I’ve paid my dues , Time after time –
I’ve done my sentence, But committed no crime –
And bad mistakes, I’ve made a few
I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face, But I’ve come through
We are the champions – my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting – till the end –
We are the champions –
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions – of the world- Queen, “We are the Champions”
I walked into the chemo ward of GW alone the morning of June 29th, and looked around the room for any empty chair. Out of the 20 stations, the only open chair was #6. I chuckled to myself. It was the same seat I sat in for my first treatment, 378 days prior. I thought to myself I’ve come full circle, ending this where it all began. I remember first walking into that room, seeing all those people hooked up to IV’s and bags of unknown drugs. It was like crossing over the borders into a foreign land. But I had my posse with me, surrounding me like a shield of protective love. The staff there still comment on how they’ve never seen a patient come in with so many people. We packed snacks, dvd’s, and books like it was a day at Camp Chemo. If they were scared, they didn’t show it at all. The day actually turned out to be quite festive. What I remember the most about that day was meeting Vicki. It’s funny how things work together. Vicki was a beautiful, middle-aged sista with a bad short haircut and a warm smile. Ironically she was sitting in chair #5, and as soon as we walked in, Nicole said “Hey, there’s my cousin Vicki”!! We introduced ourselves and we laughed about how we were getting treatments on the same day. Vicki’s presence gave me a peace that I needed so desperately at that moment. It reassured me that I could go through this process, and still look fabulous and most importantly have a positive outlook. She gave me the courage to face the unknown.
Fast forward to June 29th, 2011. After 18 treatments of Herceptin, a drug used to treat certain types of breast cancer to prevent reoccurrence (click here for more details http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001048/#a699019-why), I was finally at the end of the road. For the past year, I went to the doctor every 3 weeks for treatment, and now this chapter was closing. I was so excited that morning I even decided to wear a dress LOL. I was totally comfortable with going alone too. It was comforting to know that I had grown so much emotionally and I no longer “needed” an entourage of supporters to make me feel secure. Alot had happened in the past year. Though I was at peace with being there alone, I was more than elated when Kelley came strolling through the door. It warmed my heart that the person I began all this with was here to end it. No fanfare, no huge posse, just me and my sister finishing out the course. She was there with me the 1st day I ever walked into the chemo ward for a “tour”. It was awful and scary, and I broke down several times. But Kells was cool as a fan. She’s definitely the yin to my yang. Also there was my first and favorite nurse Katie. She reminisced about how I fought her tooth and nail on NOT getting a port implanted, and how I stood my ground. My poor veins have paid the price, but it was worth it for me. When it was all over, she bandaged me up and told me how proud she is of me. I walked out of that ward ready to take on the next phase of my life.
I look over at chair #5 and remember Vicki. She wasn’t there my last day, but she was certainly in my heart. Vicki passed away in March of this year, and Nicole and I attended her service together. I had to pay my respects to the woman who’s warm spirit gave me so much peace on the numerous times that I saw her. I wasn’t the only person who gleaned from Vicki; her service was packed, and we stood in the hallway listening to the numerous accounts of how impactful she was to so many people. I would have never known Vicki was terminally ill because she beamed with life and light. Vicki taught me such a powerful lesson in our brief time of knowing each other that I will keep with me forever. Life is to be lived and everyday is to be cherished. Like a true diva, Vicki requested of her husband that Luther Vandross’ “A House is not a Home” be played at her service. That’s my kind of woman…fly to the very end.
So now that treatment is over, I carry on with a new agenda, and a lesson to take each day by the horns and ENJOY LIFE. Drake said “Everybody dies but not everybody lives” and I’m learning how to live, sparkle, shine and thrive, even through the storms. Above all, I want to do for someone else what Vicki did for me. It’s only right…
New Living Translation (NLT)
37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.