Natalie Cole is Still Going
By Natalie Cole
They say God never gives you more than you can handle. Well, God and I have a bit of an ongoing argument about this one because four months into my chemotherapy I was struck with some more devastating news.
By September, Still Unforgettable was completed and ready to be released, and in spite of what was going on in my life, the end result was absolutely beautiful, if I do say so myself. However, while in New York doing some press interviews, I found myself having difficulty breathing. If you saw me on The View or the Today show, you would have noticed how labored my breathing was when I spoke. I called my doctor in LA, and he suggested I prop myself up on a lot of pillows while sleeping. It didn’t help at all.
The morning before I was to return to LA, my dear friend Denise Rich called to check on me. She was horrified when she heard me. She called her doctor, who, very uncharacteristically, came to my hotel room. He took me to his office and after a chest X-ray said I needed to go to the hospital—like, now.
He told me I was at the highest level of kidney failure; both organs were functioning at less than 10 percent. That was an unbelievable and terrifying moment for me.
I was admitted into the ICU at Lenox Hill Hospital and was on dialysis within five days. Let me just say the doctors and nurses there are excellent. They saved my life, and I’m forever grateful to them—especially my kidney doctor, a lovely young woman named Dr. Tara Timmerman. I was advised to stop the chemo, which I did, and my liver greatly improved.
For the time being, my routine is three hours a day, three days a week hooked up to a funnylooking apparatus called a dialysis machine, which keeps me alive. There are no days when I’m able to say, “I just don’t feel like going today.” And despite the treatments, I’m maintaining my performance schedule and can now describe and compare dialysis facilities from Dallas to Milan to Istanbul.
Of course, I’m hoping for a kidney transplant but, at the moment, where it’s coming from, heaven only knows. And yet I don’t believe God has brought me this far to leave me. I’ve learned it takes a few things to get through the trials and tribulations of this life: unwavering faith, good friends, a divine sense of humor, and perseverance—but not necessarily in that order.
I tell myself it could be worse; life is not for sissies. And I always try to remember the old saying that when life gives you lemons, you just learn how to make some really great lemonade!
Onward and upward
photograph by Matthew Rolston (PORTRAIT)
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.