Characters Along the Final Road

Painting by Maya Fielder
When Steve, my grandmother Margo’s partner of fourteen  years, is diagnosed with bladder cancer, they begin sleeping on kitty-corner couches in their living room. He can’t make it upstairs anymore. She says she sleeps better down there anyways. If you saw her propped up on her cheap memory foam pillow, reading by the light of a makeshift headlamp (bike light rubber-banded to a headband), you would believe her.

I’m a Teen Educator at Planned Parenthood

Interview with Amber Barcel


What would you say are a few of the most impactful moments of your upbringing that shaped your understanding of healthcare?
I was adopted from South Korea and grew up in rural Nebraska. Everyone went to the same family doctor. If you suddenly fell ill, you could always get an appointment that day.


I had a fear that every time I went to the doctor, the entire county would know when and why.


Appreciating the Rolodex



I can’t even begin to count how many ear infections I had as a kid. I could do the three block walk down Park Avenue to Dr. Grunfeld’s office with my eyes closed. With his puffy hair circling the bald spot on the top of his head, glasses tilted down to his nose, and thick Austrian accent, “Vell Lee-lee, vat have vee here”, he’d stick his otoscope into each ear. Nine times out ten the right one was the problem.