When Cancer becomes the Rainbow

Ok, so it is St. Patrick’s Day. And while I am Jewish and this is not a holiday I actually celebrate, I have been celebrating this day to honor the birth of my son for 19 years. Truthfully I don’t know much about the meaning of St. Patrick’s Day, except that I scour my closets every year for something green to wear, there is something about a Leprechaun that creates chaos everywhere he goes, there is a shamrock that should or maybe ‘does’ offer us some good luck, and then there is that pot o’ gold. Most of my references, though come from the commercial about Lucky Charms, where the pink hearts and yellow moons meet the beautiful rainbow.

Today is also the 23rd day of mourning the loss of my mother who fought Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer like a super hero. And while the loss of her is anything but a cause for celebration, her life surely was. She didn’t just fight this cancer. She lived, knowing she had cancer, as she strapped on her smile each morning, found the brightest colors she could find in her drawer, went to the gym often, rarely missed a family gathering, went on vacations and had a zest for life that was contagious. She did not live into the fact that they told her she had 3 months to live. Which is no doubt why she lived two and a half years with this cancer. Like I said, she was a Superhero.


I am not making light of the loss of this woman I called mom. I can’t. I am heartbroken that this disease found her and that she had to spend that much time in ‘fight’ mode. The loss of her is beyond anything I can write here. It would sound cliché to even try to describe the heartache, the empty spot that has been created. I have tried to write about it and have found my words to only be depressing. I have found my thoughts on paper only make me ache more than I do already. I have found my words to feel like a passing of my emptiness onto the people that are kind enough to read my blogs and follow my life. I have written so often about this loss and yet have barely shared a word of it. Leaving so much darkness on others feels so unfair, especially when she shined so much light.

me and mom

And so today, on St. Patrick’s Day, Luck of the Irish, my son’s birthday and almost a full month of mourning the loss of an amazing human being, I sit and wonder how these celebrations of life connect with my mom’s cancer. My mind rewinds the tape, back to the last 18 days she spent in the hospital and one of the few that lead to a walk in the halls as we came upon this quote:

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain.”

dance in the rain

We stopped to relish in that one. We stood in front of it with dramatic gestures and smiles, taking the time to acknowledge that not one single moment should be taken for granted.

The rabbi said it best the day after she passed away. Her life was not about cancer. She didn’t live 74 years with a relentless cancer reminding her of the inevitable thing on the other side of life. But in fact her life was filled with amazing experiences that have touched not only her family, but everyone she has ever met. With her artful way of selling (even though she hated cold calls) that lead her to becoming top sales rep in the country, her talent for exquisite mosaic art work, her ability to create camaraderie for groups of people from all different cultures, and her stamina as she completed 9 different marathons, and won dozens of road races.

mom races

Her life was not about cancer. Cancer was one blip on her radar, the one that shortened her life, creating a gaping hole in our family’s heart. But perhaps it was also a rainbow filled with hope, enthusiasm, and purpose. Perhaps cancer was the very thing that created magical colors in that part of her life, forcing people around her to see the richness of life. What if this horrible disease, this thing we called the devil was really a rainbow in hiding? The one thing that made us all slow down, not taking a single day for granted…

There is nothing quite like a rainbow after a pouring rain as its’ magical energy stops you in your tracks.

That was my mom. A beautiful human being, inside and out; so beautiful in fact that it was hard to believe poisons were hidden beneath her skin. So beautiful and full of life that you were drawn to move closer.

Maybe Cancer was our rainbow, giving us purpose, reason to move slow and see the richness of life. And maybe at the bottom of this rainbow, there is a pot of gold as well. Because after all, this amazing life she lead with love, laughter and purpose, filled our lives with richness that only a pot of gold could provide.

If Cancer was our rainbow…we have surely been left with lives filled with gold.



  1. Mike · March 18, 2016

    Nicely said

  2. Zubaida Sadik · March 19, 2016

    Beautifully written with heartful memories that will always stay alive! Elinor had magical purpose in life and certainly transformed all who came close to her. I met your mom 3 times and it feel my life is full of her grace and kindness. Thanks for this blog; it is full of gold!

  3. 35tomatoes · March 19, 2016

    I hope all the wonderful memories of your mom’s life ease some of your pain. Sending you lots of love and good vibes!

  4. LYNN SHERESHEWSKY · March 20, 2016

    My friend ELINOR taught me how to treasure life . Her love of her family & friends was boundless & selfless. She was a model for living.

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