Friday, October 14, 2005

So, you're a prizefighter, heh?

Some of you may be wondering about the title of my blog. Presumptuous title? Maybe. Well, since it's at the very top of my blog I thought I'd write about the meaning of the title first. Well, I don't remember when exactly but I do remember several years ago my father was talking to me about something . . . most likely he was cautioning me about the need to stay on the narrow path while at Vassar. His admonition was made with regards to college. The love and resources of many individuals, both close and unfamiliar, he said had been invested in me throughout my life with the hope that I'd grow up to be a fair and decent citizen, who'd strive to excell in school and hopefully, thereafter, find a good and respectable job. I'll never forget what he said to me. He told me, "You're like a prizefighter. There are a lot of people rooting for you." What he said was simple but profound. There are at least two ways of intrepreting my father's comment. First, there are my parents. My parents above all have committed their lifes to me and my sisters. For them and indeed for all parents, their greatest hopes rests with their children. They live through them. Then, there's the community. The prosperity of a community is in part dependent upon the talents and goodness of its people. On this point, I think my father was speaking about the African-American community in particular. There's so much negative press out there about black folks. Every where you turn there's bad news. There's, of course, good news too but it seems to get less press. So, with regard to this I think my father was saying that in a climate in which the African-African community is surrounded constantly by grey clouds, folks like myself who are trying to do the right thing are in need of more than ever. The fate of the community rests upon the efforts of individuals like myself and others. The community has placed their bets and they're on me. They're cheering for me to win, because my success is their success. My victory is their victory and the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child," which my mother believes strongly will be vindicated with my victory in the ring. The long hours of overtime that my father put in at work so that there would be more money available for my studies will not have been in vain. The hours my neighbor spent babysitting me when I was young will not have been in vain. The hours my high school teacher took from his schedule to tutor me in math after school will not have been in vain. The fifty dollars that my aunt mailed to me in college in order to buy a book will not have been in vain. Their actions though different have had a great collective importance in my maturation. And just imagine if every child was encouraged to believe that the health of the community rested on their broad shoulders. Imagine the great collective rewards that would come about by the actions of so many individuals. This, I think, is what my father meant when he parralleled me to a prizefighter. Wow. Isn't that deep? What a responsibility though, heh?

So, the use of "prizefighter," which I have explained so far possesses a dimension of social responsibility and purpose, which has been vested upon me by my folks, neighbors, everyone who has ever sought to encourage or help me, and indeed all those who I don't know. Our future is held collectively. There's another dimension to the term and this deals with the underpinning of my blog - my fight against Hodgkin's Disease. Verily, I am in a battle against this illness. It's perhaps the biggest battle imaginable - a battle for my life. So, there it is. I'm a prizefighter in the ring againt Hodgkin's:

I emerge from the dark tunnel into the bright lights of the arena wearing a sweaty and baggy sweatshirt with its top covering my head. I jogg slowly toward the ring with my fists clenched in front of my chest. My parents and doctors also clad in athletic gear follow behind me closely. As I leave the causeway and enter the ring, I see a loud and busy crowd of people all around. So, there I am in the ring. I, in one corner, and Hodgkin's in the other. My parents and sisters make up the basis of my team. And of course, my doctors and their staff constitute the other main part of my coaching team. Surrounding them and all around the ring is my extended family, friends, neighbors, and anyone else who has ever wished me well. It's a motley group. They're all cheering for me. They're calling my name. They're hoping and praying that I come out on top. As everyone waits anxiously for the fight to begin, the great Michael Buffer appears out from the shadows of the ring. He meets a microphone descending from the arena's roof in the middle of the ring. Meticulously dressed and well-groomed, the famed boxing ring announcer grabs the microphone, takes a short breathe, and declares, "Let's get ready to rumble!" I nod and so does my team. The motley audience pauses and then, begin to take their seats. Both I and Hodgkin's leave our corners with a quick hop and prance towards the ring's center, where we're greeted by the match's referee.

This isn't my first look at Hodgkin's, however. We have met before not too long ago. It was about two years ago to be exact. That time I knocked it out after a few rounds. It didn't give too much of a fight. My coaching team had studied it well prior to the fight, so I was able to anticipate its movements remarkably well and after a few brief rounds I knocked it out for the count. After that victorious fight, I thought all was well. I went back to my normal life and as the months passed by I thought less and less about my former opponent. It, of course, was always in the back of mind, but as months turned into years that fight became a part of history and less a living memory. However, unknown to me was the fact that Hodgkin's had resurrected. It vowed to come after me again. While I thought all was well in my life, Hodgkin's was training and bulking up in the shadows. Its desire for revenge for its humilation was great. Then one day I and my coaching team of doctors met together and they informed me of the gathering storm. Though disappointed, I was not surprised entirely. In the back of my mind, I knew Hodgkin's could always resurface. Hodgkin's was back and seeking a rematch. But this time, the stakes were higher. Though defeated before my opponent was more experienced now and consequently, my team warned me of the increased danger. They deemed Hodgkin's was fiercer now, but it still could be defeated. After a brief period of broken nerves, I gathered myself together. I studied and learned as much as possible about this fiercer nemesis of mine. I reviewed the different techniques and moves offered to me by my staff. My folks, though hurt and deeply disappointed obviously, assured me of their steadfastness and desire for a second fight. Since then, my family, neighbors, and friends have joined my parents and are also extending their support for this great fight.

So, this is where I am. I'm in the ring and about to battle my old nemesis for my very survival. The bell has not rung yet, but all the pieces are almost in play. Of course, it's a bit scary. There's so much to absorb and deal it, but I'll be okay. My team is coaching me from my corner and all those who I love and care about are around me cheering me on. What more could I want? I will fight this battle and I plan to win.


Comment Blogger Kaycee said...

Hi Duane- I just thought I'd say hi and how are ya. I was just diagnosed with HD in September, and started blogging when I found Maureen Mchugh's 'hodgkins and me' site here. It's been therapeutic. A place to vent and brag indirectly. Sorry to hear you're going into round 2- I'm praying my treatment will be over in February and there will be no recurrences- ever. Well- keep on keeping on, and best wishes. I'll be following your progress.

5:44 PM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...

Hi Kaycee! I was looking at my past posts and then, found your comment. Thanks for the kind words and support. I'm back home after my 2nd cycle and will see my doc for a check-up tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Thanks too for telling me about the cancer blog, "Fihi ma Fihi." It seems to be quite popular among cancer blogs.

I haven't had the chance to read your blog yet, but I will. It looks really nice.

Keep in touch and keep your eyes on the prize.


6:51 PM  

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