Posts Tagged ‘Ann Murray Paige’

Ann’s Diary: The Tunnel

They say the rise comes before the fall. I think that’s a real saying. Or maybe I made it up–but there’s a saying like that…

It’s the one that means “all good things must come to an end.” Or more colloquially put: “the fun’s over. Get back to work.”

I had what was clearly the most memorable weeks of my life last week, ending with watching live as the Red Sox, my baseball team, won the World Series at Fenway Park, and beginning with the Inaugural Project Pink 5K Run/Walk, where more than 600 people came together to support my non-profit and its goal of getting my book “pink tips” into the hands of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients all over the world. What fell between those two major events can be read here.

…but alas, today is a new day. And I’ve cried as much in the last 24 hours than I think I have in the last 3 months. So I guess I’m back to work.

The work for me of course is to stay alive. But that’s not the only thing I need to do. I also need to keep my ship on a steadier course than it’s been on the last 48 hours. Because the bitch about terminal illness, along with any other life-altering trauma out there, is that the world and its motion continues. Sometimes the motion is good, sometimes it’s bad, but regardless, it’s moving on–and I either keep up or I get plowed under, cancer be damned. People may think they know what I go through on a day to day basis, but they don’t. Nor should they. This ride I’m on has the ugliest underbelly I would never want anyone to see–because it’s the antithesis of positivity. It’s the root of all evil. It’s fear. Plus sadness. Plus terror. Plus implied defeat.

The brave stance I take every day in my battle, whether it be speaking at MIT, taking a spin class 24 hours after chemo, or finishing whole brain radiation treatments and walking a 5K, is really me. But there’s another part to me that exists. It’s the exhausted patient. It’s the please-no-more, WTF-with-this, what side effects NOW, and the when-will-this-ever-END part of me. And that is the private side of trauma.

Believe me, nobody who goest through Hell like I do and is a warrior in their lives has a clear slate on the tears-fallen-this-month chart. We all cry. It’s why we have the physiological ability, I assume: let it out so it doesn’t take you over kind-of-thing. I don’t advertise it in my day-to-day life because that’s not the whole of who I am; in fact it’s not the half either. It’s more like the sliver of the pie that sits in in the Thanksgiving tin until somebody, or something, comes along and scoops it up and swallows it.

And on its way down they feel it. In pumpkin pie’s case, it tastes good. In the emotional world of a trauma fighter, it can lodge in my throat like a full-grown pumpkin. It can come close to stealing my oxygen from inside myself and this past weekend it had me curled up in the fetal position with tears streaming down my face, thinking “What the F-ck did I do to deserve any of this.”

Which is total backward motion. And I am not a backward motion kind of a girl. I’m about being in the moment, learning from what I’ve done that either worked or didn’t, and moving forward. At least, that’s who I am mostly. And then there’s that sliver of pie left in the tin…

Before I leave you with nausea thinking of this month’s Thanksgiving dessert table–or get sued by the Pumpkin Patch People of America (just the stress I DON’T need but as the world moves on, 10 to 1 I’ll get an email), let me tell you what I told my dear pal who texted me today, sharing a wise saying from her mom, who died of cancer. It said something like “accepting that you can be vulnerable and sad makes you brave.”

And I responded, yes, that is true. But some days I am so tired of being brave.

But I also said this: I know I will get through this. I have had (too) many moments like it already to believe anything less. But you can’t get to the other end of the tunnel unless you go through it first.

So folks, I’m in the tunnel.

But I’m on my way out of it, too.

Posted November 4th, 2013 by
Ann's Diary: The Tunnel

Ann’s Diary: Not Dead Yet

The recent news on my cancer isn’t good.  Apparently I have several tiny tumors all over my brain.

Now before you start buffing my headstone, let me tell you this–I ain’t going nowhere.

But to face this news after all I do to beat off cancer –chemo, surgeries, pills, vegan, no-dairy, no sugar, exercise, acupuncture–is of course a huge blow.  And I am trying to catch my emotional breath this weekend so I can face the next phase of this fight for my life.

But here is what has been the most devastating part of this latest news:  every one else’s fear.  I literally can see it in everyone’s eyes.  And they have every right to be frightened.

My friends range from teachers to trainers, doctors to dentists, business people to buddhist and all points in between.  And let me repeat myself: every single one of them has every right to be scared as hell for me.  This kind of a diagnosis–the one I’ve been battling for 9 and a half years now–brings out the fear in everyone.  They don’t want to lose me.  They don’t want to see me diminished physically by treatments.  They love me and want me to be safe and well again.  And I love each and every one of them for that–and so much more.

But here’s where it gets dicey:  because this kind of situation forces folks to choose which side of the medical line they believe in.  Is it all about the statistics?  Are the journals of Scientific blah-blah the end point in deciding Ann Murray Paige’s fate?  If so, I’m dead. Literally, I won’t make it.  Draw the curtain. Turn out the lights.  Poke a fork in me: I’m done.

And if you’re me, you don’t ‘t go there. Really, would you if you were me?  ”Oh shit, they say this is the progression, and it’s just a matter of time.  So I’d better believe them and start to fade now.”  So that…so that…so that–what?  What is in it for me if I go that way?  It’s the equivalent of putting an emotional gun to my head and pulling the trigger.  Why the f–k would I do that to myself.

I have to remember: “they” said chemo would give me neuropathy and exhaustion. If  I recall correctly, and I do, since St. Patrick’s Day weekend I’ve done chemo on Tuesdays and spin class on Wednesdays.  I worked out Mondays and Fridays.  And I worked Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Occasionally you’d seem me in a Sunday a.m. spin class, too. I do round 27 of Taxol chemotherapy this week, that is after my personal training appointment tomorrow. So, I ask myself, where’s THAT statistic factored into the medical prognosis of Ann Murray Paige?

Within a few weeks I have to have this thing called “whole brain radiation” which, according to “they”, could give me all kinds of side effects ranging from fatigue and permanent hair loss to what I can only describe to you as that lobotamy patient from the Planet of the Apes, the Roddy McDowall version.  5% of cases become dementia, so I’m told.  I don’t know that for sure because I didn’t look at that statistic.  And frankly I don’t want to know side effects because something about knowing about them invites them into my mind as a possibility. And my mind’s door must be LOCKED to that.

Believe me, I don’t want to fry my brain in that machine, either.  Trust me, I don’t. But honestly–I don’t have much choice.

My doctors–of which I have three, and on 2 different coasts–all say this is the way to go.  So I am going.  And this isn’t the time or place for radical thinking–I’ve done that already. I went vegan. I take vitamins. I’ve tried Graviola. I’ve meditated, prayed, avoided dairy and I am about to try juicing. But that’s it. I’m not open to coffee enemas or Texas-based therapies that are, depending on which article I read, on the spectrum of miraculous to strange. I am so sick of fear I could throw up. And speaking of fear, the Internet and many of its “cancer cure” websites are full of fear. ”If you don’t do this, you’ll get that”–as if any institution takes into account every body type, personality, physical profile and age. As if every individual in the world could be saved by the exact same thing.

One of my pink tips is “beware the Internet” and it’s true.  There’s no room for individuality there.  And that’s the secret weapon I have in this fight against cancer, what I have in my corner that nobody else has:  I have ME.

My “people” are now asking me what I need from them.  Dinners?  Grocery runs?  A stiff drink? (yes to that last one.)  Here’s what I need from you: I need you to believe in ME.

Even if you go to the worst case scenario and I don’t make it, what’s the harm in believing in me now?  There is no preparation for losing someone.  So cross that off your to-do list.  When it happens, whenever it happens, it’s horrendous.  Nothing you do now, short of un-friending me, helps.

And I’m not gone.  I’m still here.  As my demential dad used to quip when everybody treated his aging body like a china doll, “Hey, relax. I’m not dead yet!”

Nobody knows what’s going to happen to Ann Murray Paige in this fight. So believe in me. And we”ll see what happens–together.

Posted October 13th, 2013 by
Ann's Diary: Not Dead Yet
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: First V-log (video)

Posted September 18th, 2013 by
Ann's Diary:  First V-log (video)

Ann’s Diary: IMO

I’ve been wanting to write for a while but every time I begin I lose the thread of anything significant to say–IMO.
IMO is the kids texting acronym for “in my opinion.” I’ve been texting a lot with my kids and those acronyms seem to be taking over…
Anyway… IMO it’s hard to feel good about a blog if it doesn’t leave you, the reader, with a nugget of counsel, wisdom, truth, laughter or even just a quick “hmmmmm, never thought of it that way.”  I mean, you’re busy, I’m busy, we’re all busy–
..and if I’m going to use up 2 minutes of your day it has to be worth your time. IMO.
So here I am again, writing what IMO seems so far like nothing.  But I want to write something. Because I’m not here in this world for…nothing.
I’m here for something. So are you. We all are. We’re all here for something.
Your something may be quite different from mine.  Your something might be your job.  It might be your kids.  It might be your volunteer work.  It might be your garden. It might be your voice. It might be the way you light up a room just by walking into it. It may be all those animals you rescued, or it may be your passion for whatever it is that gets you out of bed in the morning.
Whatever your something is–that grounds you, makes you feel whole, sparks a twinkle in your eye–is your gift. And it matters. IMO.
IMO what you do while you’re here in this world is critical to the success of this big blue ball–don’t discount that.  Don’t ever deny it.  (You may think “well I already know that” but how often do any of us look at ourselves in the mirror and say “I matter”?)  By being here you’re making the world a better place–believe me.
I feel the same about myself—though there are days on this “cancer crusade” I’m forced on that I get anxious that the world doesn’t want me in it.  That sounds infantile, but I’d be lying if I said otherwise. Just this week I got some scans back that, while not all doom and gloom, didn’t give me the “woohoooo cancer take THAT” I was hoping for.  IMO they are mediocre at best–
and IMO that sucks.
So as my 2 minutes of your time winds down here at this blog today let me remind you that your life matters. YOU matter. You may feel bored or confused some days, sad or just plain angry on others. But life is good. It’s not perfect, not always pretty, and in my case not always healthy, but it’s here and it’s ours and it’s….it’s life.
IMO, it’s good to remember that.

Posted September 7th, 2013 by
Ann's Diary: IMO
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: Just Keep Pedaling

For those of you hooked up with me on Facebook via my professional page and my non-profit Project Pink, you know that I had scans this week.  The results are in.
The good news: there’s been no new growth of the cancer.  All the tumors are still there but they haven’t gotten bigger.  That’s great.
The bad news: there’s been no new shrinkage of the cancer. All tumors are still there and they haven’t gotten any smaller.  That’s not great.
So: now what?
Medically, I’ll stick to my present weekly regimen of Taxol, the chemotherapy I’ve been taking weekly since March.  I just finished my 18th round yesterday.  My doctor will consult with colleagues and the likelihood that I’ll need to get on a stronger chemo is on the horizon–but stay tuned.  I just don’t know yet.
Physically, I’ll keep up my workouts–I did SPIN class at noon today–and I’ll keep up the vegan/no dairy/no sugar regime I’ve been on for two years.  It’s making me stronger outside and that helps keep me stronger on the inside, emotionally…
..and that leads me to the emotional plan.  Now what?
Recently I’ve had more than one group of people in my life look at me quizzically as they search to understand how I do this.  How do I keep up the smiles, the training sessions, the laughter, the writing–when, to their mind, I should be scared as hell and, well I’m not really sure what else they think–but they don’t “get” my “f@ck what they studies say, I got this” attitude.
The reality is that I’m not always smiling. But you know how Facebook works–nobody’s out there snapping photos of their mental break down and posting with their status “today I almost killed myself.” And that’s where much of the “rose colored glasses” confusion begins.
I didn’t take a photo of it, but today I broke down during spin class as I digested the news I’d received a half hour earlier regarding my scans.  I cried right there as I pedaled away.  I took the long white towel meant to wipe off my sweat and wiped my tears away instead.
But I kept peddling.  And that’s when I snapped the photo.
To anyone wondering why, I answer:  and what else might you think I do?  What’s the alternative?  HIghlight the negative?  My whole existence now is a negative.  I wake up every day re-diagnosed with cancer. That’s how trauma works: it comes back every morning to rip your heart out and let you spend the next waking hours trying to stuff it back inside your devastated body.
All I know is, to let cancer kill me before I’m dead is like giving the ax murderer a knife sharpener. So to give my personal grief more air time via social media is a knife-sharpener I ain’t about to hand out.
But let me be clear: my life is not easy, and I have bad days. But I have more strength in me than all those bad days strung together. And to those who wonder where is my strength coming from I answer I have no f#cking idea.
Here’s a suggestion: stop trying to understand me.  Cheer me on or shake your head in disbelief–but stop trying to figure me out.
Just believe in me.  Hold on with me.
And if you can’t do that, just keep pedaling with me.

Posted August 14th, 2013 by
Ann's Diary: Just Keep Pedaling
Posted in: Ann's Diary