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Pat Lisi – Southern Utah Vets Aid

Life is funny.  Well, I guess funny isn’t exactly the right way to put it; maybe strange or ironic would be better choices of words.  As a Vietnam Veteran who spent a lot of time walking through areas that were defoliated with Agents of every kind (it wasn’t just Agent Orange you know), I have feared ever since that I might be carrying the toxins in me.  I’ve not had any diagnosis to that affect, yet, but I am on the Agent Orange Registry through the VA and in 2006 I had a prostate biopsy that proved negative.  Many of my friends who are also Nam vets, and particularly some of those who patrolled the very same trails I did, back in the day, have contracted different, horrible diseases related to Agent Orange exposure.  I’m sitting here thinking perhaps I’m just plain lucky at the moment.  I can’t believe there isn’t a tiny cell somewhere in me just waiting to divide, and explode.  I don’t lay awake at night worrying about it, but now I do think more often along those lines because my wife was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

So I’m thinking, “What the fuck?”

How can I be so fortunate and she so unfortunate?  She wasn’t a veteran, and she’s never been to South Viet Nam.  She didn’t work in a nuclear power plant and has no reason to look back on her life and wonder about where she may have been exposed to something that would cause cancer.  Of course, our environment has become filthy and the water we drink tastes kind of funny, so maybe that’s where she picked up whatever it is people pick up when a cancer cell enters and starts dividing.  Whatever the source, it doesn’t really matter. for the strange thing we (or I) am dealing with is why she has cancer and I don’t.

By the way, I don’t want cancer — I’m just trying to understand how or why this should happen to her and not to me.  In the meantime we have to deal with it.  There have been 3 surgeries and radiation therapy starts soon.  We’ll just push forward, and my job is to support her, get her to her appointments, and make life as easy as I can for her.  Hopefully, she will double her lifespan and live another 57 years.


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