Lately, I’ve been feeling like I drew the short straw in the genetic lottery; that is until today. Sitting slumped over my desk, writhing in pain due to hunger because my new “life saving” medication makes it difficult to eat, I noticed an AP alert. It read: Obit: Adam Yauch, dead at 47.
No self-respecting child of the 80’s could not know who he was or not be aware of the group the Beastie Boys; let alone no black child growing up in New York. Now I am no rap aficionado but I didn’t need to be. The tracks from the Licensed to Ill album were constant on the radio; so much so the lyrics to their songs are still stuck in my head today. The rhymes seeped into my consciousness and became part of the soundtrack to my youth. If I think hard right now I bet even a stiff like me could spit a few verses. Still, it isn’t Yauch’s music that made word of his death stop me cold.
“47,” I thought to myself, “not much older than me.” I sat at my cubical with my mouth agape not because of Yauch’s age either, it was that he died from Cancer; not just any kind though. He passed away from Cancer of the Salivary gland that had spread to his lymph node.
I hobbled from my desk and ducked into the ladies’ room to stare at the 3 1/2 inch scar on my neck. Less than six weeks ago, I lay motionless on the table as a head, neck and throat surgeon removed my right lymph node for a biopsy due suspicion of Lymphoma, a type of cancer. I was facing my own mortality at 40 years old.
“Yet, here I am,” I mumbled to myself, “ironically, I’m looking for video for a man who I would’ve thought just a day ago appeared to be much better off than me. He was rich, successful at his chosen profession, and well-known while I continue to toil in relative anonymity with mounting medical bills.
Until today, if someone had asked me, I would’ve thought Adam Yauch was the lucky one, certainly not me. I suppose neither of us was lucky when it came to the genetic lottery, the one that determines what illness we will face but I do know we are both blessed. He was blessed with the life he got to live here on Earth and me for the life I have ahead of me. I’m still here and a little more grateful that all I have is the scar on my neck and not the v shaped one that follows an autopsy.
Rest in peace, Adam Yauch.