How to Keep Your Integrity Up, Your Clothes On & Still Make It in Hollywood (Michael Wiese Productions; $24.95).
But Harris has no doubt what her mother’s reaction would be to her successes. “She would so not be surprised,” Harris says, laughing. “People say, ‘That’s amazing that you did that.’ My mother would say, ‘Of course you did that. That’s what you’re here to do. That’s who you are.’”
The third of four children in a rambunctious family, Anthony Pinado had survived more than his share of brushes with catastrophe as a kid. “I can’t even count the number of times my parents had to take me to the emergency room,” he says.
There was the day he fell off a neighbor’s swing, slicing a gash in the back of his head. And the time he was playing superheroes with his brothers and launched himself into the air only to collide with the coffee table face first. He first had his stomach pumped at age 3, after mistaking St. Josephs orange flavored aspirin for candy-and the list goes on. But all of that just made for a “great childhood” in Pinado’s view, and he had no reason to believe his future would be any less so.
In May 1991, Pinado’s outlook couldn’t have been brighter. The Morehouse alumnus had just received his M.B.A. from the University of Michigan. He was engaged to marry his longtime love, Melanie King, and he was planning to relax with her for a while before moving to Dallas to begin working at ARCO Oil & Gas Co. All was right with the world-or so they thought. Little did they know of the terrifying shift that was on the horizon.
Pinado and King were enjoying a month-long vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina, when a call came in from ARCO’s medical department. The results of his routine pre-employment screening were troubling. “They said I needed to have new blood tests immediately, that their tests showed a serious problem, but that I’d seemed so healthy otherwise, their results could just be a mistake,” he says.
Unfazed and feeling fine, Pinado was retested in Hilton Head. The results were shocking. “They told me I either had AIDS, sickle cell anemia, or leukemia, and that I needed to get to a large metropolitan hospital right away,” he says. “They said the situation was so dire that I should fly, not drive, because in the event of a car accident, even a minor injury would probably cause me to bleed to death.”
Against medical advice, Pinado drove the five hours home to Atlanta anyway. “I felt fine,” he says, still sounding unable to reconcile how he was feeling with how sick he actually was. “I was kind of mad over the inconvenience of it. I just kept thinking, ‘This is a mistake.’”
Back in Atlanta, he endured about nine hours of testing and examinations at Emory University Hospital. This time, the results were undeniable and devastating. Pinado had a rare and acute form of leukemia. It