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The Art and the Calling
April 2002

Reflections of a Zebra

Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(4):460-462. doi:10.1001/archderm.138.4.460

I gaze into the mirror. The returning image is strange and unfamiliar. I pass my hand over the surface of my smooth, hairless skull. The hollows of my temples have become cavities. My complexion has taken on a bluish hue. The contours and proportions of my features are distorted. Is it me? Looking so sickly? Looking like a concentration camp survivor? Can it be? Or am I just part of the masquerade, the only one without a mask?

Images of the past, the healthy past, are resurrected to still my trembling hands. I am suddenly struck by the picture of my friend Rema on the wall, beautiful Rema in her long, white wedding gown, smiling deliriously. Her hair, thick and curly, reaches down below her shoulders. She was devastated when chemotherapy caused it to fall soon after that picture was taken. We all told her she looked great without hair; she did, she always did. Now a year later, the same words are repeated—this time by my sister Debbie to me. Irony is not just a trope we encounter in literature; it gallops through life, snickering. —David Biro, One Hundred Days

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