Posts from January, 2011

Ann’s Diary: Enough With The Tiger Moms

I’ve been reading about Amy Chua’s book ‘Tiger Moms” everywhere and  I’d like to chime in and say this:

When you think you may be dying, none of this crap matters. Whether Amy Chua or Oprah or Dr. Spock or Dr. Sears agrees with you, how you raise your child is your business. As in: trust your instincts, your experience, your friends that you admire and the children you hope your kids turn out like. Find out what worked there and morph it into what works in your own living room–not what works in some distanced country 6 thousand miles away.

I am so very tired of bookstores and talk show guests making me and you feel like we don’t know how to do a job that 200 years ago everybody had to figure out on their own. You may have asked your local preacher or your auntie or your governess for help–not every single person who just tweeted their new formula for mommy success or the 300 titles stacked neatly in a row at Borders or Amazon.com’s pediatric growth and development section.

I say enough already–parenthood doesn’t come with a sticker price and a road map. Figure it out and love your kids on your own–

while you’re still lucky enough to be here to do it.

Posted January 31st, 2011 by
Ann's Diary:  Enough With The Tiger Moms
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Ann’s Diary: My Soul Collaged

Kathy, you asked me about <a href=”http://raisingmaine.mainetoday.com/blogentry.html?id=57566&cat=&tag=&srt=&total=254&next=4″ target=”_blank”><b>my soul collage experience</b></a> and specifically what a “soul collage” looks like–
The prompt on this was to focus in on one thing that gets me through the hard times.  Anyone who knows me knows what that is–HUMOR.  But trying to find humorous things via ads in magazines is hard.  Sex?  Easy.  Breasts?  Simple.  Perfume?  A breeze (pun intended.)  But reflecting laughter, cheer, good humor, a hearty guffah?  Practically impossible.
Until I found it: an ad that said it all to me.  A little boy with a pot over his head in the tub.  Goofing around, little kid, who cares, feeling free–now THAT is funny to me.  I made it the background to the entire collage.
The rest was kind of lame–like I said, how to reflect fun?  The smiling women kind of do it, as does the computer–because I write humor–and that funky USB that looks like one of those silly ‘ugly dolls’ the kids love…
but it’s that kid with the pot over his head that does it for me.  So when cancer gets me down, here’s what I’ll do:  put a kitchen sauce pan over my head and dance around the room, looking for that little kid inside me that just wants to have FUN.
Here is is:  my soul collaged–
<img src=”http://seen.mainetoday.com/gallery_photos/2011/01/30/76653/15656_2011soulcollage_580.jpg”>

Many have asked me specifically what a “soul collage” looks like since I took that cancer “class” a few weeks ago.

The prompt on this was to focus in on one thing that gets me through the hard times. Anyone who knows me knows what that is–HUMOR. But trying to find humorous things via ads in magazines is hard. Sex? Easy. Breasts? Simple. Perfume? A breeze (pun intended.) But reflecting laughter, cheer, good humor, a hearty guffah? Practically impossible.

Until I found it: an ad that said it all to me. A little boy with a pot over his head in the tub. Goofing around, little kid, who cares, feeling free–now THAT is funny to me. I made it the background to the entire collage.

The rest was kind of lame–like I said, how to reflect fun? The smiling women kind of do it, as does the computer–because I write humor–and that funky USB that looks like one of those silly ‘ugly dolls’ the kids love…

but it’s that kid with the pot over his head that does it for me. So when cancer gets me down, here’s what I’ll do: put a kitchen sauce pan over my head and dance around the room, looking for that little kid inside me that just wants to have FUN.

Here is is: my soul collaged– 


Posted January 30th, 2011 by
Ann's Diary:  My Soul Collaged
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Ann’s Diary: Stabilizing with an “I”

Good news: my doctors says my tumor markers are STABILIZING!   Finally — something going my way in this fight against recurrent breast cancer!

I was so excited when I got this news I almost exploded.  It’s not like my doc told me the cancer had gone away, or that they’d found a cure, or that this was all a bad dream and I was really a healthy woman with young kids and a bright future.  Yet for as excited as I got when I read her email, she might as well have told me all that.  I was elated and couldn’t wait to tell the world.

I got right on email and shot off a fast note to my family and some friends to let them in on what I’d been told; the good, great news that the medicine I’m taking to beat down cancer is working!  But in my excitement–and my hope for dramatic flair by spelling out stabilizing with dashes–aka S-T-A-….I accidentally spelled the word incorrectly, so instead of saying “the tumor markers are S-T-A-B-I-L-I-Z-I-N-G with an I,  I wrote  S-T-A-B-A-L-I-Z-I-N-G with an A.

Being a writer and a news journalist by trade, making spelling errors is a big deal.  And being a television news journalist is even worse as you have to know how to say AND spell everything (I remember once being made fun of by my executive producer for saying indictment with a hard ‘C’. )  But I’m not a TV reporter any more, and specifically at this moment I wasn’t reporting or even working– I was doing emotional jigs in my living room that my future was turning around and that I may live longer than these last few months have seemed possible.  Which is good for the bright-future department of my life but apparently a lousy dictionary moment for me.

I got many positive feedback emails from family and friends, wishing me well, telling me they love me, and rooting me on.  How many of them realized I’d spelled stabilizing wrong I don’t know–because no one said anything–except one person.  And that one person is a friend and family member who said he “couldn’t resist” pointing out to me the spelling error–just to be a wise guy.  Which is fine with me because we have that kind of relationship and I know he loves me and has my back.

But in case you got that original email, I want you to know I will never again make the mistake of misspelling stabilizing.  The word is like music to my cancer fighting ears, and if I ever have to ask myself if there’s an a or not in the word, I’ll just remember the “I”–as in I am stabilizing these tumor markers!

As for the hard C in indictment, let me just say I never have had an indictment so why would I know how to spell it?  And it should be a GH anyway–if we light and we fight, why don’t we indight?.

But that’s another blog for another day.  Today I’m focused on the I in stabilizing and how I plan to fight (with a GH) and win–also with an I!– this battle with breast cancer.

Posted January 29th, 2011 by
Ann's Diary:  Stabilizing with an "I"
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Ann’s Diary: Meltdowns and Moving On

I had a little meltdown recently and I couldn’t get past it–a dark dreary feeling that I was losing my battle with cancer.

There’s not much I can do about that kind of thing.  In my recurrent breast cancer situation, I have to wait and see if I’ll get better.  There’s no cause and effect, no hit and run, no drink this and feel better. They can’t even cut out the cancer.  It’s gone “viral” so to speak–it’s in little places all at once in my body. It’s a new ballgame, not like my first go-round where the cancer cells were in neatly packaged tumors and the doctors could see them and take them out.  With recurrence it’s more complicated.  The cells are “here” and “there” and they can’t be grabbed and held.  It’s like shade on a lawn–it’s there but you can’t touch it.  And you can’t cut up the lawn and make it go away.  You have to find out what’s blocking the light up there and creating that shade in the first place, and then you have to kill it at its roots before it kills you.

How’s that for a landscaping challenge?

That’s what my doctors are up against.  That’s what all cancer doctors are up against.  Because everyone’s cancer “lawn” is kind of the same but at the same time very different: what might block light and cause dark shadows on my green grass may not do that on someone else’s.  All doctors can do is look at what’s happened for other cancer patients and hope that the drugs they’ve got will work in my backyard to destroy whatever’s trying to destroy me first.

Which is why I had this meltdown.  I mean, I’m already living in this state of suspended belief–the one where I can’t believe any of this is even real, never mind all these pharmaceutical drugs I have to ingest so my shaded lawn goes bright and green again—-and then some stranger last week told me she “felt bad” for me.  We were talking and getting acquainted at this cancer conference and suddenly she blurted out– “I just feel so BAD for you!”

At first I laughed her off, like I try to do with all things stupid.  But a few days later a dark cloud descended over me and within 24 hours I was on my couch with the doors locked not answering the phone, watching re-runs of Will and Grace to try  to jump start my un-happy heart.

It took me a week and three seasons of Will and Grace but today I am back.  I’m not proud of losing a whole week to fear but it happened, that’s reality and I’m over it–at least for now.  That’s the way it goes on the cancer landscape: mostly sunny, sometimes cloudy, and some days I need a locked tent and a DVD season of comedy to weather the weather.

But that was yesterday.  Today I’m moving on: I’m back outside, soaking up the sun, looking for a spade and a shovel and rooting around in my own backyard:

I’ve got some roots to kill.

Posted January 24th, 2011 by
Ann's Diary:  Meltdowns and Moving On
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Ann’s Diary: What Friends Can Do For Me

A friend of mine recently emailed me and asked me how she could help me.  It’s been three months since I found out the breast cancer I fought off 6 years ago has come back, and she wished she could do something. She wasn’t sure what something meant, she just wanted to help. Some way, any way.

I can imagine that feeling–the helplessness, the “what can I do” angst. Of course, unless you’re a doctor with new meds or a researcher with a cure, there’s not too much anyone can do for me.  I’m in this one alone as far as the disease goes, and that is frustrating for my family and my friends–and this friend especially.  I have many wonderful, wonderful friends and every one of them wants to “do something” for me.

I’m thinking it must be very hard to be my friend right now.

But here’s a “something” that this friend has already done and is still doing now–as are all of my other friends:   she’s loving me through all this crap.  Let me tell you there are days when I can’t find a smile.  There are times when I don’t pick up the phone because I don’t want to talk.  There are moments, and they come without warning and come on like gang busters, when I am not me; instead I am a recluse, I am a loner, I am a fearful, frightened mess. How’s that for a BFF?  Who’d ever sign up for that as their gal pal?

Yet through everything, my friends stick with me.  They keep emailing, even if I don’t respond.  They keep calling even if I don’t pick up.  And with every text, voicemail and message, I am reassured that I am not alone.

That is the biggest “something” I can get right now.

There’s a mess of worry and concern out there for this breast cancer fighter, and I thank my lucky stars every day for that. I love every one of my family and all my pals for that–that with all that’s happening in their busy lives–jobs, kids, husbands, troubles–each one of them keeps my situation forefront in their minds and hearts, even though that comes with a price–the price of having a friend with cancer.

So what can you do for me?

I assure you–if you’re my friend, you’re already doing it.

Posted January 18th, 2011 by
Ann's Diary:  What Friends Can Do For Me
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