June 8

World Brain Tumor Day


The specialist places your X-ray flat on the light board.

The gray oval shows the inside of your head from above, as if the top section of scalp and skull were sliced away by a poorly calibrated guillotine. Your skull makes a white ring around the circumference, and you’re surprised by how thin the bone seems.

The image makes you think of a far-away planet, with alien gravity pinching the sphere near its north axis. The frontal lobe, actually.

The specialist points there now. There’s a white mass at the top of the planet, and if this were a globe of Earth it would be about the size and position of Greenland.

You wonder about people who might live there, how cold it would be, how barren.

The specialist explains that tumors in the frontal lobe, whether benign or malignant, can change your personality, affect your sense of morality and even your ability to speak.

He begins to discuss treatment options, but you’re fascinated by the planet within your head, this strange continent that’s drifted over your consciousness.

Your headache seems worse, an ice pick pressed through your forehead, cracking through your thin skull, yet the pressure still builds. You wish your doctor would stop using lengthy words, that he would stop asking you to make complicated decisions.

You bark and hiss in a fit of anger, turn toward him and attack.