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We Are the Champions


“I’ve paid my dues, time after time. I’ve done my sentence, but committed no crime. And bad mistakes, I’ve made a few. I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face – but I’ve come through.”

- Queen, “We Are the Champions”

In watching Bohemian Rhapsody, the new movie out about Queen and Freddie Mercury, I was toe tapping and bopping in my seat throughout the biopic. Musically, it was a spectacular ode to the magic of live concerts. The depiction of Freddie Mercury by Rami Malek was both enchanting and heartbreaking as he deftly revealed the struggles behind the showman. Queen’s music has always been a constant throughout my life. I grew up listening to them and I love nothing more than a great head-banging sesh in the car when the bridge of Bohemian Rhapsody comes roaring on … and I may or may not do the voices, I’ll never tell. Queen provides a soundtrack that hosts several memory ghosts which frequently surround me, Fat Bottomed Girls included. But We Are the Champions is particularly special, and as I watched the movie and the first few chords of We Are the Champions began … so did my tears.

It brought me right back … to the antiseptic smells, the pallor, the pain, the grief and oddly enough, the empowerment.

We Are the Champions was the first song I played at my last chemo treatment through a medicated haze of relief and euphoria. I also played it on my way home from my last round of radiation. It was meticulously cued up to play as I crossed the finish line after running my first 5K three years after my treatment ended, and it consistently ushered me across each additional race destination thereafter. When cancer came calling again – it was pumping through my ear buds as the first drops of poison came through the IV line as a promise to myself that I would have the strength to rise above once more. It’s a reminder to me that, even if I didn’t survive – I still thrived.

We Are the Champions is one of many musical talismans for me. It’s a fight song, it’s a confidence builder, it’s so much more than simple words set to a melody, I can only imagine how Freddie Mercury must have felt singing this as he fought his own battle. Just breaking down the opening of the song I’ve quoted above has many parallels to a life lived in the shadow of sickness.

“I’ve paid my dues, time after time.” Yep, in spades.

“I’ve done my sentence, but committed no crime.” If there is a more accurate play on words to describe cancer treatments – I’ve yet to find them.

“And bad mistakes, I’ve made a few.” Hey lumpectomy, I’m looking at you!

“I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face – but I’ve come through.” Yea – that second cancer dance was a real bitch and it brought me to my knees. But somehow, I came through.

And in the end a solid affirmation, “We are the champions, my friends, and we’ll keep on fighting ‘til the end.” Because we are, my friends, and we will. ‘Til the end.

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© 2012 Jennifer Pellechio Lukowiak

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