I’ll always remember when I first met Chaya. A friend and I were at a party mingling with others at the event, when we saw a large afro floating above the crowd. Of course, we had to introduce ourselves, and that’s when I made a very good friend.
A few years ago, Chaya went to a normal medical examination and received news that no one ever wants to hear: she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In the next year, she would undergo chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. Throughout all of this, her attitude was positive and her faith in the beauty of life was unshakable. Eventually, her cancer went into remission and Chaya received a new lease on life. Then she took a chance and did something she always wanted to do- she moved to Israel.
I asked her to share a bit of her story with Project Verve. If you would like to read more about Chaya Lev’s journey through life, she maintains a blog with The Times of Israel (www.blogs.timesofisrael.com).
“Shalom, everyone! My name is Chaya Lev and I am coming to you live from the Land of Milk and Money (No, it’s not a typo- well, this time anyway.) I am willing to share my breast cancer journey with you wonderful humans if you are willing to laugh and cry with me.
Breast cancer is a devastating and life-changing experience- one that affects millions of women around the world and is an experience that I would not wish on my worst enemy if I had one. I found out that I was one of the lucky ones who won the breast cancer lottery but I have refused to let that diagnosis end my life.
Imagine waking up one day and having a “routine” mammogram that instead turns into the first day for the battle for your life- a fight for which you were completely unprepared, and the only weapon that you had on hand was your smile and a handy bag of giggles.
On this journey, I realized that a person only lives once and, after a few surgeries coupled with chemotherapy and radiation, I decided to make my way home to Israel. I truly feel that breast cancer was my wake up call to do something new or as Morah Sheli would say: “Mashu Chadash.” (How’s that for one month in Ulpan?)
Anywho, before I give away all of my goodness on our first meeting, I just want to let you know that I made it through my fight with breast cancer and I want to share my (very loud) voice with those going through, or have loved ones going through, a fight with this disease. Let’s begin a journey together, where I will share my breast cancer experience as a new Israeli. (On this journey, be careful of boob spillage because I am not ashamed to show you how amazing my doctor is.)
Cancer tried to kill me and my spirit and I’m living proof that it did not succeed. If you, or anyone that you know, is going through this experience, please know that I am here for you and we are going to laugh it away together.”