Wales Madden IV, Amarillo/Austin

2L, The University of Texas School of Law

“In February, 2008, I was diagnosed with T-Cell, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I’d been married 8 months earlier and had just finished my first semester of law school, so the timing was not good. I suspect, however, it would be oxymoronic to ever associate a cancer diagnosis with ideal timing. I am now about 30 months into treatment and should be finished in December, 2010. I’ve probably had over 100 chemo treatments, but I’ve been in remission for 2 years without ever needing a bone marrow transplant. I’ve been fortunate.

People frequently congratulate me for some sort of victory or inspiring effort, but typically I tell those folks that all I had to do was show up for treatment. My wife, brother, and parents got me where I needed to go, cared for me, and handled my responsibilities in addition to conducting their own lives. They carried the weight; I just ate, slept, and drank ginger ale.

Cancer for me: steroids, gained 25 pounds in 2 weeks, chemo hits, lost 35 pounds in 3 weeks, find hair on my pillow, shave head, get to wear cool head wraps, looked at and talked to like I’m dying or already dead, learn cancer patients can get away with telling cancer jokes, cancer jokes and self deprecating humor work well on pity looks and pity talk, morning sickness, really starting to dislike hospital smell, 22 squirts of the good stuff in the spine, migraines, remission, hair comes back, still hate hospital smell, no more pity but tired of cancer talk, hair is curly now but no more cue ball, maintenance chemo, neuropathy in feet and some chemo brain but smooth sailing and back to reality.

Some advice for those that are enduring or may have had to endure something similar: take advantage of your vacation time, read often, learn new skills to fortify your mind against chemo brain and boredom, exercise when you can, never eat any of your favorite foods after a treatment, and listen to Bach, Beethoven, and Bob Dylan on a daily basis.

And, oh yeah….Move CancerForward!”