Becca Wrench: Mi Shebeirach List
I had my name added to the Mi Shebeirach list – the prayer for healing – on January 7, 2021. Two days before that I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Every time I go to services I hear this list read and see if I recognize any names. If I do, I think good thoughts for them, and if I know someone I’ll I say their name aloud at the appropriate time.
But suddenly here I was, at 44 years of age, unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer, asking for my name to be added.
Since that initial request I have had a whole bunch of imaging, more doctor appointments than anyone should go to, three surgeries, 16 sessions of chemo, and 33 sessions of radiation. I just had my last session of radiation on December 2, 2021. The next day I emailed Rabbi Steve, Rabbi Brenner, and Cantor Mark and let them know it was time to remove my name.
I met with Rabbi Steve as my treatment was beginning to wind down and he asked me what it was like to hear my name read when I was at temple. He indicated that not many people are actually present to hear their own name being read aloud.
I have thought a lot about that. When I attended services in person and heard my name being said it made me feel uncomfortable, but at the same time I appreciated hearing my name being said. It made me cry every time I heard it, but it also reminded me that others were thinking of me. If my cancer is cured and it does not come back and/or my life is prolonged in the future, then I truly believe I have science to thank. But having my name read each week couldn’t have hurt my chances.
My older daughter Adele’s bat mitzvah was in January 2021. I have to say, being at Adele’s bat mitzvah and having my name read when I had only known about my cancer for a couple of weeks was very challenging. In retrospect, in an odd way, it made her Bat Mitzvah even more special. We had so many family and friends participating on Zoom (and a small group in person) that I was really thankful that I had so many people thinking of my wellbeing and wishing for my health all at the same time. And more importantly, despite my health issues, we were all celebrating Adele on her very special day.
At this point the doctors say I am cancer free. I will begin taking monthly ovarian suppression shots and medication on a daily basis that will stop my body from producing estrogen and progesterone – the hope is that this will stop the cancer from returning. And we hope that the aggressive treatment I received stopped the cancer from escaping to somewhere else in my body. Within the next year or so I will have my right breast removed (so I will have one less place to worry about cancer wise) and reconstruction on both sides. But right now I am cancer free. It will take a while to adjust, but I am not sick anymore.
I think that when someone is sick with cancer or other major illnesses people don’t always know what to say. Something that I appreciated was having people just let me know they were thinking of me. Having my name on the Mi Shebeirach list reminded me that people were thinking of me and wishing me their best and hoping that I would be healthy soon.
I can’t tell you how much I hate cancer and how unfair it is. But my name no longer needs to be on the Mi Shebeirach list. And that is something to be thankful for.
Becca Wrench loves camping, skiing, swimming, and going to the beach with her husband Dean and daughters Adele and Leorah.