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The Survivor Monologues

First-person accounts of the surreal emergencies, suppressed marital stresses, comforting superstitions, petty irritations, spontaneous epiphanies, and other moment-to-moment means by which cancer—the ultimate life-altering experience—goes about its business of altering lives.

Photos by Jason Schmidt  

The Radioactive Dad
Cancer isn’t only a disease of the body. It makes its way into every thought, every personal ritual, every relationship. One family’s strange trip on the cancer road.
Living With Cancer
Life on the other side of diagnosis.
Jenny Saldaña, 36, Breast Cancer
In January 2006, she had a mastectomy followed by two months of chemotherapy. She’s currently cancer-free.
Larry Comroe, 43, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
He had just closed the sale of Andy Warhol’s former townhouse when he was diagnosed in 2002. Last July, he finished the Ironman Triathlon.
Loy Smith, 61, Bone-Marrow Cancer
When he was diagnosed last year, he was unemployed and without insurance.
Charles Tanenbaum, 92, Stomach Cancer
Last year, he was diagnosed and insisted on having aggressive surgery. He is currently cancer-free.
Rose Tisnado, 57, Cancer of the Bile Ducts
She's packing up her East Village apartment to move into a hospice, where she expects to live out her final months.
Kate Davis, 4, Leukemia
She was diagnosed sixteen months ago and can leave the house only for doctor’s appointments and weekend trips.
Lindsey Brass, 27, Leukemia
Brass was diagnosed a week before her final exams at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Margaret Cieprisz, 38, Ovarian Cancer
She was newly wed when she was diagnosed. She now has a daughter who was carried to term by her sister.
Jodi Sax, 41, Colon Cancer
She was diagnosed as terminal in fall 2002. The initial diagnosis turned out to be wrong, and she is now cancer-free.
Alan Menikoff, 59, Kidney Cancer
Diagnosed in 1999, he has a total of thirteen surgeries on his kidney, leg, lungs, and brain.
Josephina Prins, 81, Multiple Myeloma
A survivor of Auschwitz, she was diagnosed two years ago.
Dan Foster, 57, Rectal Cancer
Foster was diagnosed a decade ago. In 1999, the cancer spread to his lungs, but he now has a clean bill of health.
Joel Nowak, 56, Multiple Cancers
Over the past decade, he has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, prostate cancer (twice), and kidney cancer.
Eric Fruhstorfer, 64, Bladder Cancer
He dropped his insurance in 2002. Unable to tolerate chemo, he has opted for only palliative care.
Vincent Santillo, 38, Prostate Cancer
Five years ago, Santillo, a private-equity banker, had just married his male partner of ten years when a routine exam turned up a tumor.
Video: April 20, 2007
One hundred forty-three cancer patients gather in Central Park for our cover shoot.

Stories compiled by Katie Charles, with Emma Rosenblum. Interviews by Steve Aquino, Sarah Bernard, Ira Boudway, Ariel Brewster, Mary Burke, Katie Charles, Yael Kohen, Robert Kolker, Kai Ma, Ben Mathis-Lilley, Emma Pearse, Janelle Nanos, Denise Penny, Emma Rosenblum, Rachel Wolff, and Jada Yuan.