Posts from August, 2012

Ann’s Diary: Stinks

I was walking with a long-time friend discussing the ups and downs of life with cancer. We got around to the topic of being honest with people, even if it causes upset, offense or worse–dissention among family ranks.  I confirmed that as I strive to lighten my emotional load and focus on winning my fight with cancer, I’ve had to be honest with folks in my life–and it’s caused flack and resentment to some people that I love.  Which stinks.

“Your cancer,” my friend suggested, “has given you a voice. It’s let you say what you didn’t before–for all the reasons the rest of us don’t.”  “Like?” I asked.  “Like– ‘she’s just that way’ or ‘they’re never going to change’–you know, the stuff we all do to just survive as we age.  But you can’t do that sh-t anymore.  You gotta cut out the crap.”

I shook my head in agreement.  I can’t prove her theory but it sounds right to me–I mean I’ve never heard of people being cured of horrible diseases by sitting around  letting other people dump on them and being okay with it. Cancer has pushed me to look at things I didn’t like in my relationships and say “whoa!  That’s gotta stop.”  It was true…

but it was only half of the truth.

“This is gonna sound weird,” I said to my old pal, someone with whom I’d shared Barbies and eaten Spaghettios once upon a time, “But it’s not just that it’s given me a voice.  Cancer has made people listen to my voice, too.”

I didn’t want to give a malicious disease any kind of kudos there.  Let’s face it: cancer’s a monster, a killer, a heartless thief.  But I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that it’s also given me a perverse form of clout.  Before when I tried to “be myself” or “stop the insanity” of my world, it always came back to bite me in the -ss.  People always pushed their way back into the places that weren’t comfortable for me. And I let them.

Now I am sick, I am really sick–and there’s been a bit of a parting of the Red Sea.  It’s bizarre–a strange, warped wide berth that I’ve gotten as a cancer person.  Why? Who knows. Maybe because people can’t make cancer do or be anything.  It can’t be intimidated, reasoned with, changed, ignored, bartered with or uninvited to Christmas dinner.  It’s coming, it’s here, and it’s not going anywhere–whether I, you or they like it or not.  It’s the bully in the room.  And nobody’s making it stop.

Except me. I’m making it stop. I’m going to make it stop. Cancer can and will kiss my -ss. I promise that.

That being said, I gotta say–this is not the best way to evolve as a human being.  I’d vote for 10 years on the psychiatrists’s couch all day long learning how to beat off the narcisists in my world than get a life-threatening disease as a means to grow sanely with relationships in a life. But I wasn’t asked which choice I’d like to have.  I have a disease–and I’m living with it.

And I’m learning that everyone else has to live with it too–and all the changes it brings–the good, the bad and the emotionally upsetting.  Ultimately it’s making for a life less burdened, and that’s good for me, one way or the other.

So if you smell something funky around me, don’t panic–it’s not the cancer. It’s the flack and resentment that’s being caused by a life, my life, coming into its own–

Which of course, stinks for some. It’s a necessary stench, mind you–and for those of you who hate this smell, and I know who you are–I get it, it stinks. I know it does….

But it has to. Hell, my life may depend on it.

Posted August 28th, 2012 by
Ann's Diary: Stinks
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: Closed

I’ve been called the “peacemaker” by family members.

It comes up in conversations that describe someone’s persona–when you would choose words like strong, honest, sincere, hardworking, etc. But the peacemaker tag on me wasn’t looked on with admiration: it was a critique. “well, you know Ann–she’s always the peacemaker..” and the comment trails into a place where the listener is to draw their own sordid conclusions. If there were a translator for the definition-impaired hired for the people who couldn’t hear what my family truly meant though, she’d sign something like, “well you know Ann, she’s always fixing everyone else’s emotional issues, at her own expense.”

When I was younger I used to think it was a good thing to be a peacemaker. Sue me if you will, but when there’s a lot of unrest I tend to crave someone to calm it all down. Our government has devoted an entire division in New York City toward keeping the international peace, and any time somebody says “I represent the United Nations” everyone else says “wow, that’s cool!” and, I imagine, give that person a good chair with a view or an extra cup of coffee no charge.

But the “make it better” tag-line in my world has been a bad one. I see that now as I age. Being called a peacemaker by folks in my family was a strange yet accidental–because they love me–way of making me sound like the sap of the bunch. “You know Ann…always peacemaking–” like I’m the one volunteering to clean up the kitchen after they all make their mess and walk away from the filth.

I’m picking off that tag now–for better of for worse–and it’s caused some interpersonal waves in the family. LIke I always tell my kids–growing up sometimes hurts. But I see now that taking care of other people’s business because they can’t (or won’t) has been bad for me–and if the truth be told it was none of my business to be doing it in the first place.

It doesn’t mean I don’t love everyone. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. But it does mean that the local chapter of the family United Nations has closed–permanently–and for anyone standing around hoping for it to reopen, I say it’s time to duke it out amongst yourselves. Find your own peace.

And if I stay clear of you all while you do so, it’s not because I don’t care: it’s because I’ve got a battle going on in my body that needs all the peacemaking efforts I can direct toward it. And really, you don’t need me to fix you anymore–you never did. We just both let it happen that way.

And now it’s time to stop.

Posted August 17th, 2012 by
Ann's Diary: Closed
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: Annie Live

Hey there, and on the heels of my last blog–the one where I remind everyone including myself that I am not dying with breast cancer–I am living with it–

here’s my speech from the Jackson Laboratory’s Discovery Days Event in Bar Harbor (that’s Bah-Hahbah to you) Maine.

Total Run Time: 10 Minutes.



Posted August 15th, 2012 by
Ann's Diary:  Annie Live
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: Living Proof

To those of you who think I’m dying of breast cancer right here, right now, hear this: I’M NOT.

To those of you who worry that I will die of breast cancer some day, hear this: STOP IT.

To those of you who aren’t sure how you feel about any of this but are sure of one thing, and that is that I ain’t no quitter and you love me, I say this:

And to you who don’t know WTF I’m talking about, I say this:

trauma in life, no matter what form it comes in, changes everybody. And if you’re one of the people being changed by someone else’s trauma, I advise you to connect with the fear you’ve got inside you and deal with that first before you head anywhere else.

Fear is the enemy. Fear is the life-sucking sound from which to block our ears. Premature death, devastating divorce, illness, sadness, pain–whatever it is, it’s made stronger and more virulent by fear–our fear. Why did this happen? Who’s to blame? Will it happen again? Will it happen to me? And before I know it, I’m down the fear slide of life, the one that ends in the playground of darkness. Screw that.

Please please please, don’t fear. Be strong. Be hopeful. And if at all possible, be happy.

All the rest will happen as it happens–and none of us knows what that is. And we don’t have to know. We can’t beat it out of the universe before the universe is ready to give it up–that’s crazy, and futile. What’s within our power is our attitude. Fear can’t touch attitude. In fact I think fear is afraid of attitudes–the positive ones, the ones it can’t smother in doubt and sadness.

I live for the happiness that I create when I push away fear and allow relief and joy to come through. Sure I get scared, sure I feel nuts, sure I panic–but then I let it go. Tomorrow, as they say, is another day, and I’ll be damned if I lose tomorrow, or today for that matter, to panic.

I’m here to tell you that the absence of terror has created an abundance of joy for me each day as I battle my way through metastatic breast cancer. At this point in my life that’s a pretty damn good trade off, and I highly suggest it to anyone out there in need of an emotional lift. Remember, if anyone in this world is living proof that fear is the enemy, it’s me…

emphasis, of course, on the word living.

Posted August 13th, 2012 by
Ann's Diary: Living Proof
Posted in: Ann's Diary