Andrea Askowitz

Author & Teacher

No. 48: There Are No Permanent Conditions



My mom has cancer now. I say “now” because six months ago my brother had cancer. He was lucky. He had thyroid cancer, which everyone says is the good cancer. They cut out his thyroid and some lymph nodes. Then three days of solitary confinement after swallowing radioactive iodine and he was cured.

Friday was my mom’s first round of chemo. My brother showed up at 8 a.m. with a piece of his blue blanket, for luck. Later, she showed me the threads and I recognized it right away — the blanket he slept with as a kid.

When I got to the chemo center, my mom still had hours to go, so we sat. Elizabeth, the chemo nurse, checked her needle. She changed my mom’s IV bag three times. She looked over at me and remarked on how much I look like my brother. To my mom, she said, “You’re lucky. You’re lucky to have your children here.”

My mom said, “I’m one of the luckiest people in the world.” She pointed to the chemo line. “This, though, is a different kind of luck. This is bad luck.” (READ FULL ESSAY HERE.)