The summer is coming to an end, which for our family means that the Dana Farber Jimmy Fund Walk is only weeks away! For the eighth time, our family will lace up our sneakers and join thousands of others in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, and we are once again asking you for your generous support for Team Neuro.
We look forward to participating in the Jimmy Fund Walk throughout the year, and it is a constant topic of conversation in our family. Sitting down to write this email, however, can be a daunting and emotionally difficult process. For the many of you who have donated generously year after year - you know our story well and have had front-row seats to our medical drama. (For more information, please take a look at our letters from previous years.) On a good year (such as this one, thankfully!), our daily lives are not that different from yours, and we are in the thick of synchronizing schedules, getting ready for the new school year, busy at work, recovering from vacations, planning for the holidays, and managing the endless joys (and curve-balls) that are part and parcel of bringing up four rambunctious boys.
At this time of year, we pause and pick up our heads from the daily grind, and use the Jimmy Fund Walk as an opportunity to take a breath, look around us, and acknowledge the many miracles that have allowed us to spend most of our days just like everyone else. We take the opportunity to focus on the “hashgacha pratit,” or divine supervision of the individual, that is present in our lives. The philosophical concept of hashgacha pratit refers to the idea that God intimately supervises every aspect in this world, and that the events that occur in a person’s life, even those that appear to be circumstantial, in fact emanate from Him. For us, preparing for the Walk is the first event in a series of autumn moments when we reflect on the very many ways God has made his presence known in our lives. Raising money on behalf of Dana Farber, praying and reflecting on the Jewish New Year, observing the solemnity of Yom Kippur, and then throwing an annual “feast of gratitude” on the last of the fall Jewish holidays, which coincides with the anniversary of Dani’s surgery (12 years!) -- all create within us a deep sense of gratitude to God for his hashgacha pratit.
We feel God’s supervision and love for us every time we walk into Dana Farber and constantly remark on how blessed we are to be treated at that exceptional institution, and by the very special people who work there. When talking to Ben about the Jimmy Fund Walk a few nights ago, Ben remarked that “it was a little scary when you told me that [Mom] had cancer, but I knew that you would be going to Dana Farber.” Knowing that Dana Farber is on the forefront of cancer treatment and care made him feel confident that things would be okay. Ben was five years old when we went on our first Jimmy Fund Walk, and he is now diligently preparing for his bar mitzva. For us, living to see this milestone has never been a given presumption, and we eagerly look forward to celebrating it this coming Passover in Israel, at the Western Wall where many of our friends and family have gone to pray for us over the years.
We are pleased to report that both of us are doing well, and that Yakir (who will be two in November) is as delicious and joyful as they come. Tova was diagnosed almost two years ago, and has recovered well from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and her treatments. Dani continues with quarterly MRI’s to make sure his brain tumor is in check, and has managed to avoid treatment since Tova was pregnant with Nate (eight years ago).
But yes, there is a clock ticking. It’s pretty inaudible most of the time, but it is always there, lurking in the background. As we have always said, the name of the game with brain cancer is to buy time, as the landscape has and continues to change radically year after year. There is SO much on the forefront in this area of medicine, and many of these treatments and studies have very direct implications on Dani’s particular tumor. Literally every year, there are new potential avenues to explore when the alarm goes off and we will have to intervene. The dollars you have donated to the Jimmy Fund Walk have directly contributed to some of these promising treatments and continue to make an enormous difference in Dani’s long-term prognosis.
The hashgacha pratit we have experienced is not solely limited to our positive outcomes battling this awful disease, the health of Yakir and our other children, or to the incredible medical care we have both received at Dana Farber. But for us, we equally see God’s hand in giving us such supportive and loving families; an unbelievable community which is characterized by chesed (kind deeds) through and through; supportive and compassionate colleagues and workplaces; and caring and committed friends from far and wide who are always there for us and constantly show their love for us (and who make us laugh). One of the greatest gifts we have are the amazing people that we get to share our lives with and who share their lives with us.
So we humbly ask you once again, our dear friends and family, who have been with us and supported us in so many ways through challenges we never would have imagined, to donate to the Jimmy Fund Walk in our support. Dani and so many other patients like him across the world depend on it.
We wish you and your loved ones a shanah tova u’metuka - a happy and sweet new year filled with good health, happiness, peace and laughter.
With our deepest appreciation,