Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Some pictures of food I ate in the last 3 weeks

Homemade chicken soup. Very very easy to do, and tastes very good. My mom made it after my biopsy surgery. She seasons it a little, but when I make it I don't put any seasoning. I like the natural taste of the chicken and veggies.

Since I wasn't seriously keeping a healthy diet, my mom and I went to Fresh Choice. I used to go there more often during their early bird price discount.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Art of Zigzagging Through Traffic

The first round of chemo is scheduled for Monday the 30th. I've been here in Israel almost a week. I'm having a blast. In lots of pain, but Vicodin, and the kids are easing on the pain. If you read my first post, I said I'm not going to just blog about my battle with cancer, so today I want to talk about something that annoys me: drivers zigzagging through traffic.

Say you are in a hurry because the world is about to end today, the Earth is dying out, it is about to explode, we are too close to the Sun. You are driving on the 101 (or whatever highway/freeway/fastway you have near your town), and you absolutely must get to your destination as soon as possible. I mean, the world is about to end, no time to lose right?! You zig zag from one lane to another, passing one car, a second car, a third car, oh boy you, mister almighty, are making up soooo much time, you are THE man (or woman). You cannot stay in one lane because some great number of us decided to spend our last day on Earth pissing you off. We woke up in the morning, and told ourselves "I want to piss off that driver. Muah Ha Ha! I'm going to drive "only" 75 mph." You have no choice but to zig zag, and pass all of us dicks ruining your day (how dare we!). You're passing a forth car, a fifth, oh my, you are about to make up so much time the people from the Guinness World Records are fanatically calling your cell, why aren't you answering? (ah, at least you're not talking and driving, very nice, 10 brownie points). The Guinness people want to get one last great record in their book before the end of time. But I got one last newsflash for them Guinness people before we all become ashes. Lets actually look at the numbers shall we?

So you and I are driving down 101. I'm driving the same speed as everyone else, only 75 mph (that's 120 kph). Starting from point A, you are finally fed up with all of us slow drivers, so you decide to begin your magic, and show all of us amateurs how it's done. You speed up to 80 mph (128 kph), and start zigzagging your way through traffic. Speed limit on the 101, by the way, is 65 mph (104 kph).

Now, let's say it takes you 5 seconds to pass a single car (even Schumacher is impressed), so it will take you 500 seconds to pass 100 cars (5 seconds per car times 100 cars = 500 seconds). 500 seconds is equal to 8 minutes and 20 seconds (500/60 = 8.333, 0.333*60 = 20). In hours that is 8.333 divided by 60 which equals about 0.1389 hours (if you are wondering why did I divide by 60 and then 60 again, well because there are 60 seconds in a minute, and 60 minutes in an hour).

Ok, so it takes you 0.1389 hours to pass 100 cars when you are driving 80 mph. So once you've started your magic, you drove 11.11 miles (0.1389 x 80). If you forgot the equation (I do sometimes) it is TIME x SPEED = DISTANCE. Say you have reached your destination after passing 100 cars, you are at point B. I, the guy driving slow, is so far behind you. How far? let's do some more calculations, yeaaaah! I like numbers more than words. Numbers are easier for me, I can handle them better. My disorder comes with learning disability, and language was never my strong side. Anyways, I'm driving 75 mph, so after 0.1389 hours, I drove only 10.42 miles (75 x 0.1389). You are 0.69 miles ahead of me (11.11 - 10.42). It will take me another long long long 0.0092 hours to get to point B. That's more than half a minute!! (0.0092 * 60 = 0.552). I just lost 33 huge precious seconds (the world is ending remember?!).

Say I was to have some more fun, piss you off even more, and drive only 70 mph (still breaking the law, shhhh don't say anything, I know a cop who would give a ticket even if they know the end is near). Driving 70 mph, when you get to point B, I drove 9.72 miles. I am 1.39 miles behind you, and it will take me 71.5 seconds to catch up with you. Say I'm in a bitter mood today, and I, like all other drivers, decide to drive 60 mph. I would be 2.78 miles behind you, and it will take me another 2.78 minutes (60 mph means 1 mile per minute) to get to where you are at.

If you know how to make nice professional tables, please redo this and send me, thanks.

What's my point? My point is that your daddy didn't create these roads for you to selfishly drive like a dick. I understand intelligence isn't your strong side, but here, you just read it all, I think I made it pretty clear no? So next time some driver is "purposely" ruining your day, driving too slow for your short temper to handle, stop (not the car), don't touch that blinker, take a deep breath (exhale as well), find a good song on the radio, and relax. Dance it up a little bit. It's going to be ok, I was joking before, the world is not ending today. You are not making up much time. You are risking your life, your kids life (I see parents with their kids on board zigzagging like crazy too), and the rest of us driving next to you, all for a few minutes.

Now you might say "yeah but I'm not driving just 500 seconds." Well ok, if you are driving 80 mph for one hour while I'm driving 60 mph, then you are 20 miles ahead of me, and it will take me another 20 minutes to get to 80 mile. Which is still only 20 minutes, and in most senerios the difference in speed from one car to another isn't that great. If you are driving in the city, say the speed limit is 40 mph which is the speed you are driving at, and I'm driving only 35 mph, after one hour you are 5 miles ahead of me. Driving 5 mile at 35 mph will take me about 9 minutes. And again that's if we're driving for an hour. I think most trip in the city aren't longer than 20 minutes. Also, I didn't take traffic lights into consideration. Those lights just make you stop at the red light before me, then I reach the light too, and have a green light the same time you do.

I see idiots, that's right you are an idiot, zigzagging, in heavy rush hour traffic, or if there was an accident, and there is a huge long ass jam. I once was driving to check out a university's campus about 2 hours away from where I live. Some truck turned over, spill something, there was a huge traffic jam. I saw some drivers changing lanes back and forth trying to make up some time, and I decide to test a theory that one lane is NOT faster than the other. I saw a big nice RV on another lane, and used it as a mark. At one point I was so far ahead I couldn't see the RV in my mirrors. I thought to myself perhaps my theory is wrong?! Oh well at least I'm on the faster lane. I forgot about it, kept going, listening to the radio, relaxing knowing there is nothing I can do to speed things up. After a while, from no where this RV came back. I got excited, my theory is back and strong. The RV kept going, and was no where in sight in front of me. More good songs came on the radio, I thought about and performed some new dance moves. A bit more time passed by, and sure enough, there it was again, I caught up with the RV.

Speaking of car accidents I get very irritated with curious drivers slowing down to see what happened. I understand it if the accident happened in the same direction we're all driving because it's a safety issue (not that that's why most drivers are slowing down for). But too often I see it happening when the accident is in the opposite direction. Now why is a car accident so fascinating?! There are accidents every day, unfortunately, you've seen them before.

On a different note, today is the Holocaust memorial day, a two minute siren just went off. During those two minutes everyone stands silently, as an act to remember and give our respect to the six millions of lives lost. I'm mentioning this because everyone stops, even on the roads. Drivers stop, pull over, step out of the car, and stand for two minutes. I think is a very impressive, strong, beautiful, and touching sight (here is a video from last year where you can see somewhat what I mean).

Saturday, April 14, 2012


We all heard about Nike, a company mostly known for its shoes (at least that's how they started). But do you know the reason behind the name and symbol of this gigantic company?

A few months ago I was curious about the reason for the company's symbol. So I looked it up. The company takes it name from the Greek goddess named "Nike" which means victory in Greek. Now, I could not find the reason behind the company's famous symbol, but here is a stone carving of the goddess. I think it would be a safe bet to say that the inspiration for the symbol came from this carving.

Nike, the Greek goddess.

Friday, April 13, 2012

In Israel

We (my mom and I) have arrived in Israel after a long day of travel. It was't too bad though, I've had worst, and I've traveled on this line, SFO-TLV, probably over 20 times so far. It started with a red eye flight to Newark. I took a sleeping pill, and was knocked out for about 3.5 hours out of the 5. We landed in Newark at 8am. Took a train to the Times Square area, and met up with my oldest brother. We had 8 hours to pass before our flight to Tel Aviv. It was nice. I had a Chai Latte at the 4th Starbucks we saw since the others were packed (there is pretty much a Starbucks on every corner in New York), and we chatted for about an hour, just taking it easy and relaxing. It was a nice day outside too. Not too cold.

After Starbucks we went to eat lunch at Tony's DiNapoli - a nice Italian restaurant. It's a family based restaurant (bah, I keep misspelling this word) most of the menu items are for 2-3 people and are meant to be shared. Though I'm a shrimp addict, when the waitress told us about the specials, the meat lasagna sounded very intriguing. The lasagna sounded good to my brother as well, so we went for it. My mom ordered one of the shrimp pastas. When the lasagna arrived, my jaw kind of dropped. It looked more like a 4-6 people portion meal rather than a 2-3. The lasagna tasted good, and I had no room for dessert. I took a bite from the shrimp pasta which was also very good. We also ordered drinks which were quite pricey (I was hoping it will make me sleepy for our next flight).

I know, not the best angle, but mmm, mmm, mmmmmm.

We took a flight on a holiday (2nd Passover). It was great. No fat sweaty Hasidik to elbow me the entire flight. And thats big for me since I'm very ticklish in my hips (stomach too). We landed in Natbag (the main airport in Israel) around 9am, and there was hardly a living soul. No lines in the immigration, and both our luggage were waiting for us already in the baggage claim. We got out to the welcome hall, there were maybe 30 people waiting for their loved ones (usually I think there are at least 300). I think other than the crazy long walk from the gate to the immigration (it's on of the longest, and I've been to lots airports all over the US and Europe) it took us less than 10 minutes to be out, and in the car. That's it from now on I'm going to purposely schedule my flight on holidays.

We had one of the runners up from the Israeli American Idol on our flight. I think his name is Arel Skat. He sat a few rows behind us in coach. Nice to see he isn't fancy, sitting in first class, or maybe he just doesn't have the money. As we were walking off the plane towards the immigration I didn't see anyone bother him. I wonder, was he happy to be left alone, or somewhat disappointed? Probably the former. Perhaps he scheduled his flight on the holiday to not be bothered.

My other brother was at the welcome hall waiting for us. We took a short drive to the kibbutz, he dropped us off at my mom's house, and went to bring the kids. When my brother got back my nephew, who is almost two and half years old, and I would think doesn't know or remembers me as well would run first  to his grandma (he saw me last over 6 months ago when he wasn't even two years old). My mom leaned down as he came running, but he kept running pass her towards me with a big strong hug. My niece I guess was too excited to give anyone hugs, but a few minutes later she calmed down, and gave me a hug too (I guess she was more interested in the presents, she knew are arriving with us).

Later I was getting tired, and took a short nap. The kids also went for their afternoon nap. They came back later for dinner. I finally went to sleep at 9pm. I woke up once I think around 1am, but was able to quickly continue sleeping. Finally woke up at 4-5am. I normally do not have jet-lag issues, and I think this time won't be any different. That's it. I'm going to be here, mostly in the kibbutz, for two weeks. I hope to get energized before returning back to the US to start my 5-6 months chemotherapy, but I have a feeling I will also get quite exhausted because these adorable yummy kids have more energy than the energizer bunny.

We finished the day watching Disney's Tangled.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My blog's name

If you're wondering about the name, let me tell you. At first I wanted something sarcastic and funny (that might sound pessimistic), and this is some of the names I came up with:


All of these, by the way, are available for purchase, at least the last time I checked.

But ha ha, funny for a moment, funny for the first time. However, having to look at a title like this every time I want to write a new post is probably not the best idea. Subconsciously, it is probably very damaging.

So then I thought I need something more general that somewhat explains the purpose of my blog, and I came up with these cheesy ideas:


Later I was chatting with my cousin, asking him for ideas, and one of the ideas he came up with was "Ilan Yohasin" which means "family tree." And he explained this one as "it's like a tree of the whole family, but here it a tree about Ilan, Ilan's life." My name in Hebrew means "tree." So that idea made me come up with the name I have now. My cousin's idea had life and tree, so I made it "The Ilan of Life." I quickly decided to omit the "the," and made it simply "Ilan of Life." I like it, it's short, easy to remember (once you learn my beautiful name), and it has a nice ring to it.


This has been circling around the internet. I don't know for how long. But I just saw it. I think it is very true. I think the bullying problem starts with the parents. We need to focus more on educating parents on how to be better parents, to teach them how teach their children to respect their peers.

Plan of Attack

I saw one of my doctor today specializing in oncology. She offered a few chemo options, and we agreed on the one that contains three different drugs. I will be alternating them. 6 cycles, every 3 weeks. I will have to stay in the hospital 5 days every time because there are lots of side affects. She recommend this specific chemo because the results are good. I think she said 40% chances it will reduce the malignant parts of the tumor. I hope it won't be too annoying and exhausting staying 5 days at the hospital every time. But it is what it is, at least for now, that's the best choice. I hope it will work, and I won't have to try another chemo which would mean more time lost. I think the CT scan after the first two weeks would be nerve racking. The scan will show if the chemo is working. After these 4 months of chemo, I will need to have a surgery to remove the rest of the tumor.

Before I'm starting all this chemo thing, I'm flying to Israel to visit family and friends to get some much needed energy, strength, and love. I have the most adorable niece and nephew waiting for me. They are very yummy.

This is from my last visit (my nephew and I).
I taught him how to splash,
he quickly mastered the skill,
and enjoyed using it against me.

Monday, April 9, 2012


My name is Ilan. I am a 29 years old male. I was born with a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis (NF). I have type 1 which can cause enlargement and deformation of bones and curvature of the spine (scoliosis), tumors developing in the brain, on cranial nerves, or on the spinal cord, and learning disabilities.

I've had a few a tumors throughout my life mostly in the neck area. I've had 3 major surgeries (by major I mean 2-3 days in the ICU, and a couple more in the secondary unit). I had my first surgery when I was 4 years old. I had a tumor in my neck that was pressing on my air canal and making it hard to breath. As a result of surgery my left shoulder became partially paralyzed, and I cannot raise my left arm straight all the way up. I can play golf, climb ladders, and even do some workouts at the gym, so no big loss there.

These neurofibroma tumors can also go away (I had one on the right side of my neck that disappeared), so in the first surgery the doctor didn't take out the entire tumor, just enough so I can breathe. These surgeries aren't easy, and involve dealing with blood vessels, so doctors try to avoid touching these tumors.
I had my second surgery when I was just about 8. The tumor from the first surgery grew back, and again was causing me breathing problems. As a result of this surgery, my left facial nerve was hurt, causing my left side to become almost complete paralyzed. Yes, a tremendous loss (mostly to my social life).

My third major surgery was about 5 years ago. I had a nice break from surgeries. But not from hospitals as this disorder requires yearly tests, scans, and doctor appointments. This time the surgery was for a different tumor still in the same area, a little bit under my left ear. I've had this tumor there for maybe over 10 years (these tumors normally grow very slow). The tumor was larger than the size of a tennis ball, not so apparent from the outside as most of it was internal. As a result of the surgery my left vocal cord was paralyzed. Another great loss. You will hear me fine on the phone, or if we talk in 4 eyes. But going to a bars or pretty much any other crowded loud event is not fun anymore since I cannot raise my voice enough. It's hard to be heard even if you're standing right next to me in these situations.
The surgery also affected my swallowing. It's now hard to swallow food. I need to chew longer, and cut my food smaller. A lot of time the food gets stuck, and sometimes I don't even feel it. I had a swallowing test maybe two years ago. They told me to turn my head to my left. It does make it easier to swallow, especially when I fill that something got stuck. My throat sometimes tickles out of nowhere to a point where I'm pretty much choking. It's kind of scary, it can happen at any time, even if I'm not eating anything. I can be in class, I can be driving, or watching a movie in the theaters, and all of a sudden I need to cough, and the cough doesn't really make the tickling feeling go away quickly and easily enough to not draw attention.

About a year ago I started having pain in my left shoulder blade. I just bought new golf clubs, a pull cart, and a used bag. I was hitting the driving range a lot, and playing lots of rounds with my friends. I thought I might have injured something in my shoulder for playing too much golf. I felt the pain only at night, when I was trying to relax and fall asleep. Being not 30, and with a "ehh, I'm young, it cannot be too serious" attitude, I decided to wait it out. I started taking pain killers, and took it easy with golf. I was planning on going to Israel to visit family soon, so I thought resting, and not playing golf for a while, might make the pain go away. But it didn't. When I got back to the states, the first thing I did was to see a doctor. He ordered me to do an X-ray where they saw a big mass in my upper left chest. Then I also did a CT to get a more detailed image. I knew I had a tumor there before, I've had it for years. But apparently it doubled in size over the last 2-3 years. The tumor is huge the dimensions are roughly 9x12x14 cm.

I decided to see my regular doctor who ordered about 4 hours of MRI scans. These are not fun at all. Try googling what a MRI scan sounds like, and imagine having to lay still in that machine for so long (being claustrophobic when it comes to these scans, I asked to split the scans as much as possible, and they were split into 4 sessions of about 45-60 minutes each). The suspicion was that this tumor has turned malignant (they are usually benign), and my doctor referred me to other doctors and specialists. About two months ago I had a needle biopsy, and the results weren't conclusive. Last week I had larger biopsy procedure, an actual surgery where I was put out for an hour or two, and in the hospital for 2 days. This time the samples were big enough, and the results confirmed the suspicion. So now, I also have cancer.

I've tried writing blogs in the past, and like many others, you get excited the first few days, and then forget about it. This time I hope to keep it up. I plan to share with you my everyday dealing with cancer, experiences from a socially unpleasant childhood, thoughts about life and the world, and other fun and interesting things I find online.

Thank you for stopping by, please come back soon, Ilan.