Monday, August 7, 2017
Fight Like A Girl
A little girl joined the world on July 24th. She may have been one of some 250,000 babies born in July, but this baby is special. She and I will share an amazing bond to thrive for existence on this earth that she may never fully realize – neither may I – for the rest of our lives.
You see, her parents are neighbors. And when I started chemo in February of this year, Liz felt better about me driving to work if someone would ride with me. Liz – for those of you who are not aware – rides her bike and or runs into work each day. It’s something she cares deeply about, it’s good for her emotional and physical health and she has been doing it for years. Her life had been uprooted enough already with all this cancer-related stuff and I did not want her to lose this piece of herself. So I would continue to drive to work, but we would ask my work colleague – and neighbor – if he would drive into work with me every day. Mike agreed. He proved to be a wonderful commuting partner. We share a love of Africa and travel and conversation was easy. Shortly thereafter, he announced he and his wife Kelly were pregnant and Kelly became a regular commuter, too. I truly enjoyed our rides to and from work. I found myself less stressed about traffic and the stupidity of fellow drivers. We were never at a loss of conversation. The dad-to-be and I shared many conversations about his newly found awareness of what it takes to be female in this world even before his baby girl was born. She would have to be smarter, stronger, tougher. Hearing how their pregnancy was progressing and how they as a young couple were readying themselves for the arrival of their first born was awesome and entertaining.
As I struggled through my 20 weeks of chemotherapy, and dealing with my fears for my life, listening to - and watching – their baby (shortly determined to be a girl) thrive for her life was a welcomed distraction – and amazing to see firsthand. Each day it seemed Kelly was getting bigger and the baby girl was getting more and more active. You knew she was a fighter. We were both fighters. Each of us struggling to get to the next day, to participate in the world, to live. There were many times I caught myself from just losing it in the car on I395 at the thought of how juxtaposed our lives were at that point in time. There was this young couple discussing how they were checking off a long list of “honey to dos” to be ready for her arrival: painting the nursery, installing doors on open cabinet storage areas, etc., while Liz and I were focused on scheduling doctor appointments, handling the shitty side effects of chemo and just trying to hold on and holding it together until the next day.
Her nursery was ready, her dog, Tank, was ready, her parents were ready, she was ready. She was due to enter the world July 31. If she arrived early and before my last day in the office before my surgery, the plan would be for me to get Mike and Kelly to their house where they’d pick up the “go bags” and be on their way to the hospital. I was overjoyed to share in the plan to help bring her into this world. But alas, July 21 came and went and she was not yet ready to make her entrance.
My surgery, scheduled for 7:30am on Monday July 24th consumed me that weekend. It’s a lot to take in: waking up to no boobs was the slightest of my worries. How much cancer survived the 20-week chemotherapy? Had cancer gotten into my lymph nodes – your body’s highway to anywhere and everywhere. Ugh.
In my room, post-surgery (and before I ordered mac n cheese and carrot cake to celebrate), Liz looks at her phone and gasps. What?! I say. What’s wrong? (what could possibly wrong?). Nothing, Liz replied. She had let Mike and Kelly know I was out of surgery and they in turn sent a picture of the young parents and their little girl, Winny. She had entered this world about the same time I became cancer free. For so many reasons, she will be forever in my thoughts each year at this time. You can bet I will be sending her a birthday card to honor and celebrate her every year in this world as well. Happy Birthday to us both. #Onward
Posted by JJB at 7:41 PM