Last week when this blog was acknowledged by healthline.com I gratefully acknowledged the Visible Ink program at MSKCC. The program, both the vision of Judith Kelman and most importantly, the encouragement of my mentor provided me with the confidence to switch gears at a point in one's life where that is merely the sentiment in a "lift your spirits" greeting card. It's never too late and all that happy horseshit.
I share all of my moments with Anna. She was, and still is my go to person. She knew when the first comment was posted. She knew when I began to connect with so many of you. She just knew. She's a volunteer at MSK. Her example of giving her time to help another was the driving force behind my strong desire to venture out of my comfort zone. To volunteer. To help. To try to make some small difference.
We spoke last week and as we were reminiscing about our first conversation, I asked her to share her thoughts and impressions of The Beginning. I was wide-eyed and Anna shares what she saw from the outside looking in on the life of a total stranger. Me.
I'm copying it exactly as she sent it (even though I'm not altogether too comfortable with the compliments) because I always want to have her words with me. They will continue to drive me to Be Fearless.
From Anna's perspective:
A year and a half ago I was assigned my second Visible Ink participant at Memorial Sloan-Kettering - her name, AnneMarie. I called her up to talk about a potential chemo-related blog she wanted to create and and hour and a half later, I decided that she was absolutely insane. This woman, who otherwise sounded extremely intelligent, actually believed she was going to receive national attention through a blog dedicated to raising awareness about ChemoBrain - a condition that a small population knew about. She even spoke about the Huffington post and how it would be amazing to be a spokesperson for Chemobrain.
"Ms. AnneMarie," I said (we were actual on formal terms back then), "let's just work on using this blog as an internal outlet for you to express yourself post-Chemo, and somewhere far (very far) down the line we'll move towards the 'reaching national attention' part."
I thanked her, hung up, rolled my eyes and thought, "Well, I got my first Visible Ink nut job participant!" Little did I know that less than a year later, this 'nut job' had achieved international success, appeared on national television, was getting bombarded to write guest entries on famous blogs, and actually started getting paid gigs from her success! Needless to say, this is why I'm a terrible stock investor...
But there's a truth behind all of her success.
There are some people in this world chosen to lead, to succeed, to be tried and prevail, to inspire change.
There are also others who respond, who assist, who do, they create change.
Both are necessary to produce the effect. And in the spirit of twos, I find it no coincidence that AnneMarie is made up of two names. She couldn't just be Anne, because that'd make her a leader, and she couldn't be Marie because she would only be the creator. The bottom point is, AnneMarie does it all. She's an innovator, a leader, a survivor, a woman.
A woman who went from Cancer to prancer (that's for another post) and gave her disease a big F.U. A woman who taught me that though others poke fun at the "saving the world" mentality that I hold so dear, she freakin' proved that it should be believed in and CAN be done. I can do it. We can do it. She's a woman who taught me that you can have fun at any age, at any crossroad, and even while your brain going through the biggest, fuzziest, most pain in the ass funks of all time. She's a woman who has inspired women and men around the world, who has put smiles on patient's faces when all they've seen is a big dark cloud, and a woman who has the kahunas to challenge doctors and nurses as she stands by a patient when they're not getting the consideration their due. She's a woman of character and integrity.
She. Is. Beautiful.
Keep up the good work my friend - I'll be seeing you at your Nobel Prize ceremony.
~her biggest fan, Anna