During the summer of 2018, Jo underwent approximately 8 weeks of near-daily chest radiation treatments to stem the growth of thymoma tumor nodules. This followed the third surgery in Jo’s 12 years to remove the steadily growing tumors around her right lung. I was reluctant to consider this course of treatment, but given the cell’s insistence and movement, another surgery would be inevitable and likely more complex than the previous three. While the treatments were challenging, the fallout that followed over the winter was unbearable. The chest pressure, pneumonitis and inability to breathe sent us to the hospital repeatedly, with unsatisfactory results. By ‘unsatisfactory’ I mean punching-a-hole-in-the-wall angry at the lack of understanding about why Jo had these side effects and the weeks, sometimes months, it took to get appointments with specialists.
I sought solace in songs that directed my frustration away from people around me. One of these was Black Star’s Respiration, with lyrics that expressed a metaphorical difficulty to breathe in an urban environment. Many of the words applied to our reality; rewriting the lyrics was an outlet for acknowledging the trauma. Pulling us through the slog while calling it such is how songs heal and this one is worth its weight in xanax.