I am at Shaare Tzedek hospital, waiting for the results of my blood test to see if I was healthy enough to receive my chemotherapy cocktail, when a young Arab man hesitantly approached me.

“May I ask you something please? “

“Sure,” I smile, trying to put him at ease.

“My wife is having chemotherapy,” he says, pointing to the other side of the room where a young woman was sitting with closed eyes and a look of pain on her face. “The doctors told me that soon she will have no hair. I know that religious Jewish women cover their hair with wigs and I wondered if you could tell me where I can buy one for my wife.”

I imagine how difficult this conversation must be for him. Fortunately, I can tell him about some wonderful organizations that make wigs for cancer sufferers and supply them free of charge.

Losing your hair is one of the most traumatic visible side effects of chemotherapy. Few things tell the world more blatantly “I have cancer” than a completely shorn head, looking horrifyingly reminiscent of photos of women in concentration camps.

Two nuns sit across from me; they are accompanying another nun who sits in a wheelchair. They are talking French to each other as they run to bring her drinks and a blanket, lovingly tending to whatever she needs.

There is also a young mother with her son who looks about eight or nine years old. The mother is receiving treatment and I guess wasn't able to make any babysitting arrangement for her child. The technicians happily take the boy into their office and find him something to play with while his mother undergoes her treatment.

In the corner sits an elderly Jewish man whose eyes rarely leave the pages of the Talmud. When his name is called he walks through the metal doors with his book still open and his eyes still on the page.

And then there is me… a Jewish grandmother, actually a very recent great-grandmother, but a young one! Getting to our first great grandson’s Brit Milah was quite a challenge for me but I was determined not to miss it. Exhaustion is one of the most common side-effects of radiation treatment and often all I want to do is sleep. I wonder how the young mothers ill with cancer manage to cope.

My husband sits next to me, knowing exactly what I’ll be going through as he finished his radiation treatment only a few short months ago. Thank God he is now in remission and I hope and pray that the treatment will also cure me.

Cancer doesn’t differentiate between Jews, Muslims, or Christians, between gender, color or race. The symptoms and side effects of the chemo are the same and our gut-wrenching fear and searing questions are universal.

As we await our turn to receive ‘the treatment’ that we hope will save our lives, we also pray that the side effects won’t be so bad as to make us wonder if it’s really worth it.

I look around the waiting room. We’re all there for the same reason, connected, understanding what each other is going through. As we leave we all call out to each other “Feel good,” “Refuah sheleima,” “Alshifa' aleajil,” “Prompt retablissement,” “ Zei gesund” .

There are no politics in a Jerusalem oncology clinic. Cancer is the ultimate equalizer.