No one pledges to be a sorority or fraternity member in the world of cancer, but once you become part of that world, you get a chance to be part of some truly memorable events. The continuous cancer battle often feels isolating until you surround yourself with other (warriors) survivors, no matter where they are in their treatment.
I got a chance to experience my dream that was taken away from me in my senior year of high school – I will get into that shortly. I FINALLY got to go to the Prom…Survivor Prom 2018. It was on Friday, February 9, 2018 at Duluth High School in Duluth, GA. It was sponsored by Gwinnett Relay for Life and American Cancer Society.
My “date” was my good friend and fellow lymphoma warrior Eric Crossman. We met two years ago at a Young Adult Cancer Survivors – Atlanta meet-up. Another friend and fellow ovarian warrior, Victoria, met us there. We took the typical prom picture and looked fabulous. Of course, my nutty buddy Eric and I slayed it with our fashion. Aside from my lovely dress, I had my “warrior” tiara on and a cute mini stole. Victoria looked beautiful as always. #SquadGoalsAccomplished
The night was more than magical. To see so many warriors (survivors) with their friends and family laughing, smiling, eating and dancing was like watching mini miracles unfold right before my eyes. The night was well-organized. They even had corsages and boutonnieres that were color coded for the type of cancer we have/had. They even made sure to keep plenty of water with lemon on hand, too.
It was the first time I have danced in public since the cancer nightmare began. Neuropathy makes just plain walking extremely difficult, let alone dancing. Then I realized I still AM a dancer. I just have to modify my moves. I studied ballet, musical theatre, salsa and swing for so many years that it’s in my blood. Once I hear music, I cannot help but move.
I had the BEST time dancing! Heck, I even entered the dance contest! I was #6 and guess who won 2nd place in the dance competition…I’m not called Nut-Meg for nothing!!! Ha! I even had a cheering section with my new friends made that night, too.
The quick story as to why I did not go to my senior prom was devastating. I grew up in the small town of Macon, GA. Back in the mid 90’s, there were not many interracial couples and practically non-existent in my private high school.
Since I was involved in community theatre, I decided to ask a guy friend who had been my partner in over four musicals. I thought we would have a good time dancing. Well, when I asked him, he said, “yes.” I was elated! A few days later, he called and sounded upset.
This was is what pierced my heart and have been holding onto this pain since that call in 1995…
Him: Hey, I have something to tell you.
Me: What is it?
Him: When I told my mom you are black, she forbids me from going with you.
Me: What did you just say? (incredulously)
Him: I’m so sorry. She said dancing with you in theatre was different. If we are seen together outside of the theatre, we might look like a couple.
Me: (Silently hung up the phone with tears streaming down my face)
I never got over that hurt until the Survivor Prom 2018. I was with my dear friend Eric who could care less about race. He’s such a sweetheart.
While I do get frustrated and angry by all the things cancer has caused me, I am so beyond blessed and thankful for some of the truly beautiful people this battle has put in my path. And for that, I will forever be filled with an even bigger heart of gratitude and love.
This “new life” is tough, but I know I must continue to persevere and truly LIVE because time is not guaranteed. I walk and dance with a renewed sense of purpose. That’s what I wish for ALL the cancer warriors out there, too.
One of my favorite quotes ever is from the 1958 movie Auntie Mame starring Rosalind Russell, “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!”
Until next time,