1979, February 14: Letter from Marcy to G&H

Six-page handwritten letter, on 7"x9" unlined paper.

This letter includes the first time that Marcy used the word leukemia in any of these letters. I still don’t know when she was diagnosed. She had mentioned anemia two years earlier, but that may have been metaphorical; she had mentioned something that might’ve been related to cancer in May, 1977, and blood issues in May, 1978; and there were other mentions of tiredness and prayer and various other things that may have been references to leukemia. But this is the first time she used the word.

Note for clarity: when I say Peter in my insertions and notes below, I mean my father, not the other Peter who’s mentioned in this letter.

Small drawing of a heart.
Small drawing of a heart.


Waal, hyar tis, folks, a letter for February and it’s not even the end of the month.

The valentines were great - they arrived, right on the dot - I was interested to read the history of St Valentine ^^in Peter’s writing: (me too)^^; I’d heard a slightly different story - and the kids had a good time with the animals. I fell asleep over the ones I tried to make last night, and Peter came in to find me leaning back with scraps of paper all around me and holding my hands over his (valentine) in a last act of secrecy before losing consciousness. Got up early and finished them for breakfast delivery. The Hungarians (did we tell you about them?) had never had valentines before. Jed made a neat one - something like this (see image below) and said


- I believe.

Drawing of a valentine that Jed made.
Drawing of a valentine that Jed made.

Our Hungarian family is really neat. The baby (he’s 2) is a perfect mimic, and can xxx repeat all sorts of things, but remembers mostly “bye-bye” and “Our dog’s name’s nose” - I am learning “nŏŏm” (=no) (that’s written as a single curve/breve mark over both os) and “hum” (xbaby talk for “can I have a bite”) and Peter says “good morning” ^^in Peter’s writing: (yore-a-girt)^^ but I haven’t got it yet. His name is Gérzhon, the mother is Frúzhina, and the father is Peter! (So far not much confusion.)

In the margin, in Peter’s handwriting: Peter is a PhD research asst. in computer sci. dept. at Stanford...

Kids are taking Aikido & really doing well - Jed also has a weekly math class with an advanced group at another school but some of what I hear about doesn’t sound real advanced.

In margin, in Marcy’s handwriting: Also violin lessons for Jed.

Joaquin is starting Little League this month - he’s terribly excited about it. I’m not very - these things are terribly competitive and they learn to do that chatter stuff that sounds so yucky. But I’ll fork over the $22 (with lots of groaning and moaning and exclaiming so he’ll feel sacrificed-for) and go see his games* - wish you were here to do that for us, G’pa*. You’d even enjoy it. Hey, you could be the coach! When will you get here? Can you stay the whole season?

In Peter’s handwriting, apparently applying to both asterisks: *Tony, a programmer at work, can get free tix to A’s games ’cause his father’s chief physical plant manager at Oakland Coliseum...

I am learning alot, working with a woman who is teaching visualization techniques that have proved highly effective with tumor cancers. It’s a method that was developed by Dr. Carl Simonton, an xxx army physician at the Hamilton Air Force Base near Novato. He found that this system, used in conjunction with traditional medical treatment, worked far better than the treatment alone, and even convinced the army of it. He now has a clinic in Houston. Works on mobilizing the body’s pain-fighting and immunization resources so they xxx can work - by picturing them working - either the actual cells or images that represent them - such as a

(This was where I fell asleep, pen in hand) such as picturing the white cells as chess pawns or resistance as the fierce Indian goddess Kali fighting and destroying the bad guys - or those very bad guy, the too-many, too-immature, white cells, as a xxx gang of juvenile delinquents, being destroyed, or jailed, or disintegrated, or digested. Other people sometimes use this technique for fighting pain - picturing it, for instance, as a hot poker, xxx burning the body, and gradually being cooled or lifted away. This is a way of mobilizing certain substances in the body called endorphins that get rid of pain - very effective for folks with chronic x or long-term unrelievable pain.

Anyway, these are my x front lines in dealing with leukemia:





This somehow doesn’t include medical treatment in the front lines, though I give it a lot of energy. My veins are developing scar tissue from so many punctures. My doctor is really great - he thinks all this stuff I’m doing is very important & highly instrumental in how well I am - what a wonderful situation!

Off to work on a financial history, prior to getting a car loan.

Thanks again for the neat cards.

We’re glad you’re there*.


M. & P

In Peter’s handwriting: * a big 10-4 on that!

In Peter’s handwriting: * Amen! to that


After Ken and Suzanne and Jezra moved out, we subletted the extra rooms to the Hungarian family described here.
One thing Marcy doesn’t mention here is that that family brought a neat toy with them from Hungary, and gave it to us. It was a cube, made up of 3x3x3 smaller cubes, with colored faces, and you could rotate each face… Yep, it was a Rubik’s Cube, invented five years previous but not widely sold internationally until 1980. So I was probably one of the first kids in America to get to play with one. Pretty sure I no longer have that one they gave us, alas. I didn’t figure out how to solve it on my own; in 1980, I learned to solve it from instructions that my father acquired from a math professor.
I eventually got a white belt (the beginner rank), but was never very good at it. We stopped attending for reasons I no longer recall.
“weekly math class”
The only thing that I remember from that class was learning the wordgame that I call Fives. Which I’ve created an online version of if you want to play it.
violin lessons
Huh, I forgot that I had started violin in 5th grade. The word lessons makes it sound like I was taking private lessons or something, but no, this was just orchestra class in school.
(One of my earliest violin memories: I put my finger on the string where the teacher said to put it, but the violin didn’t sound like it was supposed to. So I pressed lighter, but it still didn’t sound good. I touched the string as lightly as I could and it still didn’t work! Eventually, the teacher explained to me that I needed to press harder, not lighter.)
Wikipedia says that Simonton was “most notable for his unproven cancer treatment methods.” It adds: “Medical health experts describe his therapy as dubious. […] Physician Edward R. Friedlander, who investigated Simonton’s techniques in depth, noted that although some patients found his approach helpful, his case histories are ‘very poor evidence’ for the claim that his treatment controls tumours.”
But I’m very glad to see Marcy say “used in conjunction with traditional medical treatment.”
…I keep getting upset over seeing Marcy talk in these letters about all the non-medical treatments she was into; so I keep having to remind myself that there was no cure for leukemia, and thus that relying 100% on Western medicine would not have given her a better outcome. My impression is that she lived significantly longer than the doctors who initially diagnosed her thought she would (the family story says that she was told she had six months to live, but then lived six more years; that “six years” figure is clearly not true, based on these letters, but she may have lived for three or four years after diagnosis, I’m not sure), so I ought to celebrate those alternative treatments; one way or another, it seems like something gave us a couple extra years with her.
juvenile delinquents
Marcy’s description of visualization techniques here strongly reminds me of Norman Spinrad’s 1967 short story “Carcinoma Angels,” originally published in Dangerous Visions; I read it a few years later in my father’s copy of Spinrad’s collection The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde.

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