A Chanukah Message from Jan Jaben-Eilon

A Chanukah Message from Jan Jaben-Eilon

Read community insights, advice and perspectives during Chanukah.

Accepting, Not Only Sharing, One’s Light

Years before I was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer, I recall that I couldn’t at all relate to Barbra Streisand’s song, “People.” The lyrics that seemed foreign to me were, “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”

Then I received my diagnosis in November 2006.

It is one thing to share “our own light” with others. It is another lesson to learn how to accept light from someone else.

As I started a several-month protocol of regular chemotherapy, I learned how to accept the generosity of friends and people with whom I wasn’t close, people from the Chesed committee at my congregation, Or Hadash. With the help of a great friend Susan, who organized the efforts, I received whole meals from many, many people on the days I received chemo. Both my husband and I enjoyed the ease and the tantalizing variety of meals that were left on a cooler on my front step so that I would not be bothered from my much-needed rest before dinners.

The second time I received chemo, I understood that it wasn’t meals I required, but car rides to and from the cross-town chemo infusion center. That meant drives from East Cobb to Decatur – and back after a few hours. Again, friends, family and fellow Or Hadash congregants picked me up in the mornings at my house and returned me there several hours later. Pretty groggy from the medicines I was given at the infusion center, I wasn’t much of a conversationalist. And even today, I’m not sure I properly thanked all those wonderful souls.

But, at a time when my own light was flickering, I felt the sparks of others keeping me alight.

It’s a valuable lesson to learn not only how to give, but how to receive.

Jan Jaben-Eilon is a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times and longtime journalist with Israeli citizenship.

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