shahonna Grove
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Dope On A Rope

shahonna Grove
Posted by
18 Apr 2016


There once was this criminal who had committed a crime. (Because, hey, that’s what criminals do. That’s their job!) Anyway, he was sent to the king for his punishment. The king told him he had a choice of two punishments. He could be hung by a rope or take what’s behind the big, dark, scary, iron door. The criminal quickly decided on the rope. As the noose was being slipped on him, he turned to the king and asked. “By the way, out of curiosity, what’s behind that door?” The king laughed and said: “You know, it’s funny, I offer everyone the same choice, and nearly everyone picks the rope.” “So,” said the criminal, “Tell me. What’s behind the door? I mean, obviously, I won’t tell anyone,” he said, pointing to the noose around his neck. The king paused then answered, “Freedom, but it seems most people are so afraid of the unknown that they immediately take the rope.”
(Excerpt from “How To Be Happy Dammit.”)

Dope on a rope.

I had unknowingly been one.

For years.

They say ignorance is bliss, and in hindsight, I can see that is undisputably true. It's so easy to choose the path of least resistance and make lateral moves. The only problem with lateral moves is, we make it to the end, but never to the top. I always dreamed of living a big life, making it to the top and then some.

 I had declared numerous times in my numerouse speeches:

"There are only three kinds of people:

Quitters, Campers and Climbers" an attempt to get people to wake up and get serious about their lives.

I was positive I was serious climber, and until I was faced with a decision that shook me to my core, did I realize, I indeed wasn't making big decisons and had settled into a very predictable routine lackluster life. 

I had been camping,

I don't even like camping.

I sat there anxiously peaking through the zipper of my camping tent at the crossroads of Transplant Avenue and Do Nothing Lane. I had been offered a chance to take part in a ground breaking clinical trial that would most likely save my life. Having Aplastic Anemia for 23 years, and transfusion dependent for the last 10, this was amazing.

My ship had come in!


It wasn't long after I felt the rush of excitement at the thought of being whole and well again, that the tidal wave of fear crashed over me, leaving me fretful and breathless with fear.

What if it didn't work?

What if I died?

What if I had a million complications?

What if Christmas doesn't come this year?

You name it, all of a sudden I was worried about it. It was overwhelming and I wanted to tun and run  to my default setting: Do Nothing Lane.

I knew every time I had taken that road, even though it didn't really lead anywhere, except to a nice culdesac perfect for camping, it was more familiar and I felt more prepared and I like that feeling. It's comfy and warm and predictable. It's like slipping on your favorite pajamas, when you slip on the comfy familiar, your stress melts away, and it just feels good.

Transplant Avenue would mean going for the unknown, the unfamamilar. The black hole.

The thought made my stomach churn. I took a peak down the lane,and I couldn't see far, but it looked dark,

I don't like the dark,it's scary..

I prefer bright, well lit places where I can see everything that's going on, giving me a chance to duck and dodge anything that may come at me.

I can't see.

What goes on down there? I had to see. I wanted to know. I HAD to know.

Sometimes I wish I was as rich as I am curious.

Terrified, I commenced down the Avenue.

And all of a sudden, an unexpected, out of control freefall.I don't like this, this feeling of raw unknowing uncomfortableness.After a quick glance around, I realize there is nothing to cling to,and  noone waiting to save me,no identity or false pretenses to hide behind. Things on Transplant Ave. were going to be different.

And exciting and scary and whole bunch of other emotions rolled into one.

I"m not used to this complete loss and lack of control. I had taken risks in the past, but I always had Plan B safely nearby. Not this time. Admitting I have no idea what is going to happen is the hardest part, as I feel like I'm "haphazardly living".


That very thought makes me throw up in my mouth a little. The YOLO crowd never has a plan, and that's maddening to me. You can't just freestyle life! You MUST have a plan! What is wrong with these people??!!

Used to having it together, and never depending on others, I'm uncertain of everything and that is out of character for me. I don't know what's at the bottom of this black hole, but surprisingly, I have no interest in turning around.I know everything must transform to stay alive, and that includes me.

I look up one last time to catch a glimpse of the life I'm leaving, but I'm tumbling so fast in a new direction, I can't see it. Tumbling towards this new life of incertitude and adventure.It's so exciting and scary, and freeing,as the noose around my neck is no longer in place.I am no longer a dope on a rope.






Lizzie Goates

Hi Shahonna,

I really love the quote you chose to start this blog with, it’s so engaging and really does highlight everyone’s fear of the unknown. Writing about your feelings of anxiety and worries over treatment and entering clinical trials is hugely beneficial as I am sure many people have felt this way and find it comforting to know others do. Thank you so much for all your fantastic blogs and continuing to give others an understanding of how emotionally as well as physically exhausting it must be living with blood cancer. Take care Lizzie 


Thank you so much Lizzy.