rich in tones of red, green, yellow
and blue — depict scenes of
dense forests, clear lakes and
ripened fruits. Some convey
depth, some levity. One shows a
crimson apple in four stages:
whole, bitten, half-eaten and es-
"I did a lot of pictures of apples.
All of them I titled L'Chaim," she
said. "I thought of apples as a
symbol of life."
Ms. Zaretzki shared her paint-
ings with an audience of more
than 400 at Sinai's "Sixth An-
nual Cancer Survivors' Celebra-
tion," held June 7 in the
RUTH LITTMANN STAFF WRITER
Students at Berkley High School voted Jean Parnes "favorite teacher" this
year. Pictured above with her husband, Arthur (also a teacher at Berkley),
Ms. Parnes says her life has changed since illness struck in 1988.
"Cancer definitely has affected my teaching," she said.
Like so many survivors, Ms. Parnes says she has learned to focus on life's
essentials: "Hats in class don't matter as much. It's learning that counts."
The Parneses attended the Sinai dinner on June 7.
" 'Celebration Of Life' is the title," she said, "and that's exactly what it is.
It's a renewal."
lmost like a symptom,
art re-entered Linda
Zaretzki's life when
her with breast can-
Ms. Zaretzki stud-
ied painting, but
later put it aside to
marry and raise a
family. She recon-
nected with colors
and canvas while
sitting on a Sinai
Hospital bed. Between surgeries
she painted, trying desperately
to brush away her fears with
"It was an empty experience
at first, but I pushed myself to do
it," she said. "When I was re-
leased from the hospital, I en-
rolled in a watercolor class. I was
there as an art student, not as
a patient. I saw direction. I felt
full of life when I painted."
Ms. Zaretzki's creations —
audience from two perspectives:
care giver and physician. He said
care givers can lessen feelings of
helplessness by realizing that
their mere presence means a
great deal to the afflicted.
"Take their hand. Just be
there. Show that you care," he
Rabbi Leonard Perlstein, di-
rector of pastoral care at Sinai,
hearkened to a Bible story of "the
classic survivor" — Job.
In the Book ofJob , Satan told
God he would test Job's faith by
taking everything— his wealth,
health, possessions and social
standing. Everything, that is, ex-
cept Job's life.
"But an astonishing thing
took place," Rabbi Perlstein
said. "Throughout the story,
Job is comforted by his friends.
The question becomes, why
didn't Satan take Job's friends,
The answer, said the rabbi, is
"a human being can't exist with-
out friends. Taking away his
friends would have amounted to
taking away his life, which is
why these gatherings of cancer
survivors are critical."
Rabbi Perlstein explained that
sufferers need to surround them-
selves with friends who know
their trauma firsthand.
"Someone with a life-threat-
ening illness faces death contin-
uously. Others experience it
only as an abstract thought," he
The Rev. James Lyons, direc-
tor of the Ecumenical Institute
For Jewish-Christian Studies,
combined religious and person-
al perspectives. The Southfield-
based clergyman suffered
from juvenile diabetes and doc-
tors predicted he wouldn't live
hospital's Zuckerman Dining
"I am healthy, not because I
Room. The event honored cancer am physically well. I am healthy
survivors, their care givers, loved because I have balance and my
ones and doctors.
life has meaning," he said.
'We've come together to sup-
Rev. Lyons will turn 57 this
port each other, to love each oth- year.
er, to show that life is uncertain
In the crowded Zuckerman
and to show that life goes on, de- Dining Room, many audience
spite all the challenges," said members nodded silently
Marilynn Emmer, a nurse clin- when speakers said their
ician in Sinai's oncology depart- sicknesses generated a renewed
appreciation of life. The Rev.
Ms. Emmer, along with the Lyons told the story of a dying
rest of the department, organized - woman named Geraldine. Dur-
the event. After a kosher dinner, ing one of his visits with Geral-
panelists like Ms. Zaretzki de- dine, the Rev. Lyons asked: "If I
livered speeches describing their could wave my magic wand and
experiences with life-altering dis- return you to life before cancer,
would you go back?" Geraldine
"The people here have had declined.
similar experiences and similar
"She said, 'I won't do it.' She
concerns," said Dr. Robert Reed, told me, 'Before cancer, I didn't ti
vice president for medical affairs know what it was like to have life
at Sinai. "It's very reassuring to and relationships.' "
be with others, to know they're
Said the Rev. Lyons: "Life is
not about how much you've got.
Dr. Reed, whose wife suffers It's about how much you're able 37
from lung cancer, addressed the to share with others."