Tuesday, April 24, 2012


So... six years ago today, I was so convinced the envelope containing this was insignificant it was tossed aside for at least three hours before I finally decided to open it.  I didn't have chemobrain in 2006.  No clue what I was thinking. Really, I was thinking.... "This is no big deal.  At All.  I get these letters every year."  I was an accomplished pro at The Letter.  The only thing that was different?  Year prior, this stuff would come on an index card.  Enter HIPAA.  The sealed envelopes, which in the past might have invoked terror? Not so much.  My privacy matters.  Unless, of course, I'm printing an image of the letter on a blog for anyone who stumbles this way to see.  I'm invading my own privacy.
Highway to Hell

Little did I know, or little could I have realized I was very lucky to get this letter on a Monday.  WTF?  Seriously??  THAT mattered??  YES, It did.  For whatever reason, both the radiologist and the gynecologist had late hours on Mondays.  I was able to jump into action.  Place the necessary phone calls.  Set up the appointments.  Get prescriptions faxed.  I'm great in a crisis.  Organizing my shit.  That could not have taken more than fifteen minutes.  Like I said.  Pre Chemobrain.... I was pretty fabulous at springing into action and getting immediate results.  Concrete and quick.

Good thing, too.  Once those appointments were in place and after being assured by every person I spoke to in little more than fifteen minutes, "Just being cautious, this is nothing," and... I am talking at least six people including both doctors and the staff I had to take out in a defensive tackle to get those doctors on the phone.......  IMMEDIATELY upon having my plans in place, I did what any normal person might do.  I sat all by myself.  At the kitchen table.  And I cried for two solid hours before my husband walked in the door.  Suffice to say, by the time he walked in, well, you know what you look like after tears have been spilling for two straight hours.

One hundred thirty five minutes earlier I ripped open the envelope, and very cavalierly, I tossed it aside.  I can still see it floating, almost featherlike, from my hand, through the air on its way to the counter.  Mid air, my eyes caught the words "calcium spots."  In that very moment, life would NEVER be the same again.  I'm doing what Steve Jobs described so perfectly when he beautifully explained the concept of connecting the dots backwards.  And how you can only connect the dots backwards.

On April 24, 2006 at approximately 6PM, I became a passenger on what I like to call "The Runaway Train" and that letter was my ticket to board the train.  Simultaneously, it was also my first step on The Highway To Hell.  Who knew?  Me...... I was just being a drama queen.  I was making a mountain out of a sentence.  Pulling out the phrases that had maximum impact and turning them into an epic disaster.  D.R.A.M.A. --- Q.U.E.E.N.

If I was on a Runaway Train six years ago.  On this very day.  Today, in 2012, on this very day, I am Flying Without A Net. One of those odd coincidences.  I have my six month oncology follow up today.  Precisely six years To The Day.  Five years post chemo.  With an excellent prognosis.  And Scanxiety.  Even though I don't get scans.  I just get bloodwork.  Maybe. See prior posts.  Not so sure WHAT will happen today.  Only certainty... my only guarantee?  Count on a full report.  Hell. Maybe I'll video the whole damn thing and just roll tape.

There is a message in this.  It's an important message.  It's one worth repeating.  Once you jump on The Cancer Train, as so many of my blogger buddies and twitter pals and fellow travelers can share:  We are FOREVER changed.

I designated myself as the guest of honor at the #bcsm tweet chat last night.  The topic was living with fear of recurrence. I guess, once again, I am LUCKY my doctor appointment is today.  And I'm lucky the topic for the chat was exactly what the doctor ordered.  Last night, I was held up by the support of more people than I can possible thank.  Those lonely hours the night before oncology follow ups are awful. I had global support.  I don't know how to begin to say thank you to all of you.

For the record.  My logic brain knows I know I'm STILL being a d.r.a.m.a.---q.u.e.e.n.  Chemobrain trumps logic brain every. single. time.  Paper covers rock and scissors cuts paper.  In that little analogy-my physical brain is the rock. Paper is logic and those scissors?  I'm AnneMarie ScissorBrain.  Hell, if Johnny Depp had Edward's Scissorhands, I can claim a scissor brain.  And, my message?  It doesn't really ever get EASY.  This follow up crap.... once bitten and all that jazz... nope... It never gets easy.  It just may get easIER.

And this would be a big PS to the tweep who used the #bcsm bat signal on Sunday night to mention she was six months late in scheduling her six month oncology follow up.  I promise, I got your back.  We all got your back.  No words.  Just pure global support and love.  I hope you made your appointment.

And, a further PS to there rest of us...... as long as I had to do my normal wiki, IMDB, google detour to get some foundation for the Scissorhands reference...... a quote from the movie that some of us may appreciate....

"You can't touch anything without destroying it! Who the hell do you think you are hanging around here, huh?
Get the hell outta here! Go you freak! "


  1. I love you! Demure, shy, retiring as always.

  2. Well, one part of your brain isn't affected: the creativity center. Thank goodness you can write damn straight. Yes, once we are passengers on the cancer train, we never are able to get off. And that train keeps on derailing.

    Your letter that you posted was sobering. A reminder. So familiar.

    Good luck today, AnneMarie. You have so many people looking after you!

    1. I can't believe the number of positively WONDERFUL people I have connected with because of the blog and then twitter..... Thank you for reminding me of that. There were so many well wishes on twitter I was floored. One more milestone.... xoxox

  3. I love the "you can only connect the dots backwards." It's so true! I never thought of it that way. You are perfecto, as always!

    1. Renn..
      If you never heard Steve Jobs commencement address at Stanford University, definitely search it on You Tube. It is a terrific speech. Engaging and brilliant. Man had an exceptional mind. What another waste of talent taken by cancer..... xoxox

  4. AnnMarie,

    You heard the words, "just being cautious." The ones I heard were, "We're just ruling things out." Well, we all know what did NOT get ruled out.

    Yes, once aboard the cancer train, you are forever changed.

    1. Yes, Nancy... Cancer does have it's only language. I am so glad you are part of my "forever changed" world.


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