Posts from November, 2011

Ann’s Diary: Keep Going

A friend’s little girl asked her mom “Does Ann have a job?”

It appears the answer would be no, as the most I’ve done this week is laundry. But I know that question is very subjective, based on what the definition of “job” is that you’re using.

I do take a monthly stipend– barely visible on a W-2 form–for what I do here at Project Pink. And I have books I am writing that are available online and selling, subject to guerilla marketing that goes as far as my Facebook and Twitter accounts. But as far as “I’d like to grow up to be”? Nobody says “an unpaid writer.” So I supposed in that sense I do not have a job.

Which then makes it hard to find good writing inspiration on days when I am fighting the blues–as I have been for about a month now. I don’t want to write about the blues–I mean, I did that already a few times, and how many times can you do that without sounding like a whiner?

But a blog is a “daily web log” as the definition goes, and if you really read my daily inner mental web log you’d run screaming for the exit–cuz it hasn’t been pretty lately. There’s cancer, of course. And then there’s the rest—the bills, the weird economy, disciplining the children, my aging parent, rats in the garage, why don’t the kids pick up their rooms, blah blah blah–you probably have similar things on your list, hopefully minus the cancer. And I’ve been good about putting it all in perspective but recently it’s like I push back one thing and BANG something else grabs me and I’m back on the couch watching Will and Grace reruns and praying for tomorrow.

I hate to be a downer so I will stop right here and just assure you that I am getting through. I’m still fighting the blues but I am fighting–which is the only way you can ever get to the “winning.” As far as my friend goes, I told her to tell her daughter that yes, Ann has a job: she is a writer. But I didn’t suggest that her sweet little girl actually read this blog because allowing a 9 year-old to wallow in a 46 year-old’s wah-wah-wahs would definitely put me on the Naughty List this Christmas Season.

But I told my friend I will keep on doing my “job”–blogging, writing, fighting, beating cancer, living– because that’s what I do. Like Winston Churchill said, “when you’re going through Hell, keep going.” And since I’m going through Hell–or at least my own little version of it–that’s what I plan to do,

keep going.

Posted November 30th, 2011 by
Ann's Diary: Keep Going
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: Untangling The Holidays

Here in the United States the holiday of Thanksgiving is over. I put away the roasting pan, the pilgrim figurines and the inflatable turkey today for another year–and then I hauled out the Christmas decorations.

Sure it’s a little early but it’s Sunday, and I wanted to have enough time to leisurely deck my halls without worrying about appointments, school deadlines, did I make the lunches and did-anybody-remember-to-take-out-the-trash cries as I hear the garbage truck pull away from my driveway.

I had a good Thanksgiving–a great one, in fact– because a good chunk of my extended family was here and I can’t remember the last time we were all in the same place at the same time. Right away I was thankful for that, never mind the succulent meat, creamy mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce that tastes like candy and gravy I could drink from a glass (no, I did not cook–my brother did.)

As I looked around that dinner table I was grateful. All those faces, because of the strange magic of DNA, were partly mine. No we are not perfect, no we are not all best friends, and yes sometimes we are downright cold to each other. But we are family, and nothing thaws an icy relationship like a holiday–or at least, that’s the plan…

I know some people don’t have good relationships with their blood relatives. I think family dynamics are some of the hardest, most difficult, most confusing things to untangle. Like the holiday lights I was trying to pull apart –I couldn’t find the original tangle-problem and solve it because it was buried in so many others that had happened since–people’s feelings about each other may come out in one moment but stem from so many moments that have long since happened.

How do you do fix that? Beats me.

But I love my holiday lights like I love my family. Sure they can be a pain, all tied up and hard to unwind– but what would the season be without them? They’re shiny and lovely and for some reason chosen just for me. When they’re unwound and working right they can brighten my darkness and make me feel better–just because.

Of course there are days when I forget to turn my lights on, or times when they annoy me all tangled in a heap, or times I don’t even notice them hanging in the midst of a busy day. But in the moments when I look up and catch a glimpse and slow down enough to breathe, I remember how much those lights mean to me.

As I head into the holidays (now finally able to listen to the Christmas carols that have been playing since Halloween without screaming ‘turn that off!”) the gratefulness I found at my Thanksgiving table stays with me. So do the lights I managed to unbind, now glowing like my memories of my time spent with my family–

my imperfect, kinda tangled, beautiful, wire-crossed, glowing through-the-dark and shining-as-they-are family.

For them I am truly thankful.

Posted November 27th, 2011 by
Ann's Diary: Untangling The Holidays
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: Retro Post, The Avastin Debate

Here’s my problem with the Avastin debate–

it doesn’t take into account the people for whom the drug works.

It’s the same argument that In 2009 led the US Government Task Force to advise that women not have mammograms until they are fifty and to forget self breast exams all together.  In studies the incidents of mortalities did not change with or without the exams, it said.  Yet, that does little to shed light on the individuals for whom breast cancer self exams and mammograms are the reasons they are alive today–like me.

I remember watching Nancy Snyderman on the Today show when that bomb was dropped.  She was in the hot seat trying to explain the seemingly outrageous advisement.  She called the stories of hope, the ones where people could actually trace their lives back to an SBE or a mammogram, “anectdotal” stories.  I’ll never forget that–I know what she meant but all I could hear was that she called my life “anectdotal.”

Sure I may not live as long as you will, but I know I am here today because 6 years ago during a self breast exam I felt a lump.  My kids have memories of me that 6 years ago, at ages 4 and 1, they never would have had.  Ask any psychologist the long term effect of a child losing a parent, and a mother specifically, at such a young age and they’ll roll their eyes with that look of “it ain’t pretty.”  And I know, my mother lost her mother when she was 8–not to breast cancer, to something else–but she’s never been the same since.

There’s a lot still to consider in this debate, most notably the cost of this drug–which is outrageous.  And this country is in no position to dole out drugs that studies say do not produce the kind of results that make the debt worth it.

But out there are women who credit Avastin with giving them another day to hug their kids, check their email, see their next patient, or file that motion for dismissal.  So if the FDA is now recommending to disapprove its usage for breast cancer patients, then I can assure you anyone interested in the incidence of “anectdotal” lives lost to this decision has a guaranteed study in the making on their hands.

Which means this is a sad day for sick people everywhere.
And I hope you never become one of us.


Posted November 20th, 2011 by
Ann's Diary: Retro Post, The Avastin Debate
Posted in: Ann's Diary

News: Avastin Loses FDA Approval

This is a sad day for breast cancer patients–and those who love us. The FDA Pulls Avastin Approval.

This drug has saved lives. Maybe not yours, but what if it had? What if you were one of the people who know this drug has kept you alive?

All I can hope is that some day the almighty dollar mixed with educated guessing does not determine who lives…

and who dies.

Posted November 19th, 2011 by
News: Avastin Loses FDA Approval
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Ann’s Diary: Blam

One of the problems for me with blogging is sometimes I don’t want to talk. To anybody.

Which is the antithesis of a blog: a blog being a daily web log (hence “blog”) of what’s going on in the mind, world, and daily existence of whomever is the author.


just because you have a blog doesn’t mean what’s going on in your mind, world or daily existence is worth writing about, much less reading about. Hence we get a lot of blam as I call it: blog spam. Blam is just junk that people feel compelled to throw out there to keep readers engaged. Engaged in what? I’d like to know, but engaged just the same.

So here I am, telling you that today, a week before Thanksgiving, when I should be talking about all I’m thankful for, and all I am glad about, and all the precious words that would make you feel similar to that–quite frankly I don’t feel.

Today I got nothing. That’s the way the cancer cookie crumbles, I’m afraid. I got nothing.

Tomorrow, however, is another story. Tomorrow, as Scarlett O’Hara reminds us all, is another day. And tomorrow, tomorrow, as Annie sings it, is only a day away.

So I’m hoping for better: better mind, world and daily existence commentary–better blam, or better yet, no blam at all–


Posted November 19th, 2011 by
Ann's Diary: Blam
Posted in: Ann's Diary