Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I've been talking in riddles over the past few posts and today, I will share in greater detail.

Note:  We are one week from Christmas.  My tree remains undecorated.  Gifts, unpurchased (except for a few things I did online YESTERDAY).  Me, unglued.  Facing a deadline.  A hard deadline.  A fixed date on a calendar.  Yes, there are good reasons and I'm only going to highlight the three that have directly impacted me last week.

I began this blog in July of 2011.  If you blog, you understand what it means to read a comment.  That first comment. Technically, it was the second comment but the comment let me know someone was reading my blog every day.  And, enjoying it.  If I go through my gazillions of email chats between my mentor and me, I am certain I will find an overjoyed email I sent to her when I realized at least one person could relate to this blog.  If you don't blog, Julie and Julia.  The movie.  She captures that first comment experience pretty well.  When it wasn't a comment from her mom.

That's the foundation.  This is going to ramble and wind because I'm on a roller coaster.  Fair warning.  And advance apologies but I just have to get this out......

Many of you are aware of my mom's ongoing PET/CT scans.  It was a lung thing, then it was a lymph node, then, a cracked rib.  Some of you may know I have two sisters.  One of them, cancer.  The other, a biopsy over 3 years ago.  I am the keeper of the pathology reports which I have at my side.  "Hyperplasia bordering on DCIS, wall of blood vessel....." That's the sister without cancer. That's my family.  We are all okay.  Hypervigilant.  But OK.

Last week, my mom and my sister had follow up scans.   Then, there's Barb.  The first comment.  Now, she's my friend Barb.....the first person who let me know she was in my life.... beyond this screen......that I was not simply talking to myself as the words flew off my fingers.

Barb sent me a message that she had to go see her doctor about something that was on a scan.  I was terribly upset when I saw her note.  I asked her to please call me when she got back from the doctor on Wednesday.  Mom's PET scan was Wednesday.  We spoke and I was satisfied things were stable with that "broken rib from a million years ago" as the doctor had not called her.  Imaging is generally an immediate phone call.  Unless, it's not.  So much for the presuming stuff.

Then, I spoke to Barb who DID call me when she got home.  The news didn't sound wonderful, but I was hopeful.  Biopsy was scheduled for Friday.  She promised her husband would text me on Friday to let me know what was happening. That was Wednesday.

Thursday, I still felt lousy from whatever bug drop kicked me with that fever but I can tell you I felt far lousier when I heard from my mom.  "I have to go for a bone biopsy.  The thing on my rib is slightly different."  That was in an email. Why?  So she could "tell" all of us at once.  Even though she knew she'd still have to speak to the five of us.  There would be no pecking order with the phone calls.  Called mom, got all of the info including doctor speak, "I need to know what this is so I can treat it properly."

I'm trying to refrain from making a list of 900 questions because I want it to be nothing.  And, one thing I HAVE learned, don't presume anything.  And, in case I forgot about the presuming stuff, I didn't have to go too far back in time for a reminder.  I'm not going to spin like a top making a list of questions.  He better come out of left field with, "arthritis" .... "You aren't going anywhere for a long time, this is treatable."  I know he's right, but still.... arthritis sounds much better than a bone thing.   And thus ends Thursday.

Friday I got the promised text from Barb's husband to let me know procedure is done, more details later.  The details would come in the form of a phone call from Barb.  Before I spoke to Barb, my sister called.  There was a calcification six months ago.  She wanted it out.  They assured her, "not necessary" and now, "it has to come out, it looks 'coarser'."  I have NO idea what the hell that means but my sister is a smart cookie.  "I'm sure it's got jagged edges and that's what she means."  Bottom line, she needs a surgical biopsy.  In other words, another lumpectomy.  Same breast, same general vicinity of the "bordering on DCIS" from three years prior.  WTF????  SHE started peppering me with questions.  "IF it's something, how long is the recovery."  Once we established she would have "downtime" between "things" if something is "not right" we were able to dispense of that conversation.

Me?  I was/am REELING.  Both of them in operating rooms in MSKCC within the next ten days?  My sister, in an effort to infuse some comic relief (or maybe she was serious) thought she should have them tie the charts together and schedule both of them for the same day.  So I sit in limbo waiting for dates.  Mom did her pre-surgical testing today.  No date yet. My sister has a tentative date of December 26th.  I'll be having a meltdown.  Or not.  I may be relieved that Christmas is 364 days away.  Right now, I just want answers.  Does my sister have cancer so she can join the rest of us with an earlier onset breast cancer?  Does my mom have a cancerous spot on her rib?

And yet.....Friday wasn't quite finished with me.  Barb called when she was on her way home from the hospital and this simply broke my heart.  The only reason I am sharing here is because Barb outed herself on twitter last night.  Monday night.  Tweet chat... and I saw her name and I asked her if she was going to give anyone details of the why she had a bad week.  This is what she said:

From the bottom of MY heart, I want to thank everyone on twitter for immediately jumping in and sending love and support Barb's way.  She's new to twitter so IF you're a twitter person, please follow Barb and be on the lookout for any tweets with that Bat Signal hashtag.

And thank you all for offering your kind words to me because I'm in the middle of a wave of stuff that THINKS it's gonna knock me down.  I may falter, I may fall but I WILL get up. Every. Single. Time.  Just watch.

Everyone who left comments here yesterday, I read them all.... I'm just a bit distracted as you might be able to tell......

And, everyone whose head is spinning because this is possibly the most incoherent gibberish I have ever had the audacity to call a "blogpost"..... apologies.  I can't think straight.  By the same token, I wanted to clarify all the cloak and dagger vagueness that seems to have shrouded every post for almost a week.


  1. Sending you positive energy from AR. So sorry you have all that on your plate. Remember gift certificates are nice:) Hang in there.

  2. Love you my fearless friend! Thank you.

  3. Ditto on the positive energy! Christmas will be the quiet celebration when your Mom and Sis are on the mend. We say "This, too, shal pass." but it is the how of the issue we worry about. Prayers Aae coming your way.

  4. So so sorry for your friend Barb, and for your Mom and sis (and you) having to deal with all this stress and $#@%. Sending {{{hugs}}} all around today!!

  5. Oh, AnneMarie, I am heartbroken as I read this posting. I joined the chat a little late and must've missed Barb's tweet. I'm so very sorry about all that is going on with Barb and what is happening in your family. I'm so sorry this f*cker called cancer exists. Please know that you are all in my heart, and my thoughts and prayers go out to each one of you. I will reach out to Barb. Take care and feel free to call if you need another friend to listen. I'm pretty good at listening.

  6. I hate that you are having to deal with all of this. Sometimes it seems like it's all just too much. Know that all of us in the blogosphere are sending good thoughts and lots of love, and if one thing is for certain, it's that you will indeed get back up. Every. Single.Time. xo

  7. We've connected privately but I'd hate if anyone thought I was being 'radio silent'. I'm so sorry that your mom, sister, and Barb are all going through this. I saw Barb's tweet last night but she was a new face to me on #BCSM -- but I followed her after seeing her comment. This is a lot to digest, but deep breaths and no assumptions. We will be with you every step of the way. xox

  8. One step at a time.

    I'm sorry Barb and her relapse. That sucks. I know you will be a good source of support for her. I don't participate in the tweetchats because they seem not to be topics that I can relate to so I hadn't heard any bad news. I'm sorry for another sister in mets-land.

    Your sister and mom - you don't know anything yet. My favorite quote is this one, "Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”

    Speaking as a metster, I can tell you that they have found all sorts of funny looking things in my body that have turned out to be nothing. They found marks on my bones that were suspicious for mets, that were not mets, and lesions on my lungs that were suspicious for mets, that were not mets. Unfortunately, they found mets on my liver but from the first moment, there was zero doubt. Nobody ever said "suspicious" - they knew instantly. So, there is hope that your sister has a benign tumor and your mom just has a shadow/old break/whatever.

    Time will tell and your frantic worry does nothing to speed things up. Decorate that tree and send a picture to Barb. Bet she'd like that. I know I would.

  9. I've been sending you love and hugs on Twitter, Anne Marie. Now I am reading your post.

    Nothing about it was incoherent. I followed you every bit of the way, through each and every one of your revelations.

    I know you recently went through Hurricane Sandy. Looks like you are going through it again. I know you will get through this step by mind-bogglingly cruel and difficult step. It might not be pretty, but who cares? We are simply (and complexly!!) human, and as a wise friend said to me upon my BC Diagnosis Number 2: "It's ok to fall apart, Liza.... look at what you are going through." I am sure you know this, but sometimes it helps to hear it again.

    I am here for you. We have never spoken on the phone, but I think it's time (no pressure...when you are ready/available) we heard each others' voices. You know that if I could hug you in person, I would. We'll do that in 2013. For now, you'll have to hug yourself for me!

    Keep writing. It's so inspiring. Also, you mention a mentor. I would love to hear more about that. I think I could use one of those in the blog-writing department.

    Please know that you inspire me.

    All my love, Liza

  10. dear annemarie,

    SEE how much love you are surrounded with??!! virtual hugs and kisses, promises of prayers, good wishes, generous doses of encouragement and hope. and here's the thing, my sweet girl. you have such a receptive heart that a lot of people just don't have. so i have great faith in your ability and desire to soak all that good stuff up, feel empowered, and best of all, feel loved.

    so though your mind is scrambled with all that is upon you, you were able to write and begin to sort it all out. and you are still up on your hind legs, albeit, a little shaky what with all the knowns and what ifs. in your typical generous and kind fashion you've made a clarion call for us to rally round barb, your mom, and your sisters - of, course we will for you, too. we got it, AM, so hang in there and know you are not alone.

    much love, XOXO,

    karen, TC

    karen, TC

  11. AnneMarie you are going through so much at once. I wish I lived on your side of the coast and I could jump on the LIRR and give you a real hug. I know that the waiting is so hard and I have been in your shoes waiting for my sibling's results and my best friend...even though we all go through our experiences differently. You are so giving and you are surrounded by so many people that love and care about you. I have always felt that cancer won't kill me, but waiting for test results will. Please remember to try to keep the stress out while waiting (easier said then done). I send you my virtual prayers, positive thoughts and a great big hug. XoXoXo - Susan

  12. I am reaching out to you and yours with prayers and positive thoughts. I pray for good outcomes for your mom and sister. I am so very sorry about your friend, Barb. When I stepped into this BC world I worry for so many. . .many I don't even know. I don't tweet, have no idea how, but I do follow your blog for so many reasons. Thank you for all you do and all you hold in your heart. Know you are not alone. My favorite quote to get through difficult frightening times: "All is well, and all is well, and all manner of things shall be well." Peace and blessings.



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