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The Happy Dance

She came from behind the door – Looking for her partner, her sparkling eyes find him, she raises her arms, a smile, almost a laugh on her face and begins The Happy Dance…. a combination of tap, ballet and boogie with music supplied by her heart. The audience in the lobby (despite being strangers, each and every one) knows the reason for The Happy Dance.  Many are hoping for a chance to feel the same elation for themselves or their family member in the room too.  Their turns must wait for the same wonderful doctors and technicians to provide care.

MilAve_Deborah with one of her grandchildren
She was a survivor – a breast cancer survivor. Six years ago we had a battle for sure. The early warning radar picked up a blip and it was a definite bogey (bad guy) and we responded with everything we had – we called in the US Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army and Coast Guard of the medical community. We had a rapid response force of radiologist and surgeons and chemotherapy and radiation specialists to back them up. The commander (oncologist) was the best we could find for the mission and we did look and receive second opinions. We had family (mom and her sister, an aunt) who had a delayed response due to early warning failures, slow support and less lethal back up. The bad guys, the breast cancer cells had won and we knew the risk.


Heartened by love and prayers and knowing that God was in charge; we had a “new normal” after treatments but always knew there might be a re-attack. We turned up the radar system and did the mammograms, x-rays, bone scans, bone density tests, MRIs, medications, ultrasounds and doctor appointments.

Then came that call, the radar had picked up another blip, a potential bogey had been spotted – “please come in for more tests”. It had been six years and the call was totally unexpected. For most, the highest risk of return of breast cancer is within five years of treatment and she had been in remission for longer. Why?

Facing the day together we arrived at the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Center in Grand Rapids a bit early. Signed in, we took our seats waiting for the technician to call her back. Apprehension on the caregiver’s part for sure, I fumbled with my phone and then found a magazine to read when alone. A quiet time of holding hands…a soft embrace of tenderness but underlying fear of what was to come – we knew and had lived through treatment once before and would do it again if necessary.

It was a very long 45 minutes, the magazine just a small diversion, the phone with no connection, the concern growing as the minutes slowly crawled by like ants on the floor with no particular place to go it seemed. Glances at the door grew more frequent, needing to insure she did not surprise me with my head down, sometimes praying, other times just barely hanging on, holding the head … the chill, the stomach a knot for sure. A familiar outline in the small door window...no need for words or explanation.  The Happy Dance!  An "all clear" sounded on the siren.  We laughed, hugged and chatted on the way out the door and yes, a silent prayer of thank you. 

The sense of relief after The Happy Dance is my moment to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Oh yes, I have many, too many to count reasons to be thankful, a 10th grandchild arriving next month, twins almost a year old, another 15 months, each grandchild a blessing from heaven, healthy smiling faces around the dinner table. Food on the table, a warm home to share, God’s love and grace to share and so much more. But this year the top of the Thanksgiving list is The Happy Dance! Love you Deborah!

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