Wednesday, October 8, 2008


After being in remission for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for one year, my cancer has returned. On October 23rd, I will begin three rounds of salvage chemotherapy at Georgetown University Hospital before returning home to Chicago for an autologous stem cell transplant.

Unlike my previous round of treatment, during which I was able to function fairly normally and receive out-patient chemotherapy and radiation, this next round requires several hospital stays. Consequently, I have decided to devote some of the forced down-time to maintaining a blog so that family and friends can stay up-to-date on my progress, and so that I have a repository for some of my thoughts on the treatment and healing process.

I have to admit that I hesitated quite a bit on the blog title. My first instinct was to go with a pun on the word “stem” given the double meaning of the term: both because I was to receive a stem-cell transplant, and because I would be leaving Washington DC, where I have lived for over 6 years, to return to Chicago where I grew up (from whence I stemmed, if you will) for the transplant. There were some great ideas. Here's a small sampling:

-Where it all stems from (thank you, mom)
-How do you like stem apples (thank you, Julie)
-High Este(e)m (thank you, anonymous hipster on the 42 bus who overheard my phone conversation with Caren and decided to make a recommendation)

But in the end, besides not being able to come up with anything that met my high standards for wittiness, I decided that maybe the blog title shouldn’t be treatment focused at all. Because while its purpose is, in part, to update folks on how the stem-cell transplant is going, I hope that it will really be about much more than that. While I’m in the hospital, I hope that my focus will be on what I will do when I get out and who I will be when this is over, not the treatment itself. I want to be able to keep my focus on what is worth fighting for. And so I kept coming back to a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, which I first read as a high school student in Viktor Frankl's 1946 book Man's Search for Meaning: “He who has a why to live, can bear with almost any how.”

Frankl went on to say in his book, that "between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." I believed, when I first read these words a decade ago, as I do now, that this is the essence of overcoming any hardship, big or small.

So on the virtual pages of this blog, I will report on the stimuli, on my response, on my why and how, and on the journey that I will take in the coming months. Thank you for sharing it with me.


Emily Goodstein said...

this is lovely froman...i laughed out loud to 'stem apples'

Anonymous said...

You are amazing! We are thinking of you and will continually think of you. We are your Baltimore family. We are only 45 minutes away and you can come anytime!
Miriam and Sally

Sammie said...

We are so doing a stem cell action alert!

Debbie said...

I love you Elissa Froman!

Harboring thoughts said...

Thinking of you, Elissa, and your deep thoughts, fabulous writing, and positive attitude. Gwen passed your new blog on to me because she knows I want to keep up with you and your doings. Always room for you here in California if you want a little away time.


Nancy, Gwen's mother

Debra said...

Thinking about you and loving and missing you. I think it's time for all of us to step up out stem cell advocacy (don't worry, I'm obviously busy canvassing away in New Hampshire). Love you.

the mol said...

I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and adding you to my prayers. I went to Michigan with Becky, and my sister went to GWU even though I'm not sure if you knew her.

Also, my 1-year-old son is undergoing chemo for Wilms Tumor. We're gonna kick cancer's ass. If it has an ass.

Shayna Norman said...

Froman, you are one of my favorite people in this world. Please let me know when you will be in Chicago and I will do my best to be there!
Love you,

Nancy said...

Elissa-have a Happy Birthday this week. Celebrate with zest and know we are all rooting for you.

sweinberg said...

you should be a rabbi.

(i mean that in the best way possible!)

marlene said...

You have a special place in the Levy memory vault. I have fond memories of us sitting at our kitchen table catching up on gossip. You always made time to talk and now we'd love to return the favor.

all our love,

marlene & the levy gang

Roberta said...

Tell us your chemo schedule so we know when to come and visit........ Your buddy, Roberta

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to read more!

lots of love from PA,

mer said...