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.