My Favorite Character

My doppleganger. Persis Khambatta played Starfleet Lt. Ilia in Star Trek.


Two rounds of chemotherapy and a plane ride later I arrived at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. The very first thing they have you do when you arrive is blood-work. My father and I walked into the lab, which was slammed. Rows of chairs practically stacked on top of each other, and strangers were quickly forced to become friends.

Before my trip to Houston I had an epiphany, just because you have cancer doesn't mean you have to look like a sick person. I had just bought some new designer jeans which actually fit, since I had lost 20 pounds, and I found that if I put myself together everyday I felt better.

I walked into MDA that day with my new jeans, a pair of effortlessly fabulous boots, and a scarf draped around my neck in the most trendy of ways. I had lost my hair at this point, but my eyelashes and eyebrows were still hanging on. With a stroke of mascara I was feeling pretty good about myself.

After I checked in at the front desk of the lab my dad and I went into the waiting room. We spotted a couple of chairs and as my dad led the way a woman in her 50's reached up and stopped me suddenly.

     “Excuse me,” she said in a thick, but charming, Texas accent, I looked down at her and she was smiling at me, and so I smiled back. “I'm sorry but I just had to tell you that you remind me of my favorite character from the original Star Trek movie!” I kept smiling though I felt like I had just been punched in the face. Something about my physical appearance reminded her of a character from Star Trek. It doesn't sound flattering at first. I admit I am not very familiar with the Star Trek culture. Other than Capt. Kirk and Spock I really have no idea about any of the other characters. To me Star Trek is a show consisting of men and aliens. Since I was not a man, I naturally assumed that she was referencing an alien. I began to laugh awkwardly. I tried to imagine some strange bald-headed alien that she was most likely referring. It didn't seem like much of a compliment, in fact it seemed as more of an insult, but she seemed incredibly genuine so I listened as she continued.

     “Have you ever seen that movie? It was back in the 70's with William Shatner?” I shook my head no and continued to chuckle, because I was at a loss with what to say next.

     The woman sitting to her left all of the sudden chimed in, “Oh yes, I see it, she does look like her!” Now the whole row was staring at me.

     “You know who I'm talking about?” The first woman confirming with the second woman.

     “Yes, yes I do, but I can't remember her name, can you?”

     “Oh, I can't! And, I've seen that movie like a dozen times!” By this time the first woman was holding my hand tightly, and I could feel the true warmth of her heart, and though this seemed a backwards compliment, that I didn't quite understand, I knew she meant well. "Anyway, you should watch that movie, it is a compliment, I swear.”

    “Yes, definitely a compliment,” the second woman again confirmed. We all chatted for a few more minutes before I headed to my chair.

Before walking away the woman said to me, “You take care honey, God bless.” I smiled at both women and thanked them for their wishes.

     Very embarrassed, but sort of flattered, I finally rejoined my dad in the waiting room. He asked me, “what was all that about?”

     “They said I looked like an alien.”

     “What!?” My dad said loudly.

     “I'll tell you later,” I said laughing quietly, trying not to draw any more attention.


Later that day after I got back to our apartment, I shared the story with my friends on Facebook, explaining that I still had no idea who this character is. Moments later a good friend of mine posted a picture of the character on my page, it was Starfleet Lt. Ilia, played by actress Persis Khambatta. I sat back in my chair and laughed, “Whoa! That really does look like me!”

I liked that story so much that I posted that picture of her as my profile picture on Facebook. Within minutes of the posting several friends and family members wrote things like, “Wow, you look great!... But what are you wearing?”

Latest comments

05.11 | 16:12

I am so sorry you had to experience this, Becky. But one thing no stinking fire can take away from you is this: You're an awesome writer. Keep on producing!!

15.04 | 16:00

You are the first person that I have heard from that has this bugger! feel free to reach out to me in the contact me section. Limited response in this section

15.04 | 03:48

Wow. IHow are you doing with the Teratocarcinosarcoma. I was diagnosed with it last September.

15.11 | 18:32

Wow! What an inspirational story! I hope that you continue to share. And for those that don't get it. Try and fit in her shoes one day.