Ann-Marie is kicking cancer’s ass

The story of my journey

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Last chemo day

Anyone who knows me, knows that patience is not exactly my forte. As I sit here waiting… first for my blood test, now to see the oncologist, and then finally for my chemo to actually start later, I’m thinking of how patience has been forced upon me. What choice do I have right? Everyone in this room is like me. You can’t be annoyed or impatient about that. We all sit here together, strangers with a common reality, a very sad reality.

While I wait, I watch. I would say the average age of most patients is 75. Some in their 60s, a few in their 50s, and only me right now in the 40s. As much as this sucks, looking around the room I’m happy I am young enough to fight this with the stamina and strength of this age. Because most of these elderly are definitely struggling and their bodies are frail. Knowing the rigours of cancer and chemo, their reality is much more challenging than mine. When the oncologist told me in October that he was not concerned about how I would handle it, I now understand what he meant.

Also as I wait, I’m thinking of my dear friend Kevin. Today would have been his birthday… ironic that my last chemo falls on this day. Soon it will also be the 4th year anniversary of his death to this disease that I am now also fighting. Kevin was a rockstar, an inspiration, a fighter to the end. I wish he was here today, telling me to not sweat the small stuff… telling me I will survive this. I wish this disease wasn’t so deadly, because the reality is terrifying.

But Kevin wouldn’t want me to focus on the negative, he would be telling me to fight. And that’s what I’m doing. This last chemo will be as much of a celebration as it can be! We will make it so!

Great news is that now it’s over!! I received my chemo completion diploma (no joke!). I intend to burn it to ashes on the beaches of Mexico!

And I got to ring the chemo bell with Madison and Shane by my side and Dan as the videographer (clink on the link for the video of the bell ringing)! We followed with a celebratory lunch at Dos Mariachis!

Finally, a huge hug and thank you to everyone who has supported me in any way through this first half of the journey. It’s not over yet, but I think the worst is behind us, or I hope so anyway!

These were pictures from my 6 chemos, with the exception of the second because we forgot to take one so I put in a substitute! Lol

Now I start the process of the chemo side effects… wish me luck! I will be out of commission for the next 10 days or so.

Oh!!! I almost forgot!!! The PICC line is out! YAY!


Running πŸƒβ€β™€οΈ

The thoughts of spring have inspired me to get back out and try running. Over time chemo therapy has definitely affected my stamina. Physically working out with my trainer Carla has kept me quite strong, however when I try to run my cardio is definitely affected. This week I have slowly tried … I’m not sure I will be able to run for more than 5 minutes intervals for quite a while but at least I’m getting out and trying! It always helps to have friends encouraging me by joining me on my attempts!

Good news… only 2 more days until my last chemo!!! The next 48 hours will crawl by! Once this chemo is done and the PICC line is out, Carla has promised to kick the crap out of my other arm that has been useless for the last 4 months.. I’m a little scared 😱 πŸ˜‰!

Be on the lookout Tuesday or Wednesday for the big event – I will be ringing the chemo bell!!! We will record it and post it so that you can all share the moment with me 😊.

Almost there… well, until March 28th when radiation starts…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s February 14th!!!! Only 6 days until my last chemo! Only 6 days until this awesomely annoying PICC line is out of here 😍😍😍😍! I am not going to miss you mr. PICC line.. he’s male, not sure why but I’ve just decided he is. Maybe because he complicates my life (no offence to Dan πŸ˜‰ but let’s be honest! Lol).

How does he complicate my life? Well let me tell you all the ways! First try cleaning yourself… showering should be easy right? Hop in, go under, soap up, rinse off… boom you’re done! No, no, not all, nope. First I have to put on this sleeve that I bought to cover it. It’s kinda mostly waterproof. And it’s supposed to be tight so that the water doesn’t leak in. Imagine the material, sort of plastic, very hard, not really comfy-like. Once it’s on you would think I could just hop in a go? Well not quite.. because remember, it mostly waterproof. Nooo, I have to carefully enter into the shower, keeping my PICC line arm as far away from the water as possible. So I soap up, carefully, then rinse off – thankfully we have a shower that detaches (otherwise it would be a bigger ordeal). But washing my head is not quite so easy because firstly, putting my head under the stream makes the water go everywhere, so it’s kind of a balancing act of rinse and don’t get the arm wet. Once I’m all done I step out, dry off, then very very carefully remove the sleeve to make sure I don’t rip out my PICC line accidentally..

Bathing is not so complicated but still annoying. Mostly I just need to make sure I don’t put my arm in the water. Easier said than done! One day, in a chemo fog moment, I dipped my entire arm into the bath! I had momentarily forgotten I had the PICC line! I quickly rushed to the CCAC clinic to have them change my bandage. All was right again once that was done.

But let’s talk about the CCAC clinic… one of the requirements of having mr. PICC line is that every week I have the dressing changed. So every week I present myself to the germ, cold, flu infested clinic…me and my low immunity are big fans of this day. Rarely are they on time… so first I get to wait surrounded by sickness, and then, sometimes I get the “trainees”! Well…. imagine how enjoyable it is to have the dressing changed to begin with, but worse to have it done by someone who doesn’t know how?! 2 weeks ago I had a said trainee.. First they almost ripped the line right out of my arm, then they didn’t know how to attach or place bandage or do ANYTHING! I was freaking out and they knew it! Tomorrow will be the last day I will be going to the CCAC and if they try to have a trainee do my line change I will have a massive hissy fit and stomp out of there like a 2 year old!

I could go on and on… but this is getting a tad long and it is Valentine’s Day. So here is a cute little picture of my PICC line, you can imagine the fun of it πŸ˜‰. Oh and that’s only the end of it! There is actually 45cm going through my vein towards my heart! 😳

My bubble…

My body is weakening, my strength is weakening. Everything is very hard. Watching Shane doing everything perfectly so I don’t get upset is hard. Watching Madison hide in her stoic world is hard. Trying to appear normal is hard.

This reality is shitty. There is no good word for it. Coping is nearly impossible.. all I can do is get through the next 13 days until the last injection and then the following 14 days of feeling weak. At least the chemo will be over. Thank God.

For now, I’m in my bubble with the kids and Dan. 1 day at a time…..

Here we go again …

The pain has hit! With a vengeance… I’m managing it better this time by taking my pain meds religiously, but I’m still feeling it way too soon. So I anticipate this will another rough ride.

The fact that I only have to do this one more time is encouraging even with the pain. I’m also beyond excited to know that the PICC line will be out in just 18 days!!!! FREEDOM! And I’ll finally get to workout my arm! I’m going to be a tad lopsided since I can’t do any repetitive movements or weights with my left arm. We (Carla and I) continued to work out my right arm to make sure I reduce my changes of lymphedema.

Anyway, the drugs make me very groggy and incapable of any real focus therefore you won’t likely here from me for a while since I can’t string together a coherent sentence πŸ˜‰.

Have a great weekend!


Stress! Stress is a major cause of cancer… good thing I already have cancer because I am sooooo stressed! More likely I am anxious 😟… because tomorrow is chemo #5. This in itself should be reason to jump for joy; just one more to go after tomorrow!!!! However you all remember the last one right? The one where my body felt like it was being continuously stabbed? The one where I was convinced there was a voodoo doll with my name on it and some sick individual was having a ball stabbing it to death? Ya that one… That one is why I am so STRESSED 😩!

So right now I’m trying to calm myself down. I’ve done a bit of a workout, some yoga, meditation and chanting. As I type I’m listening to Halsey. She is such an awesome artist! Her speech last week at the women’s march was heart wrenching… a reminder that we never know what’s going on in someone else’s world. Anyway, her music is beautiful and a reminder that I’m not the only person with a story.

Although it’s really difficult to be upbeat right now because, quite frankly, I am one cranky b*tch, I’m still trying. I think now would be a good time for me to go back and reread all my posts.. to remind me to fight, to appreciate, and to be at peace with all this. As time goes on, peace is becoming more difficult. Fear is predominant. Lack of control is overwhelming. The reality that this could come back is always present in my mind.

What I need to do is recenter and refocus; take control of my wandering thoughts and always remember this quote as I keep up with this marathon of a war between cancer and my body!

I am so over this!

Hi.. I’m sorry it has been so long. The new chemo really, for lack of a better word, SUCKED! Today is day 9 and the first day I felt somewhat normal. It was very very painful… and my body is still reeling with aftershocks.

I am so over this.. done, over, fed up! However it’s not over yet so I’ll just have to suck it up and get back to work on kicking cancers ass. 2 more of these God awful chemos left. I’m praying they get easier not harder, but that’s unlikely so I have to prepare for the worst.

Tuesday I worked out with Carla and had to actually sit down during the workout! Today was different. I was able to push myself further and harder, so we did! And we will continue. My battle plan for the 5th chemo will need some tweaking.. but pain management will be a serious conversation with my oncologist.

In the meantime, I went and had lunch with my Sienna family yesterday. It was great to get out and see people and talk about something other than cancer 😊. I am counting down the days to going back to a normal life…

First though… I will continue to fight this battle..

It’s a brand new world – Chemo 4 update

For my fourth chemo (and the next/last 2) the drug used is Docetaxol. It’s not one that makes you sick generally, although some to do experience that side effect. For most, the side effects are fatigue βœ…, bone pain βœ…, red itchy skin βœ…, finger numbness, water retention βœ… and a multitude of other things that you don’t really don’t want to know about.

Today most of those effects made an appearance. I was completely wiped out this morning. Going up the stairs was hard… like my-muscles-have-never-been-used-before hard! I was so tired by 10am I had to go back to bed. I slept an hour, then got up – no dragged myself out of bed – got into my workout clothes and went downstairs to kick my own ass!

It was not easy! But I did it.

As I was walking on the treadmill after spinning on the bike, my mind suddenly wandered… normally I can only think about finishing the task, but not today. Today my mind went to that place I don’t really like.. reality. Today my mind decided to remind I have cancer. Believe it or not, I actually don’t really think about it.. I just do what I have to do. But my mind blared at me “you have cancer! Look at you, you are completely bald, you’re swelling up like a balloon, you have one boob and one extremely long scar for the other, AND you have tube in your vein that is 45cm and runs from your arm into your heart!” WTF!!!

The next thing my mind went to was “how the hell did you end up here, looking like this, feeling like this, with cancer?” The short answer is I ended up like this because of a multitude of reasons but mostly because of my personality, because I didn’t take care of ME. Luckily I am self-aware enough to know what I need to do to fight this and not end back here.

But for now, my brain has reminded me loud and clear that I do have cancer, and I’m still fighting for my life, no matter how bald, bloated and lopsided I appear πŸ˜‰.

Calm, peaceful, happy

If I say it enough maybe I will believe and maybe it will become my reality. I think, if I try really hard to imagine myself lying on this beach, at my favourite resort, surrounded by the sound of the waves hitting the beach, I think just maybe I can be calm, I can be peaceful, I can be happy… even if only for a flicker of a moment.

So let’s try!

I’m lying on a beach bed, my whole body extended and my head resting on comfy pillows, completely relaxed. All I hear are the waves and the water hitting the sand; moving back and forth, back and forth. I have a relaxed semi smile. The warm air touches my skin and the tension in my shoulders falls away. I am surrounded by light and my mind is clear. Shane sits on the edge of the ocean playing in the sand, Madison is next to me reading, Dan is walking on the beach on the way back from the bar with two mojitos in hand (both for him of course πŸ˜‚).

Right now, in this moment, I am peaceful, I am calm, I am happy.

As reality comes back I am sad. I am fearful and uncertain with a nagging pit in my stomach that has been there for several days. But as the days have gone by these feelings have intensified and brought me to this point in time where I have to find ways to calm myself.

Earlier I did yoga followed by chanting and meditation. Nothing I am a good at but I have to do something.

Now I write. Writing is probably the most effective way for me to deal with the anxiety.. Especially writing about lying on the beach…. LOL!

Tomorrow I go back for chemo #4 and a new protocol, hence the anxiety. I hate the unknown…. I can’t control it so how I can I like it! This chemo is known to cause allergic reactions.. more possible fun. Just what I was looking (She said in a sarcastic tone!).

For now I will keep rereading this post until my mind is convinced I am lying on that beach πŸ–…


2018 …..

Happy New Year!

I know most people are usually excited about a new year; new year, new beginnings, blah blah blah. I’ve never really viewed the change of the year as anything so dramatic. Really it’s a reason for us to start fresh, however I like to think I can do this at anytime.

Some would probably say 2017 was a bad year for me. It wasn’t great that’s for sure, but I wouldn’t say it was terrible; I’ve had worse years!

I’m happy to see the end of 2017, however for the first time ever I’m really dreading the new year and 2018. It’s going to suck, I think worse than 2017. I’m going to spend the next 6 months in chemo, radiation then surgery. And after that’s all done, I still need to recuperate. So, I’m not really excited about 2018… sorry 😐.

Like 2017, I’m taking this day by day. Today, tomorrow, yesterday and all days until Tuesday I am and have been bit anxious. Tuesday begins the first of the last 3 chemos I will be doing (or so we hope!!!). It’s a new one which means new everything. We all know how much I like the unknown – Not at all! I don’t know how my body will react or my mind. I may be ok, but I may not be… the uncertainty drives me batty!

This all means I’m getting a bit antsy. Back to my yoga mat I go. Deep breathing and chanting are and will be my friend until Tuesday comes.