Painful, But Worth It, Tap Dancing Through The Pain
Doing My Tap Thing!
The Main Thing Is To Keep On Dancing!
"I'm sorry but you're going to have to have surgery to remove your ulcer because it's been seven months and nothing else is working," my gastroentologist told me about a week ago. He'd called me at home, about 7:30 p.m., so at first I thought I was dreaming until I realized it was the news I expected to hear but had been dreading. On top of the breast cancer I'm still fighting following my mastectomy last August I'd had to contend with an ulcer that refused to heal. After countless endoscopies, hospitalizations, and antibiotics I knew I wasn't prepared to deal with anymore pain, so feeling numb, overwhelmed and sad I went to bed and told myself, "I'll deal with this tomorrow."
Waking Up To Tap!
When I woke up the next day do you know what I wanted to do first? Tap dance! I've always danced, whether it's a traditional dance like ballet, modern, ballroom or tap because it's the one thing that makes me forget about all of my problems and relax. Sometimes I even just turn on the radio to a dance or classic rock station and groove freestyle to that. As long as I'm moving I'm happy. Now when I dance, even though I do it through my physical pain and emotional frustrations caused by my surgeries and medical procedures I still do it, especially tap.
I started tap dancing about nine years ago, after a lifetime of wanting to learn it. Like a lot of little girls out there I was put into ballet class by my mother, but after reading Sammy Davis, Jr's autobiography, "Yes I Can" I dreamed about taking tap classes. Finally after seeing the "Lone Stars" tap troupe in the "Macy's Day Parade" one year and Tommy Tune tap in "Bye, Bye Birdie" on-stage in Long Beach, California I decided to find a tap class and finally do it.
While my tap experience has been rockier than I would've liked with its share of heartache, disappointments and other struggles there have been enough personal triumphs to keep me tapping. This time my obstacles could be more serious and soul destroying if I let them get me down, but instead I let them motivate me.
Setting Goals Helped Me Get Through My Difficulties:
I've set goals for myself from the beginning of my illnesses, for instance after my mastectomy surgery I told myself, "I'm just going to try to do shuffles and flaps barefoot." Later after I got my Power Port catheter for my chemo treatments installed in my chest and my PICC Line catheter installed in my arm for my TPN IV for my ulcer I told myself, "Now I'm going to put on my tap shoes and do the Shim Sham to my Shim Sham Shimmy cd."
At first it was extremely difficult, since my body was recuperating from surgery and medical procedures, but gradually it became easier and some days I was able to practice longer. As I became accustomed to how my body felt dancing I started creating my own routine from ones I've previously learned for classes and performances to Thelonius Monk's "In Walked Bud". So far I've only come up with the beginning: two shuffles, two steps, two ball changes, four heel digs, two Maxi Fours, a cramp roll, two flap heels and four paddle and rolls. I see it as a "work in progress" and know that as I heal it'll become as strong as I'll be when I emerge from all of this pain and become a better me.