Thursday, January 7, 2010

Toot, Scoot and Boogie

One of the greatest jobs I've ever had was working for Macy's in New York. Although I was hired and based in Atlanta, I traveled all over the country doing promotions and marketing to open new stores. After an exhausting year and a half and a dozen new stores, I was up for a promotion that would move me to New York. I was young and skinny and had all the right clothes for the job. To me, I was the obvious choice.

There were several candidates from around the country who were being considered for this extremely desirable position, but I'd made it through the first two rounds and was beginning to consider the move north from the deep South. The day before my final interview with Mr. Finklestein (the names have been changed to protect the innocent), I arrived at work very early to get my proverbial 'ducks in a row'. Our offices were located in the downtown Atlanta store, which means they were very old. Closet-sized offices and rows of cubicles were tucked behind beautifully decorated departments on six different floors and were nothing short of disgusting--dirty, old and musty smelling with no windows for the cigarette smoke to escape (the early 90s) It was like being back stage at the Ford Theater.

After I got to work that day, I decided to take the back elevator from my office to get coffee in the employee cafeteria. The elevator, which was built to withstand a tidal wave in central Georgia, was large enough to transport merchandise up from the basement for distribution throughout the store. When I got on, Ms. Edna and Ms. Sybil, (the names have been changed to protect the guilty) two elderly women from housekeeping, were already on there and greeted me as I got in. We chatted for a moment about how dumb management was and giggled about how funny we were. Just before the door opened for them to get off one of them, dare I say, tooted. Out loooouuuuuddddd. (To quote my nephew Christopher, she had a "farty party"). Had the cafeteria not been on the next floor, I honestly think I could have suffocated from the toxicity of the fumes. Without getting too descriptive, you could see it. As I stood in that 100 square foot metal lock box, holding my breath, I heard the squirrels put their little feet down and the elevator stopped. As the doors began to slowly open, and thinking only of my quick escape, it hadn't dawned on me that there might be other people on the other side of the door. But as I fanned the dense fog out of my face, there in front of me, turning a grayish green color was Mr. Finklestein. And his boss from New York. Who was in town. For interviews. Yea, mine.

I didn't get the job.

Throughout this whole cancer thing I've figured out that I better be doggone sure of who I am 'cause sooner or later, it's all gonna be laid out for the entire world to see. Just like in that elevator, there ain't nowhere to hide, no matter how stinky life gets.

As I've sat half naked for numerous teams of doctors, technicians and nurses, never once did they care that I had deep wrinkles on my forehead or pre-cellulite on my thighs (yes, pre-). No one cared that I wasn't a V.P. for Macy's. Or surmise that I may have married for money, or assume that I got my last job because of my Uncle's next door neighbor. Everything they needed to know about me was the obvious. There is no lying about my white blood count; I can't disguise my tumors and as much as I may try, there's no hiding that I've lost my hair because I'm being treated for cancer. All of these are completely out of my control. But as I look at myself in the mirror and see a person that is barely recognizable, I am immediately comforted knowing that God is blind to all these things. He sees me in his terms. From the inside out. He knows my heart, which is something that even I am beginning to discover. But what has been so refreshing is realizing that I am loved not for the obvious things that I've lost, but for the obvious things that I can't lose-- most importantly, my faith; or my undying loyalty to my loved ones; or my overly-sappy, tender heart; and what about my sense of humor? dare we forget my patriotism and conservative tendencies? Who needs hair when you bring all these traits to the table? Too much of a good thing is a waste, isn't that what they say? So what if my arm looks like molded raisin bread from misguided hollow-point needles, and what does it matter that I have a brown rash all over my body from this lighter fluid trying to escape from the inside out? Who cares? Not me, certainly not God and thank heavens, not Ted.

How blessed am I that my God thinks I'm beautiful, if not downright desirable, knowing that my earthly body is riddled with mutant, out of control cells and all crusty from chemo? Heck, just wait til I'm zapped with radiation about 50 times, see what God thinks of me then. He's not into all that earthly stuff. He's more interested in my heart and my conviction. He's looking to see if I know what I'm made of--he already knows.

I thank God that I didn't get that job and move away to New York. Sure enough, I'd be married to some carpet bagger from Summit, New Jersey, who wouldn't be caught dead in the South. On that day, the worst part about that entire ordeal was that Mr. Finklestein wrongfully thought it was me. Twenty years later, that's the best part.....

Be true to yourself. There's nowhere to hide.

Cancer update:

Believe it or not, I have only 3 treatments left. I'll start the final 3, which is a new and even more toxic chemo, on the 15th of January and if all goes well, be finished on February 12. Surgery and other stuff will follow after final scans and MRIs. Forgive my absence from this blog thing, but I needed that time to be personal and private and not out there in cyberspace for all to witness. I've had to pull myself up by my boot straps a few times, but I've made it. I know that I am the recipient of answered prayers because I've been blessed, as usual, with a positive attitude throughout this entire event. The side effects have taken their toll, but who doesn't need a day in the bed with the remote and a heating pad. Please.

Dr. Carpenter said the tumor has shrunk by nearly 75%. I would pull my own hair out for those numbers. Thank you for all your prayers and well wishes. They are truly felt and are working.

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth!! Psalm 34: 1

Love to all,



  1. Dear Melinda,

    Thank you for this post. You are on my mind every single day and I continually pray for you to have the strength to get through all of these crappy medical procedures. I am so glad that you have a positive attitude, because I believe that is essential. I will continue to pray daily for you and for your doctors and all of the people who are supporting you in this fight. You inspire me to be a better person and you encourage me with your positive attitude. God is definitely using you for good. My love to you and your family.

  2. Thank you for your joy, Melinda. I love you and am so thankful for your awesome will. You make those around you strong with seemingly little effort! Your writing brings me humor; a medicine that is not used as often as it should be, frankly.....I feel blessed to know you! I am sure you are radiant without hair just like my sweet mom! :)

    Alli Clark

  3. Beautifully written and thought provoking as always. What great news that the tumor has shrunk 75%! I pray God continues to bless you in all ways, physically, and continuing to lift your spirit.

  4. Praise God for his blessings and his mercies. You have proclaimed his truths in a beautiful way! I am praying for you girlfriend and so blessed by the good report.

    much love, Lori

  5. Melinda,
    This is a beautiful post. And, it is as meaningful for those not facing cancer as those who are. Your outlook is so healthy, and evidences your great faith in God. I know we do not know each other except through FP...but just know that I care about you and lift you up to our Father. I know the Great Physician...I've seen Him at work...and I know He hears every prayer. God bless you and your family.

    Tonja Owens