I recently rented the video, God said Ha! It
is a one woman performance by former Saturday Night Live comedian,
Julia Sweeney. She recounts the nine months that her parents
came to live with her so they could all care for her brother
Mike. Mike had lymphoma. During this time Julia found out that
she also had cancer. Hard to believe, but this account is not
only touching and very personal, it is also full of laughs. Some
of her tale includes experiences that my husband and I could
really relate to. It got me thinking about all the times we shook
our heads and said "God has a sick sense of humor!"
For example- as I previously mentioned, our cat developed
a sympathetic tumor on his thyroid and had to have surgery at
the same time as I did.
Or the time we traveled for a week in our VW van, camping
in Canada, and no one knew we had a large stack of MRI's with
us. The MRIs were needed in Spokane the following week. I kept
imagining what the border patrol might say if they discovered
them. Maybe they would think we were spys smuggling secret documents
disguised as my brain.
Or the fact that every time we turned on the television to
escape for awhile, we happened upon a show that had the word
tumor or cancer in it. I swear we avoided hospital shows like
ER but sure enough somehow this still happened. And then
we stumbled across a regular program from the University of Washington
that was the Ground Rounds from the neurology department. Here
doctors and interns discussed specific cases complete with slides
of patients brains. It was too surreal!
We were also constantly reminded of how many times the word
brain is referred to in everyday conversation... Brainless, brainwashing,
brain dead, harebrained, etc... One day I received a sample of
a teacher's magazine in the mail titled Brainwaves. I had to
While in the hospital recovering from the biopsy, I was aware
of some loud noises during the night. Later my nurse came in
and said, "Don't worry if you hear some yelling, we have
a patient that is being committed to the local mental hospital
and he's not real happy about it." It really wasn't that
funny but I just couldn't help thinking... just my luck!
One day we were in my neurosurgeon's waiting room and I looked
over at the magazine rack. The latest TIME cover glared back.
On the cover was a huge photo of a skull. Feeling particularly
ornery, I jumped up and grabbed the issue, saying, "This
is really bad taste to have in a neurosurgeon's office!"
I then threw it in the garbage can. I noticed a woman watching
me with a slight smile on her face.
People care about how you're feeling, and sometimes show this
by suggesting ideas they've heard about that might help with
healing. One day I was talking to a relative on the phone and
he told me about a book that suggested drinking your own urine.
He said he knew someone that had been cured that way. I do not
want to put down any technique that may help someone, but for
me personally, I have to draw the line somewhere! But I remember
thinking, hmmmm... maybe with a shot of tequila and a little
salt and lime...
Ironically, as soon as I finished typing this, my husband
and I watched a movie that just happened to be on television
called Phenomenon, starring John Travolta. We had seen
it a couple years before but had forgotten the details, in particular
the ending. It's a story of a man who sees a big light in the
sky and is knocked flat on his back by the force of it. Afterwards,
he is a genius and has the ability to move objects with his mind.
He can read a book on Portuguese and in a few minutes speaks
it fluently. He creates amazing scientific experiments, solves
difficult math problems instantly and becomes an incredible gardener.
Later, he collapses and is taken to the hospital, where he
gets an MRI. The next scene shows him in a hospital room with
friends and the doctor. I turned to my husband and jokingly said,
"He better not have a tumor!" Of course, the doctor
then tells him the reason he has all these special powers is
that he has a brain tumor called an Astrocytoma! And it's not
operable (same as mine). We about fell off the couch laughing!
And then I started yelling at the doctor, "What about radiation?!"
I did get pleasure out of knowing this tumor gave him an incredible
IQ and amazing abilities. There's hope for me!