Tag Archives: Jen Berry

Giving

As you know, Jen spearheaded an effort to get DVD players in every room on the UCLA Santa Monica Hospital cancer floor. Many of you gave generously – either with money or by sending players, DVD’s, Wii’s and games.

I am long overdue to let you know that your generosity went to a great cause.

We collected over 20 DVD players, a couple of Wii’s and hundreds of DVD’s. When we last checked in with the wonderful nurses of 4SW, they told us that many of the patients are using the DVD’s and are grateful for the distraction. They are currently setting up some kind of ‘borrower’ cabinet so patients can take movies as they please.

And the kindness keeps pouring in as Jen was able to raise another round of money on her most recent commercial film set – which was matched by the company, Biscuit Filmworks – and matched AGAIN by the owner of the company, Noam Murro. Almost $5000 more dollars was raised for UCLA cancer patients. This will go towards more players, Wii’s, movies, refrigerators, microwaves and anything else that can make patients and their caregivers more comfortable.

UCLA gave us a little shout-out in their December E-news update. I don’t know why Jen is hiding behind me in the picture, she should be front and center. I’m just the one with the bad cells, she’s the one with the big heart.

Click here for full newsletter or see below for text only: UCLA E-news and Update

Thanks so much to everybody. The best way to show your support for Jen and I is if my experience motivates you to help others.

First, I’d like to thank you for your support of UCLA Health System. Our Partners make an immediate impact on our patients and their loved ones, with gifts enhancing Child Life/Child Development Services, Palliative/End-of-Life Support Services, and Social Services, among others. 

I would like to share one couple’s story of courage, strength, and generosity.

Beep, Beep, Beep – the constant repetition and echoing… Beep, Beep, Beep – sitting, waiting, and hoping for the best. Steve, attached to an I.V. and confined to a bed at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital. Jen, his wife, tries to stay optimistic, cheering Steve on and snapping photos to document the family’s journey. Hours and days pass by as they are haunted by the beeping, searching for any way to make the noise go away. A distraction was needed; they found it watching movies and playing games.

They weren’t the only ones in the unit, but what were the other patients doing? What if they didn’t have a laptop or portable DVD player? Jen was motivated to help those who weren’t fortunate enough to have the means for distraction or the comfort of family surrounding them. She felt compelled to take immediate action.

Jen posted on her blog about their experience and asked her generous friends, family, and employers to help other patients escape the beeping.

Through Jen’s & Steve’s efforts and compassion for others, UCLA Health System’s Partnership for Care has provided DVD players, gaming consoles, and an extensive library of movies and games to accommodate 26 patients at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital.

Donors like Jen, Steve, Noam at Biscuit Filmworks, and you allow UCLA not only to provide extraordinary healthcare with leading-edge research, but also to bring comfort and hope to patients and their loved ones on the path to healing.

I wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season!

David Feinberg
David T. Feinberg, M.D., M.B.A.

CEO, UCLA Hospital System

Associate Vice Chancellor

More of the same

I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize myself anymore. No hair on my head or my face. Deep black pockets around my eyes. Tubes hanging from my arms. Scars on my side. What happened?

It is frightening sometimes. Looking at the rows of pill bottles. Getting myself psyched for my blood thinner shot every day. Even the cheeriness and smiles of the nurses and doctors have a macabre feeling about them. As if there is a big secret that no one is talking about.

And then on other days I rise to the challenge. I stare at myself in the mirror and think I look pretty good. The little pimples don’t bother me (see Pizza Face blog post from a year ago). I see a little glimmer in my eyes somewhere inside the dark holes. The fact that I can even get up and stare myself down gives me a little thrill.

Lately, I haven’t been sleeping well. A lot of insomnia. As if I spend my days distracting myself and at night my mind opens up to all the possibilities. Its not like I lay awake at night thinking dark thoughts…I just think all my thoughts that I put out of my head all day.

This is another reason why it is sometimes difficult for me to write updates. I don’t want to be full of complaining – and trust me, if I listed all of my complaints in every post you would stop reading. But I also can’t pretend that I’m cheery and full of jokes, as I was for a few months last year.

Mostly, it is just taking advantage of the good days and not lingering on the bad ones. And, unfortunately, I don’t usually know which kind of day it is going to be until I’m already in the middle of it. I’ve had to postpone getting together with friends and turn down dinner requests. And even on my good days, I don’t always want to sit over a cup of coffee and ‘catch up’ about my situation. Sometimes I just want to go out and live a little.

It is confusing. I’m trying to keep focused on the big picture, the main mission, rather than dwell on each little difficulty, each shot, each pill. Keeping in mind the ultimate goal is a good way for me to push through the pain, irritation and suckiness of cancer treatment. Chew it up in small bites which will add up over time. And when every meal becomes an endurance test to overcome my sore throat and take in a meal, it does help to take small bites.

I’ve gotten a lot of great pick-me-ups over the past couple of weeks. Thanks for all the cards, gift certificates (which go to excellent use), dinner options, treats, books and music. Everyone is being very kind. I especially appreciate the things which help make both Jen and mine lives a little easier. I say a thank you for each smoothie that someone paid for.

Speaking of giving…Jen is working on an amazing project to get DVD players and movies available for every oncology hospital room at UCLA Santa Monica and Ronald Reagan in Westwood. I’ll let her do the talking…she expresses the loneliness and frustration of being stuck in a hospital room in a more eloquent way than I can put into words. Please, visit her blog and consider making some kind of donation. It will brighten up the lives of a lot of lonely, frustrated and sick people.

Donations through Giftberry here

Instructions on donating directly to hospital and Jen’s blog post here

I’ve also been touched that other cancer patients have written me some comments on how my blog is full of information and they appreciate me sharing my experience. I find my greatest comfort in talking to other patients…I hope some people can find some comfort in my words.

So…yes, last week sucked. My red blood counts are low, so I’m tired. My throat hurts. I’m waiting for my white blood cells count to come up so I can shake some of the pain, swelling and discomfort that I’m feeling. I have a couple weeks of until my next treatment. But I’m anxious about my upcoming PET scan – hopefully, the end of this week. I’m in a holding pattern.

Instead of sitting around watching the clock, I’m trying to take advantage of every good day. See friends. Enjoy fresh air. Walk hand in hand with my beautiful wife.

I’m less than a week out of the hospital and today was a good day. I’m looking forward to more of the same.

My beautiful wife

Jen

Smartest thing I ever did in my life was marry this woman.


(3 cheers for Jen?)