BY ANGELA HOPP
| Textitle artist Deb Johnson
When Deb Johnson called the Journal of Biological Chemistry offices in August 2010, she had a unique request: She needed a few copies of the journal that she could tear up and turn into art.
Although we get occasional requests for copies of the journal for research and teaching purposes, this was the first time I’d ever heard of anyone asking for copies to destroy. But, by just a few minutes into the conversation with Johnson, I sensed that she was a firm believer in the potential of research and that her project had merit. Our fulfillment office made it happen for her.
Nearly a year passed, and I didn’t hear from Johnson. To be honest, part of me was a little nervous about what might have become of those journals. But any worry I might have had about the artist’s style or tastes was vanquished this summer when Johnson unveiled her work.
For Marjorie Ebenezer, it all started with a small white patch on the right side of her tongue. It was 2005, and the lifelong public health worker promptly headed to an ear, nose and throat specialist. In its first manifestation, so said the pathology report, the lesion was benign. The ENT specialist removed it, and Ebenezer went on with her life.
Two years later, in June 2007, the spot showed up again. This time, though tiny, it was found to be cancerous, officially invasive squamous cell carcinoma, and Ebenezer had it removed again. “I asked the surgeon about chemotherapy and radiation, but he said I was cured and did not need any further treatment,” Ebenezer recalls. “The treatment for my tumor size was only surgery, and he did not order any further tests.”
Ebenezer dutifully kept her follow-up appointments, and everything checked out, so she started making plans to retire early and move from Pennsylvania to Ohio, where she would be near her young grandchildren. That September, she made one last visit to her local ENT specialist, who gave her the clear but recommended a checkup in six months once she had relocated.
In March 2008, when Ebenezer was settling into life in Columbus, she noticed the lymph node on the right side of her neck was enlarged. Her new primary care physician, aware of Ebenezer’s medical history, ordered a CT scan and a needle biopsy, which confirmed that the cancer had spread.