The elevator leading up to the VIP rooms on the top floor of the TD Garden could only hold a certain amount of people, so we went in small groups, tittering nervously. We all looked the same, smiling, in jeans and pink to represent the partnership between Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the WWE’s wrestling superstar John Cena.
We were all clustered together in a VIP room overlooking the Tobin bridge: myself and a few others amongst brave breast cancer survivors and their guests, all gathered to enjoy cocktails and food before the Night of Champions main pay per view live wrestling event.
Cena walked into the room and the air rushed out with him.
I’m not usually one to be star struck, but I had just turned 50 shades of red and was shaking like a leaf. It was my 30th birthday and I still wasn’t able to control myself around men.
Cena (a West Newbury, Mass. native) was dressed in his usual jorts (long jeans shorts for those who aren’t still living in the fashion dark ages), black knee pads and New Balance sneakers, and instead of his usual green t-shirt, a black and pink t-shirt sporting his image and his slogan,
which had been changed from “Rise Above Hate” to “Rise Above Cancer”.
He went to each survivor personally, shaking their hand and autographing their shirts and tickets and posing for photos.
I sat in the back, clutching my wine, wondering if he would remember the time last year when he replied to my snarky twitter comment about leaving the jorts to the professional wrestlers. Finally, I felt composed enough to say hi (thank you TD Bank North Garden white wine).
We posed for a photo, and I smiled and told him that I was BarHavoc, and he grinned. “Finally, we meet!” He said.
“How’s your bar? How far is it from here? I don’t know if we have time for a drink tonight, but I promised you I would, I remember.”
The blood in my body heated and froze at the same time, and somehow I managed a smile. “And it’s my birthday,” I pointed out. He smiled and gave me his word that the next time he was in town, The Avenue was on his list of things to do. I don’t know what happened after that, but I’m pretty sure I blacked out, and when I came to I was in line at the bar again, clutching the stem of my wine glass as though it was a safety tether to lead me back from outer space. I watched him move around the room as though I was in a dream, and then, like that, he was gone.
The event ended after a few hours and we clutched our tickets, heading to our seats to watch the live Night of Champions event. I couldn’t believe how close we were; I watched Monday Night Raw every week on TV but this was like, close! Komen had placed the survivors ringside, and from our seats we could see how excited they all were, so close to the action.
As the lights dimmed and the match began we noticed little things that brought a smile to our faces: Each WWE superstar was wearing a pink ribbon, the middle rope of the wrestling ring was pink, the Cena fans in the crowd were wearing his new “Rise Above Cancer” t-shirt and pink sweatbands.
The crowd was a sea of pink; it was heartwarming and exciting to be a part of something so huge and so significant.
I settled into my seat, my ticket still clutched in my hand. Every now and again I would steal a look down at it, wondering how in God’s name, when everyone else got his signature, I managed to get 10 digits. I stuck the ticket deep into my pocket and decided to enjoy the match. It was, after all, my birthday. And there was wine.
For more information and if you want to be a part of this amazing cause, join myself and others for Cena’s sponsored 20th Anniversary Komen MA Race for the Cure on Saturday, October 20 at Joe Moakley Park in South Boston. For more Information, visit komenmass.org/race