Sep 2, 2011


I just heard another sad story of a patient who celebrated his supposed cure of cancer with a seudas hodaya, only to have the cancer come back two weeks later.  I don't know whether the people celebrating heard what they wanted to hear from the doctors or whether the doctors misled them, but I get majorly annoyed about celebrations made within days, weeks or months of aggressive treatment.

My peeve is not with those who make a seudas hodaya in advance, when the person is still sick, as an act of faith that the person will recover.  If they can truly muster that bitachon and not just go through the motions, that's marvelous. 

There is what is called cancer cure and cancer remission.  Doctors almost never use the term cure; rather, they usually talk about remission.  Complete remission means that there are no symptoms and no signs that can be identified to indicate the presence of cancer. However, even when there are no signs of cancer, there may be microscopic collections of cancer cells that cannot be identified.  In this story I just heard, the patient joyously said, "I am healthy!" How devastating for him to hear a mere two weeks later, that he was sicker than ever.

As I read in a doctor's article, "So can we ever really talk about a cancer cure? In general, the answer is no. Practically speaking, however, the odds of a recurrence may be so low that the person is essentially cured. To put it another way, depending on your age, the doctor may tell you that the odds of your dying of cancer are lower than are your odds of dying of something else." 

So it sounds like the time to make a seudas hodaya is when enough time has elapsed, that the doctor says the odds of a recurrence is so low that it is accurate to say the person is cured, or that he has as much a chance of having cancer again as someone who never had it. 

May all the cholei Yisrael be cured and this particular ugly illness be eliminated. 

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