Somewhere along the line I think I told you my daughter was a writer. During the two years that I was her caregiver – probably during that first year – she wanted to do an “open mic” presentation where people pick different topics and talk about them to audience members. While I wasn’t there to watch her deliver her message, she told me she was going to talk about *Street Cred*. At the time I had no idea what she was talking about until she said, “mom, cred means credibility”. I found her speech and wanted to share it with you. When she presented these words in front of the audience, she weighed all of maybe 80 pounds – her normal weight was about 120. She was very sick – but very determined.
So one night I was out grooving to some really good music at a club with my girl Zoe. We sat down to take a break and these guys come over to us wanting to trade drinks for some conversation. So we took them up on the deal. As the guys turned away to buy the drinks – I blurted out “so how old are you?’ Confused about what lie they were going to tell, one said 17 the other said 21. That’s when me and my girl looked at each other saying to ourselves “oh no!”. The little guys came back and we completed the deal – one drink for a quick moment of conversation.
Honestly, I don’t remember what we talked about – it’s been so long ago – but I do remember one of the guys told me he thought I was pretty. As I thanked him, I said “can you believe I’m battling cancer?”. There was a pause, and that’s when he said it. Very proud and self assured he said to me, “Cancer ain’t nothing. I’ve been shot before”. And just like that the conversation was over. But one things for sure – he’s got some real “street cred”.
So one night I’m at home and I began to wonder if cancer can give you street cred – you know, like a bullet can? Okay let’s think about it. A cancer tumor can erupt inside your body and do major damage just like a bullet from a 12 gauge or sawed off shot gun. Maybe not so much like close range but certainly it can happen like a shot in the dark from an unknown assailant. My grandmother would always say – when she wanted to protected from unexpected harm – “bullets have no names on them”. Well, neither does cancer. A bullet can rip apart an organ causing you internal damage, bleeding and many other complications. Just like cancer. In fact, a bullet can flat out kill you – just like cancer. In my case – cancer even asks the question – “do you want to die a quick death or a slow one”. Cancer and bullets. Not that different in my opinion.
So I ask this question… is a bullet deadlier than cancer? Not many people survive a bullet. But if they do survive, some live to talk, rap and rhyme about it. Those are the people getting the street cred. Surviving a bullet can make you feel invincible like Lil’ Wayne. Gangsta like 50-Cent. Immortal like 2 Pac – and yes proud like the little guy I met at the club.
I first waged war against the “Big C” back in 2005. That was the first time so allow me to brag a little. I had a tumor that was six inches long in my abdomen that appeared out of no where. Yes, it was a shot in the dark from an unknown assailant. I don’t know if ya’ll paying attention -but have you look at me? I’m tiny. How the hell was a six inch tumor fitting inside of here? Like the saying goes “it was time to ride or die”. So like a gangsta who’s just been shot, I drove myself to the hospital in piercing pain from my wound and demanded they do something about this. They gave me morphine to kill the pain – and then emergency surgery took that bullet – I mean tumor – right out. Then I spent six months on chemotherapy fighting – yes, still fighting for my life.
By the next year, I had beaten cancer just like an outlaw and lived to talk, rap and rhyme all about it -kind of like I’m doing right now. You should have seen me back then – I was deep into the game. I listened to 2 Pac every night to get my motivation – my grove. I got real gangsta with my battle. Instead of me against the world – it was me against cancer. Cancer couldn’t see me because I kept dodging it. I put it in a choke-hold. I may not have been a bad boy killin – but I was a cancer killin girl! A rebel. So where was my street cred then? No one ever gave it to me. Shocker.
Three years later – there I was again – back in the fight. I was forced to wage my war again – yes, again my block was hot. The cancer came back to finish the job it couldn’t do the first time around. And this time it came back with a vengeance. Cancer came to me. It was angry – like I had murdered its baby brother and it was back to settle the score. This time I was hit by a 12 gauge. Bullet filled with cancer instead of pieces of metal spread out everywhere in my belly. The bullet exploded in abdomen. My stomach had big tumors, little tumors and hundreds of microscopic tumors in the lining of my organs and all throughout my belly. Doctors gave me very little time to live. They said these tumors had to be removed now – otherwise the fragments were going to kill me. I was going to die a slow painful death.
A team of surgeons sliced my belly open and carefully removed each and every visible tumor. To me it was like having bullet fragments removed bit by bit. It took them nine hours to get the job done.
Today I’m on Chemotherapy – indefinitely – I keep fighting this war – it’s like a battle on the streets everyday. My personal street named “Queah”.
Once it’s over – how ever it ends – will I have finally earned my street cred?