In November of my intern year, I had trouble finding the sun. It was dark when I woke up for work, and it was dark when work was done and I headed back home. I'd picked up the service on the cancer ward from an intern named Bob, and Bob had left me six handwritten pages on the subject of Jim Franklin.
And this was the deal: Jim Franklin, thirty-seven years old, had been living on the cancer ward for the last three months. He had a two-foot-high stack of records, and the pity and admiration of nearly every nurse, tech and doctor in the hospital. He'd been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma four years earlier, treated with chemotherapy and thought to be cured. A year ago his cancer had recurred, and he'd been failing therapy in what could only be called a spectacular manner ever since.
Our train starts to move slowly down well-traveled tracks. Sunny out,
clouds in the distance. We pick up speed.
We offer obligatory greetings,
courtesy How you feelings?
We both know why she's here
we defer that talk
as if deferring for a few minutes will make it easier.
The trackside turns to trash, human detritus, rusting hulks without utility.
I edge closer, negotiating perfunctory reviews--
her history, her physical, her labs, her imaging--
she owns them, they're hers alone.
Then it's time to enter the forbidden room of abnormals:
machine-made "shadows," the blood's "too highs."
Her cloak of woven fear lies quietly on her shoulders.
Melanie Di Stante
In 2000, my husband Brian was diagnosed with Stage IIIB Hodgkin lymphoma, which has since become a prominent part of our lives. My children and I belong to Gilda's Club, a cancer support community, and recently we were asked to help record a promotional video to be featured at a fundraising gala for the local chapter and on the club's website.
I'm not a "spotlight" kind of girl, and I don't feel drawn to video cameras or speeches, but I've been going to two Gilda's Club programs--a caregiver-support group, and a writing group--for nearly five years. Everyone is nurturing, supportive and so nice. My son Marco and daughter Gabriella also attend a group, where they do projects to help build resilience for kids impacted by cancer. It's priceless, and it's free.
If this is something I can do to give back, I thought, I'll do it. My kids were on board as well.