Under The Surface


Her name was Colleen. We’d only met a few minutes before she asked me to open my robe and expose my chest. After that she was silent other than to tell me to, “lay on your back with your eyes towards the ceiling.”

She used a scanner to spread warm gel on the right side of my chest. Then, she began peering inside me to see, what if anything, looked out of place. Moments later, she found something.I felt her stop the scanner and heard clicking on the keyboard. I glanced over and I saw it.

There was a dark circle on the upper left side of the screen. She used the tool to measure it, zoom in and then there was more clicking. She went back to that spot and one other on the right side several times before it was time to switch. Colleen examined the left side too. But, either she found nothing remarkable or I didn’t notice. Afterwards, I was free to go; allowed to leave to contempt the possible results.

I was on my way back to my office with fear running through me when my college friend/former roommate texted me to say that she and her son were in the city and they wanted to stop by. Years, distance and illness kept us from seeing each other often but today the timing was perfect.

My heart leapt and my concern about the test dissipated. All I thought about was being in the moment, catching up, showing them around the tv station where I work and absorbing the love from them.

#mammogram #breastcancer #friendship #disability #chronicillness #chronicpain #igg4 #nyc #ultrasound #roommate #tvnews


Guilty or Innocent, Cosby Has Proved He’s Not “America’s Dad”


Bill Cosby has entered the courtroom with his head held high nearly every day. But, the truth is Mr. Cosby is the loser no matter what the verdict. 

When allegations began to resurface about Cosby drugging and sexually assaulting women, America was shocked. Why? He’d already publicly battled allegations of infidelity. Yet, I concede that cheating on your wife is far different than raping a woman.

Nearly five dozen women came forward and I still wondered, “Where’s the proof?” I know that there’s not always physical evidence in sexual assault cases. It often comes down to a case of her word versus his. But, in this case, I began to look at the details a group of women revealed that showed a dubious pattern of behavior.

America was expected to believe Cosby because he was “Cliff Huxtable.” And, he was the man who made us laugh for decades, was married for more than 50 years and lectured black America to look in the mirror and take responsibility for their woes.   If we were to believe Cosby did these awful things we’d have to see pass his image to the man. Cosby’s wife Camille urged us not to. She even issued a statement that said in part, “He is the man you thought you knew.”

Of course, I could fathom that “Cliff Huxtable” would cheat on “Claire, let alone drug women in the office in the Huxtable home while his wife slept. Nor could I conceive that the man who sold me pudding in commercials during cartoons in my youth would put Quaaludes in anything I ate or drank. However, I quickly realized that I wasn’t thinking of Cosby. I was focus on the character he played, the personality he displayed in public and not the one that may exist behind closed doors.

The problem is most Americans never knew Cosby because we’d never met the man in private. The women who did claimed he was a predator who used his money, power, influence and reputation to hide his crimes.

I, like everyone else didn’t know what to believe. Then, I read the excerpts from his depositions. He admitted to cheating on his wife for decades, buying Quaaludes for sex with a host of women, and to switching the drug he told Constand he was giving her. He also apologized to Constand’s mother then claims that was a lied because he didn’t want to be thought of a dirty old man. He then told her he’d send her the drug he gave her daughter but never did.  At the end of reading Cosby’s words I knew one thing for sure. He wasn’t my dad or any dad I wanted as an example; he wasn’t “America’s dad” or even a decent man.

Originally published in the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/59441cd5e4b0d188d027fdf0

Am I Losing My Humanity?


Am I losing my humanity? That’s the question that went through my mind when my boss called a meeting in the newsroom and told us our co-worker, Mike Lynn, passed away. I felt numb when I thought I’d crumble.

Seconds later, my chest began feel heavy; it was weighed down by my sorrow but the tears didn’t come. My head hurt and I wasn’t thinking clearly but I knew there was no time to break down. I only had minutes until the 6 p.m. show.  And, I still had work to do. 

I tried not to think about the fact the Mike collapsed feet from where I was sitting. He too showed up for work today feeling under the weather but I was less than a half hour from going home while he wouldn’t.

Honestly, I didn’t see Mike often. He worked the overnight shift and I was on days. However, we were hardly strangers. His scripts were always filed in the rundown. I often used them as a base for my work in later shows. Whenever there was a snowstorm he worked late and I came in early. On those days, he’d stop to catch me up on his kids, office politics or current events. In recent years we became friends online. He’d like my posts, sometimes comment and occasionally send me a note in messenger to let me know he’d eaten some of my candy so he left me cash for some more.

It’s hard to believe that one of the most reliable co-workers I’ve had since the 90’s is no more. We are, or should I say we were, the last two full-time writers. Now I am alone and I don’t like it.

I will miss his wit, his humor, his intellect and his stories.  This thought made me cry on the train ride home. I guess years of covering tragedy hasn’t stolen my humanity; I still feel the pain of losing another co-worker suddenly and far too soon. 

Worst News Possible


The stress of holding in my tears caused my shoulders to ache, my back to tighten and my head to hurt. I knew I had to hold in my tears;  that was the only way I’d get through the rest of my day at work without breaking down into an ugly cry.

I knew something was horribly wrong when I saw people surrounding Donna in the back of the newsroom. Donna’s makeup was running. Her face was red and there was a line to hug her. I knew it was bad but I didn’t think it was the worst news possible.

I figured out I was wrong when I overheard Donna say she got a call. What call? I thought. From who? What happened? Just then our six o’clock producer passed me. I blurted out, “what’s going on? ” I saw his mouth moving and I heard the words but my brain couldn’t process what he was saying. He said, “Mary died.”

My heart hurt. So I clutched it and muttered, “Oh no. No. It can’t be.”  I realized how dramatic I was acting so I turned to him and said, “thank you for telling me.”

I turned back to my computer screen and my mind was blank. How the hell am I supposed to break down these stories when I can’t think? I wondered. I tried to calm myself by breathing and stretching. I was okay until my boss came, placed her hand on my back and asked how I was doing, how my dad, who had also been ill, was doing. Tears clouded my vision as I blinked rapidly to hold them in. I said “I’m okay. He’s okay. We’re still here.”

Moments after she walked away, Donna walked towards me looking dazed. I did what I don’t normally do. I reached out, grabbed her, pulled her to me and told her I loved her. I wished I could’ve done something more to ease her pain but I knew I couldn’t.

Donna and Mary had practically become sisters; they were the best of friends. Donna provided all of the updates on Mary following her visits to Mary in the hospital. 

Mary had fallen a few months back, breaking what I believe to be her pelvis. She spent some time in the hospital in Connecticut then was transferred to a rehabilitation center near home in New York. 

I thought she was on the mend, especially because she posted a message on my linked in page a few weeks earlier. Yet, a couple of weeks later, we learned that Mary was back in the hospital. Rumors swirled: her liver was failing, she was in a coma, she was suffering from a life threatening infection.

 Last week, Mary’s boss purchased a card for the staff to sign to cheer her up. By the time I got to it at 11 am, it was full. So I went out at lunch and bought another one. This one had a basket on the front. Mary loved to make baskets for baby showers, weddings; really any occasion. She made them for me during my many hospitalizations due to my chronic illness. And, she always made sure there were a pair pajamas in there for me. She knew I collected them. 

Donna took the cards to Mary and then reported back. She told us Mary was improving but not out of the woods. Still, she hoped Mary would get transferred to a regular room soon. She hoped and we hoped. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. 

Mary left us before I could visit as I had promised on Christmas Day. She left us with the snowman filled with candy she bought to make everyone’s day brighter. She left me with the fiancé she encouraged me to have a milkshake with six years ago. She left the station with a body of work that won’t be forgotten. She left the world devoid of one more kind, loving human being. But, she left us all better because we knew her. Rest in peace, Mary. I loved you! 

An End to Helplessness


I was moving stiffly, cautiously when I woke up the morning after attending Lisa Colagrossi’s memorial service as I struggled to wrap my brain around the fact that we’d said or goodbyes and life must continue. I grunted and groaned with every step towards my closet to select what I’d where to work, back to Eyewitness News where we both used to work less than a week before. I did not complain but I was at a loss about what to wear.

Does it matter, I thought, as I stated at the hangers in front of me.

I’d been equally baffled the day before as I struggled to decide what to where to Lisa’s memorial service after work. I knew the color had to be black to reflect the darkness I felt in my heart since her passing. I also figured it had to be comfortable because I was inning behind the wheel for an hour and fifteen minute ride to Stamford without my pain medication or muscle relaxers for the first time in years.

I knew trying to function without drugs was going to be hard. In fact, a part of me was okay with the fact that my inside was reflecting the emotional agony within me. However, I was certain I needed to say goodbye and I’d hope communing, in person with others, would release me from the sense of helplessness I’d felt since her death.

I suppose, since I learned of her passing, I wondered if I’d sufficiently told Lisa how much her kindness towards me meant. I longed to have the words to tell her family of her impact to try to ease their pain. I desired to find a way to make sure she was remembered for dedicating her life and sacrificing sleep and with her family, like me and my colleagues, to educate and inform the public about the news of the day.

Feeling helpless is nothing new to me. I’ve spent years with that emotion, ever since doctors told me my misdiagnosed, and therefore, untreated connective tissue disorder may have caused me to develop lymphoma. Two years and five surgeries for lymph node removal, as well as dozen of scans, pills, exams, and doctors’ visits late, I often felt as if there was little I could do about my health. I was, and will always be chronically ill. Yet, hopelessness wasn’t in my vocabulary.  Perhaps I have a strong will.  More importantly, I always had people like Lisa spurring me on to keep fighting. Now one of my daily cheerleaders is gone and I wasn’t able to push her, to save her.

I must admit, when news of her brain aneurysm spread, I pondered why it wasn’t me in the hospital bed. I had the connective tissue disorder that was a risk factor for a rupture; Id had two strokes while Lisa was healthy, vibrant, happy and full of faith during the same time. I heard about her energy at her standing room only masses filled journalists from nearly every New York station, who put aside rivalry to mourn. Every there kneeled, prayed and cried as one, along with boys from Lisa’s son’s team, her parents, siblings and the clergy at her church, who knew her well.

No one knew her better than her husband, Todd, and he rose and brought comfort to us all with his moving eulogy to the woman with whom he spent 15 years. He choked back tears but he was strong, seemingly at peace with his devastating loss. He appeared to take solace in his memories of Lisa, with their life together which included two resilient boys.  He was going to soldier on.  If he was going to do that, how could I not?

I thought about Todd as I dragged myself out of the shower yesterday, one day after his moving tribute.  As I stood there, just then, on Good Morning America, there was news of Angelina Jolie’s decision to remove her ovaries and Fallopian tubes. I aged a tear hearing some of the words from her article about why she made such as radical choice. According the story, Jolie didn’t want her children to every have to say their mom died from ovarian cancer. She refused to be helpless. She took her health into her own hands and made a decision that might give her more time with her children. Angelina got to do what Lisa had not.

Yet, I thought again about Todd’s speech. He mentioned how Lisa’s sons got to say goodbye and make sure their mom had last rites so she would be absolved of her son’s and make it to Heaven, where they believe they’d see her again. They too chose not to be helpless in the only way they could. They couldn’t save their mom’s body but they saved helped her save her soul. I thought, if Lisa’s family can shed their feeling of helplessness and Angelina can do the same, surely it’s not impossible for me to make the best of my circumstance and fight until the life drains from me.

I was feeling empowered as I hobbled to the bus stop, nearly oblivious to the pain; that’s because I understand I am not a slave to my body. I am the master of my soul; that’s all I can control and that’s more than enough.

If you would like to donate to Lisa’s sons:

Checks may be sent to:


Lisa Colagrossi Memorial Trust

P.O. Box 13

Frankenmuth, Michigan  48734

#RipLisaColagrossi. #AngelinaJolie  #Journalism #Death #ThankAReporter