Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cori is 20 Feet Tall

My mom always says to me, “you always have a story.” I’ve always disregarded her statement until I really sat down and let her words marinate. I had to beg her pardon when I thought about it because every time I go into the world and come back home, I "always have a story".

For instance my cousins still laugh at me because of my numerous encounters with my Chinese dry cleaner. Cody, the dog that I have been dogsitting since August, decided to urinate on my bed comforter. I had an absolute fit and I took the comforter to the Cleaners. Once I’m there, I’m trying to think of a delicate way of saying that my dog pee pee’ed on my comforter. There were a couple of people behind me when I approached the counter and put my urine soaked comforter in the laundry chute below the counter. I didn’t want him to find out about Cody’s mishap by mistake and so I got real close to the speaker and told him it was dog urine. He held up the comforter and said, “urine? You mean Dog pee-pee?” I cleared my throat and said, “yes”. A couple of customers behind me started snickering but I was borderline mortified. Then he said, “ew wee, strong dog pee pee. You must feed he lot a vegetables.” Once again the folks behind me snickered. I managed a wry smile and nodded. He wrote out my ticket and in big bold letter he wrote “Gold Comforter (Dog P.P.) $20”. I took that ticket and got out of there so fast. Dog P.P. As if...

So color me surprised, when on a recent Tuesday the Lupus Alliance’s phones gegan to ring off the hook. Calls were coming from Oklahoma City, Tampa and even Jamaica. I didn’t pay it any mind because, me being me, I was pre-occupied with selecting Pizza Hut or Papa Joe’s for lunch. We had volunteers in the office helping us get out a large mailing and I was more interested in whether we were getting pepperoni or ground beef rather than who was calling from where. Still when our wonderful Social Worker playfully says, “thanks to Sherri, all of these calls are coming in from everywhere,” I reply with, “so that means you do or you don’t want mushrooms?!?”

Totally oblivious to folks are calling the Lupus Alliance because Black Voices has published a story about Snoop Dogg and has included my 10 minute PBS segment. And here it is, all this time, I thought that me and Snoop had very little in common. Come to find out that his now 11 year old daughter, Cori, was diagnosed with lupus when she was 6 years old. Lupus is the tie binds us.

We were so busy at the Alliance office that day that I didn’t have a moment to think about what was going on around me. Out of all of the lupus videos on youtube, the writer of the Black Voices article used my video. Within 24 hours, the video had more than 32,000 hits. So many folks had watched it that youtube challenged the producers of my PBS segment. I had to write a letter stating that I gave the PBS show ‘A Wider World’ permission to use my pictures and interviews for the segment. Wow. Now remember that I was the chick just running around only concerned about pizza toppings. The video currently has more than 35,000 views and counting.

Voila, here is the story and video.

Snoop, his wife Shante and Cori were on The View this past Friday. At one point, Shante got choked up as she spoke about her daughter‘s lupus struggle. She reminded me so much of my mother as she spoke. Both mothers. Both just wanting to get their daughters’ some relief. Then that little Cori opened her mouth and was just so sincere in wanting to let the world know about lupus. Wanting to let folks know that they can be anything and do anything they want to do even though they have this incurable disease. I sat on my little stool, looking up at her on the television screen. Her words transformed her into someone so much stronger, taller and wiser than an 11 year old. Those big inquisitive eyes had me in a trance as she spoke life into millions of situations. She wasn’t on television entertaining but educating. At 11 years old. A little later in the day, I watched the episode again and I began to cry. It hurt me so badly that she experienced things as a small child that I experienced as an adult. The weight loss. The never ending doctor’s appointments. The hair loss. The aches and pains. The parents wringing their hands because they don’t know how to ease the pain.

Then her dad, Snoop, piped up. He said that Cori would be alright because love was all Cori needed. Love (along with Benlysta, a lupus medication that has yet to be approved by the FDA) was what got Cori back to feeling like herself. I agree with Snoop. I know that it is because of the love of my family and friends that I am surviving and thriving. God will never let me and Cori be tested with anything that will consume us. He promised us (and you) that in His word.