June 2021 Creative nonfiction essay published in The Cincinnati Review
Teh-chang came home a couple of days after the surgery, wheeled out of the hospital with a cotton bandage wrapped around his head cartoon-style and, even stranger-looking, a white mesh Styrofoam netting gathered into a point on top of that, which made him resemble a delicate fruit packaged for long-distance transportation.
He had survived having his skull sawn open, a surgeon slicing out a tumor over a centimeter and a half in diameter and then putting his head back together. If that were all, it would have been a happy ending. Instead, it was just the beginning.
The brain tumor was not the source but an emissary. Stage 4 lung cancer. The intern just happened to mention the words printed on the chart during his morning rounds. And that was how they found out.
Read longer excerpt here.