Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Panel

We all sat down at the front of the room. We were informally introduced in front of sixty to eighty people.

At first, I felt like we were the tribunal. All six of us, sitting there as the counsellor spoke over the crowd about long term survival.

Our ages range from, roughly, twenty years of age to yours truly.

I chuckled to myself as the mic started at the opposite end of the panel. I'd be last. I wasn't sure if that was a good thing. I don't like public speaking so I tried to crack myself up inside.

I wore a new shirt and "dress jeans". It's funny. When you sit in front of people on the subject of long term survival, you sort of want to look, what's the word? Healthy.

I get touchy about such things. The room was a mix of nurses earning their career continuing education points, and parents of children with cancer. Some of the "kids" attended with their rental units.

One girl in particular caught my eye. She was probably in her mid to late teens. Slight, with a RISD wardrobe and accompanying attitude. Her multi-colored hair was short and screamed punk rock. A big ass sticker was just below her shoulder that said "survivor".

She had the attitude. I am sure I romanticized it a bit but her look equaled what I felt inside. Rebellion. Fight. Attitude. I just wanted to scream at her - keep going, keep it up...don't give in.

The mic was getting closer. God, I had nothing to say and everyone was staring. The doctor before the panel had plastered various pictures of long term affects stemming from chemo and radiation. Yeah I was checking them all off in my by one. It was a literal WTF moment.

I shook it off. I looked at my panel-mates and a wonder dawned on me.

We all look normal...

Okay, for those who know me and want to spew their almond milk at the equation Me=Normal, you know what I mean.

The mic got closer and closer. I looked over again and I confirmed what I've always said - we were still here. Normal, albeit affected, people talking about their lives in front of an audience. It was a surreal moment, both fact and fantasy swirling together.

We all sat in those large, badly colored lounge chairs with needles in our arms. We all smelled the rubbing alcohol till it made us nauseas. We all listened to the babble of doctors telling us they'll see us next time.

I took a peek at the audience and they were listening, hanging no less, on the words through the mic.

My innards shook. My legs were numb and I could have drunk a gallon of water because it was so dry in the room.

The mic was one person away. She is a stately woman, twenty-something, who is a criminal justice student. She didn't waver in her statements. She had an easy pentameter that spoke to me about that word again - healthy.

The mic was passed from that artist, to the counselor, to the nursing student, to the physician's assistant, to the law student...then to me.

We all were well. Sure, our bullets were used up early. Sure, some doctor somewhere will find a case to argue how healthy we really were...

We have scars. Mental ones as well.

I could argue that a generation was sitting before the audience.....ready to tell them that age old book title - We are still here.

I want the message to resound over the airwaves. We are still here.

Dammit.....hand me the mic.


  1. Thought-provoking...and the power of example is a gift to all who witness it.

  2. Great job! WE ARE STILL HERE.

  3. Your presence and those of your Survivor friends was a powerful show of the survivor face. Not the data, but the real life of a survivor, it's impact both good and at times not so good. But the true meaning of survivorship is to witness what you have all mangaged to accomplish both in your personal and professional lives. The continued hope for a full and engaged life despite the scars.


Thank you for reading...what are your thoughts?