Posts Tagged ‘blogger’

Ann’s Diary: The Weather

I’ve been a bit under the weather and not able to write; but here I am to check in on how life’s been for me lately.

It’s been a drag.

Which is why I haven’t written–I’m not big on complaining here at this blog. It’s depressing and it doesn’t make me feel strong. But to ignore this part of the journey would be inauthentic, really–it would be passing over the incredibly difficult part of being a cancer patient: the treatments that don’t work. And that’s why I’m going to give you a quick sketch of how things are right now for me.

After I spoke in Boston in October, I went to Hawaii with the blessings and the gifts of dozens of friends from my world who fundraised their backsides off to get me and my family there. We had a great time; scuba diving, helicopter rides, safaris and the like. When I came back, I started new chemotherapy Xeloda (the Taxol chemo I was on had stopped working.) I was due to have 3 rounds (2 weeks on, one week off) and then see how the drug was working. The problem was, I felt like junk every day. I mean don’t-get-out-of-bed, no-interest-in-the-gym, I-can’t-eat kind-of thing. It was the antithesis of who I am: like someone transplanted me right out of myself and threw in I-don’t-even-know who. What character in TV, movies, books never wants to get out of bed? That’s who I was. And I’m afraid to say still am.

It got so bad that I, a cancer fighter, one who knows that you only have a certain amount of chemos to work with before you run out of choices, had to call “uncle” on the Xeloda. It was the worst feeling of my life: literally taking the medical reigns from my oncologist and saying “no more. I can’t handle this.” But on Dec 23, that’s what I did. And the chemo wasn’t showing fabulous results, either–they were “mixed.” So I said, “we’re done here.” I need some semblance of my life back.

But it never really came. I went on a vacation with my family and my brother’s family which was a huge “happy boost” for me, but when I got back home it’s been crapus-status-quo. My family and friends are doing double time to convince me to get out on a walk, take the dog out, go for coffee–at my request, mind you. I need people to get my sad butt out of my home before I become some kind of a hermit in here–getting fearful and woe-is-me. F-that. That’s not how this story’s gonna go….

Now I’m on another chemo–and so far no change. I am not Taxol-great, but I am not Xeloda-sick, either. I’m somewhere in the middle. We will find out in a few weeks whether this new drug is working–and whether I can withstand it–and then go from there.

So gang, that’s Highlights From Cancer Mountain. To all of you who’ve FB’d me and asked if I’m okay, this blog is dedicated to you. Yes, I am fine. I look myself in the mirror all the time and tell myself that, even as some tears fall. Like I tell my kids, you are your own best friends. You will be the ones to take you through the good, the bad and the unfair of life. Don’t ever forget that–I tell myself, now, constantly. You can do this.

And if you can’t, I tell me, I’ll still be there with you through the good and the bad. I got your back, Ann Murray Paige. I got your back.

Posted January 16th, 2014 by
Ann's Diary: The Weather
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: 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: 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: Politics In The Pink

The election is over, my show is done, and now it’s a quick slide into Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hannukkah and all the other winter holidays celebrated in this country.

I am happy the election and the show are over, mostly because they both contained a lot of drama, a lot of hype and for those who cared about them, a lot of emotional weight. It’s nice to have that weight cut loose, at least from my shoulders–and it’s time for action in both places. President Obama, The House, and The Senate have much to do to help ease this country out of its continued economic troubles, and I hope they have success. After all, their triumph will be our triumph–at least those of us living in the United States of America.

My show, on the other hand, has much less dramatic consequences. It was, I can tell you, a wonderful, exciting, frightening ride to accomplish for myself–and you were all with me in spirit, if not in that room when I performed last month outside of Boston, MA. If you couldn’t make it but wanted to, don’t despair–someone is making a DVD of the production and I’ll have them here if you’d like to get one.

A photographer captured the event as well, and as soon as I get the photos I’ll post here–and reminisce more about how it went, how I felt, and what my favorite moments where in the 30 minute, laugh-out-loud account of one woman’s journey through trauma and the insights she shares that might help audience members as they deal with loved ones going through their own stuff in life. Friends get sick, lose jobs, have parents who get divorced: how do we help? What can we do? That is the message of my one act play “In The Pink”, developed and written by Virginia Byrne and yours truly, Ann Murray Paige. More on that when the pics come in.

For now I hope you get a break today from the stress of the election, if you felt any. Enjoy the silence of the lack of political ads on TV and the radio. Pull up the signs from your front lawns–or else leave them there if you’re celebrating your person’s win—whatever works. But above all else, feel my gratitude and thanks for your constant “votes” of confidence for me as I “campaigned” my way through a new and unusual-for-me medium in which to tell my story–the theatre.

The intended result of my little “campaign”, while not anything as world-affecting as the battle between Gov. Romney and Pres. Obama, is an awareness/solidarity for we who know people affected by trauma. And isn’t that everybody? The message of “In The Pink” is not “you’re gonna get ill”, it’s “someone we know will get “something” in life and we’re gonna be there watching. Should we run the other way? Ignore their pain? Pretend it didn’t happen?”

No. We are all in this world together and that’s what will get us through: sticking together. We can reach our hands out to help each other as we go through the ups and downs that life brings–in my experience that’s the sure way for all of us to win whatever campaign we find ourselves in throughout our lifetimes.

And suddenly this sounds like a political commercial! “Vote for my show, I’ll give you the WORLD on a platter!” Hell no, I can’t do that. I can’t even promise my husband I’ll cook dinner tonight. But this IS reminding me of the political gridlock in D.C. that the end-of-the-election now points to. None of our peeps in and around the White House can seem to work with each other–and this country suffers because of it.

Hey Newly Elected/Re-elected Politicians: I have no idea where you stand on your issues, who your constituents are or where your money base comes from. I don’t know your intentions or who you call your friends. I just know that when all is going wrong, the best chance for getting through the crap in life is to stick together and muddle through it–united. Whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, politics–like illness–is made worse with isolation and made better with togetherness. How do I know this…

Because for the last 8 years I’ve been beating off cancer with a medical/emotional stick, and I’ve had lots of other hands holding that stick when I couldn’t. And thanks to them I’m still here. I’ve never been in politics but I’ve been in an infusion center, a radiation room and on a surgery table. I never ever felt better by pushing people away—only by bringing them close…

try it and see if it works in D.C.

Posted November 7th, 2012 by
Ann's Diary: Politics In The Pink
Posted in: Ann's Diary