Posts from March, 2013

Ann’s Diary: Yoga Fail

I remember the day news anchor Katie Couric looked into the camera on the day she’d returned to work after losing her husband to colon cancer and said something like this:

“And to all of you who endure inconsolable loss and stand gaping as the world keeps moving on without you I say this: I understand.”

That was 15 years ago, and today not only do I remember those words, I live them.

This morning I was ready for yoga.  I haven’t done it since the “big news” of my brain/liver/lung metastatic breast cancer 3 weeks ago–mostly because I haven’t had the time. I was on that treadmill of “what do I do NOW” and busy getting it done. Now that I’ve done the brain radiation, the port, and am on chemotherapy round 2, I was ready this morning to get back to 9 a.m. yoga.

But driving there, I got in a tiff with someone. Then I got bad news about stuff on the homefront. NOT medical. But personal stuff–you know, in the running-of-the-house-and-family category that encompasses but is not limited to bills, kids grades, broken appliances, etc.  Or as I like to call it, the” we-know-it-doesn’t-matter-in-the-scheme-of-things-but-day-to-day-you-can’t-avoid-it-in-real-life”–

until you get a diagnosis like mine and that entire category of life blows up.  Paying off a credit card bill is not as important to me now as planning a family vacation–which puts yet one more emotional divider between me and the non-sick world.

So back to yoga–

there I was, trying to get into the class, but dealing with this “day-to-day” junk that was important and not important at the very same time. The yoga instructor said “grow your breath” but mine stuck in my throat.  She said “jump to the top of the mat” and my feet dragged like logs. “Think of someone you need to forgive” but there were too many choices in my head and I was the biggest one. Then I started feeling sorry for myself. That is the classic sign for me to abort the mission. If I’m going down that road I know I’m losing ground. I rolled up my mat and left the class. No yoga today.

I had prepared myself for possibly leaving yoga but not for emotional reasons. I thought the chemo might make it tough to stand the high heat in there. But It was heat of another kind–the unexpected–“the head trip of life as a woman who may or may not see her kids graduate high school”–that’s another way to put it–that got me. I drove away cursing.  I had so wanted to do yoga.

But as Katie Couric so prolifically said to “me” all those years ago, regardless of my situation life will go on around me–even as my world spins in and out of control.  Some days I’ll handle that motion, and other days I won’t.

Here’s one thing I know: there’s a yoga class next Wednesday at 9 a.m. with my name all over it.

Posted March 27th, 2013 by
Ann's Diary: Yoga Fail
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: Charlie’s Strongest Angel

Last Thursday I had this thing…

screwed into my head like this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

so I could go into this machine …

and get my brain radiated to burn out the small breast cancer tumor that somehow got in there.

Friday, I got a port put into my chest….to save my arms from becoming a human pin cushion…

 

 

 

 

….so that Monday I could start chemotherapy to beat down the breast cancer that thinks it’s got any right to be not only in my lung but now my liver.

As you can see, I don’t take things lying down and I sure as hell am not going anywhere…Charlie’s Chemo Angels (me and my peeps at chemo 3 days ago) GOT THIS. 

So if Charlie calls, tell him I said cancer can kiss my ass.

 

Posted March 20th, 2013 by
Ann's Diary: Charlie's Strongest Angel
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Ann’s Diary: Advice From An Angel

I was just sitting at the grave of my friends’ son who died slipping off a ski lift chair just a year or so ago. He was 7.

I was at the cemetery because I’ve been feeling over the last 5 days that way too many people in my immediate world are assuming I’m going to die from this latest twist in my metastatic breast cancer battle; in my lungs but also now in my liver and brain.

In the 5 days since I found out this news I’ve had my ups and downs, picking at the flower of fear like the daisy you hope will tell you someone likes you: “He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not” or in my case, “I’ll live, I’ll die, I’ll live, I’ll die..” For me, I always land on the good petal–the one where I do well with treatment and look forward to Christmas dinner with my family and friends.

But over the last 24 hours I’ve been knocked to the emotional floor by folks who are my friends who are thinking the bad petal is the given: that I’m not gonna do this.  That I am gonna die–Like soon. As if I’ve already been through the treatment and it’s failed. I gotta tell you, they’re freaking me out.

So why did I go to a graveyard?

Because whenever I walk across the dewy grass to the cemetery spot where JH was laid to rest in December of 2011, I feel a strange sensation that’s both horrible and comforting: I feel like he understands my position.  Who else but a little child stolen from life after only 7 years could, if he were here, look at me and say “believe me, Mrs. Paige, I get it.  This stinks. Makes no sense. I get you.”

In my mind  if not in my soul, right now I desperately need to be with someone who knows life isn’t fair and doesn’t need to say that to me: he represents it.  And somehow for me when I stand there and weep to his gravestone– a gorgeous block-shaped, buffed, black piece of marble with the etchings of a bear and skis on it, I feel supported in my confusion by a little angel who in the 7? 10? seconds it likely took for his life to fall from the sky may have very well felt the exact way I do: “What the heck is going on?”

I actually spoke those words out loud today as I stood rearranging the flowers by his carved name, crying fearful tears. I was mumbling like mad, “Do these  people around me know something I don’t? Am I a fool to believe I can do this?” I could see his little face captured in his last school photo smiling to me like “Yeah, who knows. Isn’t this rich? Who would have thought life would put us here like this?”

I can’t define it any more than to say that having someone–even in spirit–make me feel like I’m not crazy, nor am I dead (yet)– lent me relief that I desperately needed.  And JH knows more than my feeble brain can tell me because I’m still just a human while he’s now part of God’s world—the Infinite Universe- where man and Science and Journals of Medicine don’t hold the answers to why people die.

Now JH knows why we die, when we die–the “real” reasons, not the “because the meds didn’t work” or “because he ate too much fried food”. Or my favorite, the “everything-happens-for-a-reason” earthly bullshit answer everyone gives when they have no other explanation of the frightening realites of how cruel life can be.  Let’s face it, everything happens for a reason until your 2nd grader falls to his death skiing on a blue-skyed, bright sunny day:  after that, nothing makes sense or happens for a reason in this world ever again.

I don’t want anyone to be standing at my grave weeping to me in a year; but at the same time I have to realize that I have no control over that. And thought hard to swallow I have no control over  what people are saying and fearing about my cancer now. I do know this: that may be their reality, but I can’t let it be mine.

What I do have control over is my attitude. I’ll have good days and bad days, that I realize. But I control one thing and one thing only: my outlook.

As I left JH today, I kissed my hand and laid it on top of  his gravestone. And I couldn’t stop myself, still frightened and insecure about my future, to out loud ask him one more thing–  “Is it over for me, is this it, is this the end?”

Like a whisper in my ear I felt an answer inside me that I had been feeling a few days ago but recent fear had squashed it down to nothing:

“Who knows. Nothing’s a guarantee. No one knows yes, no one knows no.” As I took one last look at that bear and skis on JH’s gravestone I heard one last thing: “But what else can you do but try?”

 

 

 

Posted March 10th, 2013 by
Ann's Diary: Advice From An Angel
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: Boston Irish

So here’s something I didn’t think I’d be saying today: I have cancer in my brain and in my liver.

I can hardly believe it. I went for a scan last week and there it was. My doctor was stunned about the brain.  I’d been having some trouble with my lungs so that wasn’t a surprise that it showed up a little bigger there….but the liver?

The brain?

WTF?

Gang, all I can tell you is this: I am pissed off. And I am originally from Boston, Massachusetts and I am of Irish decent.  Are you getting me?  (Or as said in “Southie”, do ya folly me?) When you’re Boston Irish and you’re mad and you’re ready to fight, you don’t lose; the other guy does.

I’ll write more when I can find the words.  For now, just send up your best most positive most strengthening thoughts, prayers and love to me.

It will make all the difference in my Boston-Irish-fighting cancer world.

Posted March 6th, 2013 by
Ann's Diary: Boston Irish
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Ann’s Diary: Red Carpet Evening

Many of my friends watched The Oscars.  I didn’t, and I don’t.  I used to watch when I knew what the movies were and who the celebrities are–but lately I never see movies and I don’t watch any television and I have no idea who’s on the cover of People Magazine.

Cancer ruined it for me.  There; easy to blame someone who’s not in the room–or can’t defend itself.  Finally I can pull a fast one on cancer–Lord knows it’s pulled a fast one on me.

What I mean by “cancer ruined it for me” is that ever since I got sick, I can’t watch anything over-the-top. For example: I can’t see people murdered–even fake people, like in CSI; or lied to, cheated, disillusioned, kidnapped, drowned–and God forbid anybody is dying of a disease. I also can’t watch “reality” television, people pretending to survive in the jungle, celebrity “news” and the like–basically anything that reeks of excess: money, glamour, violence, sadness, suspense or fear. Maybe because I have enough of those last three in my world as it is, and the other stuff just doesn’t do anything for me.

And I don’t think this is natural or normal for someone with metastatic disease—I assume many fighters watch fantasy, “reality”, the Oscars, whatever–and are just fine.  And good for them. I think I’m the freak. Something like the Oscars, while much of it smoke and mirrors, is all good fun.  And that line makes me think of the Wicked Witch when she told Dorothy, all in good time, my pretty, all in good time

And maybe all in good time I’ll care about watching the Oscars again. And the movies. Or reading books where someone has something horrible happen to them and has to dig themselves out of an emotional-wreck of a hole. But not now. Not today. And likely not tomorrow.  Maybe I just will never again be able to watch someone else’s fairytale life while I’m living such a nightmare.

On Oscar night I did not see anybody get their just rewards for work well done on the silver screen. I didn’t see any pretty gowns or gorgeous tuxedos, and there was no red carpet for anyone to walk in my world. But I did something fun just the same. I snuggled up with my daughter  in my bed and we read a book. No high drama, no good outfits and no high heels–no lights, camera or action, either.

But to the Academy of Ann, it was an award-winning night just the same.

Posted March 6th, 2013 by
Ann's Diary: Red Carpet Evening
Posted in: Ann's Diary