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  • Writer's pictureCharles Austin Muir

Chemoversaries, birthdays, and...Debbie Gibson???

Updated: Jun 13, 2020

Who is Debbie Gibson, you say? Well, hold on.

Last year on this day--my 48th birthday--Kara went in for her first chemotherapy treatment. She bought me a small cake which I ate while she sat across from me in the infusion room letting the chemo do its work. She was exhausted, going to the bathroom all the time and running on half the blood in her body.

Six weeks earlier, before her diagnosis, I had submitted an essay to Gimmick Press for an anthology of creative nonfiction about pop culture obsessions. I wrote about Debbie Gibson, a pop singer who dominated the charts in the late 1980s. At age 17, she set a world record that still stands as the youngest artist to write, perform and produce a Billboard number-one single, ""Foolish Beat." I wrote about Debbie Gibson because I had stumbled upon one of her videos on YouTube recently and realized she reminded me of Kara when we started dating 31 years ago, during Debbie Gibson's pop reign.

A year later, Kara feels better than she has in years. She finished another chemotherapy treatment today--on my 49th birthday. And the essay is out and free to read online. It's called "Lost in a Debbie Gibson Music Video" and it's a reflection on illness, racial insecurity, teenage love, grief, and Debbie Gibson, of course, with a dash of curmudgeonly Gen X humor. Think Somewhere in Time meets John Hughes from the point of view of the Asian kid...with cancer treatments thrown in.

You can read it here:

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