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Masked Identity

Today at the local Whole Foods, while shopping for quick sushi (cooked varieties only! don’t worry Dr. Asch!), I startled a little boy. Startled, intrigued, fascinated, I don’t know. Actually it wasn’t me it was my mask. He stared, and then he got his brother to stare along with him. Finally I said, “You are probably wondering why I am wearing this mask. (he nodded.) I’m wearing it because I have a disease, called leukemia.”

Suddenly he moved away from me, behind his mother’s legs. I said, “Oh no, no. You don’t need to be afraid of me. I can not give you leukemia. Its me who has to protect myself from you! You see I can get sick really easily, when I am out and about I wear this mask to protect myself.”

Kids are so good. They at least look for the reasons why, and hem and haw until they get at them. Adults just stare, unless they have a good reasonable, mature cause to ask. Apparently the two TV news spots have been sufficient. On the way out of the store a patron walking in asked, “Aren’t you the woman that was on the news last night.” I affirmed. As it turns out, his wife has cancer, too. I asked the type (cancers and their treatments are so specific, asking the kind gives insight into their treatment). And we said, good luck, and went separate ways. Compassion. One of the best side effects of Leukemia.

I’m thinking about making T-Shirts that say, Its okay. I have leukemia. Feel free to ask. I’m nice except when on Steroids.

I suppose there’s no hope for stardom, since no one will recognize me without a mask on my face. I could be like a super hero in disguise (who writes and loves people and who has very little energy beyond that) Who wears a mask over her nose and mouth so she can see and hear things more clearly without being fixated on what she might say, or distracted by some new diversion. Seeing and Listening are both very good means of touching the subtle.

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