Black Girl, Rare Cancer

Ashley Strahm
Wholistique
Published in
5 min readJul 8, 2021

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Chaos ensues.

During my senior year of high school, I was diagnosed with angiosarcoma (which I Googled immediately… and shouldn’t have).

There are only four things I remember about that cancer diagnosis. How sweaty I was, how angry my mom looked, how much my dad cried, and how incredulous the doctor seemed.

“Hmmm,” she frowned, flipping vigorously through charts and forms. It’s entirely unnerving to witness a medical professional contort in real-time, orienting themselves with improbable data while preparing to translate what we could already insinuate was devastating news.

We all just sat there, me wiping my palms on my pants, my mom gripping her chair arms, my dad slowly taking off his glasses to rub his temples.

She paused. She blinked. “Your results came back from pathology. What you have is a rare sarcoma that typically affects older, white men…”

I squirmed. I believe there is a recurring sentiment eldest, immigrant children often experience; the one that resents unforeseen outcomes, especially because we are raised to prevent failure, mitigate risk and adhere—unquestioningly—to rules.

I followed the rules. I was 16. I didn’t even feel old enough to break them.

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Ashley Strahm
Wholistique

Jersey roots, Durham fruit. Committed to justice, enthralled by stories, and inspired by an equitable future for us all.