Cancer, Lady Gaga, and the things that aren’t important

Here’s your daily dose of bittersweetness:

Every now and again, we need a recalibration of our consideration of things that are important. Usually it involves a story about how outrageously unfair life is.

This is one of those stories, courtesy of the Washington Post.

Melissa Anne Dabas, 42, of Virginia, beat cancer. Three times.

That’s the sort of thing you celebrate and given that she’s a big Lady Gaga fan, the party practically planned itself. She’d buy tickets to a Lady Gaga concert. Twenty-six seats for her, her two kids, her husband, her nurses, her doctors, and anyone who helped her beat cancer. Three times.

Her husband, a doctor, hit the roof. It cost $10,000.

$10,000? Not important.

The concert is in November. Not long after she started planning it, she had some back pain.

Jay [her husband] happened to be in radiology, looking at one of his patient’s films, the day after his wife had back X-rays taken.

“Hey, can I see Melissa’s scan?” he asked. “As the scan came up, I had tears coming out of my eyes. I could tell. Instantly. From the CT scan I could see, even as a radiologist, that the cancer came back and was extremely aggressive. I broke down.”

He went home and had to deliver the worst possible news to his wife.

“In my mind, I knew. I knew what this meant,” he said.

It meant she was going to die.

She didn’t want to know her prognosis. She didn’t want to know how long she had. She just wanted her family to plow ahead, begging her husband not to take away who she was.

Eventually, when she was on oxygen in August and could hardly walk five feet without being wiped out, she gave in, and they interviewed a nanny. The first time anyone else would take care of her children.

Two days later, she had a massive stroke.

On Sept. 2, listening to Lady Gaga, she died.

He wasn’t sure what the best way to honor her life was as he planned her funeral. Then he remembered the things she said after her chemo treatments.

“I’d get home from work, and she’d tell me all these stories,” Jay said. “Not about herself. But how these people were having a hard time buying food. Or who’s going to pay the rent? These people were all having a difficult time covering the nonmedical expenses of cancer.”

“Cancer doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t only affect people who are able to pay,” he said. “And this really bothered her. And it was something she never got to do anything about.”

Until now.

A few people in the family will still go see Lady Gaga, but he’s raffling off the best seats.Ten box seats.

The money will go to the people she knew at the cancer center who are being devastated by the cost of cancer.

And yet, he’s carrying a new burden. Remembering his reaction when the bill for the tickets came.

“These mistakes you make in life. I’m guilt-ridden, it’s relentless,” he tells the Post.

Because $10,000? Not important.