I won’t tell you that it has been an easy road, and I won’t tell you that it has been fun; but I will tell you that I am thrilled to be here and able to dance. I am not nearly as prepared or as strong as I would like to be, but the fact that I am here at all; is a small miracle. All of the well wishes and prayers from my friends, family and extended dance family have given me the courage and strength to persevere and push through the fatigue and bone pain in order to do something that I love.
I know that the “smart, wise” thing to do would probably have been to not push myself so hard and to just “sit this one out”, but there is something to be said for needing a healthy mind, spirit and soul in order to have a healthy body. Not attending this event would have dampened my spirits greatly. When I was first diagnosed with leukemia, I secretly made a pact with myself. I said, “Self, you are going to get out of here and be well enough to attend LAPD (Los Angeles Dance Premier), you are going to compete and you are going to be OK. You CAN and WILL do it!”
I must admit that there were times that I really didn’t think that it was going to be possible. The very first time that I stepped onto a dance floor after chemo, I was VERY weak and wobbly. It was very difficult to hold my arms in dance frame. The muscles were practically non-existent and where the jugular catheter was, still hurt like crazy. I had very little stamina and was still a bit short of breath. Dancing one routine was physically exhausting!
Joe insisted that we only dance 5 routines. A good call, as I probably would have attempted to dance all eight. We left out the most strenuous ones; Polka, East Coast Swing and Cha Cha, although Waltz is probably even more strenuous, we needed to dance it to have this competition qualify me towards World’s.
We arrived Friday evening and checked into the hotel. I was scheduled to compete at 8:00am. After checking in, we went down to check into the event. Running into so many familiar faces was almost overwhelming. So many had been following my story and wishing me well and praying for me; it was what gave me the strength to be here. Being here made me realize just how precious and fragile life can be; your whole world can turn upside down in one single second.
Life is precious and can be short. It is filled with ups and downs, happiness and sorrow, challenges and victories. It is our choice to live our life as we see fit; but my advice to you is to live it to the fullest. Take chances and push yourself; do when you can and accept when you can’t. OK, I may not be the best example of this, but I DID cut down the dances from eight to five! I am here and I am going to compete in the morning!
Joe and I did a quick run through our routines and peeked into a ballroom. I, of course heard music and wanted to dance. Joe, the responsible one, on the other hand said, “No, we are going to bed!” I turned down my lip in hopes of encouraging him onto the dance floor at least once, but it didn’t work. Up to bed we went and I was asleep within minutes. Imagine that!