Trying to Understand What it Meant to Have Cancer

Trying to Understand What it Meant to Have Cancer


None of us knew what to do as we were trying to figure out what was going on. Me the least it seamed. From my office in Brooklyn, I was trying to get updates. Cancer. How bad? “Lis, we come from a strong stock of women you aren’t allowed to fall appart now,” implored my mother as I stood on the street in DUMBO crying.

Galdieri, Joe’s best friend, kept callling me. “Lis, what’s going on?” “He can have my liver, I’m O positive that means I am a fit with anyone, but what are you? It would be better if he gets your liver.”
I went home crying making one of my roomies go to CVS to see if they had a blood tester at CVS so I could find out my blood type to see if I was a match with Joe. My roomie said the man who helped him looked at him like he was nuts when he asked for such a thing.

I would have conversations with Galdieri as I stood on the street corner outside my work, pacing. Galdieri didn’t know a lot, but he came from a lot of love, “Lis, Joe has cancer, but is the tumor benign? Me, “I think if it’s benign, it means you don’t have cancer, Galdieri.” We were lost, all of us trying to figure out what was going on. It was hard because I wasn’t in the hospital the day the diagnosis came. Everyone would just tell me to stay at work. Like I was curing cancer or doing something astronomically important.

It was a scary time and I think I was always crying. My roomies would stop and bring me home tiesues after work. But I would give anything to go back to it.

We learned. My mom sent out emails with details from the doctors. It didn’t matter my blood type, I’d have given any of my organs for my brother. This upset me to no end. “There must be something you can do! He’s strong, heatlhy and 28.” I would implore the surgeons to do something, they who said no, they couldn’t operate on Joe. The cancer had mestastized.

Joe had his little black notebook always out. Asking the doctors the difficult questions, “How long do I have to live?” And the practical, “Can I go to Josh’s bacholor party in Puerto Rico?”

Joe loved living life. He had a sparkle in his eye. And he was always ready to play the game. Whatever it was going to be, he was going to give it his all.

“You need a good attidude, healthy food, excercise and a good treatment plan to beat it. If anyone can beat this Lis, I can.” Joe told me walking the streets of NYC together to Sloan.

I wished it was me. I still do. I wish I was the sibling who got the stage 4 cancer.


Joe’s Sister

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