I’ve been doing some reflection lately as I’ve been stuck in my apartment for a couple days because they’ve been doing a complete repair on the decks in our complex, which for those of us who live on the second and third floors is the only way to get in and out of our complex, on top of that, they only gave us two days notice (yup, doesn’t make sense to me either). Upon this reflection time, I remembered an incident that happened right when I got out of the hospital and am just now starting to see the significance of it as I get further away from my diagnosis. I was walking with RuthMom to get a Jamba Juice, and as we walked in I immediately saw a recognizable giant sipping a “Coldbuster” and talking on a cell phone that looked like a tic tac box in his enormous phalanges. I nudged my mom and whispered, “Magic Johnson”, then quickly darted my eyes as he turned towards us. An overwhelming sense came over me that I needed to talk to the Laker legend but didn’t want to butt in on his phone conversation. I leaned against a chair next to him, hid behind my oversized hoodie, and hovered close enough to smell his speed sticked armpits. I looked down and smirked after noticing that he was wearing Michael Jordan shorts.
Not expecting him to actually end his phone conversation, I spewed nonsense as he hung up and immediately searched through his contacts on his Blackberry. This was my only chance to say something, but the problem was, I didn’t know what I wanted to say. I eventually sputtered out, “It’s crazy to see an actual icon in person.” As he threw a baffled look at me, in my head, I slapped myself and screamed “WHATTT WAS THAT??!!!” I then quickly gathered myself and said, “Sorry, I just had brain surgery and am a little out of it.” He still looked baffled, but now with a little “Thanks kid, this is extremely awkward now” flavor to it, and I was fully expecting him to toss his bucket sized “cold buster” directly at my face, in a no look, behind the back fashion, but before he could do that, I decided I would instead pull an alley hoop and give him all the glory. “I just want to let you know that I think it’s quite magical, pardon the pun, that I’m meeting you at this moment, because you are somebody that changed the face of a deadly disease and helped make it possible for people to survive it, and I just think that’s really cool…so thanks for being brave enough to do that.” His baffled look changed to a slightly more charmed look as he then smiled and said, “Thanks man. Be strong!” I could tell that he wanted to get back to his business so I tossed my fist out for a bump and he returned it. The weight of his fist bump pushed me backwards and the difference in hand sizes would’ve been the equivalent of me giving a fist bump to a Ken doll. At the moment, I just saw it as a cool gift to be able to meet someone I loved to watch growing up (especially when he was on the Olympic Dream Team which was after he announced his HIV diagnosis…all of which were bold moves considering, that at the time, a lot of people thought that by just touching someone with AIDS you could catch it), but now I see the moment a lot differently. I see the fist bump as a passing of a torch to me to be able to speak with the same boldness as Mr. Johnson about a disease that is so low on people’s radar by simply advocating on behalf of all the people it’s terrorized (myself included). By doing so, I might be able to help make breakthroughs possible and help people survive and live long and fruitful lives. I mean how scary was HIV even 10 years ago?
It’s been over 20 years since Magic Johnson made the announcement about his diagnosis and here he is still alive, still lively, and now people with HIV are living long and fruitful lives just like him. Why can’t the same be true for Brain Cancer? I no longer see that moment as “Magical”, I see it as an important and necessary event that helped set in motion a movement towards advancements and breakthroughs in brain science and Brain Cancer awareness. I mean, think about it, why would Magic Johnson be hanging out at a Jamba Juice? He could probably build an entire Juice Bar in his trophy room. By the way, as we walked back home, all my mom could talk about was how thin his legs were compared to the rest of his body. She kept calling him “chicken legs”. I guess we all deal with those special and significant events differently (love you Mom).
P.S. Starting Cycle 7 of Chemo tonight. Always appreciate prayers and encouragement.