Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Courage comes in colors
When my radiation treatments ended in March, I walked out of the treatment lab toting a souvenir.
I'm not talking about the side effects from treatment that I'm still dealing with five months later, though I suppose that they are a souvenir badge of my treatments in a twisted sort of way.
I'm talking about the ThermaSplint mask that was molded to the contours of my face for my 33 treatment sessions in February and March. Each visit, before beginning treatment, the radiation techs lowered the mask over my head and locked it into place to keep me from shifting position while the rays were targeting my tumors.
At the conclusion of the final session, the radiation techs ceremoniously presented my mask to me, correctly guessing that I would be jazzed about displaying my mask in my living room.
I placed my mask on top of my television when I got home that night. But it wasn't long before the thing started to give me the creeps whenever I watched my Mary Tyler Moore Show DVDs so I found a place for the mask on the upper shelf of a bookcase in my bedroom.
I don't have any plans for using the mask again, but if you turn on the news one day and hear about a reward being offered for information leading to the capture of a ThermaSplint bandit robbing banks, go ahead and turn me in.
Well, to my surprise I learned that I'm not the only guy in the world with a fetish for ThermaSplint head gear.
A friend just let me know about "Courage Unmasked": a fund-raising event taking place next Wednesday at the American University Museum at the Katzen Art Center in Washington, D.C. One hundred artists have transformed radiation masks formerly worn by cancer patients into unique works of art, with proceeds from the event benefiting head and neck patients who are not able to afford radiation treatment for themselves.
Check out this gallery of photos of the Courage Unmasked collection. I hate to play favorites, but I love the Mr. Potato Head vibe that artist Susan Cole created for "Member of the (Medicine) Cabinet" and the whimsy shown in Raymond Van Santen's "The Magic of Courage."
Courage Unmasked just may inspire me to do something fancy to my own ThermaSplint mask, which is a spitting image of its owner, especially the nose. It would make a splendid rhinoceros.
Support Courage Unmasked with a tax deductible donation