My new friend Sylvia’s Story

HEALTH, ADVERSITIES and FAITH

Good morning Everyone,

My name is Sylvia … and I am a cancer survivor. On August 25th

normal person going to spin class, helping my son plan for college, getting my

younger son ready for his junior year in high school and enjoying my new job.

You can say my life was pretty good and I felt happy and content. Until, August

26th, 2012 my life changed in so many ways. My GYN’s office called me at the

office and asked me to come in to get my lab results read. Earlier that week I

had a DNC performed due to an abnormal PAP. I walked into my doctor’s office

and I sat down calmly. I had the usual anxiety when one waits for the doctor but

this felt different and I had a feeling that it was not going to be a good visit. My

doctor asked if anyone was with me and I said no my husband and children are

in the West Coast on vacation. She then proceeded to ask me if I had anyone I

could call to meet me at her office. I said no I don’t. I am now starting to feel

anxious and a bit nauseated. She pulled out my file and said Sylvia {count to 3

in your head for the big pause for impact} you have gastric type cervical cancer.

I suddenly felt my ears ringing and I asked her to repeat what she had just said.

She said you have CANCER! PAUSE……

The doctor then handed me a tissue and said; if I were telling you “YOU have

Ovarian cancer” I would be telling you, YOU have six months to live. I felt the

tears running down my face. I was numb and couldn’t believe this was happening

to me. She gave me a referral to an oncologist and I walked out of the office to

my car and felt the tears just flowing. I kept repeating G-d please help me!!!! {I

do not remember the drive home, time stood still for me….I was waiting to wake

The next few days were days of complete isolation from the real world for me. I

was not sure how I would tell my husband and my two son’s on their return.

I spent the weekend searching WebMd and other websites to find out more

information on my diagnosis. The big question was how would I handle this????

Would I handle it with dignity and grace????

I have to be brave and strong not only for myself but for my children and

husband. I have no other option. Breaking the news to my family was the most

difficult news I had to deliver in my life. The pain on my husband’s face and the

fear on my children’s face are forever imprinted and will stay with me. Chaos

has hit our wonderful home. Our lives would change forever, the unknown was

terrifying, there is no playbook or roadmap to follow.

So you must be asking yourselves about now how does one prepare for the

They say Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and

dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.

I had to dig deep and talk myself into keeping it together. I often reflect now and

see that I was able to strengthen myself when needed. I didn’t even know that

I was capable of being so strong. I couldn’t walk around crying all day. I needed

to focus and remain alert and start working on a plan. I had to prepare myself

emotionally and spiritually. There was only one answer and that was my FAITH in

G-D!!! I felt that G-D would protect me and would always be by my side and that

my prayers would be heard. When I awake I start by saying my morning prayers

and thank G-D for allowing me to see another day. I have conversations with G-
D daily and I have always felt his presence near me. I immediately felt that it was

my duty to inform my colleagues since I would be out of work for treatments. I

felt it a responsibility to inform and educate especially the women although it

was a sensitive subject it had to be talked about. I also felt that by me sharing

with my colleagues they would pray for me and if they told their families they too

would pray for me. I instantly thought of keeping a journal for myself to keep and

enter all of my doctor’s appointments; it was really to keep track of all that I had

thrown at me from so many directions. So I decided to start a blog and enter all

of my daily encounters. I started to write about visits to Sloan; from the pleasant

nurse, to the radiologist asking me what are you listening to today? I made it a

point to smile every day and put my make up on and face this illness head on.

Although I was sick I didn’t want to appear from the outside sick. I also saw small

children wheeled alongside me which was extremely difficult to see and seemed

Once at home I would meditate, listen to music and take time to give gratitude

daily. I also read on nutrition and health. I decided to post daily the 3 things that

I was most grateful for when completing an entry in my blog. In one of my last

The 3 things I am most grateful for:

2. My family and friends

I give thanks daily for all I have and all of my surroundings. Today at this moment

I am grateful to be able to share my story with so many spiritual women. I feel

fortunate to be here in front of you and sharing with you my strengths in my

I suffered with incredible pain during this unbelievable journey. I have gone

on a journey that no one should ever know about, endure or go on. I had 32

radiations, 19 chemo’s, a major radical hysterectomy and countless hospital visits

due to fevers for a total of 16 days in the hospital. My veins couldn’t take the

needle pricks any longer so a mediport was installed in my chest. I must share

this with you so that you can understand that having this illness was a year of pain

and debilitating shock to my body. I was basically held hostage by this poison in

my cells and my fight was to rid my body of these uninvited shackles. This has

been a life changing event not only for me but for all of my inner circle of family,

friends and colleagues. I had just started working at the exchange and that

November would have been my one year anniversary. On my first day of radiation

my boss Scott and his beautiful wife Melissa travelled to Bhutan. I received an

email from Scott asking for some specific details. I need your birthdate the month,

day and year. I had no idea what it was needed for? A few days passed and then

I received a fedex box. Inside I found the most incredible letter explaining to me

that they spent 5 days gathering items and were going to have a prayer service in

my honor. Scott and Melissa were on vacation and with the help of some Monks

they select some items as instructed and held a prayer ceremony on top of an

incredible mountain (“Jomolhari “), According to my birth year they selected a

blue flag. The flag was taken to the side of the mountain and a prayer ceremony

was recited. When I saw pictures of the flag flying in the air and the mountain in

the background that felt immediately as if it was me on top of the mountain and

the tears started to flow! I can’t explain the emotions I got. I was moved by the

caring that this beautiful family showed me. I was so deeply touched. I felt the

prayer and great energy.

My dear friend David whom I have known for 18 years and worked with for over

10 years decided to create a google calendar to invite friends to visit me during

my chemo treatments. He was the gate keeper of my calendar. He said it is my

turn to help you with your calendar since you took care of mine for so many

years. I was in shock!! David took notes and accompanied me and my husband

to every doctor’s appointment. I would zone out and really couldn’t concentrate

on what the doctors were saying so David was present and taking notes. In the

coming days when the treatments started friends gathered around me and the

friends visiting made those 6 hour sessions go by so quickly. My sister Ronnie

came to spend time with me from Texas. Only to experience one of the worst

storms of the year. Hurricane Sandy. Ronnie was determined to drive me to

Sloan on the day of the storm so I wouldn’t miss my treatment. One afternoon I

had 9 women around me in the waiting area and we all sat together in a circle

and I felt the positive energy of all the well wishes and prayers that were being

said for me. Women coming together and showing their support was so

impactful. That was a spiritual uplifting moment; the love and grace that was

present in front of me could be felt by all. There was a sense of calm and peace in

the air! I often had my friends tell me I am praying for you and I made an

announcement at my church, synagogue. The prayers were coming from all

“FAITHS”. I also had a group of women from my synagogue pray for good news

after my Petscan. They were praying that my report would be clean. They not

only had ladies participate in person but they also opened up a telephone line for

participants to dial in to. These same group of women gathered and decided to

have a Tehillim reading in my honor at my home. Tehillim is a collection of

Psalms and prayers for the healing of the sick. They felt that the need to be in my

home would be a direct conduit if you will with G-D and it would bring a blessing

not only to me but to my home. People from everywhere continue to tell me that

they are praying for me and that their families are praying for me. Lydia a

colleague told me my 93 year old mother is praying for you. G-D knows what he

has instore for us and G-D would not give us any burden that he knows would be

too much for us to handle. My strong feeling is that after hearing my story

friends are inspired to do a good deed and search for G-D. That is an incredible

gift. My dear friend Jean-Marc and his family sent a week of meals to our home

with constant messages of prayer. My friend Gregg ran the Boston Marathon in

my honor. Friends uniting and the community getting together was so visible. I

was fortunate to have so many friends wanting to help. Whether running for a

cause or preparing a meal I found that it was their way of feeling part of my

healing. The power of uniting and conquering together is awe inspiring.

The Torah and the Bible tells us that we are created in G-D’s image. What does

that exactly mean???? All our lives we’ve heard that we’re “made in the image

of God.” In Chapter 1 vs 27 of Genesis it states “God created mankind in his own

image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them”.

So, what does it mean to be created in God’s image? At the very least this

means humans occupy a higher place in the created order because we alone

are imprinted with godlike characteristics. Your godlikeness is the path to your

greatest fulfillment. You will feel the greatest pleasure and wholeness when who

God made you to be is fully developed and expressed. We are all of “G-D”!!!

First, the truth about you is that you are creative because G-d is creative: “In the

beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). We know that

G-d is creative. Every human makes things. Artists make things with paint. Poets,

writers, philosophers and lawyers make things with ideas and the compelling

use of words. Doctors heal people and make them healthier; consultants make

organizations better. Manufacturers make things with raw materials; chefs make

things with fruits, vegetables, meats and spices. Every human has the capacity to

make things, to create, because we are all made in the image of a creative G-d.

The second truth about you is that you are spiritual we are all spiritual because G-
d is Spirit: In Genesis 1:2 it states “The Spirit of G-d was hovering over the waters”

(Every human possesses spiritual aptitudes and capacities. We are spiritual in

nature. Nurturing our spirit is as important as eating, drinking and exercising are

We each possess a mind and a way of thinking and learning, in the Torah and

Bible there is a commandment to love God with our minds (as well as our hearts

and all our strength). In Deuteronomy 6:4 The Shema our core Hebrew prayer

is found. Special emphasis is given to the first six Hebrew words of the prayer

(Shema Yisrael, Adonai eloheinu, Adonai echad) and a six-word response is said

in an undertone (barukh shem kevod malkhuto le’olan va’ed). “Hear O Israel, the

Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One”. Blessed be the name of his glorious kingdom

forever and ever.– when we wake up in the morning and pray – it is a declaration

of FAITH. It is our immediate instinct to wake up and give thanks and praise for

waking up and being able to pray and show gratitude in all we do. We are all

connected to G-d and have a special way of communication with him.

When we fully grasp what it means to bear God’s image, we are struck with

the countless possibilities and the unrealized potential. To be fully human is

to fully reflect God’s creative, spiritual, intelligent, communicative, moral and

purposeful capacities, and to do so synergistically. Furthermore, though all

humans possess these godlike capacities, each of us has the potential to express

them distinctively, because God’s image has been imprinted uniquely on each of

us. In God’s infinite creativity there are no duplicates; you are the only you there

has ever been or ever will be.

The most famous verse in the most famous Psalm says “Yea, through I walk

through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me.”

We all encounter valleys – at home, at work, with our friends with strangers on

the road. Since valleys are universal, what we do in them makes all the difference.

The 23rd Psalm instructs us to walk through the valley. This walking requires

Walking through life’s valleys can be lonely, which is why we need each other and

With faith and prayer so much is possible and allowed me to walk through the

valley and be with you today.

G-D bless you all and thank you for praying for me.

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