From my email box late last week:
“A quick update to tell you that L. had another PET scan and met with her doctor today at [really great medical center]. She is “clean”, happy and healthy! God has blessed us!” . . . “We thank you for celebrating with us that L. continues to do well ~ the next scan is in 4 months.”
I like these messages from friends, family, classmates, neighbors, acquaintances . . . you name it, I collect these stories of healing. Some come via email, some via sites like Caring Bridge, some via old-fashioned face-to-face or phone.
L.’s story landed in my email box because L. is Lauren, a recent USM grad (’07), and the email is about the follow-up scans to her treatment for a rare form of cancer called Follicular Dendritic Cell Sarcoma, often misdiagnosed as lymphoma. Diagnosed in the second semester of her senior year, she received treatment at M.D. Anderson. Coincidentally, M.D. Anderson is across the street from her college of choice, Rice University.
Mom Marina chatted with me this summer about Lauren (I’m a lymphoma survivor). She told me about Lauren’s summer working in the lab at M.D. Anderson and her email confirmed that Lauren had decided to change majors to Biology/Chemistry, Cell Biology, and Spanish “in the hopes that she can attend medical school.”
I followed-up and talked to Lauren briefly while she was home in late August. She spent the summer working on six different cell lines, testing different chemotherapy drugs to see how they work.
She said, “No one knows why chemo kills.”
I’d be lying if that didn’t puzzle me a bit after having gone through six rounds of the stuff.
I asked her what she wanted people to know. She said,
“I did my research with a clinician, someone who works in a clinic and in a lab. But the researchers who work just in the lab sometimes they forget why they are there.” I waited. “You know, the politics.”
Ah, yes. That other puzzling matter of adults losing perspective.
I collect another set of stories. I know you do too. Dick G. Simon B. Rudy the Barber. Sister-in-law Beth. Cousin Richard. This is just my blood cancer list. Three of the names were added during the last year.
Lauren honors the memories of those who have died of cancer, herself and other survivors with her work in trying to figure out the puzzle of effective cancer treatment. She further honors those whose lives have been touched by cancer in seeking to maintain perspective and remember why she is doing her work in the first place.