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My cousin, Dave.




I spent many childhood summers with my brother, Tommy, and three boy cousins, David, Dean, and Jimmy, on the central coast of California at my Grandparents, Roger and Joni's home. My grandparents had a 5-acre horse property, and every day there was joy. I was often the only girl in that group and desperately wanted my brother and cousins' attention. I talked nonstop and would tell little fibs to become more impressive to them, which never worked. And because I was a little kid, they could spot my lies. I remember them laughing at me, calling me a liar. Poor little Ginny, haha. I annoyed the bejesus out of them, but they put up with me, and looking back, those were some of the best times of my childhood. I've been thinking about those times recently, particularly one story that illustrates the dynamics very well.


One day, Dave, Dean, Tommy, and Jimmy were climbing a big tree at the edge of the property. I was certainly not invited to this adventure, but I went anyways. I was reaching up to grab my brother's hand when he accidentally let me go and down to the ground; I fell, scraping the back of my legs on the barbed wire fence. I screamed, cried, and ran away in shock and pain as I heard Tommy and Dean chuckling in the distance. But not Dave; he jumped out of the tree and ran after me to ensure I was okay. This is my cousin Dave. He was a loyal and loving cousin who put up with an annoying little girl who just wanted to be part of the gang.


This is a picture of me and Dave and Grandma Joni- makes me laugh every time I see it.

When I got the cancer diagnosis, Dave did the same thing as he did 25 years earlier. He and his wife, Sandi, came to my aid, no question, nothing in return. I have been so humbled by their concern and love. I am ashamed to say that when Sandi was diagnosed with cancer, I thought she was so healthy. She will be fine. My lack of understanding and lack of empathy now is glaringly apparent. I did not run after my cousins to tell them I was there for them, that they would be okay. But when it happened to me, they ran after me to comfort, encourage, and strengthen me. When I expressed my remorse for my lack of attention when they were going through it, they both laughed and said you just don't know until you are in it and assured me that now, I will be able to do the same for someone else. I am so humbled by their love, understanding, empathy, and compassion. I promise to pay it forward when I have the chance. You just don't know until you do. And then you can never un-know it.


When Sandi had cancer, she saved her hair by using cold cap therapy; my cousin Dave went to every appointment to apply the cold caps- and her beautiful blonde hair was protected. Dave offers to come and show me how the system works. I feel like the little girl he saved when I fell on barbed wire. Despite living 2 hours away and running a busy company, He and my aunt Kim come over the night before my first chemo to show us how to use the cold caps. Even though I worry that I won't have the resources (mental and emotional energy) to do the cold caps weekly during treatment, everyone assures me that we should at least try to save my hair if I can. So, Dave and Aunt Kim show us how it works. It is an elaborate time-consuming system that my cousin David is an expert at and has helped many of their friends use.


Let me explain how it works:


In straightforward terms, chemo kills rapidly reproducing cells. Hair follicles grow quickly, so chemo damages them, and they fall out. Cold capping exposes the scalp to extreme cold, constricting the hair follicles and protecting them from chemo, limiting the damage. Some hair loss is still expected, but if applied correctly, you can save 50-70% of your hair.

We rented the system from Artic Cold Caps, which you can rent for $379 monthly. They immediately shipped the equipment and included everything you needed except the dry ice to keep the caps cold. When I say cold, I mean well below freezing; your caps should be on your head at around -35° Fahrenheit. So you are given 8 caps that you keep in a cooler with the dry ice overnight. There is a great deal of prep work involved to protect your skin from the cold, then 45 minutes before you begin chemo treatment, your buddy (you cannot do this on your own) will start applying the caps. They make sure they are -35° Fahrenheit and then mold them to your head very tightly so every follicle possible is covered and cold. There are straps and a swimming cap involved, and if you want to be extra sure, add some scarves to ensure the cap is as close as possible to the scalp. See a lovely image of me with the caps below. Then, every 20-30 minutes, you remove the cap and put a new one on. And then, the process goes on and on during your treatment and continues for 4 hours after your treatment ends. Intense, right?



David shows Eli, my mom, and me how to use the caps and assures us that it is totally doable, albeit constant work for the person who assists us. This will be too much of a burden on my family, I worry. But I am so grateful David and Aunt Kim were willing to spend their time with me before my first chemo, encouraging and making us laugh. I felt loved.


Did I mention that I have a super rad scar on the back of my thigh from the barbed wire? It looks like a bear attacked me. That scar carries memories of my cousins and brother and all our adventures at Grandma and Grandpa's home. I will soon have new scars, and with them, I will carry new memories. Despite the pain, fear, and shock that cancer has brought, I hope that one day, these scars will make me smile when I think of all the love, laughs, and comfort my family and friends have brought to this time.

9 Comments


You are so loved Ginny. Thank you for sharing this most intimate part of your life. You are a gifted writer and a beautiful woman. I love you❌⭕️

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Guest
Sep 26, 2023

It's so beautiful you have such good support. Well expressed

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Thank you for explaining. The photo too. Giving us insight, helping us understand as you go through it

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Guest
Aug 13, 2023

So courageous. I keep praying until its all done and good.


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Beautiful Gin. The best yet !

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