Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Ultimate in Contradictions

So today is my birthday.

(Mmmmmm.....cartoon cake)

Thank you!

In case you were wondering, I turn 56.

(And I live in California)

Now, you might think that would make me happy. (Not the California part - the 56 part.)  And you are so right, it does. Often over the past few years, I didn't think I'd make it to this age.  I can't be more grateful I'm here.

Wisely, I've looked in the mirror, seen a sagging face and more wrinkles than in days past, yet I've just smiled and thought,  "Now that I know what it is to touch the edge of life, I don't care about aging."

(No real woman would do this because she'd have to clean the lipstick off the mirror)

True, I don't mind my age.

Also, a lie.

I'm super, super happy at being 56.   I'm also a tad distressed at being 56.

How complicated we human beings are!  How bewildering are our emotions!

(All in ten minutes!)

When I was bald, I couldn't wait for my hair to grow back.

When it grew back grey, I was less than excited.  But I had hair, that's what counts, right?

(At least it wasn't green)


Unfortunately, because I'm metastatic, I am not always healthy enough to upkeep with color, and by God, I am not going to die with roots.

(Why add more work for the funeral director?)

So grey it stays.

But grey hair makes me look.....56.  Washed out.  Old.  Sort of grandmother-ish.  I want color again.

But I won't.  I am a grandmother.

(Although not this one)

Also not always the most traditional one.

(Pick your reason)

My face.....I'd always thought I might do a little "touch-up" around this age.  (A full facelift costs $9,000, or at least it did five years ago when I'd asked.)  I don't want to look like Joan Rivers or Meg Ryan or any of those legions of sad Hollywood women trying to hold onto their youth forever.

(At this point she's just using superglue trying to hold onto her eyelids forever)

I was never beautiful so I don't have to hang on to lost beauty.

I just don't want to look mad, as I do these days even when I'm feeling perfectly serene.   People will look at me and say, "What's wrong?" when I was thinking about kittens and rainbows.

(Inside I'm smiling)

So, it was going to be one and done - just look refreshed, bring things up so I don't look sad, maybe add the chin that I'd been born without, and that was it. That was the plan.

But 3 years of Stage IV cancer has taught me that your face is not important, your life is.

Oddly,  unimportant or not,  I am still not thrilled at seeing my jowls drooping and the line between my eyebrows deepening.  That space under my eyebrows is hanging so low I can hardly open my eyes.  Why bother to put shadow on the lids since they can't be seen?

(She's pointing to a swollen eye that looks more open than mine naturally)

Truth:  I've been through too much.   I would never do another surgery and submit myself to those risks on purpose.

....Or, would I?

No, because there is a cost/benefit factor, even if the health factor played no role.  Is it worth it to get a facelift when your life expectancy could be as low as 6 months?

I guess not.  Even if I could hear, "Wow, you don't look a day over 40" one last time, or even, "You look so happy, did you see a rainbow or get a puppy?" the worth wouldn't be there.   But it would be nice to hear that one last time.

(Well, maybe not the puppy thing)

Of course, I have to also consider how often other people see me.  Which is almost never.  Even the UPS guy drops off packages and runs from my barking dogs, and although he knocks, he doesn't wait for me to open the door.  Which is a good thing as I'm usually in ratty pajamas being chased by dust bunnies.   Aside from the UPS guy and the folks at my cancer center, I don't really go many places so nobody sees my face to think I'm mad.

("I'll protect my mom from anybody seeing her in PJs! Just come here and let me lick you!")

As an aside, my 66 year old husband got carded when we went out to eat recently.  I know I said I don't go out and it's mostly true - we only ate out because we were visiting the grandbaby.  Since I don't drink I didn't have the opportunity to pretend somebody thought I was under 21. Next time, I'll order a beer, if only to prevent the gloating I dealt with for weeks days.  It might be worth the risk to my liver.

Actually, no it isn't.

Perhaps.....just a little botox?  That only lasts 3 months.  That might be worthwhile.  The line between my eyes will go away and instead of looking mad, I might just look slightly annoyed.

(Nancy Pelosi's botox has left her with a good mix of annoyed and surprised - as has her job.)

Injecting botulism toxin into your face when you don't have much of an immune system - good idea, ya think?

I've done botox before cancer because I have migraines. The migraines had mostly disappeared while sick, one of those wonderful blessings in disguise - because honest to goodness, the pain of a migraine is right up there with childbirth as well as the cancer pain I've had so far.  It would not be fair to have to deal with both at the same time.   But now that I'm in remission, the migraines are back, and my Imitrex use is back to weekly if not more.

Thank you life, for never letting me have any time without pain.  (Maybe I look mad for a real reason.....hmmmm....)

(Yeah, but look at all her glorious hair.)

So, botox ..... I could kill two birds with one stone, right?  Wrinkles and head pain?

Thing is.... I don't want to kill three birds.  Tweet tweet.

(Only pigs should die.  Maybe they are angry because they have cancer too?)

Whatevs. None of that helps the wrinkly neck thing.   Ick.  My cameras are now mounted on the ceiling in case I need to take a selphie.

I guess the point is that now that I'm not spending all my waking hours sleeping, feeling sick, or trying to survive, I am returning to normal.  Which is a beautiful thing.

Normal means planning beyond next week, thinking about the future - and not being thrilled about the side effects from aging.

(Fuck you aging.  Wait, no, that's not right...I love you, aging....I'm so confused!!!)

Truly,  all jokes aside, I'm thrilled about every extra minute I get, whether those minutes show on my skin or not.

Contradiction anyone?  I'll have two.

(Cosmos and Appletinis - as a former bartender we used to call them pussy drinks.... only they are mostly straight booze - another contradiction) 

I'm human. A glorious human with contradictions, weird emotions and not always perfect.

Happy Birthday to me.

At least I don't want a boob job.

(Nope, I'm not showing you boobs)


  1. Priceless - happy birthday and I'm glad you are feeling better, even if the migraines are back…..sometimes life just ain't fair. Hang in there and keep us smiling. You are an inspiration.

  2. Happy birthday Ann, and I always wanted to say this, but you have an exceptionally symmetrical face that most people long for (as it's part of the definition of the human perception of "beauty") - so please don't touch it because it would just look artificially enhanced. And the silver hair is also charming as is wiht your lively, tell-all eyes; all in all, you are exceptionally lucky with your facial structure and that short hair just accentuates your naturally appealing cheek-eyes-mouth symmetry, I am jelous and I want to look like you when I'm 50! I never thought anyone with such a god given natural beauty would start thinking about botox and the like... but you're right, humans are complex beings and we like everything more as long as it's not us :))

  3. Happy b-day Ann! I am 54 so I can so relate to the aging stuff! Our minds are the same as when we were 25 but the mirror isn't!! So happy you are feeling good right now and love reading your blog :-)

  4. Happy birthday! I'll be 53 in July, so I can relate to what you're feeling. Look forward to reading more about you.

  5. I turn 56 this year too and I had to stop coloring my hair. It was making me sick. I get confused too about all the same things you do. Keep writing. Sometimes it's encouraging and others it makes me laugh, and when it's sad I understand. Hope you had a great birthday.

  6. Happy birthday, Ann! I wish you all the best this year, especially health, energy and hair.

    Kate, of Kate Has Cancer

  7. Just to be hopelessly pedantic, it's the 56th anniversary of the one birth day you had, but happy whatever you call it and many happy returns of the day.

    I would suggest that adding extra stuff for your immune system to have to cope with might be something into which not to rush.

    Besides, who cares, when you're so beautiful in print.


  8. Happy Birthday to you! Your blog has been a gift to me, even on YOUR birthday!

  9. So wonderfully normal (nonpink!)

  10. Happy birthday to you! This made my day!

  11. Happy Birthday! I really think you are beautiful! I think your smile is amazing! I think your attitude kicks ass because you are so honest and so blunt (two things I admire in people). Have a good day.

  12. Ann, Happy Birthday and many, many more. I just turned 59 on March 31st, my oncologist too my Estrogen patch away last week, and my yearly check up said I had put on 20 pounds in one year. Can I have a slice of your cartoon cake?
    I loved this post you shared on your life, it fits all of us aging but living! Happy Birthday!

  13. Happy, HAPPY Birthday. Thank you for the gift you bestowed upon me--a broad and wide smile!


  14. Happy Birthday Ann! I recently finished chemo for Breast Cancer and my birthday is next week! I will be 66!! My hair is coming back and it's also gray! Thanks for your insight, your honesty and your courage! You are amazing!

  15. Happy Happy Birthday Ann! I love this blog and can relate as I turned 60 this year and lost 50 pounds so now I have wrinkles everywhere!!! Underneath all of my auburn hair is nothing but white and like you, I'm not ready to look the part so I'm still coloring. But that gets old too. I'm so happy that I'm able to wish you a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY and I pray you continue to feel better with each passing day.

  16. What a great post!!! I'm 56 and I hear ya about the eyelids! What a ripoff.... Ah well, grateful for each new day. That's my mantra.
    Happy Birthday Ann!! You are a gift to us.. :)

  17. Hi Ann,
    I chuckled all the way through this one! Yeah, as much as we like to say none of "those things" matter post-diagnosis, of course they still do. Sort of anyway. We are human. We are women humans to boot, so... Anyway, happy, happy birthday, Ann!


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