“On the best days, journalism is a roller coaster of excitement and possibility – a front row seat to the entire human endeavor. Science journalism, on a good day, is especially so. You never know if you will be interviewing a Nobel laureate about the universe’s stretch marks, inspecting …
This is a really honest, excellent, straightforward look by Erik Vance and Dominic Bracco at making work - good work - when the pounding pulse of the news cycle is beating down on you and nothing is (at least immediately, obviously, and profusely) flowing from the veins you’re trying to tap.
By mid-morning on Valentine’s Day, even the devil was on her side.
We were all rummaging about our desks, making phone calls, cursing the cold, drinking a little extra bit of coffee, eating (read: stuffing our faces with) chocolate we bought ourselves while scoffing at the ‘holiday’.
It was Thursday and pretty similar to the day we’d just left in the dust.
But from her treatment room in Wisconsin, Amelia was sending out a photo of her first day of chemotherapy: “They call it ‘the red devil’,” she wrote next to a picture of a syringe full of doxorubicin being pushed into her veins.
And away we went and away went all else.
It was a vibrant red, yes. It was the color of Valentine’s Day. But this was not a photo you think you’ll see on a day when people post snapshots of flowers or hearts or kittens hugging kittens or some other blumpity-blump that makes us feel good (or bad, depending on your mood) for a few minutes. This was terrifying and somehow more beautiful and strong and more magnetic of a photograph than anything else around that day (and in past and recent memory) and all I wanted to say was: thank you. Thank you for bringing us there with you. Thank you for reminding us (even though it’s unfair and it’s so maddening this is happening and even though I’m sure this is the last thing you want to be doing on this day) about life and loving. About what matters. And yes, it’s trite, I’m sure…but you have to know how this one little photograph means more than any bouquet someone could package. And I wanted to say: my god you are one spectacular individual and you are brave and goddamn it (pardon me) no matter what, we are going to get you through this.
But that wasn’t for me to say, exactly. Instead, what it was for me and for people who love this woman and for people who love someone who has been in this spot before or is now… and for people who WILL be in this place in the future…and for ANYONE who wanted to…what it was for us to do was to just be there with her and then to do what we could to start helping.
And that is what you all have done thus far with us. You have given from your hearts to someone you love or someone you have never even met. The power of being a part of that and of witnessing it unfold is unmatched. They cannot put that in a box of chocolates nor can Hallmark possibly compete. There is no Valentine like the one Amelia gave us.
So on this day, one week later, take a moment to be proud of being a part of that and send all of that good feeling along to Amelia and to anyone else who might be battling this disease….And let them know that, yes, they’ve got that crazy red devil on their side, but they have us too. Always.
I grabbed Leah Latella and headed to the bathroom at Eddie Adams Workshop, where she recorded a beautiful cover of “Beulah Land” (sung here as “Promised Land”) for my team’s presentation. I am so grateful to her and Ryan Cavanaugh for their incredible talent and generosity. Have a listen.