The Best Christmas Present Ever

Thanks to everyone that sent us good wishes about Gayle’s successful cancer treatment. We didn’t tell many people because we were waiting for the good news we finally got. I used up all my holiday requests I ever had (63 x 9 = 567) to garner these results. ( I get 9 requests per year because I decided to make my honorary Jew designation retroactive to get 8 extra wishes per year, but that’s another story. Hey, don’t laugh, those wishes along with all the thoughts and prayers from friends and family worked.)
About 3 months ago Gayle began having symptoms that finally required a doctor’s visit. At first, she was treated for an infection and given antibiotics. (Here is humorous [not really] side note. These same symptoms can be caused by a STD or HIV. Lets just say Gayle would make a great interrogator at GITMO.) After a short session of waterboarding and when the test results came back negative, her doctor decided on another course of treatment. She performed a D&C. That also didn’t resolve the symptoms, but analysis of the tissue gathered revealed the problem. She had complex hyperplasia with atipia. This particular hyperplasia always turns into endometrial cancer 100% of the time if untreated and 25% to 45% of the time undetected cancer is already present. ( I will spend the rest of my life unlearning all those fun-filled facts about gynecological cancer. That brain space needs to be utilized for important information like the point spread for the Monday night football game or how to deduce when someone is holding a pocket pair in poker.)
Cancer. I can still hardly type those words without losing my breath. Gayle’s doctor in Victoria, Dr Gonzales, gave us the treatment options. The one she recommended strongly was treatment at the most prestigious cancer treatment center in the world, MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Gonzales offered a referral to a colleague there. I will be forever grateful to her for that referral.
Off to Houston we went. MD Anderson is an intimidating place. There are so many very smart people working there the windows vibrate with brain power. Walking into the lobby is like entering the lobby of the United Nations building. We saw a Saudi sheik and a number of Sikhs. People were speaking all kinds of languages from all over the world. Very lucky for us, my sister and brother-in-law are old hands at guiding people through the maze of buildings that make up the campus designed by architects inspired by ant hills. She has been in treatment there for years for ovarian cancer and my brother-in-law just began treatment for kidney cancer that has spread to his lungs. They are pretty experienced tour guides and they are doing very well in their treatment regimen.
We then met with Gayle’s resident brainiac physician, Dr. Frumowitz (surely he is a member of the Tribe). He analyzed the data presented by Dr. Gonzales (still my hero in this saga), and performed an exam. Then he stated, “Guess what you’re doing for Christmas”.
That brings us today. Jackie and Ansel were by our sides throughout this ordeal and also today. Our very good friends Chuck and Danna were also there to support us. Norman was kind enough to lend them to us for this time despite the horrendous ordeal he is experiencing just down the street at Hermann Memorial Hospital (more on that later). Gayle’s surgery lasted three hours. Let me tell you, that is a very long time to wonder what is going on. But then Dr. Frumowitz came back with the very best news he could have offered. The surgery went off well and analysis of the tissue gleaned there is no cancer. Gayle is cancer free. We will probably be home tomorrow.
Throughout this 3 month peek into Hell, Gayle has been a trooper. She continued to perform admirably in all 3 of her full time jobs and very seldom let the pressure of living with the thoughts of cancer interfere with her life. She certainly showed her bravery. I never loved her more.

Hanukkah for Dummies

Hey everyone, we have reached the halfway point and the Hanukkah celebration. In my self-appointed role as Honorary Jew I believe it’s important to discuss Hanukkah and what I have observed so far.
First, Anne and Don, it’s really great you were able to celebrate Hanukkah during Hanukkah this year. Jessup, you really exhibited tolerance and generosity by helping your wife put up the Christmas tree on the first day of Hanukkah. Ryland, thank you for continually requesting that I participate more fully in the Hanukkah celebration and enjoy the act of giving at least eight times.
Also, in the role of honorary Jew, I thought it was important that I learn more about Hanukkah itself. Therefore, after thorough research consulting a great Talmudic scholar (Siri) I am well versed in the celebration. I know that the word Hanukkah means dedication or rededication. I know that this festival is a celebration of victory over oppression (If Jews had a holiday for every victory they’ve had in the struggle against oppression, it would be a year-long fest, not just eight days.) I know that one tradition in which I intend to follow is that of eating oil based foods like latkes and DONUTS!!! The celebration is also called the Festival of Lights (it’s a candle thing). I also learned why it lasts eight days (it’s a candle miracle thing).
But this is what I really learned. My Jewish family has welcomed us with open arms. They really practice tolerance, openness, generosity and absolute love of family.
I’m really getting into this. I may even keep this up after Hanukkah. I may even want to go to a Chinese restaurant again on Christmas Day.

Shalom,
Jim the Honorary Jew

Why I am Jim the Honorary Jew

Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends and family. I have decided that I am an honorary Jew because I have two Jewish sons’-in- law and three half-Jewish grandsons. As an honorary Jew I will now observe Jewish holidays, too. By observe, I mean watch (sorry Ryland, you would break me if I had to buy eight more gifts for you, your brother , and your cousin). Anymore watching than is beyond me. You have to speak in a language that takes your total upper respiratory system and must also read from a text filled with an alphabet that looks like a giant mathematical formula. So Happy Hanukkah everyone. I’ll be watching.