Saturday, July 27, 2013


A version of what is below appeared on this blog on July 27, 2006.  The blog was literally just days old.  It's now seven years.  Time keeps on slippin' into the future.... and yes, I want to Fly Like an Eagle and change the world.


It was exactly five years ago today that I heard the words that are life changers.  YOU HAVE CANCER.  I actually think the doctor said, “We found a little cancer,” which, when the word cancer is being used by a doctor and you are the one in the gown, honestly, it doesn’t matter how it’s packaged.  The room spins, the air is sucked right out of you and in my case, the tears just began to stream down my face.  And, I am not known as a “baby cry.”

July 27, 2006

The exact date the line was drawn that divided my life into those two distinct parts.  My routine mammo in April was now the official date of entry into the chapter of my life I like to call “Entering Fog.”  I was no longer BC and it would be quite some time before I emerged from one fog and stepped into the fog where I currently reside, the one referred to (by me) as AD fog.

Between April and July, I was squished, mashed, poked and prodded with many tests followed by more tests and then two different invasive “in office” biopsies, titanium clips (hey, are these things going to set off the metal detectors, I have a vacation planned....) and then TaDa, The Gold Standard biopsy.  By that, I mean an operating room, anesthesia and a surgeon.  Yay Me.

Every step of the way, the reason the test was necessary was explained and the explanations always concluded with me being told how certain they were that “it’s nothing.”  And, statistically, I was not being misled or coddled through the test maze.  I had plenty of time to reflect upon on how many people said things like “nine times out of ten” and “atypical cells are just that, and ONLY THAT.  They are simply abnormal but we don’t leave abnormal cells in your body.”  So convinced the surgical outcome would be a big nothing, the doctor’s preference was to wait until I returned from a long planned family trip to Italy to do the biopsy.

“I’m more worried about you being in Europe before you are fully healed.  This really can wait.”  Concern over infection when I was going to a country where, on every block, one could find a very bright and distinctive green cross illuminating the way to the pharmacy?  The pharmacy where I was able to purchase a stash of antibiotics (never know when anthrax may regain its popularity, and no poking fun either, just look at Gaddafi-he was among the missing and is front and center again) and a cream to get rid of a skin spot……not a cancery looking mole spot, but a white dot that I knew would soon spread and blotch my perfectly crafted tan…..(begging yet another thought "have you heard about sunblock/melanoma thing, AnneMarie?"  Just asking…..).  The place where no prescription was necessary and the pharmacist, despite the communication barrier, knew exactly what I needed.  You mean THAT pharmacy?  And, yes, the cream DID work.  And no, these items were not available in the US without a visit to the doctor to obtain an illegibly written prescription.

She worried about infection and I worried about discomfort.  I didn’t need to be dealing with comfort issues on an eight plus hour flight or sleeping in a strange bed or meandering centuries old cobblestone streets in oppressive heat OR being bounced around in the back of a vehicle driven by some crazy Italian who is accustomed to the insanity that is Driving in Rome.

Did I really just pass the baton of Driving Maniac Capital from my home city to the Eternal City? The yellow cab madness in Manhattan on any given day, potholes, pedestrians, delivery guys on bikes, roller blading lunatics and the latest addition to the traffic scene, The Rickshaw..... this scene is calm?  Come to think of it, I was a bit player in one of those "only in NY" scenes the last time I was behind the wheel on a city street.

Surely this was NOT me, but yet the voice was mine....Yup, that WAS MY big mouth, screaming at some guy who, being a brash New Yorker, felt the need to tap (ok, let me get real, it's NY, it was more of a slam) the trunk of my car because I got stuck in the crosswalk.  “Yo, Dude….. I was the first effin' car. How the hell could I KNOW I wouldn't even move three feet?!"  Even on the worst traffic days, at least ONE car will make it almost through an intersection.  The traffic was particularly horrendous (gee, there's a NY surprise) and OMG, that guy had to walk exactly four additional steps and he's hitting my car??  And I hear my voice again, "Turn AROUND you dumb-ass.... who do you think you are???!?!?"  I'm pretty sure I didn't actually call him a dumb ass.  In fact, I'm certain my language was far worse than any string of expletives you care to insert after the words "turn around" left my lips.  And, I don't even think the word ass or any form thereof was even uttered during that little street exchange (wasn't really an exchange since I was the only person doing any "exchanging).

I was on my way to a doctor appointment.  They always make me edgy and besides, this old cranky guy had no right.  He’s lucky the traffic was stressing me out and it appeared I was going to be late for the appointment.  New doctor and I FORGOT to put the office number in my phone.  Gee, no surprise there....I've added a new act to this gig - I'm now lucky I remember to even grab my phone as I'm running out the door.....  I don’t know into whom I’ve turned, but I swear, if there wasn’t a time issue, I would have gotten out of the car and gotten right up in this guy’s face.  The new me.  Just to be clear, it’s really easy to be brave and bold and downright brazen on a busy NY street with hundreds of people just an arms length from rescuing me.  From myself.

Where WAS I… CB strikes again… and, that wasn't me and my usual transposition of letters and numbers... CB = quicker to type than ChemoBrain... (except, since I had to go into this explanation, I just wasted more time which defeated the whole purpose and can you see how I am my own worst enemy???)

I’m trying to memorialize today, trying to celebrate the fact that FIVE YEARS has passed and I'm OK! I’ve detoured through the streets of Rome, the back of cars, planes, an Italian farmacia (thanks google translate for accurate spelling, very important) and traveled another 4298 miles (wiki detour, another very integral piece of information that requires complete accuracy in order to write a cohesive entry) back to the streets of NY where I am ready to take down a rude little man on Second Avenue????  And, awesome application of alliteration to describe the fine people of NYC:  Bold, Brash, Brave and Brazen!

Wow, what a perfectly crafted example of the journey my brain takes me through to get to the damn point already.

And the point is, there is no longer a point.

These are the days I just have to find something to do that is totally mindless and by mindless, I mean Angry Birds mindless.  Actually, I became a Tiny Wings fan..... which, by the way, has surpassed Angry Birds in popularity.  Yes, THAT mindless.  But I DID just read that factoid about AB v TW.

It's A BIG Day.  My Five Year Milestone.  My moment to feel the depth of my gratitude.  And, I am SO grateful.....  and more importantly, I earned mindless.... Yes, I did.....


I've learned much.  And yes, I am ever so grateful that I still reside in the Land of NED.  I am also ACUTELY aware five years guarantees nothing.  It gives me a statistical edge (supposedly....allegedly..... I'm not a fan of statistics since they can be punctuated to fit any given agenda) but there is no guarantee.  As I've seen with my mom, cancer now metastasized, likely from 1987, as I've learned from Lori, now metastatic after seven (? ...  sorry, L... I think it was seven years), and most recently as I was blindsided by Jody, metastatic after 15 years.....  There is no "You're cured" badge of honor.  There's only.... we need to keep working for better research..... And I'm all in on that.....


  1. Congratulations on seven years in the Land of NED. Reading your "story" I am struck (again) by how every journey is unique and yet very similar. The world is a better place with you as an advocate. Keep up the fight. Peace, love & unicorns as you celebrate this weekend.

  2. Seven years, that still a good thing even if there are no promises. Congratulations right from the depth of my heart. I wish you 700 more! (If we one day all get to turn into robots or something.) And again, thank you for your advocacy. That voice of yours has transformed with its direction and power. :)~Catherine

  3. Seven year itch...keep scratchin fellow NED!Congrats!

  4. dear anne marie,

    july 27th - that's my birthday! and you know what - 7 has always been my lucky number all my life; born on the 7th mo., the 27th day, weighed 7 pounds, 7 oz, and my mom's maternity suite was #707. all the home addresses we have lived in, all the telephone #'s have had 7's in them. and though it's a super crappy thing that your were diagnosed on july 27th, on THIS july 27th, you are still happily, blissfully co-habiting with the darling, NED. I am an inveterate NON gambler, but from time to time have offered the services of my good fortune number, sent out through the universe for those whom I love and adore to grab onto for whatever they are wishing for. and in strange, but beautiful ways - it's worked! I will be honored to do the same for you; take the sevens, all of them, envision them surrounding your mind, body and soul for whatever you wish for. whatever gets us through, be it sharing our stories, plain dumb luck, the excellent good thoughts that get sent our way, or the value we assign to whatever we feel can be a talisman to help comfort us and shine the light of hope - it's all good stuff. my 7's have always signified love - not financial gain, or other trappings of fancy things, but for good and love to be visited
    upon loving hearts who are in need. all that I have are yours to keep, but never fear they will ever run out. just like love, they can be held close to your heart, and at the same time be passed on to others you wish to gift them to. you may think that lately, 7's haven't come through for me very well, but we all have our times of shit simply happening. my love-ly 7's may not have saved hugh, nor prevented cancer coming into our lives - what? 3 times now? doesn't matter. for in all the bad things that befall us, it all comes back to love - it's indelible memories, it's ability to slice through the darkest hours, it's undying, unrelenting, and powerful life-forces that helps us to re-wire ourselves to keep moving forward, and for helping us meet perfect strangers with whom to share our lives with, opening the door to gorgeous friendships that forever change us in so many wonderful ways. I am hoping, but more so, believing the thousands of sevens that have popped up in the midst of turmoil and despair in my entire life time, that number that has always been the purveyor of love, will do the same for you, my dear anne marie.

    much love and millions an millions of bright shiny 7s (='s LOVE)


  5. Oh my, Karen's comment above is so beautiful I am rendered speechless.
    xoxo on living with NED x7!

  6. I'm glad you're in the land of NED, AnneMarie. I was so naive when I was first being diagnosed to think that I could be "cured." Even a doctor said that word. Now I know there's no such thing.

  7. Dear One, this is an overdue to visit to celebrate with you our mutual NED status. I can so relate, at five years, to still having to spend entire days doing something mindless. I think it's part of our healing process. Our minds and bodies get so utterly steam-rolled by it all, we need to let them be on a kind of hold sometimes. And oh, my, yes, do we ever know better than to take anything for granted, especially stats!! I just want you to know that, despite my having to take a large time-out these days (which I know you, of all people, understand), I think of you and your mom every day. If you feel a little warm, gentle breeze drift over your shoulder, that will be me, sending love. xoxo, Kathi

  8. Congratulations on reaching your five year milestone! Certainly something to be over-the-moon happy and grateful about. I've had the chance to tour Rome a couple of years ago and I can totally relate to some of your experiences, except I have nothing but high regard for your bravery and adventurous nature. With your situation at that time, most people would probably have just stayed in bed. Wishing you many, many more years ahead and more opportunities to travel. Thanks for sharing your story, truly inspiring!


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