Saturday, February 28, 2009

Out with the Cold, In with the New

"Stay here. Stay here as long as you can." - Billy Madison

I used to love cold weather, the way the air feels crisp in your lungs, and the way your breath produces a cloud because the thin air becomes saturated with moisture—it lets you know you really exist. I liked the bare trees that swayed with the wind, and how I could look across the woods and see all the way to Zeke’s street. I liked walking through the woods, not having to worry about insects or snakes or other nasty critters. I liked feeling secure under my thick sweatshirt and favorite blue Nike knit hat.

My friends, brother and I would pour onto the fields and basketball courts. Video games would be played, too, but when during the year were they not played? And when it snowed or iced, the beauty was only surpassed by our joy sledding and playing in it.

As kids, we drooled when the weatherman predicted snow. We’d watch The Weather Channel just to see the local weather report on the 8s, like we waited through the entire episode of Wild On in hopes of seeing Brooke Burke in a bikini. Waking up to “Prince William County Public Schools: closed” on the bottom of the TV screen was glorious. Twice in the ninth grade I walked up my long hill to the bus stop during a light snow shower only to be told thirty minutes later by somebody driving by that school was closed. Virginia’s Department of Transportation isn’t like Illinois’, as Mr. Obama has realized.

Things are different in the grown-up world. Walking to the Metro in my thin dress pants when it’s 12° isn’t pleasant. And snow, though still a wonderful sight, has become more of an inconvenience, making it harder and more dangerous getting to work which isn’t cancelled like school was. At 25 years old, sledding and playing “King of the Hill” are frowned upon.


Baby blue Nike winter knit hatI wore my favorite blue Nike knit hat so often that PingPongGirl used it to find me when we met at the dining hall, assuming (correctly) I'd be wearing it. I wore it at UVA football games where other students accused me of rooting for the Tar Heels, the same embarrassing fans who think you're supposed to cheer when the Cavaliers are on offense. I wore it to my hospital to make myself feel cooler than the other cancer people. I wore it to school to conceal that I was a cancer person, where Bubble said that I looked good in blue. I wore it on the plane ride to Minnesota where I would later receive my stem cell transplant, making sure the hat was snug before I stepped out in the land of the lakes, so many frozen lakes. My favorite blue hat was a Hanukah gift from my brother in the ninth grade. It's value exceeded its $15-25 price tag.

My blue hat has a hole, is discolored, and worn. It no longer keeps me as warm as it used to. Last year I nearly cried when I thought I lost it, or at least as close to crying as I've gotten barring the time I watched Tuesdays with Morrie. This will likely be its final winter as my primary head apparel. That is if I'm able to stow it in my drawer away from the cold.


There is construction going on in my hallway at work, so I was moved out of my own office and into a window-view cubicle. The natural light and view of the outside world make me smile. Being stuck in an office during what used to be my favorite season, as the world moves along at its normal pace, removes my grin.

Leia Mais…

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day, Mom

My roommate bought roses for his girlfriend. "How much did you spend…like $30?" I asked.

"Yeah right," he said. "Try close to a hundo."

"One-hundred dollars just for flowers?"

"...And a balloon."

What is it with girls and flowers? For that much money, I could buy a year's worth of chocolate or make a significant contribution to my mutual fund. Flowers aren't nearly as appealing to the senses as chocolate, and also won't give you the ability to buy twice as many flowers eight years from now.

Flowers are a worthless gift, withering away in a matter of days, giving a pleasant odor only when placed directly under the nose, and resembling every other plant life outside my home, with the exception of being red. If it means that much, I'll paint some brushes. Flowers are dangerous, too. They can breed fungus that can release spores that can cause fungal pneumonia that can lead to death.


Valentine's Day rosesI'd like to wish my mother a Happy Valentine's Day. She's been having a rough time lately, dealing with significant back pain that won't seem to go away. Maybe this picture of roses, which cost me $0 unless I get sued for illegally using the photograph, will brighten her spirits.

If anyone else would like to wish my mom well by using the comment button below, I think she'd be delighted.

Leia Mais…

Monday, February 9, 2009

Girls of Cancer: Miss February

Sheryl Crow

Clearly, Lance Armstrong gave Sheryl Crow cancer. How else can you explain her breast cancer diagnosis occurring less than a month after their engagement break-off?

Sheryl Crow became famous in the early 90s with hits like "All I Wanna Do." Her music is often considered rock, though I think it's more like pop. I wasn't a huge fan of hers, mostly because I frowned upon pop music until my mid-teens when I started buying Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and ‘N Sync albums. That really shouldn’t be public knowledge.

Sheryl Crow recorded a cover version of the Guns N’ Roses song "Sweet Child o’ Mine," she was Michael Jackson’s backup singer in the late 80s, and dabbled with acting. Like all rock stars, Sheryl has smoked some weed, dealt with depression, and been rumored to have had an affair with Eric Clapton. She wasn't tempting enough for The Boss and instead had to settle for Rolling Stone's 53rd Greatest Artist of All Time.

Sheryl may best be known for her attempts to raise awareness for cancer and the environment, the latter being my personal academic passion. Not only has she made strides in reducing her carbon footprint, but also in 2007 she toured college campuses with the producer of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth to inform students about global warming. Although her idea of limiting our poops to one piece of toilet paper is utterly disgusting, I admire her drive and ability to think outside the box.

Sheryl was diagnosed with breast cancer in its early stage, which, according to her, is thanks to early detection. She underwent minimally invasive surgery. Early detection in many forms of cancer, not just of the breast, can save countless lives, and I wish more people would take care of themselves by going through with the recommended diagnostic testing as opposed to simply hoping (or assuming) they’re cancer-free. It would be nice if the government and insurance companies supported this idea, as later-stage cancer treatment costs so much more to both the individual and the economy than a mammogram.

Born on February 11, 1962, this soon-to-be forty-seven-year-old is a perfect fit for Miss February.Singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow

Leia Mais…

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Four Questions

Passover begins in two months, and unfortunately since Aunt Flojo will be away, she and my dad won't be able to sing their seemingly nine-hour sequence of songs at the seder: Adir Hu, Echad Mi Yodea, L'shana Ha'ba'ah, and of course Chad Gadya (One Little Goat). I will likely be the youngest at the seder, as usual, and thus will be the one to wash my hands countless times and be expected to chant The Four Questions in Hebrew. I forgot how to chant them ten years ago and will either follow the lead of others, or mumble.

Many people diagnosed with cancer ask, "Why me?" but I didn't, and as a survivor I've found other more worthwhile and potentially scientifically explainable questions to ponder:

  1. Why does cancer metastasize in some and not others? (Personal: Why did my cancer stay localized even after waiting six months to see a doctor after my initial bout of pain?)
  2. Why do some people respond to treatment, and others don't? (Personal: Why did my tumor die and shrink after only one or two cycles?)
  3. Why does cancer stay in remission for some, but not others? (Personal: In case Cancer holds grudges against its doubters, I'll refrain.)
  4. Why do some survive and others perish? (Personal: Why am I still kicking ass and taking names?)
These answers may all be out of the realm of human knowledge, but I'm confident that if anyone can find them, it's Mr. Obama.


A few years after my diagnosis, a boy at my congregation was diagnosed with the same rare cancer. I'm guessing he's eight years younger than I am. Because I rarely went to Temple services, and generally avoided anything or anyone having to do with cancer, I couldn't point the boy out in a lineup. His family knew exactly who I was, though, and based on my experience with a different boy when I was in Minnesota for my transplant, he likely saw me as some kind of role model.

I'm sorry to say that days ago my mom told me his cancer came back in his brain. My mom was distraught and asked me what she should say to him and his family in a card. "I don't have a clue what to say. I've never written one of those before," I said.

A few years ago I was presented the same opportunity to reach out to a different person from Connecticut who was my age and had battled my same cancer for many years. The cancer reached his brain no less than five times, but he fought on. Hamburgers' family knew the cancer guy's family, and on many occasions Hamburgers asked if I wanted to write something to him. I declined. My excuse was that back when I had cancer, I didn't like getting words of encouragement from others, so why would I dish it out?

Because I was being a self-serving pussy, I failed to recognize that I usually enjoyed getting props from my peers; it was the cards and talks from people much older than me that I disliked. When Hamburgers told me the guy passed away, I felt like a fucking loser, like I could've done something. I could've told him how absurdly brave he was, and how he garnered my ultimate respect, and that there was nothing comparable to what he had been through, but at the very least he should've gotten quality time with the female celebrity of his choice, so long as it wasn't Drew Barrymore because Drew Barrymore sucks.

It's time for me to man-up and reach out to this teenager I've never met, but knows exactly who I am. I just don't have a clue what to say.

Leia Mais…