Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I owe you an apology

I started this blog a couple of years ago for a few reasons. The first has to do with sleep, a recurring theme 'round these parts. I have always loved to nap, and for some reason, it seems like the phone rings as soon as I lie down. That makes me swear and get very grouchy, and say stuff like "Who the f*ck is calling me NOW?" but then I have to be fakey nice on the phone so nobody knows I'm annoyed. "Oh hiiiiiiii, nice to hear from you."

When I first heard those fateful words, "You have breast cancer," the thing I thought was not, "I'm going to die" but instead, "Oh no, I'm going to be extra-tired from chemo and people are going to call me and wake me up!"

It was that thought that started me toying with the idea of writing a blog - I wanted to train people not to disturb me.

Naturally, after my initial diagnosis, I was very eager to get a first-hand accounting of what it's like to go through breast cancer treatment. Not knowing anybody in real life who had been through it, I googled "breast cancer blogs" and found this one. I landed somewhere in the middle and read a few lines, and found her funny and witty, and I related to her in a big way. I knew she would handle her treatment the way I would, so she would be a good model for me. So, I went to the beginning of her blog and read it from start to finish, the way I see many people reading mine.

I was horrified to discover that she died at the end.

I couldn't believe it. And, I was worried for other women, newly diagnosed with an early stage cancer, who might come across it and think that would be their fate.

(That blog has changed since I first read it - somebody has been adding photos and ads and rearranged the order, so I don't know if it's still the same content.)

Anyway, I now had two compelling reasons to start a blog. I wanted to prevent being awakened from naps, and I wanted to share the story of a woman with breast cancer who lived through it and went on to have a normal life doing normal things, like nagging her husband and avoiding housework.

I was going to write this blog cliche-free. No "journeys with cancer," no "long and courageous battles" no "new normal." Just plain speaking and some silly jokes.

That was my plan.

Unfortunately, today I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer to the liver. And, that means that this blog will end as all the other blogs of metastatic women eventually do. I'll share my struggle, my new treatments, my ups and downs. I hope I will do that for many years to come. But, eventually I'll write less and less, sleep more and more, and one day, my husband will post for me, saying I'm gone.*

How cliche is that?

I'm sorry, dear readers, that I let you down.

~~~

On to the life of a Metster. Tomorrow I have a PET scan to see if it's anywhere else in my body. Monday, I see my doctor for a treatment plan based on the results. Think good thoughts that it is contained in the liver and this back pain I've been experiencing is unrelated to any disease process. That would be the best case scenario at this point.

*Only he might not, because I won't be around to nag him.

.

78 comments:

  1. OH Ann... I'm so sorry to hear that it has spread. *hugs*

    Susan

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  2. There are no words.. I want you to know that you have not let anyone down, we will follow you through everything- ups and downs- as we have all along. Sending positive thoughts and powerful prayers your way- hugs hugs hugs from Alabama- Rachel

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  3. Tracy Jones ScottJune 15, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    Ann....we all love you so much. We are so sorry to hear of this...and are sending our love and thoughts and prayers your way.

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  4. Well, shit. Sorry, but there is no other word. Debby.

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  5. Thank you Ann for all that you share with us.....you haven't let anyone down..... instead you are teaching us how to live well and to live with big balls as you follow this newest HER2 breast cancer pathway. I hope you are wearing Laboutins to your PET tomorrow. You go girl !

    Nicola in Canada

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  6. This really, really sucks. Thoughts and prayers to you from Ohio.

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  7. One word, 'no'.

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  8. I love your realistic point of view, your humor, your plain-talk. I'm sure that won't change a bit! You have nothing to apologize for--this is life with cancer. Mets can happen to anyone of us at anytime. I'll be here sending prayers and good thoughts your way. If there is ANYTHING I can do from here in MN, let me know! Cancer sucks!

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  9. Hope this helps: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/health/27case.html?nl=health&emc=healthupdateema1

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  10. I have emailed back and forth with Kathy, and in fact, was going to interview her for this blog. She has lived almost 20 years with mets now - but it's in her bones only. When it hits major organs it's more severe. But, new treatments are coming along and I'm not giving up yet. I hope to live 20 years too!

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  11. Damn!!! This is so unfair; I'm so sorry, Ann.

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  12. You have nothing to apologize for. I enjoy every word of your blog. I'm just so sorry this has happened. Sending you love, hugs and disturb-free naps.

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  13. I am so sorry to hear this Ann. I follow your blog. I was diagnosed the same time you were. Her2+ also. I enjoy your wit and wisdom. I hope you have a complete response to whichever treatment they send your way. Hugs and prayers. MaryEllen

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  14. Just remember everybody:

    I'M NOT YOU!

    I worry for you that you'll live in fear and end up with mets. Most don't, remember that.

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  15. 20 years sounds a little conservative for you....but any number of years or months works (with quality of life, whatever that means for each of us) ...all the best, you will go down this path with (oh, for god's sake, let's not say "COURAGE" or "battle" or even "hope")...you will go down this path with fierce devotion to life, love, and outreach.

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  16. Ann, this just sucks.
    I will pray for you and your family and continue to enjoy your blog and your support.
    Shawn H

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  17. I love your writing and I love how funny you are.

    I thought about you a lot today and when I read your, "I was right" tweet -- well, it just sucks.

    I hope it's confined to your liver.

    If it's confined to your liver, why can't you get a liver transplant? I'm serious about that.

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  18. Joan Oliver EmmerJune 15, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    I expect to read about you and by you for years and years to come.

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  19. Sending my love and emotional support.

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  20. Found your blog a while back and checked in last week to read the news of the impending biopsy. I'm just so sorry about the news...and I'm going to keep reading, so keep writing, writing, writing!

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  21. First, thank you everybody. Your support means so much.

    To answer Zeebras question - they don't do transplants on cancer patients. But, the PET will show if cancer is anywhere else. If it is not (which is unlikely - it's very rare to have liver be the first place mets shows up) then they will do what is called "radiofrequency ablation." They chemo me, then zap those suckers until they are dead. They can also cut out the cancer, although I think RFA is the latest and greatest. That could keep me NED for years and keep this blog boring, like I always intended.

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  22. Keep writing Ann. Thank you.

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  23. shit.

    I haven't known you all that long, but I'm so very fond of you. I just HATE that you have to go through this!!

    dammitalltohell...

    All thoughts focused on liver-only pet scan results.

    lots of love & hugs,
    Gayle

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  24. Hi Ann , we chatted on twitter a couple of weeks ago I think about liver mets. Like you I wonder how my blog will end and when? the tag line for my blog is "My battle with inflammatory breast cancer and rediscovering normality" - I debated changing that when I got diagnosed with liver mets but then I thought no that is my 'new normal' - that is my normality adn will hopefully be for many years to come. I worry about how honest I should be on my blog out my down times and my fatigue etc but in the end I have chosen to show it warts and all. for every down day where the fatigue and chemo wear me down there are the good days as well. Im still doing a part time degree at uni, my oldest daughter has just got engaged - it is all part of my 'new normality'

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  25. Damn it.... Sure hate this for you and your family. I can't speak for everyone who reads your blog, but I know you haven't let me down or caused me to think thoughts that I don't already think. You inspire me to be "cliche" free, and to face whatever situation I am in with humor and grace. Thank you for that!

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  26. Ann, SO sorry to hear this. My thoughts are totally with you today. Your blog was so helpful to me when I was first dx'd 02/11 triple+, 2a. Let's hope for better results with the PET.
    Big hugs and positive vibes! Monica

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  27. Ok... here's what my cousin says:

    "I am a breast cancer asskicker in Sacramento, California."

    Go get 'em Ann! Thinking of you, up here in Oregon... love you...

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  28. Oh crap crap crap, shit and crap. Ann, I'm super sad to hear this, but I'm thinking you are an incredible woman at the same time. I came across that same blog you linked to and thought it was a great read, very funny. When I was first dx'd last year I went straight to google and typed in breast cancer blogs as I wanted the same kind of thing. What you blog about and your honesty and humour is so valuable for other women out there, so thank you for that. You haven't let anyone down. All my thoughts from the other side of the world. xx

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  29. Ann, I'm thinking of you and wishing you the best possible results.

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  30. Cancer Sucks big time! I've been reading your blog since I was dx'd with BC last Nov. You are an inspiration and I have a feeling that you will put on some gorgeous high heels and kick cancer's ass! You are in my thoughts and prayers!

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  31. Ann - there are no words!! You are a fighter we all know that so cancer has no idea who it is up against...stay strong. I expect to hear "Who the f*ck is calling me NOW?" for a very long time.

    Judi in Reno

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  32. Our thoughts are with you from South Africa. You continue to inspire us with your strength.

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  33. well sh(5. Was hoping you were wrong. Hate to have to admit you were right.
    Anja

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  34. Well crap. I have a friend who was diagnosed at stage IV four years ago.She had liver mets that they did the radiofrequency thing on. She now gets a CT scan every three or four months but is otherwise fine. I am sending you all sorts of positive thoughts. Another friend had three tumors in his liver and they took out the majority of his liver and it grew back. Those are their stories but there is hope. There are lots of treatments out there, lots of options. Never give up.

    And NEVER apologize. You did nothing wrong.

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  35. I would like to drop the "F" bomb right now, but am refraining out of a sense of common decency to other, less profanity-fond readers. But, I am THINKING "F" bombs all over the place right now, and I'm pretty sure you have thought your fair share of them as well. Stupid cancer. But - this is NOT the end, it's just another turn in the road. I have faith that you are going to be around for a long time, sharing your amazing voice and courage and telling your cancer exactly where to stick it. And we will all be here telling your cancer where to stick it, too. And when it gets really dark, we'll go there with you, too. You are NOT ALONE. You are the one whose body has to continue to serve as the battlefield, but you aren't alone while you are doing it. And - you are NOT letting ANYONE down.

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  36. I'm so sorry Ann. This is just a huge pile of crap and no one ever wants to say welcome to the mets community. But please know that we are right here with you ranting, raving, laughing, crying, swearing, screaming, or even just sleeping or virtually holding your hand. Whatever you need, know that you're being heard. Xxxxxx

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  37. Ann,
    I don't have words. I'm so angry at this stupid disease! I love you, my friend, and am sending hugs and positive thoughts & prayers your way.

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  38. There is not much I can say that can make you feel better - just that I'm sending big hugs across the Atlantic for you. I have a friend who was diagnosed with metastasic cancer to the liver after breast cancer. Her cancer was HER2+ (like yours and mine) She is now on a life-time treatment of herceptine once every three weeks (don't know if you originally had that?)and she is doing fine - no sign of mets anymore. I know we are all different but it's nice to hear positive stories. Lots of positive thoughts for you, big hugs xxx

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  39. This totally sucks, Ann. I'm so sorry to hear that it's spread. But I'll be following along with your posts and hoping for the best. I'm anxious to hear what your doc thinks about lapatinib.

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  40. Ann, I have enjoyed following your blog. You have been such an inspiration to so many of us out here. I hate what this disease does to us. Wishing you the best possible outcome for your PET scan and treatments. Will keep you in my daily prayers. Ditto on what Melissa has said - you are not alone.

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  41. Dear Ann
    This news is sickening and heartbreaking. You have not let anyone down. Pink ribbons and parties and marches have let us all down. I will keep fighting this !@#$%! disease with you, for you.

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  42. Hey--you haven't let anyone down. Of course, I could be biased, since I also am living with metastatic disease.

    Jeanne

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  43. Crap! Well if anyone is going to make this next chapter of your life one that we will get value from, it will be you. It won't be fun at times, but through your wisdom and expression of your experience we will learn and be better for it. I pray for a long long chapter............

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  44. I am sorry ton hear this news, Ann. I so hoped itmwasn't the case. Cancer sucks.

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  45. Your blog will never be a cliche. Your life will never be a cliche. You are too special a person for that!
    Els

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  46. Damn it, I am so very sorry. Please keep writing.

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  47. Here reading, raging, ranting. I echo all of the above comments.

    There are no cliches among friends. Just truth and you tell it.

    Jody

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  48. Hi Ann! Great to stumble on your blog! Best of luck with everything! You will pull through! Have you heard of Freedom of Access to Medicines? The non-profit leading the effort against the FDA from disproving the drug Avastin which is helping 17,500 survive with Metastatic Breast Cancer on June 28th. Please sign & share the urgent petition: http://fameds.org/petition.php

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  49. Ann,

    Please know you didn't let anyone down. Cancer is a b*tch. You are not alone, as you can see by so many of our virtual buddies' comments. You have made a difference in other people's lives.

    Two examples I want to share with you:

    1) Someone I was acquainted with had breast cancer that spread to many organs, including the liver. She had rounds of chemo and guess what....10 years out of treatment she's cancer-free. I'm not trying to give you false hope, but there is hope.

    2) Something that we all as living beings know is that someday we are all going to die. Tomorrow is borrowed to no one, even healthy, young people. Here's an example, my good friend had Stage IV breast cancer. Her best friend was in another state and had visited her a number of times.

    Now most people, including me, thought for sure my friend would die before this healthy, spirited best friend. It turns out that her friend got into a car accident and died before my friend did from cancer.

    Life is weird that way.

    Keep writing.

    Hugs,

    Beth

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  50. Ann,
    Please do not stop writing your blog. I have followed you from the beginning of my HER+ diagnosis in November 2009 only a month after you were diagnosed and you have taught me so much. I expect to continue following your journey for many more years.
    Cancer sucks ass...
    Take care, Vonda

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  51. This is such a shit sandwhich you've been served. I'm so sorry. I have really enjoyed reading your blog, your humor and your positive attitude. I wish more than anything (as I'm sure you do) there was a happy ending for you.

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  52. This just sucks. Write it out, girlfriend. Your humor will get you through this.

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  53. Anne,

    You don't owe ANYONE an appology! I was diagnosed in Sept '09 at 31 right around the same time as you! Don't give up... You just keep your head up girl! You have been such a role model and an inspiration to all of us... We LOVE you!!
    xo
    The GG :)

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  54. Well hell! Damn! Damn! Damn!

    I know that feeling of expecting to get your life back when treatments are over. It either takes a very long time or it only actually happens for a select few.

    Cancer changes much but it can't do a thing to our spirit and I look forward to many more years of your spirited postings. Many more years for you and many more years for me, too.

    And, by the way, of course it scares the rest of we breast cancer peeps when we hear that someone has mets. Just like it freaks you out when you hear a bad breast cancer outcome. Hearing about your liver freaks me out, too, especially after believing you were well on your way back to being able to make breast cancer a distant memory. But don't feel sorry for scaring us, Ann. I appreciate knowing the truth and what's real instead of something glossed over to make me more comfortable. I just wish you didn't HAVE to freak us out. More than that, I wish you didn't have to go down this next road of MORE cancer business.

    Thanks for keeping it real, Ann. I so hope you continue to kick the sh*t out of (insert F-bomb here) cancer until you can truly laugh in its face! And then I wish you hours, then days, then weeks ... months ... years of not having a single cancer thought.

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  55. You are the most amazing woman. I am honored to know you if only through your blog. No apologies ever and we are here to support you on this journey for many years to come.

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  56. What do you need from us? What can we do to help if even from afar?

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  57. Dear Ann, I'm sorry that you have been confirmed as having mets. This is just crap. But I know you will continue to tell it as it is, and these are the stories we should be hearing. The real life truth about breast cancer. As you can see from the comments here - know that your voice is heard.
    Sarah

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  58. I'm devastated for you. You haven't let us down. Science and researchers have let us all down. I'm angry. I'm heartsick for you but know you will continue to relate your feelings and experiences in a very real way that helps us understand this monster. You are alive; you're in the here and now. Make the most of each day.

    You will be in my prayers,
    Brenda

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  59. Not much more I can add....wait a minute, there is: I care, too! Ann, if you close your eyes, feel the love and support we have for you out here in blogging-land. Please keep writing it like it is. Your humor has helped me immensely when I've run the gamut of fear, anger, sadness and...yawn....tiredness :) :)

    --Carolyn

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  60. Ann,

    Don't ever apologize. Eventually is LOOOONG way away.

    Katie

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  61. This sucks big time. But I doubt there is anyone out there in cancer-land who is a more informed patient than you are. I expect to be reading your blog for a long time to come.

    Ingrid

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  62. So sorry to hear this news. I add my voice in with the rest, as well as my prayers and support. You haven't let anyone down. ((((hugs)))))
    Tonya

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  63. Definitely sending you good thoughts! No apologies. I love your blog. Write as much or as little as you want.

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  64. Don't ever think that you've let anyone down! I am doing my best to cope with breast cancer too and I've found many things to give me hope when I read your blog. I'm so sorry to hear your latest news but do remember that many people live a long time whilst undergoing treatment for secondaries, so it's not the end of the road even if it feels like it right now.

    However much (or little) you write, I will always enjoy reading your blog.

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  65. You are going to be around for a long time. You take it one day at a time, and live for that day. You experience that day, as if that particular one was your last. At the end of the day you give thanks for all the good things you experienced that day, and give thanks for the ones that taught you something. You surround yourself with those that are there for you and who love you. And you educate yourself on prolonging your life, whether that be by medicine, alternative medicine, a new way of thinking, whatever. And you realize that no matter how hard the lesson is, and how ridiculous you have to go through this, there is a reason for this, and somehow, some way, you are going to get yourself out of this. You are experiencing this for a reason, and in your case, with your writing abilities, to educate others to live life, and show them how to fight to keep it! It sucks - it truly does. But things happen, and just as bad things happen, so do good things, like defeating the odds and living, because it CAN be done. The day before yesterday I studied my pension plan at work - 12 years to go, and I was making plans as to what I was going to do - retire fully, or work part time? And I was serious about it - it CAN be done. This is with BC mets to spine, ribs, liver and uterus. I'm not planning on going anywhere - the odds HAVE been defeated before. And with your attitude, and your strength and sense of humor, I know you'll be around too. Do the day by day thing as much as you can - live for today. By doing that, you'll soon realize you have a ton of tomorrows!!

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  66. Ann, its too soon for saying good-by and writing apologies. You should simply enjoy your life as it comes, day by day. Enjoy your family and bug your husband and get in touch with your kids. You don't know whats in store for your future, the only thing you know is that at this moment its worth fighting for. Do the best you can for as long as you can, and we will be around to lift you up when you are down. Life to an extent, is what you make it, make the most our of yours. All the best, and awaiting your next post.

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  67. I, too, am devastated to hear this news, and I know that if this cancer can be beat, you will beat it. Unleash your inner bitch and bitch-slap the hell out of this! Seriously, your humor and fight have been such an inspiration to so many, it is all our hopes that you'll find a treatment that lets you keep writing and living for many, many, many years to come.

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  68. I was sorry to read this Ann. Please do not apologize for anything! You are an amazing woman and an inspiration to many of us. Not one journey is the same, you are right. The truth is, we can plan all we want but we never really know what our path will be.
    I will be reading along as you share with us your new path. I will continue to send courage and strength along with hope that your doctors come up with a really kick ass treatment plan to help you beat this cancer out of your body for a very long long time. Rebecca

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  69. This outpouring of support is very meaningful to me. Thank you.

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  70. I'm so sorry, Ann, for this unbelievable news. Your writing is so poignant. As I read this I couldn't think of appropriate words, so let me just say that my prayers go out to you and yours, including that you can get some nourishing daytime rest without that doggone phone going off. Hate that, as I hate all things cancer.

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  71. Oh, shit, Ann...I don't even know what to say. But, as you can see, your cyber-sisters are keeping you in our hearts and thoughts. Keep writing, keep napping, keep turning off the phone, and keep on keepin on. And we'll keep reading. We've got your back.

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  72. Ann, I've not much to add either. As the others have said, you don't owe anyone any apologies. I want to thank you for your honesty and willingness to write about this new, unwelcome, crappy discovery. I hate this stinking disease. My thoughts and hopes are with you and I'll be here every time you write. As you can see, you are not alone.

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  73. Anne: I tried to find your e-mail address, but didn't see it on your blog. I've got a question. I took your news kind of hard, because I've been reading along with the whole rapidly expanding belly thing and thinking, "yeah. me too." However, I sat up straight when I heard that your doctor felt this was 'alarming'. I just get pooh-poohed, mostly. "Hormones will do that," I was told. I took your news pretty hard. I also made a decision to seek treatment in the big city. However, after two years of debate, they finally caved and my ovaries were removed a couple of Fridays ago. The doctor said that he's concerned...I've got abnormal liver numbers. He said that he was contacting both my family doctor and oncologist, that he felt strongly this needed immediate follow up. Long story short, I've felt terrible for the past couple of months (terrible bone pain and totally exhausted. I fall into bed exhausted and sleep so soundly that I miss the bear on the back porch, but when I wake up, I'm so exhausted that it's all I can do to get moving. I'm a little unnerved by all of this. I just wanted to know: were your liver numbers off? Or did they just follow up because of your belly?

    debby_hornburg@yahoo.com

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  74. I gasped when I read about the liver mets. Just sat. Stunned. Silent. I've had you in my thoughts but was unable to bring myself to write until now. But that's because of ME, not because of you. As you can see from the outpouring of support here, you have not let anyone down. Telling the truth about breast cancer is powerful, and it's something this culture needs MORE of, not less. I've always appreciated your straight-forward manner and your willingness to speak out. You're still kick ass, Ann Silberman. No doubt about that!

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  75. You are a tough woman. I admire your courage. Although, I have not gone through a major illness, but I have witnessed others in my family that have. I envy you because I wish I had your courage but I don't.

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  76. Although it's month after the question was asked, I do want to respond to one - no, my liver values were never off.

    I felt it was important for anybody coming across this in the future to know that. You can find my email addy in my profile, and as always, thank you all for your comments.

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  77. Ann
    I'm crying as I type this. I found your blog recently, like last week ( 10/20/12). I have come to love you over the last few days of reading your blog. I am still a year behind in the reading. Thank you for being the courageous, funny woman that you are.
    Love and many hugs for you and your family
    Kathryn

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  78. I'm new(ish) to cancer and new to your blog, I wish I'd met you earlier. Anything else I can think of saying now is Cliche.. like You are Inspirational. But you are.

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