Yarden Frankl is a mild-mannered media projects manager at HonestReporting, an organization dedicated to shattering media bias and bringing the real story to the public. He and his family made Aliyah to Neve Daniel in 2005 and were living the idyllic life. Frankl also started writing a blog dedicated to his love of biking and running.
Frankl spoke to Arutz Sheva's Life Lesson podcast about the event. To listen to the full interview with Yarden Frankl click here.
Just over a year ago, the lives of the Frankl family changed forever. Stella, Yarden's wife, was diagnosed with late stage stomach cancer and the prognosis was not good.
Enter "Stella's Army," a large group of friends and strangers whose lives have been touched in some way by Stella or by her story (which Frankl updates in his popular blog).
Family members, neighbors and total strangers from around the globe have been reading updates, praying, listening, and generally supporting the family however they could, yet Yarden could not get rid of his feeling of helplessness. "I just had to do something," he explained. "One of the hardest thing is to have a spouse going through this. It's like someone's beating up on my wife and I can't do anything about it."
He did what he does best: hopped on his bike. Frankl planned an all-night ride, calling it "Riding for the Dawn", in which friends pledged sponsorship for the ride. The money collected was donated to the Neve Daniel fund to help families in need.
"I view exercise as therapeutic," explains Frankl. "Now more than ever. You just feel the stress leaving you when you get out and do a long run. There's something wonderful about it."
"Is it spiritual as well?" I asked Frankl.
"Absolutely," he answered without hesitation. "After I wrote an article on my blog about a particularly long run, someone commented, 'When do you have time to talk to G-d with all your running?' I said, 'Who do you think I'm talking to on the run?' Believe me, you get the last couple of kilometers of a marathon and you are talking to G-d!"
Last summer, after a number of chemo treatments and a major operation in which Stella's stomach was removed, something that can only be described as a miracle happened, surprising even the medical staff:
Stella beat the enemy. Her tests showed no signs of cancer.
Frankl planned a major ride as a way of raising money for Shaare Tzedek Hospital and showing his gratitude for his wife's recovery. But something threw a wrench in those plans. Stella became sick again. The cancer monster returned.
Despite the new challenges, Frankl intends to go ahead with the ride, and has already raised thousands of shekels for the hospital. The ride was originally planned for November 9th, but was postponed because of inclement weather. "The point is to raise money for the hospital, not to land in the hospital," Frankl explains. "Lightening storms were predicted in the north, and strong winds with thundershowers in the Neve Daniel area. But the ride is not cancelled, just postponed one week."
Now "Riding from the Depths" is scheduled to take place this coming Friday, November 16th.
"We called it 'Riding from the Depths' to represent the amazing highs and the amazing lows a family goes though when dealing with cancer," Frankl explains. The ride will begin at the Hermon Mountain, Israel's highest peak, and continue south to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. Then Frankl will ride home to Neve Daniel, one of the higher points in Israel's topography. It will be a bike ride of prayer for Stella's full recovery, in addition to being a fundraiser for the Oncology Department of the Shaare Tzedek Hospital.
"I told them, 'Whatever your main needs are in oncology, you can spend the money on that, but I want you to use some of the money for something tangible for those patients who have to battle with the chemotherapy, my wife and all the other people. Something that can make the process a little bit more comfortable for them. A little bit easier. No bike ride is that hard. Believe me, I'd rather be on a bike than having chemotherapy."
I asked Frankl how this battle has affected his relationship with G-d.
"Well, it's a very difficult question. I do question a lot. Why would G-d do such a thing?" Frankl pauses and adds, "But I still talk to Him. When I'm around the family, I have to keep my feelings together. When I daven [pray], I kind of let things out. Anyone who is in shul [synagogue] with me knows by looking at me when we have bad news."
You can help too. To sponsor Yarden Frankl's ride, click here.
To pray, Stella's Hebrew name is Tzuriya Kochevet bat Sarah.
To listen to the full interview with Yarden Frankl click here.
One week remains in which Yarden and Stella's Army are trying to raise money for beating cancer. To find out more or to join "Stella's Army," check out Yarden Frankl's blog: www.crossingtheyarden.com.
To listen to the Life Lessons interview with Stella from last January, click here.