Posts from April, 2013

Ann’s Diary: About Being Bald

To all my people:

When I wrote ‘pink tips’ it was to help a person dealing with cancer: my fifty tips on what helped get me through.  Since it was published two years ago I’ve been told that there’s another category of folks who get something out of ‘pink tips': everyone else.

Whether you are  dealing with disease, a friend of the person dealing with any disease, or whether you are dealing with something traumatic of your own that has nothing to do with disease, people tell me ‘pink tips‘ helps. Cool deal. I am humbled, and honored.

Going through my latest hell of losing my hair to the chemotherapy associated with metastatic breast cancer in brain/liver/lung, I flipped through my own book this week.  I know I wrote the thing but honestly I’m going through hell and I need some help.  This Ann Murray Paige lady might know something I’ve forgotten.

Sure enough, ‘pink tip’ no. 47 stared me in the face. GPS Yourself.  What that means is find out where you are in your mind on any given day and go from there. In trauma, some days you’ll be down and out, other days you’ll come out swinging. Find out whether you’re sinking or swinging and help yourself get through it.

So I did. And here’s what you need to know about me this days: I am bald, and I hate it.

I don’t love being bald.  I have to be bald.  I resent being bald.  It’s not a “new do” or a cool fashion style.  It’s a robbery.

To see me bald,  you may feel like you have to make me feel better about it all. But you don’t. I want you to treat me the way you always do–like amazing, fantastic, supportive, kick-ass friends who know I’m riding this bucking bronco and holding on for dear life and that it may look easy but it’s hard as hell.

There’s more. I will be a bit off center for a while as I get used to all this bull shit.  And I just want you to be aware of what’s happening so that I don’t mistakenly confuse, insult or otherwise hurt your feelings. I have been getting a lot of “You’re beautiful bald!” and “You have the best-shaped head EVER!” Thanks, but right now I would rather have a healthy body and hair than a good-looking skull.

To everyone in my corner: I love you and I do not hold anything against anyone who gaffs or says something inappropriate as they reach for anything to say. I know this is awkward for all of us.  I get that.

But if you see me around with my hairless head covered in a cancer chapeau with my ears sticking out a-la “Herbie-doesn’t-like-to-make-toys,” just give me a hug.

That’s what I need right now.

Posted April 6th, 2013 by
Ann's Diary: About Being Bald
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: Yoga Miss

So I didn’t make it to yoga today, like I’d hoped….but not for the reason you might think.

I didn’t go because I was in the company of two amazing friends who’d traveled thousands of miles between them to come visit me and bring me their best wishes of health and support. And I was blown away not just be their clear desire to help me feel better amid this metastatic breast cancer bull sh-t; but also by how wonderful I felt just being in their midst.

Chris, Jen and I grew up together; back in the 1970’s when hanging out meant bell bottoms, Nikes, Danskins and spoons-in-dirt for backyard toys. We had no internet, no cell phones, no texting, no computers–hell, I barely had a bike, since I had to wait for a sibling to outgrow his or hers until I got it.

We did stuff on weekends that was all our own: we made up plays.  We acted out shows.  We did a rousing rendition of “Three Billy Goats Gruff” that knocked the Neighborhood Labor Day Picnic of 1972 on its backside.  We marched in town parades dressed like colonials in 1976. We bought lime rickeys at the Center Dairy Bar and watched “Creature Double Feature” on rainy Saturday afternoons with our hands in front of our faces in case something freaked us out.

We shared schools, snacks, pets and parties. We went trick-or-treating dressed like tigers, gypsies, ghosts and maids. Our parents threw cocktail parties that we went to–because they were out in the collective back yard with the sun shining and we could play and listen and laugh along with the grown ups.

We share memories: I remember the night their grandfather died on Christmas Eve.  I went to the junior prom with Chris–wearing his mother’s dress. I had my first hair style “bun” made my Jen’s mom. And I still can’t watch “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” because of the creepy child-catcher hide-and-seek game that we made up and played in my parents’ dark basement.

As adults, we grew up and away from each other–only connecting on random home-for-the-holidays when one of us would be out walking and see the other one coming from a distance. The “oh my word, how ARE you?” would open up the back story of our childhood and eventually we’d be talking old school, thrown backwards 2 or 3 decades to the days when knocking on each other’s back doors’ was the beginning of a weekend’s worth of non-electronic adventure.

A few weeks ago when I got Chris’s text I thought I had been mis-texted:  it said, “Jen and I want to come and visit you on April 1.  And this is not a joke!” I looked at the number a few times before I realized it was my old pal, visiting his sister and wanting both of them to come see me.  I couldn’t believe the effort they wanted to make.  I was humbled.  And happy.  And having been down cancer’s road once already I knew enough not to put up a fuss.  “Yes!”  I quickly typed back.

And so they came.

Which is why I was not in yoga today.  I was not down-dogging myself into a peaceful zen room of hope and love this morning as I face my new cancer battle.  But I was in an equally wonderful place: ensconced in a comfort zone that comes from the good fortune of growing up on a street in a small town with kids whom I always loved to be with and who always loved to be with me…

..and apparently, still do.

 

 

Posted April 3rd, 2013 by
Ann's Diary: Yoga Miss
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: Isn’t it Ironic

This morning my friend came up to me and said, “I’m pregnant.” My mouth dropped open.

She’s around my age–late 40’s I would guess–and she has two kids almost grown. She wasn’t expecting to be….expecting.  I stood there gaping as she said… “all the nausea I’ve been having?  It’s the pregnancy.” I couldn’t say a word. NOT a word.  Boy was her life about to change…

“April Fools!” she quipped, laughing and rolling her eyes.  “I’m NOT pregnant!” WHOOAAA did she get me!  I was already buying her a shower gift in my mind–a year’s supply of Geritol and Ibuprofen.

But the April-fooling was not over for me.  I went home after working out to take my usual shower before I headed to Monday chemotherapy for metastatic liver/lung/brain breast cancer. As I shampooed I noticed a tangle in my hair.  When I pulled it to loosen it, the entire clump of hair came off into my hands. My hair is falling out; chemotherapy style.

I am sure I remember doctors telling me  this wouldn’t happen, since this is a lower dose of chemo weekly than I had the first time my hair fell out in 2004. I even texted my husband when out of the shower to ask him and he confirmed that a few doctors had indeed said my hair will thin but not fall out entirely. So I checked with my oncologist but she confirmed it will fall out.  There was no use complaining. I either heard it wrong or she said it wrong. Now it is what it is.

I’m gonna be bald again.

I know losing my hair is not the be-all end-all.  I’ve done it already, I remember.  What I do know is that without hair I will look sick.  And THAT ladies and gentlemen, blows.

The best thing so far in this diagnosis is that I don’t look sick.  People can’t believe I’ve really got cancer.  That is awesome for me.  It lifts me up. It helps me stay strong.  I love being the physical representation of the middle finger to metastatic breast cancer.  Here, you big bully, look at me;  I got this–and YOU DON’T.

But as a bald woman with no eyebrows or eyelashes, I will be unmistakably SICK to the world. Sh-t.

What news to digest on this the National Trick Day of the year. The irony is not lost on me–or my hair.

 

Posted April 1st, 2013 by
Ann's Diary: Isn't it Ironic
Posted in: Ann's Diary