Real Answers

Man, I have no idea what I’d do in that situation. I’m a big wuss when it comes to pain to begin with. I don’t know how long I’d be able to keep up a fight like that.

A final reminder that tomorrow from noon to midnight, Super Art Fight will be raising money for the Ulman Cancer Center for Young Adults. If you can’t make it to the show, we’ll be streaming live. Stay tuned to for streaming and donation information.

Oh, I may not have mentioned this earlier. Around 2:40 or so I’ll be performing with my band Noisy Zen which is a band me and Johnny Rockstar have had for about seven years now. You’ve never heard of us because, well, this will be our fifth show ever and we don’t have any recorded stuff available anywhere. It should be… entertaining… ah, who am I kidding. It’s going to be FUCKING EPIC!!!

  • pookie

    Yeah, it’s always difficult just to relay that news, I am not sure what I would do on the listening end. A minor bone to pick though: due to HIPAA that nurse would not have been allowed to disclose that information without release from Miss Jessy. Although, perhaps she already gave that release earlier? :)

  • Jamie Noguchi

    I’m gonna go ahead and say that she did because then it sounds like I know what I’m talking about.

  • lionthetiger

    Yeah, what pookie said, that’s a serious fine and potential jail time for that kind of breach.

  • John David Choat

    Being able to say goodbye has value beyond comprehension.

  • Romero

    Perhaps, unless Miss Jessy has listed Lance as her “next-of kin/family.”

    Sad to see Miss Jessy go so soon. Here’s hoping that we encounter other interesting characters of African descent someplace down the road. Thanks for depicting a very real and diverse slice of life!

  • John Richards

    This comic arc is tough for me to read. My aunt went the same way as Miss Jessy. She had practically raised my mother and might as well have been another parent to my little brother and I. Seeing her in a hospital bed, shrunken, pale, riddled with needles… I was barely ten and having to try to keep the household going because Mom physically couldn’t function for about a week when Aunty finally passed. I refused to cry then, and I can’t cry now. I just told myself if I was ever in such a bad way I’d take matters into my own hands and be done with it rather than die by feet and inches.

    Well, fate likes to screw with people. I had just finished college and applied to join the Marines when in the entrance physical I was diagnosed with six different types of cancer, four of which were malignant. Two types of testicular cancer, one type of lung cancer, and one in the bowels. I had no insurance because I hadn’t started working yet, and the local hospital was going to provide what care they could, but everyone was honest to the fact that my chances were in the toilet and it was going to hurt like nothing else on this planet. So, I got my affairs in order, wrote my goodbyes, and pulled the trigger.


    My grandfather’s prized M1911 had never jammed or misfired in the thirty years it saw use in the Marine Corps, nor had it done so when I inherited it. I worked the slide, saw the dent in the back of the cartridge’s primer, chucked it aside, and tried again.

    Again a misfire. I had better odds of winning the lottery than this being chance.

    I sat down and thought long and hard on it. About an hour later, I began to receive frantic phonecalls from my relatives and friends. Apparently the hospital called my mother because they hadn’t updated their phone records, and she put 2 and 2 together.

    After hearing them all sobbing on the phone, and a few actually pounding down my door, I realized why Aunty put herself through hell come the end. As long as there are people on this earth who love you, you don’t get to take the easy way out. You survive as long as you can, no matter what the agony, because that’s your due for the love and kindness you’re shown throughout your life.

    It took four years of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. I’m a walking zipper. The radiation screwed with my DNA to the degree that I’m going to be on meds for the rest of my life to regulate my metabolism. The chemo caused inflammatory disorders in my eyes and gastrointestinal tract to the degree that I can’t work and wonder where my next meal will be coming from. It also caused Sjogren’s Syndrome and leeched the calcium from my teeth so they’re rotting like chalk. If I could afford healthcare, I might be able to get some of these issues dealt with, but they’re not technically fatal disorders, so no such luck.

    That’s the price I paid to keep my friends, relatives, and loved ones from crying over me. I paid it gladly. Sadly, they’ll still cry one of these days, but so does everyone I suppose.

  • awesomemvs

    i thought this comic already made me too emotional but your comment doubled and tripled it. People who go through as much as you have and deal with these consequences are amazing.

  • John Richards

    Nice of you to say. I just wish my word processor hadn’t screwed up the formatting. Yep, Lance Armstrong can’t hold a candle to me. Of course, since he was rich before he got sick, he gets all the publicity. :)

  • Jamie Noguchi

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your strength is inspirational.

  • SamuraiArtGuy

    “Man, I have no idea what I’d do in that situation. I’m a big wuss when
    it comes to pain to begin with. I don’t know how long I’d be able to
    keep up a fight like that…”

    I don’t really have an answer for that. And I’ve been there… twice. Both parents. Cancer both times. Both times, home hospice. How long? As long as it is. While you’re in it, you’re not paying a lot of attention to time, you’re just keepin’ on and trying not to let it show that you’re coming unglued inside.

    You fight till it’s done.

    Father went down like a barbarian Gaul chieftain, full of esprit de corps and joie de vire. But Mother was particularly difficult as she was suffering from expressive aphasia and short term memory loss from a previous stroke. So I had to have THAT difficult conversation with her… seven times.

    All I can say about the experience is that it was …character building. But yeah, I’d have preferred getting it rock climbing or something. Oh yeah, and keeping my design career going. I’m practically a trained practical nurse now, just short of giving injections and running IV’s…

    But I absolutely fucking hate Cancer SO FUCKING MUCH. The fucking disease kills the person first, then the body.

    Everybody BREATHE. Fufffffffff…..

  • SamuraiArtGuy

    Wow… just wow.

    This is kind of a bizarre club, that I’d really rather we could keep people OUT of.

  • hswoolve

    If he’s the one who got the call (if Miss Jessy didn’t make it), he might be the one named on those forms.

  • John Richards

    It is a club. Everybody joins eventually, but no one knows about it until it’s too late, and no one knows what it’s like because the depictions on television are horseshit. The billionaire celebrity who gets sick that we’re supposed to feel sorry for is even worse when you think of all the poor bastards out there who can’t afford these treatments.

  • John Richards

    I wouldn’t call it strength so much as being too damn stubborn for my own good. :) Besides, I love your comic and this is finally one topic I can join the discussion with.

  • Fren

    That is probably the bravest thing I’ve heard.

  • John Richards

    You’re too kind.

    Bravery is one of those things I always thought was a soldier or firefighter rushing in to save lives. But you soon find that bravery feels hollow because it’s not a choice at all. It’s simply being in a situation where your principles, obligations, morals, and sense of what’s right won’t allow you to act in any other fashion. And when it’s not a deliberate choice, but one just doing what must be done, it losses value. I’ve been told I’m a brave person many times, but it’s never really sunk home because bravery is something always reserved for someone else, never ourselves. I realize I’m beginning to sound unappreciative of your compliment, but that’s not my aim. What I’m saying is that it’s vitally important never to discount yourself and the things you have done because you felt them necessary. The man who can live on his own, work a couple jobs while putting himself through school, marry, raise a family, and support them all, day after day regardless of what hardships the world throws at him; to me, that is an insurmountable task, and the man who not only can do it but sees it as no choice at all is the bravest of the brave.
    On the other hand, bravery for the sake of being a hero in the eyes of others isn’t bravery. It’s stupidity. I don’t know why I said that except that we as a race seem to hail plenty of stupid heroes. :)

  • awesomemvs

    dude, that guy is so roided and full of scandal it’s amazing. There are a lot of truly inspirational athletes out there though.

  • SamuraiArtGuy

    I’ll have to say that between the VA and Medicare, my parents were mostly covered, and the finances were still not in the least trivial. But It was infuriating that a LOT of treatment decisions were based on our finances and insurance rather than absolute need or best care choices.

    But that was the 90′s and early 2000′s. Now under current conditions with the insurance I can (barely) afford as a self-employed designer, similarly afflicted I gather I would be absolutely expected to DIE.