Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Penn Station, Rise Up

I rose up out of the bowels of
New York City's Penn Station
searching for a Nathan's Hot Dog stand.
Despite being able to buy them at my local grocery store,
I was convinced a Nathan's hot dog would taste better in New York City.

I heard the angry, grumble shout of the man around the corner as I ordered from the Penn Station stand. The louder he became the more I repeated in my panicky head,

 "Welcome to New York!
  Welcome to New York!"

The grumbling man was intense.  He was clearly upset.

I ate my hot dog, which somehow WAS better than I could have made at home.
Yet, the grumbling man became more enraged.
The police officers arrived.  Three of them.
The tiny janitor bravely pointed his finger.
The grumbling man was scary.
He announced to the crowd
what awful things he
was gonna do.

But then, the hot dog counter lady declared her attitude.
She leaned over the counter and put her hand on her hip.
She shook her finger and bobbed her head left and right.
She lectured, with authority, to the grumbling man,
"Oh no you ain't!  You ain't gonna do none of that.
You are gonna grab your back pack
and get outta here right now
and move on your way.
Do you HEAR me?"

The grumbling man leered, leaned in toward her,
where she had perched herself,

 ...halfway over the counter.

He paused a second too long.

She had won.

She repeated, louder,

"Do you hear me....HUN....EEEE???? 


He wanted to stay, the grumbling man.
He wanted to cause trouble.
He was unhappy with the janitor.
He was annoyed by the 3 police officers.
But he was more frightened of the hot dog lady,
perched on the counter,
ready to take him out.

And so,
he left.

I rose up out of the bowels
of New York City's Penn Station
2.8 years after I was diagnosed with
aggressive triple negative breast cancer.

Triple negative breast cancer doesn't like to behave.
Triple negative breast cancer likes to cause problems.

It likes to kill you.

After you think it's gone, it likes to come back.
On average, at 2.8 years after...
or maybe it's 2.6 years or 2.3....
For 1/3 of  the people?  Maybe less?  Maybe more?
or maybe we don't know......

But nevertheless, I rose up out of Penn Station that day.
And I rose up out of the shock of the words,

"You have cancer."

I rose up out of anxiety and fear and despair.
I rose up out of surgery and chemotherapy and radiation
I rose up out of cutting and poisoning and burning.
I rose up out of scar tissue and rare lingering side effects and seemingly endless aches and pains.
I rose up out of the grumbling man that is cancer, the one who wants to cause trouble.
And I arrived as the hot dog lady with attitude.

I rose up thinking there was a time that I didn't know if I'd be alive to see Penn Station or the grumbling man or the hot dog lady with attitude.

But 2.8 years later, I did see Penn Station.
I did see New York.
I saw it all and it was fantastic. 
And I was grateful for every single minute of it.