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A Piece of My Mind
May 7, 2008

The Question

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2008;299(17):2003-2004. doi:10.1001/jama.299.17.2003

“What color is cancer?”

It's midnight. I’m startled awake by my son's face a few inches from mine, shadowy in the darkness.

“Whatcolormama?” His words rush urgently at me.

It's a metaphorical question, not a literal one. I drag myself from the depths of a murky sleep, trying to gather my parenting skills. What would my mother have said?

At my hesitation, he insists, “Everything's a color.”

It's been a full week since your diagnosis, and he's no fool. His five years on this earth have already taught him to multitask. He's seemed oblivious—playing, painting, teasing his sister—but all the while he's heard his father and my anxious phone conversations to you, to your physicians, to your insurance company.