The photo was taken Saturday at my sister’s birthday. Don’t mind the hand gesture – just her way of reppin’ FOBcienda Heights.
The past twelve months between this birthday and her last were important for me. Because, as many of you know, one year ago we found out my sister had cancer. But as pre-molester Michael Jackson would say, she beat it.
Right after she was done with her final session of chemo in January, however, the doctors found a lesion in her brain. And inside it they detected what might be a tumor. But then it began to shrink, and a couple of days ago the latest MRI revealed that the “tumor” was gone. That was the best birthday gift of all: because now she can really put the cancer behind her and go on living more than ever. More than even before that agonizing August twelve months ago.
Tonight I went back and reread those entries. I tend to forget that one of the main reasons for having a journal is to be able to look back and remember. For instance, I realized that it’s been four months since Gary died.
Below are some of the August 2002 excerpts that stood out.
The doctors detected a mass about the size of an orange around the uterus and left ovary. My baby sister was amazingly calm. I told her everything would turn out fine. I didn’t say this just to make her feel better. I utterly, positively, absolutely believed this.
While driving to the hospital, Louis Armstrong pissed me off.
"And I think to myself, what a wonderful world," he sang.
"You’re full of shit," I replied.
The doctors said the orange had doubled in size. That’s what my baby sister and I had been calling the thing, an orange. But now it was much bigger than that.
"I guess it’s a small cantaloupe now," I said.
"More like a papaya," she replied.
A normal life would be bliss right now. A life where all one has to worry about is psycho exes, credit card bills, or what’s on TV that night. I want my baby sister to get back to that. It’s what everybody’s been praying for the past few days.
In the mean time, my baby sister had asked for a stuffed dolphin, so that’s what I was going to get her.
A part of me was focused on this task, because throughout all this you feel utterly helpless. You can’t grab cancer by the throat and beat the shit out of it. You can’t re-boot life, and start all over with a happier cancer-free version. But you can buy your sister a plush marine mammal.
My baby sister had still lost an ovary, but I’d never been so happy in my life. I grabbed his hands until I almost crushed them. "Thank you. Thank you so much," I said.
She had a button that she could press every ten minutes for more morphine. But I could tell she probably would’ve preferred every ten seconds. Her face would twitch with pain every so often, so I told her to grab my fingers. And she squeezed them, like she did when she was one month old. She fell asleep that way.