What is Bravery?
When I think of bravery I think about the many different forms. We’ve all seen it in the movies and television or we’ve heard about the soldier who’s facing down the enemy and overcoming great odds. I think of the person who is being attacked but survives. I think of the National Geographic specials I’ve watched where some animal faces great odds but survive. I think about all the people in the LGBTQIA community who have come out in the face of society and have stood up and said: “This is who I am!!!” I think about all my transgender brothers and sisters who despite the almost certainty of great personal loss still come out and transition.
- courageous behavior or character.
Courage, valor, intrepidity, nerve, daring, fearlessness, audacity, boldness, dauntlessness, stoutheartedness, heroism, backbone, grit, true grit, pluck, spine, spirit, mettle
informal guts, balls, cojones, spunk
While the bravery depicted in the movies and television are exciting and pleasing to watch, they are actors and actresses trying to portray a character exhibiting bravery, and not a real life situation. Bravery comes from within your heart, and we all have it. It’s facing a seemingly impossible life situations. It’s looking into the face of adversity and continuing forward when your body and your brain say not too! It’s an instinct that will carry you through those impossible situations that are so scary that we call it being brave.
There comes a time in everyone’s life that their bravery will be on full display, and in most cases, we don’t realize it when we are going through the near impossible until someone points out how brave you are. It’s usually then that you will realize you put your trust in your heart and held hands with your bravery and trusted it would get you through. It’s was putting faith in yourself and pushing forward, into the journey of the unknown and you overcome the immense fear you are facing.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Roni Keener who is facing a hopeless and seemingly impossible situation. I’ve looked up to this person for a while and have always admired her courage. I am honored that she opened up to me and shared her story.
MS. How did you first face who you are?
RK. Early in my life after discovering who I was as a person and a Transsexual female and fighting my battle of two identities and not winning of the two identities I attempted my first suicide at six years old but was unsuccessful and I was back to battling these two identities.
MS. Did anything happen to you at such a young age as you were in this battle?
RK. About a year later I began to get brutally molested and raped at seven years old by a man in the trailer park where I had lived the sexual abuse went on for two long years until my family moved us away and I never saw my attacker again, I don’t know why but it seems like our attackers sees our weaknesses and takes advantage of the situation.
MS. Did you tell anyone that this was happening to you?
RK. Throughout that situation, I wasn’t able to tell my parents what was happening to me at seven years old so I kept it all hidden due to the individual threatening me, At seven years old I had a lot of fear in my life.
MS. What kind of problems did your gender issues and sexual abuse cause you early in your life?
RK. Due to my gender problems growing up and the sexual abuse I’d gone through caused me to turn to turn to early drug and alcohol abuse at around the age of fifteen years old to which ended me up in jail from the abuse at eighteen years old and while I was in jail for those five days two men I shared a cell with began to gang rape me in the middle of the first night and as I was trying to scream and kick free but unable to get free as these two men raped and threatened me I just laid there helpless.
MS. How do you feel your bravery aided you in this situation?
RK. Situations in our life of the unknown is very scary I used to think that I was a coward because of that situation I was faced with because I gave up fighting those two men but later in life through extensive therapy I found out that I wasn’t a coward I was a warrior and had I continued to fight them they might have killed me so I had to be brave and just lay there while they both finished what they needed to do.
MS. Bravery what does this mean to you?
RK. It has many characters and many roles to play in our lives, wherever Bravery takes you on your journey trust in that this will bring you through whatever situation you face on this life!
MS. Your older now and have taken your life back how is your bravery manifesting itself?
RK. Now in older my years and just a bit wiser in my journey, I find myself and my Bravery must take over but once again in my life.
MS. How is that?
RK. Over the past seven years, I had been battling some pretty serious health issues concerning my lungs. I have been fighting emphysema, COPD and pulmonary fibrosis all at the same time and I find myself at the mercy of God and my health care providers in needing multiple surgeries to repair both of my lungs.I think that life would be so much simpler if we came with a road map with directions but again we’re talking about Move Theater situations here and we all know that’s not real life huh!
MS. That’s true, what exactly is your diagnosis?
Roni becomes quiet for a few moments as she is recalling what the doctor told her. I can see she is struggling to hold her emotions together while we’ve been talking. Roni has battled many different fronts but by the expression on her face and her body language, I can see this is her most serious battle she is about to face. Roni takes a deep breath and starts to answer…….
RK. CENTRILOBULAR EMPHYSEMA, IDIOPATHIC PULMONARY FIBROSIS, AND INTERSTITIONAL LUNG DISEASE. Wow! Say that five times in a row, bet cha can’t do it! /Roni let’s out a giggle and continues./ All this seems a bit scary doesn’t it? Well it is!
MS. It sounds scary but could you explain why it is for you?
RK. Remember I spoke of unknown situations well my peeps this is one of those unknown situations we sometimes face in our life and don’t know why it happens but it does.
Interstitial lung disease! Why is it there? What causes this particular lung disease? What happens in this disease? Who gets this lung disease?
MS. What causes these Diseases?
RK. To date, there is no known cause.
MS. Is it because they just don‘t know or is there another issue?
RK. There isn’t enough study or research on interstitial lung disease and Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and where it starts in the lungs all researchers and sciences knows it’s a lung tissue eating disease and creates holes and even craters in your lungs and kills the tissue and this is what’s going on in my lungs I have over a dozen holes in both of my lungs from this progressive and deadly disease with half dozen ground glass pulmonary lung nodules in both lungs.
MS. That’s a lot going on! Anything else about these diseases?
RK. Remember those unknown situations I keep talking about? This disease is unknown to all healthcare professionals and specialists and the only option you get is a surgery on one or in my case I have to have this surgery on both of my lungs because of damage to both lung tissues.
MS. What type of surgery?
RK. Name of surgeries is: “OPEN LUNG BIOPSY & OPEN SURGICAL LUNG BIOPSY ” And is the only option you get with interstitial lung disease.
MS. What do the doctors hope to discover with this surgery?
RK. He’ll take a biopsy of the emphysema and the fibrosis and have it sent off for testing of any cancers of each biopsy he did and all infection present and he’ll test for any known cause of my emphysema and the idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and it’s growth and progression then before sewing me back he’ll proceed to repair my damaged lungs then sew me back up.
MS. The surgery sounds dangerous. What types of complications can arise from it?
RK. During this surgery there are many complications and many dangers to this surgery, Air is subject to leak into my lungs, any infection can get in, one or both lungs collapse, pneumonia and any other illness can sneak in and even death can occur during this surgery.
MS. Are there any other options other than this surgery?
Roni’s body language drastically changed at this point and tears started to well up in her eyes. I apologized for the question. “It’s okay Melissa, ” She said then paused for a few moments. Took a deep breath and started talking again.
RK. This late in the game I’m out of options and this is the only option left is this surgery to repair and find out what’s going on in there.
MS. We’ve talked at length on many occasions about bravery and how each individual reacts differently when facing similar situations. It sounds to me like not many people have faced this situation. What are you feeling at this point?
RK. So as I endeavor and push forward in my journey I find myself at the hands of Bravery but once again of the unknown of the situation I face in my life. I have to trust that with this situation that my Bravery will always outweigh my fear in any given situation. You may not know the outcome at the moment but know that you will prevail.
MS. Is there anything more you would like to add?
RK. Thank you for listening as I took you on my journey of Bravery.
Roni’s story and life can be related to Viktor E. Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning with one word, perseverance. Roni has experienced many emotional, physical and mental ups and downs throughout her life, but one thing that has seemed to stay consistent would be her ability to persevere through very difficult situations. Roni has proven over and over again that she is a fighter and will continue to fight. A quote from Franlk’s text that reminded me of Roni was:
We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
When Frankl speaks of those comforting others I immediately thought of Roni. When she is working within her company and Support groups she is helping others find themselves and work through some very difficult times in their transitions. She is comforting those who are in the same shoes she was in not that long ago. Roni understands what it’s like to have everything taken from her and does everything in her power to make sure these women do not lose the last of their human freedoms. When Frankl talks of the last of the human freedoms, choosing one’s attitude, this screams Roni on so many levels. By choosing her attitude Roni is able to take control of negative situations and in the process change people’s perspective on the entire community. To me, this all just screams bravery!!!
As of the writing of this article, Roni was recovering from her surgery but has since taken a turn for the worse and is currently on hospice care as her health is continuing to fail.Tweet #TransHopeUnited