Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: My Date With Bruno Mars

February 2nd will be the 6th anniversary of the stroke I had in 2011, two months after my 40th birthday. Many of you are aware of my stroke story, but for the benefit of those who may be reading this that do not know me personally I figured I would bring you up to speed. The stroke occurred on the left side of my brain, which effected the right side of my body. For a time the weakness on my right side was so prominent I was unable to walk without a cane and could not write or do very much with my right hand. I had very little feeling on the right side of my face and a lopsided smile. I did physical, occupational, and speech and language therapy for almost a year. I still have weakness and less feeling on my right side than my left. I still can’t write very long with my right hand, but I no longer need a cane to walk. I still see a crooked smile when I look in the mirror, but I have more feeling on the right side of my face than I did initially. In fact, most people tell me to look at me they would never know I had a stroke. But, because a stroke is a brain injury, an area people can’t see, they don’t know the lasting affects that still remain.

I was left with something called aphasia, which makes it challenging for me at times to process what people are saying to me and to find the words I want to say to respond. Often times when people are talking to me it sounds like the teacher’s voice in the Charlie Brown cartoons. It’s just a bunch of noise. Sometime later I am often able to really process what was said. The words just pop up in my brain. It actually comes in handy when someone is talking to me and I really don’t want to hear what they are saying anyway. I am able to just smile and nod my head and catch up later. Before the stroke I was more of a left-brain person. They told me the left brain is responsible for things like: logic, sequencing, math, language, facts, and thinking in words. Since the injury was in the left brain, the right brain did exactly what it was supposed to do and kicked into high gear. The right brain is responsible for things like: creativity, imagination, visualization, feelings, and intuition. Math and numbers make my head hurt now. I am a visual learner now. I think in pictures or images. I cannot multi-task. I have true tunnel vision and can only see and do what needs to be done one piece at a time. And I absolutely love bright colors and all things creative.

I gave all of that background because when my daughters and I were in a pretty bad car accident on December 4, 2016 I suffered a concussion that made me feel like I felt right after the stroke. I couldn’t think clearly, didn’t understand words, was very irritable and emotional. The doctor later told me that was all completely normal for a concussion and I would have to have some time of brain rest: no TV, no computer, no reading, nothing that would require too much thinking. He also told me it may take me a little longer than normal to completely recover from the concussion, because I had a former brain injury. But, he did say I could listen to music, which I still do quite a bit, with my headphones on, lights off, in my bed.

One day my youngest daughter, who also suffered a concussion in the accident, and I were talking and she mentioned she really liked the new Bruno Mars CD. At the time I didn’t even know he had a new CD out. I asked her to play it for me. After hearing the first few lines of the first song, “24K Magic” I immediately said, ‘Nope, don’t like it. You can turn it off.’ Later that week as I was having a few moments of illegal iPad time I stumbled across a clip from Bruno Mars’ interview on 60 Minutes. As I watched and listened I saw a young man with kind eyes, a pleasant smile, and a seemingly humble heart. So, I decided I would give his new CD a fair try. I downloaded it from Apple Music that night and listened with an open mind. I listened to “24K Magic” thinking, ‘Come on Bruno you told us ladies in “Just the Way You Are” if perfect was what we were looking for just stay the same. You called us a “Treasure.” You made our hearts break with your lyrics on “When I Was Your Man”…now, we are pretty girls that are waking up the rocket and bad b*#@hes with ugly a$$ friends. What is THAT about?’ Still, I listened. That was night one.

I didn’t know it had been four years since he put out a CD. So, I figured now, at age 31, this is “grown man” Bruno I was hearing. Night two I listened again and was suddenly hooked on the old school feel of the CD. Despite some of the words that I still can’t get with on “24K Magic”, it is one of my favorite songs on the CD, along with “Versace on the Floor.” In the right setting, (with a husband since I don’t believe in premarital sex or “casual” sex, whatever that means), “Versace on the Floor” is the kind of song I want to hear playing in the background. I’m not married so I listen to it sparingly. But, I have promised my adult daughters that if I ever do remarry they will most definitely come to our home one day or night and hear that song playing behind a closed bedroom door. My middle daughter said knowing this, if I ever remarry she will never again come to my home. I will have to go to her house to see her. LOL! I guess that’s a moot point, though, because right now after being divorced five years, the idea of having to share my space with a man that I would have to see everyday, compromise with and all the other responsibilities that come with being a wife, really creeps me out!

Anyway, my concussed brain has now decided the Bruno Mars “24K Magic” CD is the best! Very often I put on my headphones and escape to the dance floor of my bedroom listening to it. With the aphasia I hear more of the music than I do the words, but I do know every word of “Versace on the Floor” LOL. I was told he performed at the new MGM at National Harbor last month, which made me check his touring schedule to see if he was coming here again. And wouldn’t you know it, he will be here at the Verizon Center on September 29th & 30th. I convinced my older sister to get a ticket to go with me.

Since the cancer diagnosis I have been forcing myself to make plans to do all kinds of things. As I keep my eyes on Jesus, I keep seeing beyond the cancer journey and all that it entails. I still remember six years ago lying in a bed in the Stroke Unit of University of Maryland Hospital crying and praying softly, ‘Jesus, what am I supposed to do now?’ He responded just as softly, “You are going to take one breath, one step, one moment, one day at a time, holding on tightly to My hand, with you on My right and Me on your left.”

For today, I have reminded cancer that it is just a name. The name above all names, Jesus (Philippians 2:9-11), already conquered it on my behalf when He was crucified, died, and raised to life from a borrowed tomb three days later (Matt. 27, Matt. 28:1-7). It is by His stripes I am completely healed of ALL manner of sickness and disease (Isaiah 53:5). So, despite what the cancer that is currently trespassing in my body tries to imply, I say in JESUS NAME, I will be well, strong, and cancer-free by September 30th (and yes, I did say it out loud directly to my left breast), because I have a date with Bruno Mars at 8PM at the Verizon Center that I WILL NOT miss. And I intend to dance a hole in the floor! I already feel sorry for the poor people who will have the misfortune of being seated near me! LOL!

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