, but some staff members had a lousy bedside manner. One resident -- I thought of him as Dr. Worst-Case-Scenario -- would always give me his gloomiest predictions.
This time, Charlie Lustman hadn't come to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for medical tests or to endure another round of chemotherapy. Despite having lost three-quarters of his jawbone, Lustman had come to celebrate, to inspire -- and to sing.
He wasn't the only one who helped Eva fight through the pain. For years, Eva has had an extended family down the street at Maimonides Academy. The head of the school, Rabbi Boruch Kupfer, often came to visit. One day, knowing what Eva was going through, he asked her what they could bring. Eva wasn't shy: Food, she said, and lots of soup.
A day before I left for a vacation cruise to Alaska, I looked in the mirror and spied, atop my clean, bald head -- Hair! There wasn't much of it, standing less than one-sixteenth of an inch tall. But when I ran my hand over my crown, I felt the delicious tickle of stubble.
"It's back!" I cried to my friend Susan, who was lending me a gown for the cruise's formal night. We jumped up and down the way we did in high school when the latest "he" called. I've been a cue ball since Day 12 of my first round of chemo. All my hair is gone, including eyebrows and lashes. The only really bad part, aside from looking like a Conehead, is the way drafts of cold air make my forehead feel glacial. In Alaska, I spent time looking for bald eagles, seeking to join their minyan.