Wednesday, October 3, 2012

One year ago today....

...I had my liver resection.  A year ago, at the time I write this now, I was in post-op in searing pain, yet somewhere in the back of that agony was the idea that I was cancer-free.  I had hopes that I would be the lucky one, the one out of a million, the one who had mets and against all odds, lived a long life.  Three years previous, again in October, I had my mastectomy for early stage cancer, again thinking, post-surgery, that I was cancer-free.

Today, as we start the pink fest that is October, and the month I would dread (except my oldest child was born this month so I will always love it),  I got news that for certain, cancer is back in my liver.

But still, only my liver.

We might ablate it again.  I start Halaven, a new chemo (my sixth) next week.  Amid the flurry of pink that October brings, with its celebration of all things survivor and the focus on awareness, I have become aware that this is a fight that I am destined to lose.

And, even the dumb war metaphors are starting to seem more realistic.  I am so tired, and yet I get up every day, I go to chemo once a week, I try this thing and that thing, hoping to establish a beachhead, a place where I get the upper hand, but now knowing that the enemy, my cancer, will win.

And, why wouldn't my cancer be victorious in this metaphorical battle?  My cancer is me, my cells.  My stubborn, self-willed cells.   Why would they be any less determined than I am to live, to survive?

They are dumb cells though, that don't know that when they kill me off, they die too.

The days are worth living despite the exhaustion.  There are beautiful things that happen in my life, some I will share in the upcoming days, some big and some tiny.  As I left my doctor's appointment today after hearing the news, I saw the most beautiful color car, maybe what they call candy apple red.  So deep, it was like layers of color inside of color.  I stopped to stare at the depth of the color.    I can still appreciate these simple, beautiful things, maybe more than I could before.

But, it is extremely difficult to live your life on chemo, your body a continual battleground against the enemy, especially one who is merely yourself.  I know that some day, I will get too tired.  Death is inevitable for all of us, and the white flag of surrender will go up.  I will be a casualty in this pink war, forgotten in the culture of survivors.

But not yet.  I fight on.


  1. Ann,

    I am so sorry to learn that cancer is back, even if only in your liver. *hugs*


  2. Ann...i love reading what you write. You are so good! I think you are right on with this entry. You have expressed what I have experienced second-hand so perfectly, so crisp, so elegantly. You are right, of course, about seeing some simple things, like candy-apple red in a whole new light. I admire your spirit and zest, and I am a strong believer in the theory that how much you want to live plays a significant role in how you fight this battle.

  3. oh, my dear ann,

    i am so sorry for this most distressing developement. that's one way to say - seriously?? really?? fucking cancer? back in your liver?? piss, shit and damn. i am sooooo mad, i am furious, i am outraged that so much time has been wasted with creating a culture of pink fuel to run a huge machine that is spinning it's wheels, with the same ole, same ole missed opportunities to move forward towards what bc patients long for; and it ain't awareness. we are fully aware, are we not? forgive my vitriol, ann. what i wish i could do right now is to give you a hug, and thank you for sharing your feelings in such a raw and honest way. i am in awe of your determination to keep on keeping on, and am sending you my most powerful vibes to help you, to comfort you, and to uplift you when you are so tired.

    much love and warm hugs,

    karen sutherland

  4. Ann, this is a very profound post. You've reminded me that I can find happiness in the little spite of my cancer. Honestly, I never thought of it as "my" cancer before just now. But you're right...they are my cells. And yes, eventually, they will end up winning. But, I still have fight left in me. I will fight till I can't fight anymore. If I could find you through the pink fog, I'd hug you!!

  5. I love your writing but hate that this bad thing has been confirmed. I was also choosing the assumption you were cancer free. I hope for another ablation, one that will be entirely successful. Today I noticed the fall leaves dancing in the road, literally dancing. I pointed it out to my son and said how beautiful.

  6. Oh Ann words fail--Marion

  7. I'm sorry. I wish that I could come up with something profound to say, but I cannot. I'm just so terribly, awfully sorry.

  8. I'm sorry, Ann. I can't imagine how hard that was to hear today.

    Thank you for keeping us posted. I think you serve as a guidepost for a lot of us out here, afraid to look too far ahead. Your writing, candor and spirit as great gifts to us all, and I wish you the best possible health and strength.

    You are more than the sum of your cells.

  9. Pardon me while I wipe away a few tears. They just keep on coming so wiping seems futile. I admire your attitude, your candor, your humanity and, as always, I keep thinking of you and sending my wishes of strength and grace out there hoping they help in some little way ... though I know they don't help in the way I wish they could. For any of us. Damn F'in cancer!

  10. Ann - I have never posted here before, but have been reading your blog for quite a long time. Your words always special and I am SO glad you keep on going. You're inspiring and beautiful and funny and I cannot imagine not reading your words anymore. So please don't go anywhere anytime soon. Tell your doctors I said that, pls. With your spirit, I am positive you will be around to see many more beautiful shiny red cars. You should buy one.

    Love and hope - Sherri

  11. Ann,

    I love reading your blogs. I'm in awe of your strength I think your great.

    Samantha, A fellow fighter

  12. The friends of Job finally got it right when they just sat beside him and kept quiet. I'm sitting beside you Ann.

  13. I'm so sorry--- but I love your fighting spirit. It's a big adjustment to realize that you *will* lose eventually. I can relate to this, because we all are going to lose eventually! We just don't know yet what will be our means. Thank you for sharing your struggles...

  14. Sh!tty news, Ann. So sorry to hear of its return.

  15. Dear Ann -
    Yes, realizing that we must own OUR disease, can come to us hard. It is our body and the sneaking micro-mets are lurking in hiding as the reaearch has shown us.

    You know my heart was with you throughout your ordeal last year and the painfully slow recovery.
    Sorry the Tykerb did not have the desired effect, and you are moving on drugwise.

    I love this post about the bone marrow donor program. So many lives have been saved since its inception, but the need is still just as great.

    Pink schmink. The marketeers have ruined its original meaning.


  16. Ann, I'm so sorry to hear about the liver met. Thank you for sharing your insights into life with mets. I think of your posts often, especially this last week with my family at Disney World. I keep remembering your post about the surreal way we live, previewing when we will be gone. It is "poor form" that our own cells are trying to do us in. ~Kate


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