The courage to keep dancing

April 25, 2012

Sit in a chemotherapy infusion center for 45 minutes and you more deeply understand the meaning of courage. Prayers come to mind without thinking.

My friend tolerates her short chemo infusion fairly well, but the room was filled with others who had to sit for hours in recliners reading, napping, listening to music, texting or just trying not to throw up while life-preserving poison dripped into their bodies. Some were so rail-thin and pale, it broke my  heart.

I was overcome with their bravery and the hope that gave them strength to persevere through this very tough treatment.

A young, vibrant woman in jeans and a white, short-sleeved shirt took a seat in the recliner directly across from us. Her chin-length brown hair was stuffed into a denim cap and she carried a gorgeous red leather satchel-type handbag. She placed it on the tray table next to her grey leather recliner. It was eye-catching. In fact, I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

She noticed I was staring her way, so the next time she looked at me, I said
“I love your bag! It’s gorgeous. You probably think I’m staring at you, but it’s your handbag!”

My friend piped in from her recliner: “I’ve been looking at it, too. It’s wonderful!”

The young woman laughed, and said, “I thought you were looking at my port.”

“Hell, no,” I said. “I didn’t even notice your port. But don’t you dare leave your bag unattended because I’m liable to snatch it right up!”

We all laughed, and then, eyes dancing, she told us where she’d gotten it (Dooney & Burke outlet in San Diego), why she was in San Diego (with her sister) and what other colors the bag came in (green, orange and more).

That moment of light-hearted conversation –that just happened to be set in a cancer treatment center–was a reminder that even a place like that, cancer may not always be the first thing people notice. It could just be your rockin’ handbag. And that you really can laugh and enjoy a normal conversation, even in such awful circumstances.

I’ll carry that young woman and that moment with me for a long time. I hope I never forget that there is always life as long as the human spirit can dance.

One comment on “The courage to keep dancing
  1. Yes! I was blessed to accompany a friend to three of her chemo sessions and I came away with a similar feeling after each one. The positive, life affirming spirit in the room was amazing. I watched as the nurses quickly took a gage of the different patients and fed off of that. One patient was sporting a marvellous wool hat. I couldn’t help but comment and she told me it was the only thing that kept her head warm and went on to tell me where to find the pattern. I knit two of them – one for my friend and one later for her cousin. I think of the “hat lady” to this day and treasure the memory of meeting her.

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