Headline, September06, 2013



''I have leukemia. Apparently, from everything I've read and been told, this is a bad thing and people have a habit of dying from it.
But as my always-the-optimist mother has repeatedly told me, ''Son, every cloud, even the most thunderous one, has a silver lining.''

Mom, the silver lining to my leukemia cloud is Adolf Hitler.
Yes, that Adolf Hitler.
And on August 8, 2004, that Adolf Hitler saved my life.

Yes, I know that an odd-mustached man best known for the death of six-million members of the Jewish faith  -not to mention a whole bunch of Russians, British, French, Dutch, Belgians, Greeks, Latvians, Norwegians, Americans, Canadians, Austrians, Czechs, Romanians, Hungarians, fellow Germans,  and assorted others   -is an unlikely savior and, as such, raises some pesky and ethical questions.

Again, I rest easier thanks to more of my mother's cherry wisdom:
''Son beggars, especially beggars with leukemia, can't be choosers.''
And as Mom knows, this beggar with leukemia does not tend to exaggerate. Not to take anything away from Hitler, but Mr. Fuhrer did not save my life on his own, he had plenty of help from the likes of Stalin, Himmler, Tojo, Heydrich, Franco, Goring, Mussolini, and some really adorable dollhouse furniture.

On August 16, 2000, at 10.38 A.M. PST, I asked an oncologist, ''I have what?'' Dr Spencer Shao of Northwest Cancer Specialists had just told me that I had chronic myelogenous leukemia and that yes, to answer my next question before I asked it, having chronic myelogenous leukemia was bad.
A medical textbook said chronic myelogenous leukemia was ''insidious''. Insidious is a bad word.  It said according to statistics, without a bone-marrow transplant, the rest of my life would last somewhere two and four years. That is a bad rest of a life for forty-two-year-old.

Tests involving large needles were done to see if either of my sisters' bone marrow matched mine. Neither did, and, therefore, I had less than 30 percent chance of surviving the operation meant to save my life. That is a bad percentage. 

I started my daily interferon injections. Interferon side effects include, but are not limited to, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, fatal and nonfatal ulcerative and hemorrhagic colitis, pancreatitis, thyroiditis, thrombocytopenia, rheumatoid arthritis, interstitial nephritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bruising, bleeding, hypotension, arrhythmia, tachycardia, cardiomyopathy, myocardial infarction, hair loss, behavioral changes, mood swings, shortness of breath, memory loss, chest pains, swelling, and skin rash. Those are bad side effects.

Ryan O'Neal had chronic myelogenous leukemia. He is a bad actor.

Bad words, bad life experiences, bad percentages, bad side-effects, and bad actors notwithstanding, all was not bad.

My first and  second all-was-not-bads were Dr Brian Druker and Gleevec. Druker is a brilliant and kind oncologist who just happened to be so kind as to live in the same city as me and to have developed a new treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia called Gleevec that had far more success in combating the disease than interferon, with far fewer side effects.
In short, I had picked the right time and place to have the wrong disease.

And now should come the time when I bore you to tears with yet another cliched, self-indulgent tale of self-pity masquerading as cliched inspiration, recounting as cliched inspiration, recounting cliched fear, cliched hope, cliched cynicism, cliched optimism, cliched anger, cliched forebearance, cliched despair, and cliched enlightenment, but I won't. It will suffice to say, long leukemia story short, ''it's a terrible, terrible''  hassle not to die.

Fortunately, I have spent most of the last five years doing well on the not dying thing. Cliched hope was winning out over cliched fear; cliched optimism over cliched cynicism, although cliched cynicism is more fun; cliched forbearance over cliched anger; cliched enlightenment over cliched despair.
Then I got pneumonia.

It's not a good idea for people with leukemia to get pneumonia. Oops. In my case pneumonia led to shortness of breath and fatigue and dizziness and sinus surgery and nerve damage and relentless coughing and paralyzed lung and an unwelcome twenty-pound weight loss and doctors and more doctors and more doctor's appointments and poking and prodding and a lot of time in very expensive medical machines an four months off from work.         
Yes, a thousand times yes, a four month paid sabbatical from work is a great thing and, yes, Mom, more than qualifies as silver lining; however, I would not recommend the pneumonia + leukemia method of securing one.
March 6, 2004: John Henry Williams, the son of baseball legend Ted Williams and devotee of Cryonics, dies of leukemia.

It Became More of Hassle not to die, and as a chronically lazy person, I gave a serious thought to going out on a lazy note.
Lazy Man Gives Up Fight Against Leukemia.
Then Hitler showed up. Laziness and Hitler don't mix.
Hitler exploited a weakness I had for art, specially Andy Warhol's art. I am such a fan that back in 1976, while poor and in college, I started irrationally buying Warhol prints, much to the chagrin of my rationally minded college roommates, Pat MacGough and Scott Smolinsky, and at the expense of such college staples as drinks, food etc.

The Warhol bug never subsided. Warhol was inspiration. Warhol was creativity. Warhol was social commentary. Warhol was a difference. Warhol was insight. Warhol was cool. And when he died in 1987, Warhol became an unexpected windfall financial asset for yours truly, again to the chagrin of my former and still rationally minded college roommates. I always wanted to be Warhol. Warhol was rich, but more important, Warhol was a rich and important artist and to use a phrase from a commercial, when Warhol painted, filmed, photographed, spoke, or burped, people listened.

So, I decided to spend my four months away from work trying to become a rich and important artist, never mind that the world is cluttered with artists trying to become rich and important(They are called ham-fisted, pretentious, or poor) I figured I had nothing to lose; after all, I did have both leukemia and pneumonia and, consequently, had a pretty good chance of being dead before anyone could label me ham-fisted. pretentious or poor.
April 10, 2004: Ben Pimlott, British Historian, dies of leukemia. Leukemia is spelled leukaemia in England.

I did, however, have an art idea,  -about toys, irony, ridicule, satire, Hitler, and hubris. Yes, I understood that Hitler was a somewhat sensitive subject, especially for a first-time artist trying not to be ham-fisted, pretentious, or poor, let alone insensitive, but, hey, this was art!
Plus, Hitler sells. Do a Hitler search on Amazon.com and you will find 3,911 Hitler books, 169 Hitler Videos, 39 Hitler home-and-garden products, 11 Hitlers under popular music, 3 Hitler industrial supplies, 3 Hitler medical supplies, and !1! Hitler free download.

This masterpiece from an Advertising Legend  -The Essay and Tale- continues. Enjoy this and don't miss the next one.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors, and Teachers of Mongolia. See ya all on the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless : '' Make Yourself Happy ''

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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