The ceiling creaks with every
step.My family moves in clandestine
patterns while I type at the computer in my red-room below.The room is red for a reason, not just
because I enjoy the color, though I do.The red is for passion, the kind of passion that can take a person to
the extremes of joy and pain.I’ve been
marked by both, and so paint my writing room red, to remind me.
I seek the shrouded truth of
Vedanta, the light of God in Christianity, the sechel, or reason, in Judaism, and the compassionate wisdom of Buddhism.All keys to the universe, just not mine.As a cancer patient, there is no single
key.How can there be?The universe is a large, complex place with many
white-coated gods in sterile hospitals. Mine is a polytheistic world.
I have survived three cancer
diagnoses in the last fifteen years, two brain tumors and melanoma.I’m thirty-three.Is there sense in sensibility?Is there brevity in wit?And what about the soul?Lots of questions, very few answers—that’s
something you get used to.You have to.
There are a great many
“have-to’s” when you face cancer.You
don’t want to have your skull drilled full of holes, then, listen to doctors play
connect-the-dots with a surgical saw, and lift out your skull, exposing the
fragile gray matter beneath.You don’t
want to be awake with a valium drip for the seventeen-hour surgery.You don’t want to recognize in hour-ten that
you cannot move the left side of your body in panic and fear, and have an
anesthesiologist named Surriel tell you to not be upset because you are going
to sleep now.You don’t want any of
those things, but it doesn’t matter what you want.You have to.
You have to face weeks in a
rehabilitation hospital with nurses who disguise bullying with care.You have to go on to endure nine months of
intensive chemotherapy where you lose ninety-pounds, your balance, and your
feelings…about everything.You have to
consider the unthinkable: What will happen to my family if I die?What will happen to the $60,000 in student
loans?Will my husband have to repay
that, if I die?Will my son grow up to
be a good man?Will my husband find a
new wife?Will anyone remember that I
used to sit in a red room and write?Lots of questions.No answers.
I’ve made a discovery though,
now being an expert on questions without answers.The question of why is always
irrelevant.The only true question is why not.Why not?Why not die?Why not get sick?Why not get well?Why not travel to Australia?Why not live every moment to the very
fullest?Why not.Not why.
The language is
important.You predict the future with
your words.Coelho’s conspiring universe
will help, too.You’re like an alchemist
trying to turn lapis exillis into gold.But
there is no holy grail—it’s a stone called Moldavite, found in Moldavia.
The words you avoid are
statistics and numbers.They deal in
absolutes, and the universe is nothing more than string.Wave-like particles entangling with
stationary particles…and then, anything is possible, at least at the sub-atomic
level.But isn’t that where cancer
There are one-hundred and
twenty varieties of brain tumors.Brain
cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death.If you live in Australia, melanoma is the
number one cause of cancer death.Over
190,000 people will be diagnosed with brain tumors in the United States in
2006.One-third of the female population
of New York State is diagnosed with cancer each year.It’s good to avoid this kind of
language.Better to use the more fluid
language of creativity.
We are not diagnosed with a
deadly disease, we are merely interrupted,
as if in the middle of an engaging phone conversation, and then, a child tugs
at the hem of your blouse to ask an absurd question that has no answer; the
question is being asked purely to distract you from the current call so you may
pay more attention to the child.That is
it.That is cancer.
You don’t believe my words,
my language?Maybe you don’t want to
believe.Belief can be suspended to let
truth peek in under your skull and into your gray matter, the surgical saw
still buzzing in your ear.Why?No, no…it’s why not.