Shira Pasternak Be'eri
Living and loving in Jerusalem
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My cancer, my country

Wishing for a clear treatment protocol to heal what ails the nation

Everyone is equal in the oncology ward. In the bowels of Hadassah’s Sharrett Institute, Jews and Arabs, young and old, await their treatment side by side. Cancer doesn’t discriminate.

While I wait for this morning’s dose of radiation, the table in the sitting area catches my eye. Booklets of psalms with yellowed pages and crinkled edges peek out from between issues of Yediot and Yisrael Hayom. A potted plant valiantly tries to grow beneath the fluorescent light.

A pile of newspapers; an archeological tel. Dig down and you can ride the week’s roller coaster of emotions in reverse chronological order. Rockets streak though the sky with bursts of white fire. Mohammed Abu Khdeir peers out at us as red headlines confirm our greatest fears: his murderers were Jews. Lower still, Rachelle Fraenkel looks down at her son’s flag-draped body.

There’s a clear treatment protocol for the cancer that was found in me: lumpectomy, radiation, Tamoxifen. Surgery to excise the malignancy, a month of radiation to prevent local recurrence, five years of medication to discourage the possibility of other growths.  I trust my doctors and my prognosis is excellent.

But what about the hatreds that rage outside this hospital? What is the treatment protocol for them? Who will assume the mantle of leadership and guide the process of healing? What is the prognosis for success?

A Muslim woman sits across from me. We are both of similar ages and marked as women of faith. Her head is covered; so is mine. We’re both in long sleeves and long slacks; she in brown, me in black. A pair of purple and teal flip-flops surprisingly accessorizes her otherwise subdued outfit. I wonder if her feet are cold.

And as I lie on the table awaiting this morning’s treatment, I cry for my beloved country. Because at this moment in time, I am much more concerned for its fate than I am for my own.

About the Author
Shira Pasternak Be'eri is a Jerusalem-based editor and translator. She is married to Leonard (aka Eliezer) and is the proud mom of three boys, two of whom are soldiers in the IDF. Born and raised in New York, she has been living in Israel since 1982. And yes, she is Velvel Pasternak's daughter.
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