Dancing Boots and Leukemia

It has been exactly three weeks since I have been diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. I am currently sleeping a minimum of twelve hours a day. I can hardly believe the exhaustion that consumes my normally very active body.  I feel as though I am so far behind, behind of what, I do not know. There really is no “behind meter” for me to look at, so it is all in my head! I guess that the half painted walls in the living room and the unpainted kitchen cabinets, along with the ever mounting laundry and other projects that have been halted mid-stream are a continual reminder that I have cancer.

Every day I pick a task and attempt to complete it. Sometimes the task requires me to nap in the afternoon despite the 12 hours of sleep the night before. Today I am counting on my nap to sustain me through my first night back to The Borderline. The plan is to slowly work with Joe for one hour to assess my current abilities and then to teach two classes and survive the social dancing until 9:30 pm. It is an ambitious goal, but I am determined to achieve it.

I have not danced in three weeks and while that may seem like a relatively short period of time, dancing is the light of my soul and it is growing dim. I need to see for myself, that eventually I will be able to return to my regular routine and life. I just danced at World’s a month ago and I have so many goals for this year, surrounding my dancing. There was a wood floor in my hospital room and for the first two days that I was there, I begged Joe to help me move the bed so that we could dance. Of course, being the sensible one, he refused. Dancing tonight will be the very first step in returning to my old, pre-cancerous self.

Once we arrived at The Borderline, I put on my dance boots and stepped onto the floor. I would love to say that it was like I had never left, but the truth of the matter was that I was very wobbly. My legs were weak and my stamina was zilch! It was really difficult to hold up my own arms in dance frame, and even more difficult to maintain my balance through turns. It was very frustrating and I had to keep reminding myself that I was in a hospital bed only three weeks ago. I just kept thinking, “Weebles Wobble, but they don’t fall down!”

After about an hour, we took a break and had dinner. I made it through the first class and danced one social dance during the break. The second class was a bit more difficult to endure. Mind you, they are only 45 minutes long and I am doing little during that time. By the time that the social dancing began, I danced one more dance and I then was done! I was so pooped that all I could do was sit and watch the rest of the evening. I was very pleased in one regard and totally pissed off on another. Leukemia Sucks! It has stolen my strength, my stamina and my stability, but not my spirit. I will get them all back; eventually.

Fortunately, dancing is not the only thing that lights up my soul. Seeing the familiar faces of all of my friends also helps my light to shine. It was so good to see everyone and thank them for all of their well wishes and prayers. Even though I was only able to sit by the fire and visit, it was so good to be out of the house amongst friends and to regain a small portion of my old life back.

I practically drug myself to the car when it was time to leave and could barely keep my eyes open on the ride home. I am sure that I was comatose within minutes of returning home. I woke the next morning at 11:00 and smiled. I had survived my first night out. I spent the entire day on the couch, in and out of dreamland. My night out had cost me another day; I was wiped, but it was so worth it! My goal for next week is to double my social dances from two to four!

While it is really important to allow yourself to heal and recover from an accident or an illness; part of that recovery process must include the element of hope. The hope to return to your life as it was before it tumbled down around you. When you are faced with cancer, that hope has a sense of urgency to it. You want to reach out and grasp every waking moment; to hold on to it and to make it better than before. You don’t want to waste a single minute that you have and you now cherish every one of them. Part of the healing process is feeling joyful and happy and dancing does just that for me. 

To stay home and “rest” would create a sadness that could easily lead to depression. So for now, I will take the tradeoff; being totally wiped out for one day for four and a half hours of fun! I WILL work my way back up to dancing all night long! 


  1. Thank you for this post. I am so glad you made the trade off. It gives me hope in all things. God Bless

  2. It made you tired, but YOU DID IT! THAT is what counts, and I knew you could! As your other poster said, it's a trade off, but it was worth it! It's hard to dance your way through cancer if you never dance! (A few steps at the end of the bed will do on a tire day)! You have the spirit to beat this, and certainly the friends and Prayer! Love you Michele! Always, Julia

  3. I would like to say thank you so much for posting this. I know that this blog was made a year ago, but it was very inspirational. I have a relative currently battling leukemia and this blog gave me hope for her.

    1. You are welcome....my battle continues every day, so yes, my journey began over a year ago, but I try to keep everyone up to date.

      My best wishes to your relative,


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