When does the word "fortunate" get paired along with "terminal cancer”?
I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in November 2018, and I understood then that those words belonged together. There was nothing forced about it; I just intuited (strongly, inarguably) that my cancer was “fortunate.”
It’s fortunate that my sisters and brothers are all adults (to say the least!), ready to face my illness with the openness and awareness that I would have to ask of them.
Fortunately my husband David is a musician and artist without a conventional work schedule; he is freer than many people would be to drive me a few hours a day to treatments; to take care of me; help me emotionally to navigate this new world; help me physically to navigate our house; gently to confront my past; and much more. Our son Kenji works remotely for a decentralized office; he can work from his home or from ours. He’s been spending a lot of time with us to help take care of me and to cook for us.
My cancer also felt fortunate because I felt I’d been given the unusual gift of knowing how I would likely die, even approximately when I might die.
In the fall and winter of 2018 my family began their care watch. Kenji settled in and started cooking daily vegan dinners. David made my care his priority. Generous friends and neighbors pitched in constantly, bringing flowers and meals and poetry and support.
Every month or so a brother and sister would pair up to come stay in a local hotel and help take care of me. They met and fed my friends. They fixed things all over the house — from trip hazards to dripping faucets. They had a rock garden planted, and planted a new tree to replace one that had died near David’s recording studio.
I‘m fortunate to have a compassionate and empathetic primary doctor, plus close and trusted friends, who looked at me directly and intensely to recommend that I choose treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. I did, and have been very grateful for the help and treatment I’ve received from everyone there.
Soon after my diagnosis my husband and son started playing music together — in a kind of haunting duo / collaboration different from what they’d done before, making music of a sort that I had never heard. They set up nightly to record in the living room, just below the bedroom where I sleep.
THIS is beyond fortunate; this is magical.
Medicare for All
When I was diagnosed with this terminal lung cancer in November, I had just turned 65 in May, and so had also very fortunately qualified for Medicare.
Medicare has made the difference for us between worrying every day about how we will pay for expensive individual insurance — to cover bills for chemo and radiation treatments, consultations with my oncologist, my radiation oncologist, my pain management doctor and many meds, my inevitable occasional trips to the emergency room, and physical therapy.
Medicare has covered the most knowledgeable, gentle, and compassionate care possible for me by nurses, nurse practitioners, and doctors.
This isn’t “fortunate“ healthcare, or healthcare for a select group of entitled people. This is necessary, reassuring healthcare as it must be — humanely available for everyone, shared with everyone.
I also want to share this lovely unique, and uniquely healing music with as many people as possible, so we’re making it available through bandcamp.com
. All the proceeds are going to the National Nurses United, one of the largest nurses unions in the U.S. and one of the strongest supporters of Medicare for all.
I’ve spent the past few months floating and basking in the healing tones and textures of Vulneraries. I hope it is healing to you as well.
— Anne Garland, June, 2019
released July 10, 2019
At Anne’s request, all income from “Vulneraries” will be donated to National Nurses United, the largest labor union and progressive professional association of registered nurses in the United States. Among other campaigns, NNU is helping lead the movement for Medicare for All: “healthcare justice, accessible, quality healthcare for all, as a human right.” (nationalnursesunited.org
Modified 12-string guitar
played by hands and modular synthesizer
Kenji Garland and David Garland
David also plays clarinets on "Candles"
Produced by Garlands
recorded February and March, 2019
Music copyright 2019 by David Garland and Kenji Garland
Published by Garland Control Songs ASCAP
Images and Design by David Garland