Saturday, October 30, 2010


In my scientist life, I study genes that make bacteria resistant to antibiotics.  I am especially interested in how these genes evolve.  To guess at how they evolved, I draw trees, much like a family tree, except with genes.  When two genes are found to be related, they are often said to have diverged from their common ancestor.  Well, it is false to say that I am evolving, but right now I can't help but see my life as analogous to one of these trees.  The difference is that on my science trees, both branches exist.  On my life tree, the branch I'm on is the only branch that exists, so I guess there's no point lamenting over the pre-cancer branch (a tempting endeavor, I assure you).  Nonetheless, I can't shake the notion of how far my life path has diverged from what it was merely two weeks ago.  I don't feel at all like myself, and yet this is my new self.  Tasks such as walking around the block are difficult, and I can't count on myself to make coherent conversation.  And let's not forget about the port.  I am deeply divergent.   

I need to remember that it won't always be this way.  Hopefully tomorrow will be better.  And in looking past tomorrow, previous divergences have always led to the great life I have now.  Why should a little cancer be any different?       

In other news, huge shout-out to Ashley for the fantastic hair cut today!  She cut it here in the kitchen, and it is adorably short.  I wanted it short before it falls out, in the off chance that it is less traumatic that way.  (Photos of the Cancer Cut are linked at the right.)  Second shout out to Sandra for bringing the scarves that I will rock so hard.  I've already started the count-down for the return of my long hair, but I am grateful for the help to look presentable in the meantime.  Maybe without the ponytail I will look like I have a PhD.    


  1. Tree's loose their leaves, just as you'll loose your hair.
    Tree's appear lifeless in the winter, just as your energy is also now diminished.
    Tree's bloom in the spring, just as you will when this treatment is complete.
    I love you for being the gift to the world that you are and am proud of you for fighting like a girl.
    Love, Dad

  2. I was going to leave some corny comment about your life being in disbiosis-trying to stay consistent with the micro talk.
    But, Russ' comment was too beautiful to follow it with something so cheesy, so let me just say how happy I am that you are surrounded by so many people that love you, and cancer's days are numbered in your body.

  3. ((HUGS)) After my dad's chemo, his hair grew back really nice - better than it looked before it fell out! Nevertheless, cancer sucks.

  4. I love your tree analogy. Don't forget - trees have really deep roots that draw nourishment from the soil and are entwined with the roots of other trees. Let us be the soil that holds you and all the other trees in your little forest steady for now.

  5. Heather, Yes you will get through this. Tomorrow will be better.

    You are beautiful now and will remain so with or without hair.

    Your Dad's comment was amazing. Cancer does suck, but I don't think it has bargained on the will of the Asman family yet. I am probably going to put my money on the Asman family and you.

    You do have a lot of friends and family that want to help. Lean on them. I was told once "Your family just wants to love you and you have to let them do that."

    Thank you so much for sharing with us in this blog. This way I don't have to drive Andrew and Hilary crazy calling to ask about you.

    Take care of yourself. I will continue to pray and think of you often.

  6. I remember when you were a little girl. I was standing in your kitchen of the old house on Penn. I was staring at the refrigerator reading "What If", which you, at such a young age, had written. I read it, and read it, and read it. I could not believe I was reading the work of a child. It was inspirational, it was deep, but most of all it was the most beautiful and amazing thing I have ever read.

    Your dad is right, you are a gift. Even with this dreadful divergent thing, you are a gift. One that keeps giving. I continue to read your posts over and over, and I am truly amazed at you, just like I was when you were little.

    We'll get through this, we will. Your strength and our support is no match for this divergent piece of crap.

    You are my inspiration Heather Kae, I love you.

  7. Heather, I'm trying to type this message to you through my tears. I cannot believe (well, really I can) how strong you are with this little "bump in the road" called cancer. You are truly an inspiration to me, as you always have been. Your analogy with the tree brought tears to my eyes, and your dad's comment really brought them. Stay strong and continue to fight this cancer with the traditional Asman stubbornness:)Take one day at a time, and please let others help you. Know that you are always in our hearts and prayers. You will always be beautiful, with or without hair. Dennis and Pam and the Waukee Hall's

  8. I wish my dad had lost his hair. It would have meant I got to spend more time with him, but that was not the case. He didn't even have a chance because after we found out he had cancer, he was only with us 3 more months. A real bittersweet time and huge blessing all in one were taking place in my life at that time and I wouldn't realize it until after it was all over.

    So you are a branch on a tree and it isn't a precancer branch. Well, I can agree with you there. But the thing to realize: is there is bark on the tree and that is what part is the cancer. The inner part, the wood that is the heart of the tree - the spiritual part the part that reaches up to the heavens so that your leavs will soak in the sun and the part that reaches down so your roots will drink in the water. You need to focus on that wood, on that spiritual part, let God take care of the bark.

    I saw a tree by the riverside growing tall and strong,
    Green and lovely I could see it gave joy to everyone,
    How do you go so tall and strong I asked the riverside tree,
    This is the song that my tree friend sang to me-

    I have leaves growing up to the sunshine,
    I have roots growing down to the water,
    And the fruit that I bare is sign of life in me.
    I am shade for the hot summer sundown,
    I am nest for the bird of the heaven,
    I'm becoming what the Lord of Trees has meant me to be-
    A strong young tree.

    God bless you Heather.

  9. Heather: Well, I'm caught up. I got the chance to finish reading all your blog posts this morning and must say, I'm astounded by it all. Your honesty and strength shine in these entries and I'm sure you're just being you but I am amazed.
    Just a few things to say:
    1. Happy Birthday! (late I know)
    2. I am thankful that you now know what you are facing.
    3. I am sorry that you guys have to face this but I am sure you will face it together.
    4. We will be here for you whenever you need us.
    5. You're hilarious.
    6. I vote left arm.
    7. I would shave my beard if you asked, though Ry would be pissed. I'm not shaving my ears are really big and I have to hide them with my bushy "do". You will look fabulous!

    We're sending all of our positive thoughts your way, Heather. Thanks for sharing your life in this way, I know it's as much or more for us than for you and we appreciate it.