Wednesday, January 4, 2012


That is a question I began to ask myself several weeks ago as I began typing.  There are times I sit down with a clear vision of what I want to say, there are times I have several ideas swirling and then there are times I just let my fingers do the walking.  When the ideas are swirling, it's a GOOD IDEA for me to add a new post with a single sentence to remind me that there is a topic I would like to address.  Save it as a draft and when I feel the earth move my brain, the draft title may (or may NOT) jog my memory.  These days, it needs more than a little nudge...... lists lists lists

Blogging was a springboard and when I began to climb the ladder for the high dive, I had my coach, turned mentor, turned friend, turned "I can't imagine my life without her in it" Anna, behind me to keep me steady and focused on the next step. And ONLY the next step.  Having not a single clue about anything other than writing, she describes her role as "simply holding up the big red bullseye."  She did that too.  She had no idea what chemobrain was when we first spoke so she was the best person to read what seemed to me to be nothing more than a collection of rambling thoughts on a page.  If they made sense to her, they would surely make sense to anyone who might be inclined to visit the blog and actually FEEL the way I feel on lots of days.

After a number of posts were written and edited for clarity, I began playing with the blog appearance.  I remember her saying she wanted it to "be mine" and didn't want to even suggest titles or layout or colors. Having turned into an American Idol, The Voice, The X Factor (others, too) whore, I now understand what she meant.  "I love how you took that and made it your own," seems to be a very popular comment made by the judges on these shows.  She wanted me to make this my own.

MORE decisions?  Having been haunted while in the cancer maze over making decisions, was it really necessary to make what I saw as a REALLY dumb decision?  Ok, here comes the cliche......  I had no clue how empowering it is to make a choice.  It put me back into the driver's seat.  I was a passenger in the AM Car of Life.  I allowed others to drive, I allowed the car to drive itself but I never put my hands on the wheel and hit the road.  And there goes the metaphor....  It was the act of actually taking the wheel that made the difference.  Those times the car was driving itself, I was sitting in the driver's seat while the car just took me along for   S O M E   C R A Z Y   R I D E....

And this is relevant to daily blogging  Be-CAUSE????  I don't really know..... but it popped into my head and my fingers have no filter.  I just let them fly.... and then do the essential gazillion edits..... if you think I'm wordy, you should SEE what hits the cutting room floor.....   Ahhhh yes, taking control and making it my own.....

In July I began playing with the blog layout: themes and color schemes were first up.  How funny that I INSTINCTIVELY started with a VERY PINK background and how exceptionally intelligent for Anna to tell me she wasn't loving the pink.  "It's not bold enough, it's really not you."  I didn't care for the pink either, not in ANY shade but I needed a nudge, an external nudge, to force me to tap into how I felt.  Couldn't decide if I was ON fire knowing I was taking action and grabbing the wheel or I was still standing IN a fire (could have been a July heat wave, could have been emotional burn out, could have been being burned over and over again by events that I allowed to control my life), but my heart said RED.

Plain old red wasn't really looking too great so I took a photo of my disaster of a desk and that is what is behind the red. And THEN, "You need a title."  OK so now this was getting to be a bit much.  I'm just learning how to actually make a decision and then, the very important part.... IMPLEMENT the damn thing.  Incorporate it into my life...... And suddenly it's coming at me from all sides?  A title, I will admit, was kind of a big deal.  If I was going to be serious about this blogging thing, The Title Matters.  Anna's only suggestion?  "I like the play on the calendar BC-AD. I want you to make it your own." (Enough with "my own" crap..... I'd prefer that expensive pair of shoes that is the favicon.  How bout I make THOSE my own?)  I have tons of faith in Anna but it was a chemobrain challenge to knock it off with the internal wisecracks about all the things I wanted to "Make my own."  Ultimately, CB was kicked to the curb and I began playing around a few words and adding "AM" for obvious reasons, obvious, that is, if you actually know my name......  In any event, I was satisfied with the title.  It's grown on me.  Truthfully, I prefer the Three Word titles.  I like the Two Worder's, too.  The mother of all titles? One Single Ultra Dramatic Word.  The suggestion box is open.  Just sayin' ...

And finally, the answer I've been leading up to with the question I posed at the very top of the entry...... Why do I blog every day?  It was another decision.  "If you are serious about blogging and people begin reading, there should be some sort of continuity."  At that moment in time and by moment, I don't mean a literal sixty second moment but more of a "where I was at that point in my very messy life," I needed to discipline myself with something.  My skills with numbers which had already deteriorated badly seemed to be getting worse.  My attention span issues crashed down all at once.  I was still on the emotional roller coaster with all things "personal" despite Miraval and the implementation of every skill I learned during my five day stay and THEN some.  (Maybe if I ziplined through the Tucson desert?)

After a bit of thought, the most important and empowering decision was made: I would attempt a daily blog.  Monday through Friday.  I would hold myself accountable.  It was not for anyone but me and I believed it might be a good way to stop the distractions, change directions, make things different.  Let the writing begin and I just began writing and writing and writing to have enough entries ready to go if I had the courage to switch the blog from private to public.  Would I allow anyone in?  Who the hell knew as I began writing, but I just went along for the ride.  Ultimately (and duh, obviously) I plunged, head first, hoping like hell there would be enough to sustain my daily commitment.

Chemobrain remains at the heart of this blog.  That is my personal cancer fallout and that is where I reside in The Land of Survivorville.  Tests are being done in various labs around the world.  The most recent information came from Belgium and the technical information can be found on Idelle Davidson's blog.   It's only more confirmation for the doubters that chemobrain is real, can be long term and can be late onset.  There are physiological changes in our brains that can be seen on MRI.  That equals damaged brain tissue.  Those are steps in the right direction.  First identify the problem.

The BEST direction?  There would be no chemobrain if there was no cancer.  Curing cancer isn't good enough.  That must happen, but preventing it in the first place is where we need to focus.  The National Cancer Act skulked past it's fortieth birthday and we aren't nearly close enough to significant change.  Making sure donated funds are being spent wisely is an awareness campaign whose time has come.

I am committed to this blog and I'm committed to the places this blog has taken me, too.  It's all tied together.  Army of Women, BreastCancer Deadline 2020, BCSM chat, shining a light on the pink ribbon and helping women directly-whether newly diagnosed or on the surgical floor or confused about their options as they find their way out of the maze.

As the new year begins, I am exactly where I belong.  Right here.  With all of you.  Trying to make a difference.  Trying to be a part of a Calm, Centered & Rebellious movement.  It's who I want to be and it's what I hope to do.  Until and unless I need to shift gears.  I seem to have NO problem moving to the beat of a different drum.  I'm a rebel with a cause.

Damn.  I'm not sure choosing three words even "works" if I claim rebellious as one of the words.  I'll get back to ya on that..... First, I have to let my brain attempt to process the whole concept  ;)


  1. AnneMarie,

    Your mentor Anna seems so invaluable to your writing process. Keep up the great work, my friend! I also have chemobrain, so I know it is real. I was reading Idelle's book; it's called Your Brain After Chemo, but my chemobrain had me misplace it. But when I find it, I will continue reading it, for it is great.

    I like the AD in your title.

    By the way, have you ever heard the song "Drive" by the band Incubus? I thought of it while reading your blog. It's all about taking the reins of your own life and driving. I listened to it a lot going through cancer treatment and, to this day, it continues to inspire me.

  2. Beth,

    I just searched the lyrics for Drive and I'm off to iTunes to download the song. I have my "feel good" music and that will be at the top of the list. Idelle's book is great. I have a copy, too. I think it's probably from the first batch off the printing press.

    And, the AD thing-it is very funny to see you mention that...... I've been toying with those letters as an acronym for several different words since day one of the blog. One of those "draft" copies in progress is all about the evolution of AD and like those #threewords, what do the letters mean NOW?

    Thanks for the nudge! You are tag teaming with Anna! As a fellow chemobrain, you surely understand when I say there can never be enough help or too many people holding up that bullseye....

  3. I am always impressed by your blogging prolificness! Looking forward to see what 2012 has in store for us.

  4. Thanks, Justine! It's what keeps my mind working!!!

  5. Thanks so much for the mentions, AnneMarie! So glad we know each other, and so glad you're writing daily to remind all of us what it's like to live through the fog.


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