I’d title this post, but the only one I can think of involves inappropriate word choices. So … it’s untitled.
I meant to write this a day or two ago and then forgot. I was reminded of it after a phone conversation with a friend.
In a couple of months it will be two years since a co-worker passed away from cancer. She was one of my attorneys. Her name was Kristen. She was a simple person, living a simple life. She was married with two boys. She came to work, she went home. Her boys played baseball and basketball. She attended their games religiously, keeping score, and rooting them on. She was involved enough with their school that people said she should run for school board.
Kristen and her husband bought a house near Tahoe a few years ago and they spent a lot of weekends there.
Kristen was a simple person and she deserved to see her kids grow up and achieve success and provide her with grandchildren she could dote on. She never got that chance.
One day, she felt a lump in her stomach. Kristen was very slender, so it’s not surprising she could feel something inside her. After the requisite poking and prodding, and testing of this and that, she got her diagnosis. Colon cancer. Stage IV. Turns out what she felt was the tumor on her colon growing inside of her. Other than that lump and difficulty maintaining her weight, she had no symptoms normally associated with colon cancer. By the time she got her diagnosis, it had spread to her liver.
Kristen’s first doctor told her she should … well, it was something like “maintenance chemotherapy until you die.” Her brother, in the medical profession, suggested a second opinion. The second opinion was for an aggressive treatment course to attempt to kill the cancer and cure her. As well as that her first doctor needed to retire.
Kristen spent the rest of the year, unfortunately, progressively getting worse. Sadly, it was too late for her. The chemo didn’t slow it down. Surgery to remove the cancerous portions of her colon and liver didn’t eliminate the poison from her body.
I told her after her diagnosis that she should stop working and enjoy life. To spend time with her boys doing things she wanted to do with them. She couldn’t do it. Wouldn’t do it. Convinced that being home would be more difficult than being at work. I so wish she had taken my advice. She passed away less than a year after her diagnosis.
A few months ago, a jerk by the name of Siddharta Mukherjee, an oncologist, wrote a piece in Newsweek about how he felt he had failed Steve Jobs by not finding a cure for cancer to save his life. I was outraged. While Dr. Mukherjee pays lip service to all of us common folk who die of cancer each year, his piece was basically an homage to the brilliance of Mr. Jobs and how humanity was less for his passing.
Mr. Jobs is no better or worse, no more or less, no more deserving of a cure than Kristen was. Or Jennifer.
Almost twenty-five years ago, I met this incredible woman. She started working at the law school were I worked and was about to enroll as a student. She was beautiful, charming, intelligent. There was no doubt that we were attracted to each other. Immensely. But, through the quirks of fate we never went there. I married this person. She married that person. Instead of us ending up together, Jennifer became the best friend I ever had. She showed me what a true friend could be. I can only hope I did the same thing for her.
A few months ago, she started having pains here and there and other symptoms. Tests were run, samples taken. Everything came out OK. Until her colonoscopy last week. A 35 mm polyp later, she’s waiting for the biopsy. Yes, it can end up being benign. Yes, even if it is malignant, maybe she’s in an earlier stage than Kristen was and her survival chances will be better. According to her internet research by the way, a 2 mm polyp has a 50% chance of being malignant. I wonder what the odds are on a polyp that’s 17 times bigger.
I have a bad feeling about this. There’s something about the other pains and symptoms she was having that makes me feel there’s going to be more there.
I’m tired of this. I’ve gone from the days where everybody was getting married, then everybody was having kids, then everybody was dealing with the traumas of schools and little league, to this. My friends are dying. Good people. Decent people. Who ask only that they be allowed to live their lives.
After a failed marriage and putting herself through college, Jennifer got her degree and teaching credential about eight years ago. She has taught high school English at a local charter school ever since. Her dedication and hard work is what should be an inspiration to all of us. Not Steve Jobs creativity, that when you get down to it has resulted in a whole lot of technology that results in little real value.
About a year and a half ago, Jennifer met her soul mate through, of all things, an on-line dating service. She deserves happiness with him for decades to come.
Yes, I may be jumping to conclusions. It’s hard not to. Yes, the biopsy results she will be getting in a couple of days may show there’s nothing to worry about. But, you know what, at this moment, I get to wallow in the fear and sadness of having to go through this again. It sucks. Just totally and completely sucks.