Category Archives: Art’s Letters

August 13, 2000

August 13, 2000|

Hi everyone!

Well, the day has finally arrived, and tomorrow I finally become an official breadwinner. Yes, I start work tomorrow.

Briefly, though, I’ve been in New York City for three weeks. In that time I have

  • rested up,
  • read like a thousand books,
  • learned how inept New York utilities people are,
  • drank about a million protien shakes, e
  • xplored almost the whole island of manhattan on foot, subway and bus (the latter I am most proud of learning),
  • driven to DC for my fourth friend wedding of the summer ( got one more this year, one next year, my medium brother! its like the flu, everyone’s getting married! :))
  • discovered how expensive this city is ( 1 lbs. of turkey breast = $8.56 (on sale! I didnt buy it, yeah tuna!)
  • paid 3 bucks a day to check my email at a cybercafe down the street because our phone is out of service and verizon/bell atlantic is on strike
  • found a GIANT picture of myself and my high school performing group singing at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in 1995 hanging at the visitor center at the Macy’s on 34th and 7th ( I am at least a foot and half tall)
  • saw alan calder (the voice guy) from the letterman show walking out of a coffee shop


  • saw NSync leaving their hotel the day after their big HBO concert ( I didn’t mean to be there, it was all a conincidence, I swear! It was just me and a thousand screaming high school girls, but it was all a coincidence, I swear! And that NSync shirt, I dunno how it got on me…)

But on the more serious note, healthwise, everyday I feel a little better. It’s like waking up, like I did today, and I could swallow without feeling the ball of pain go down. So every morning is a new day of healing, which makes waking up exciting. I am not 100%, it still takes me like an hour to eat a normal meal, my wind is not even close to where I want it to be, and my hair still hasn’t grown back in the back of my head and on my neck. But no complaints here. Doesn’t a morsal of food go into my mouth without thanking God for having the ability to eat painlessly.

Being that I am not 100%, and as Monday grew closer, I have become more concerned that I will not be able to handle this new jump, especially not having the full facility to eat. I know this is the best time to start, as the hours the next few weeks are not going to be too bad and the workload has been reduced since its peak in July. So I just ask that, if you can, send a prayer up on Monday for me; that I would have the energy and strength to work and that I would be 100% healed soon. Hey, it’s worked before, it should work now. So thanks in advance, I’ll keep you informed on how it goes.

I still have two more doctor appointments this fall to determine my status. After all I’ve been through, if any cancer cells made it, I’ll give them a pizza party. Those buggers would have to be like supermen cells. Break out the kryptonite 🙂

Anyway, I’ll send another epistle/update/microsoftart 5.6, later on when I have more info on the appointments and how work goes. Have a great day, and stay away from hoards of screaming high school girls, and especially the lone single white twenty-two year old in the middle of them ( it was a coincidence, I swear!).


July 21, 2000

July 21, 2000|

Greetings everyone!

well, with a big sigh of relief, I am happy to say that today was my last radiation treatment. I thought I would never really see the day, but Dr. Kinsella said those magic words “you are done.” It is still hard to swallow (literally because of the esophogitis:)), and figutively because I never thought I would see the day when I would be able to move to nyc. The light at the end of the tunnel went out a couple times, after hearing, a couple times, “you need more treatments, you need more treatments.” I am just priviliged to have a incredible employer who supports me and is allowing me to come to work when I am ready. That is true testament to the great company Goldman Sachs is. (Buy their stock, it is doing well 🙂 ) Right now it is still hard for me to imagine that in three days I will be moved in to my new place, with my new bed, with my new TV and DVD, with my new towels, with my…

the last couple weeks have been the hardest of my life, I can easily say. the pain from the sore throat got much much worse, as a sore developed in my stomach which would then radiated through my entire chest, causing major pain whenever I eat or drink anything. I ended up, so far, losing 20 lbs. My diet now consists of Ensure and Boost supplements, 4 times a day. It still is not enough calories, but I have managed this week to keep my weight steady.

In addition, the radiation burned my armpits to a charcoal black and caused my neck to have a massive sunburn, in effect toasting all of my neck hair on the back and front of my neck. On the bright side I won’t have to shave for awhile:) My fatigue has lessened considerably from last week and I no longer need 3 hour naps to sustain me. So the healing process is underway, and even more important I AM IN REMISSION!! CANCERFREE! WOOHOOO!

It has been extremely painful though. THe pain killers I received dont work too well, and on top of that, if mixed incorrectly cause them to come back up. not even banana popsicles can remedy that problem. But in the last couple days I have learned the power of the mind, how it can control the body to not make me yak, and make me deal with the pain. It’s interesting how big a part the mind can play in these kinds of situations. “No, I beat my body and make it my slave… 1 Cor 9:27”

Eating, though, was and still is the tough part. I can’t help but think back to watching earlier in the year the movie “The Rock”(with Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage). At the end of the movie Cage is battling some guy and ends up killing him by stuffing a toxic ball into his mouth, thereby exposing Cage to the toxin. Within a minute Cage will die, unless he takes the anitode, which is in a GIANT needle that he has to heave into his chest. I remember watching that and saying I could NEVER in a million years do that, too painful, I wouldn’t have the guts. I would end up dying, no doubt. Well, I discovered THAT is my current situation. I have to eat, despite the massive pain, or I will not get better. It feels like taking the giant needle and stabbing it into my chest, when I eat, so I guess I have done what I feared doing most. That is a victory I would never thought I could have conquered.

IT has been an interesting summer. I have learned a great deal from this radiation deal. First, never believe anyone who says “radiation- ahh- you’ll get a minor sore throat and lose your chest hair (all three of them).”:) It is a “tad” more difficult than that. Radiation is no picnic. I saw my demeanor and attitude change tremendously. I guess pain does that to you. Smiles were few and far between. The only thing that really kept me going, this is funny, was a series of books I was reading, called “Left Behind,” about the last days on earth. I am NOT into fiction at all, but I got sucked in and ended up buying all 7 in the series. Having this imaginary story line to put myself into, though, got my mind off the pain and and off myself. Thats a good thing. I highly highly recommend reading the series.

I also realized that this was a major disease and that I need to take my time to recover. I wanted to rush back and start work immediately when I got to the city, not matter how I felt. But my mind was changed as I watched the All-Star game last week and saw Andres Galarraga get his standing ovation. He too battled cancer, a very similar type to the one I have ( I mean had, wooohhhhoooo!). He did chemo and the radiation and had his good and bad days. In the end though, he took a year off from baseball and has come back this year to lead his team and be an inspiration to millions of baseball fans. Watching that teared me up a bit (“a lil dust got in my eye”), as I realized this guy was a hero to me, and that it took him time to recover. And if it takes him time to recover, I need to take my time and recover for my team at Goldman.

So, I am moving to nyc this weekend, getting settled, and spending the next couple weeks recovering to 100%. I dunno when I will start work, but I know I will take the advice of everyone who has told me to wait (and the inspiration of Galarraga) and get better first. No need to be a hero and rush in, just get better. So from now on I will be in NYC, I’ll throw my address and phone number in again below. If you ever come to NYC, make sure to come and visit.

It’s time now to enjoy my health again, relishing it everyday, thanking God for the even the smallest things (like being able to eat without pain and having armpits that aren’t black and sore).

I can’t wait to be able to go the Ruth’s Chris Steak house (two blocks away!), and get the phattest steak on the menu and eat it, with out having to wince in pain. I feel some dust getting in my eye again…:)

Alright, this one was long. sorry. I promise last long update. Hope I could keep you all informed and I will keep you all in my prayers. Thanks, and please stay in touch.

June 28, 2000

June 28, 2000|

Hi everybody!

It has been long awhile since I last wrote so I felt it necessary to write a QUICK letter about my current condition. Last time I was quite surprise how many people read all the way down the last letter. wow! I didn’t have enough prizes to mail out, so I had to forgo the whole prize deal. Impressive people, impressive people. 🙂

Anyway, I am back home in Youngstown, OH and have been here for the past month. The chemotherapy finished up a month ago during graduation and I was nonetheless happy to be done with it. The last week leading up to graduation was my roughest yet, as the drugs really took their toll physically. I spent most of senior week hanging out in the dorm playing guitar and writing my independent study. My last treatment was very very nice, though. I received from nurse Gerri a pair of HUP scrubs and freezy spray (in case I ever need to have an IV, I could bring it with me to the hospital). It was a great gift, and I wear my scrubs all the time.

Graduation went well, it ended up drizzling most of the weekend, but that did not dampen the occasion. The whole weekend was a blur, it went so fast. It ended up the award I won was the Albert E. Berg Scholarship, given to the Wharton students deemed academically deserving having been nominated by a faculty member. My advisor/professor I have been working with for the past year nominated me, so that was really nice treat. I also have basically finished up my independent study, all that remains is a clean up job on the paper and some more analysis for my own educational benefit. Some of the results were surprising, and if you want a final copy I will be happy to send you one when I finish. I have a feeling though I will be working on it for the next couple years looking for new and interesting findings to help in my education and preparing me for graduate school.

Healthwise, Dr. Alavi recommended I do four weeks of radiation on my chest to make sure that the cancer is totally cleared up. So, being back home, I have been going up to Cleveland to UniversityHospitals everyday for those treatments. The doctor at UH is amazing, I have just received first class care for my illness. He gave me a rundown on everything from day 1 of my disease with all the ct scans and everything. You could see how well the chemo worked, seeing the cancer “vanish” in the scans.

Radiation: Basically they stick me under this giant xray machine, and for thirty seconds on my back and front, zap me with radiation. I can’t feel it or anything, I just hear the whirring of the machine. The radiation therapists are nice, but not like HUP. I dont get much of a chance to talk trash to them like I did to gerri. I will work on getting a pair of scrubs from them though. That is my one goal before I get out.

It is about an hour and half drive to get up there for literally a minute of work, but they gotta do it. The drives have been nice though, as I have gotten some books on tape to listen to. WIth gas prices though, I had to sell one of my kidneys to pay for the trip:) just joking.

The radiation, I have found, though, is quite difficult, moreso than the chemo. Heck, chemo was a picnic in the park comparably speaking.:) With the radiation I lose my appetite quite frequently and have even ralphed a few times. doh! To further complicate the matter, because the radiation hits my esophogus, I get tremendously sore throats, not allowing me to typically eat anything solid. My diet consists of yogurt, protien shakes, friut and banana popsicles. mmmmm…banana popsicles, they are the best.:) To futher make matters worse, it really tires me out, so i am in the habit of taking naps after I get back from cleveland, like 3 hour naps. I am just that tired- it is crazy. Any exercising I used to has been eliminated as my body just can’t do it. Yes, I miss chemo.:)

Boy, do I have a new found respect for those cancer patients who I have met who do it for six months or for years. I am awestruck by their endurance and stamina. This really is a battle. I am glad to be doing it now though when I am young and strong. It is hard to sometimes see it as a blessing, especially hanging over the porcelain throne tasting that banana popsicle for the second time:) It is though. How many twenty-two year olds are allowed to build up their emotional, spiritual, and physically strength like I have? Some kids get to go to Europe when they graduate, others travel cross country, others get married. Me, I get a life lesson handed from God to teach me a whole lotta lessons about life- and I am only 22. I can’t wait to write my books and talk about this in my leadership seminars when I grow up. 🙂

So that is my story, two and a half more weeks left and then I am done. woohooo! I move to new york city july 15th and start my job the 24th. work will be a welcome relief. After an incredibly hard week after graduation, me and my two roommates from school found a place. The New York real estate market is beyond belief. We did find a nice place in a great safe neighborhood, close to everything we need (grocery store, subway, gym, J Crew, etc). I will send a later email with my new contact info.

That’s all here. Thanks for your calls, emails and prayers. I still need them, as I am learning. I think the worst is here now, but will be over soon- I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. My hair is growing back, I can taste mountain dew again, and i can feel my fingers. The end is near, and a new chapter in art’s life is about to begin. So thanks for enduring another “quick” email. Don’t forget to say “I love you” to those love ones (like I always forget to do), keep up your spirits despite rough days, remember your Creator, and have your daily banana popsicle. 🙂



May 9, 2000

May 9, 2000|

Hi y’all!

It’s been awhile since I have done an update of my condition and myself, and since I JUST FINISHED MY LAST UNDERGRADUATE EXAM (woohoo!) I thought I would very quickly give an art update to celebrate! 🙂


Schoolwise, I am just about done. My last paper and last exam were today. yay! I have one more task left before graduation, though- the massive independent study/senior thesis. In a nutshell, it was a social psychology study I did last semester with my wonderful professor/advisor Anne Cummings on how personality, goal-setting, and conflict effect performance within a team. The study went decently well and all I have to finish now is the final data analyses and the final paper summerizing the results. There still is a lot of hard work to do, the kind of work that makes your head hurt like after eating ice cream too fast, but I am excited to finish it and can’t wait to see the results. If it goes REALLY well, it may be project I repeat on a grandeur scale for my dissertation when I go on to get my PhD in couple years.


Healthwise, things have gone very well. The lymph nodes are down almost completely in my chest and neck according to my doc. the x-rays have shown great progress. Two more weeks of treatment are left, with three sessions to go. This week I have double session with a drip, meaning that I have to go in two days in a row for an hour long IV drip of chemo. usually it takes about 5 minutes to actually administer the drugs, so this is the long one. After that I get a CT Scan, upon which, if all looks good, I am cleared and healed. From there I get CT Scans every two months for a year to make sure all is clear.

My fear of needles has gone down substansially, but I still require a styrofoam cup to chew on when Nurse Gerri is putting it in. I have actually saved all of my cups and look forward to bronzing them 🙂 I can say that my fear has gone because of an incident two weeks ago. I usually have the same nurse (Gerri, who puts up with me and my jabs amazingly well and dishes it back to me even worse) adminster the chemo, but two weeks ago Gerri left work early. Instead I had another nurse, who shall remain nameless. Well, she stuck the IV in my hand after freezing the viens with freezy spray (which no one who goes to Penn chemo gets except for me, yeah, I am a wimp), but it wasn’t connected well, so blood was gushing like a geyser from the IV. Had it been 8 weeks ago when I started I would have freaked out, but instead I was calm and chill as blood sprayed all over her pants and the floor. In the meanwhile, the nurse just kinda looked at it for like three minutes and was like, “wow, that’s weird! these IVs connectors don’t work like they used to…” In the meanwhile blood was everywhere and i was close to passing out. All was fixed though and I learned how much I missed nurse Gerri.


In terms of side effects, they have become more prominent, but they also have become a part of me, so that I many times just forget about what they are because I am so used to them. When people ask, it usually takes me awhile to think about what they are. But I do have them. My fingertips (and more recently) my hands have become numb. I can still use them fine, but it is just a weird feeling to have 24-7. My hair also has become amazingly thin, so I shaved it down to 3/8ths of an inch. Let me just say that it gets cold up there really quick, so I wear a hat a lot. The wind is just wicked up there! In addition, I get pretty nasty stomache aches and nausea- but I have good drugs and I eat a lot (gained 10 pounds so far! none of my jeans fit anymore, i can only wear khakis!) to combat those two. I sometimes lose my sense of taste, or it makes my food taste chemically. I can’t wait to taste the sweet-succulant taste of mountain dew again.:) Probably the toughest part is fatigue. I get tired pretty quickly and exhaustion sets in, and then, almost literally my body crashes. It’s weird though, because even though I am so tired, it doesn’t put me to sleep.

The really cool thing, that my doc is baffled at, is my placet and red blood count. They are at the SAME level as when I first started chemo- that shouldn’t happen! They have yet to drop! Why? My guess is prayers from good people like yourself. There is no other explanation that I could, or Dr. Alavi, could come up with.


Despite all the side effects, life goes on and I have been active (but I do get rest, 8 hours of sleep a night, I promise!) and able to maintain a pretty normal life. I was even able to play in an intramural softball team with my kids (my residents in my hall, being their RA and all…) and play second base, while ending the season batting 1.000. The highlight of our season was beating a team comprised of neurology PhD students 15-4. I still have kept up with RA duties and my kids have been great about helping me out, and they still come to me with their issues. I am really going to miss being an RA. I did my last TV show on Sunday, culminating with a highlight show of my four years hosting the call-in talk show. It was a cool way to go out. And, after two years of work with the university chaplain, we finally secured a building on campus for religious life groups to meet next year, kind of like a religious life hub. It was cool to see that work out to before I left.


Because I kinda retired unofficially from my other jobs and activities I have had a chance, for the first time in my college career, to really hang out and focus on friendships and people- and it has been so rewarding. I remember telling my interviewers at my future employer, Goldman Sachs, that my weakness was that I focus too much on production and work and less on the people I am working with/or managing. Well, this semester I have had a great chance to work on that and see how amazing and rewarding it is to invest my life in people and have them invest their’s in mine. Just having the free time to be able to hang out till 3am talking is a freedom I haven’t always had. Really, I couldn’t end off my college career on a better lesson or on a better note. It has been an amazing four years, and an even more amazing semester. wow! what a way to end off a college career. it’s been tough this past semester, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

So thanks for your email, cards, prayers and support. My wall is still full of cards and I still get great emails everyday. If all goes well, I’ll be done with chemo on May 19th, and I’ll be graduating (yeah, and I just got an email that I won some mystery senior Wharton undergraduate award- they won’t tell me till graduation what it is so…anyways thats cool too, I thought I would share) on the 21st and 22nd. After that back to Ohio to rest and recover for a month and then from there on to New York City and Goldman Sachs in July. So thanks again, I appreciate all you have done and look forward to talking to all of you soon!



ps if you read all the way down to here, you win a prize! call me to claim it 🙂

April 5, 2000

April 5, 2000|

Hi everyone!

I don’t have much of an update since I last wrote two weeks ago. Not much has changed on my front. Slowly but surely the hair is falling out (I think next week will be the week to go with the “stone cold” look) and my arms are getting sore from the IVs, but other than that everything is doing well. Last week I went in for my chemo and got the usual blood work. The docs said my red and white counts were unusually high, especially for going through chemo. Personally, I think all of those prayers are working. But that’s just my opinion 😉 On the other front, I got a chance to give my story to large audience on Tuesday afternoon outside. I have attached these web articles from our school newspaper to give you a little different perspective:

But basically, last year I was a chair for JesusWeek here at Penn, this year I was a “senior consultant”, basically helping the younger folks out with strategic and bigger picture issues. It so fun to tell people what to do- and not actually have to do the work! 🙂 That’s what I wanna be when I grow up!

But anyway, there was a huge marketing event, called “i agree with kris” and basically what it was was everyone saying they agree with the message this footplayer Kris Ryan had to say. And his message was the Gospel. There were signs everywhere on campus only saying “I agree with Kris”, the whole campus was thrown into confusion. Finally two hundred some odd students on Monday wore shirts that said ‘i agree with kris’ on the front and “do you?” on the back. then signs went up that said go to college green on tuesday at 4:30pm to find out.

So Kris, another girl, and myself all were invited to talk. It sprinkled, yet that did not damped the spirits of the estimated 225 folks who came out. I thought there were more, personally, but the crowd was a diverse mix of white, black, asian, hispanic, heterosexuals, homosexuals, jews, christians, everything! it was amazing!

So I talked last about my battle with cancer and how God has proved it to me how he existed, and that he could do the same for you if you just ask him. And not only that he is what gives me my strenght, optimism and joy despite this disease. Then I concluded talking about Pascal’s God-shaped vacuum theory (how there is a God created God-shaped vacuum in every heart that only he could fill) and how in my life I have been incredibly good at filling that void with everything else (girls, friends, partying, family, success, etc) but God, but now that I have filled that vacuum I finally get life.

The reactions were incredible. Claimed atheists (who two days before started a student group called SAD (students against dogma) to counterattack jesusweek (making signs that say ‘i disagree with kris’)) were amazed and talked to me and the other Christians. Christians who were not doing well were really encouraged. Students who i never thought would come to the talk were touched and amazed by my energy, strength and outlook and are taking another look at their life. They even laughed at my jokes. 🙂 It was great to stay after and hear all of the reactions.

It went so well, and all I can say is that I am humbled to be able to tell my story and be an instrument of God. It’s a pretty cool feeling to say the least. Day to day is an adventure. I never know who I am going to talk to and who I am going to make an impact on. It is just so cool.

So KNOW that you all are making an impact too. By your prayers and thoughts for me, I have been so encouraged and blessed, then in turn I have been able to tell people about the hope I have. You are a bigger part than you ever know.

Thanks for all the card, emails and calls. Everyday is a surprise, and I can’t express my thanks to y’all. Know that you are making an impact.


March 21, 2000

I am massively opposed to mass emails, but I felt a real need to send a quick word of note on how I am doing and just give you all you a huge thanks and letter of appreciation. SO many times I have failed and still fail to do that, so I just wanted to give you all that thanks and praise y’all deserve for being there for me.

First, conditionwise, I am going into week 4 of the chemo, with 8 more weeks left. The treatments are very painless, except for the IV (I hate needles! 🙂 ) My mom and the nurses usually chastize me for being such a big wuss and having to bite me other hand as they put the needle in to distract me. Today, as the nurse was putting the needle in I bit my other hand so hard I left a mark that is still here at 3 in the morning. I think by the end I will be over my fear of needles, or at least I hope…

I still have the side effects to deal with, and they are more annoying than painful. The hardest part is falling asleep, which usually takes me an hour or so to do, just laying in bed till I doze off. That is a result of a steriod I am taking to build up my immune system to ward off infections. The steriod acts like a super caffiene pill, so I am usually pretty wired, more than normal 🙂 Scary huh?

Other than that I also get tired really easy when doing strenous activity (like over spring break with two of my best friends chucking along at DisneyLand and powershopping in San Diego) Other than that I have been so blessed to be able to not have very much else. The hair is still in, long and highlited blond and hopefully it will stay that way. Really really praying for that. Otherwise, the other side effects like nausea and constipation and such are really dealable.

ON the mental, emotional and physical side, I am doing absolutely amazing, and like I told the folks at Goldman Sachs and everyone here at school- ain’t no cancer going to hold me down! I am still kickin’ my schedule and staying involved with schoolwork and activities. There is so much work to do and so many people to see before I graduate! Cancer is not going to stop me from doing that, by no means.

Getting this cancer was a major, major blessing that I can only thank God for. I have learned so much, and have seen so many cool things happen in the past month, many of which I can’t put in a single email.

I have learned how loved Iam from family, friends and from God- and it is priceless. the supportand prayers i have received has been amazing, I have like 20some odd church in like 20 some states praying for me!! It is crazy! My grandma keeps telling me she has 400,010 praying for me through her connections, so funny, but I believe her and I am seeing the effects of it 🙂 That’s why I think the symptoms have been so minor and dealable so far and why my attitude is so good, the positive effects of tons o’ prayer. 🙂

On top of that, I just have been so blessed by you all. everynight I get at least 2 phone calls from someone out of state, and at least 1 card a day ( i will show you the picture of the wall of cards that we have put up in my dorm room), and hang out with tons of folks here at school. It is just been so cool to to hear from classmates, family members, future co-workers, old co-workers, ex-girlfriends, etc, I haven’t heard from in years.

SO that’s my story, and if anyone asks about me, don’t be afraid to tell’em or even have them email or call me. I hope that I can be an inspiration and light to you all, just like you have been to me, and if you ever need cheered up, give me a call, OK?

I am so excited to get back to Youngstown and see all the folks at home in Ohio. And I even more excited to start my job in July at Goldman Sachs & Co. and become a part of the “real world” 🙂 You are all DEFINITELY welcome to come anytime to NYC and hang out once I get there in July.

So keep in touch, talk to you soon! thanks for all your support! It truly means more to me than I can EVER EVER say or write in an email.