Ann Marie Giannino-Otis
Fighter: Breast Cancer (Stage I)
Get and/or give support
Fayetteville, NY
My Journal
March 3rd, 2021

It's been forever since I've written and I'm not really sure why I guess I am busy, covid, kids-ya know life. I've been dancing with NED for  a month now and it's been truly surreal. I do feel as though so I got a bit of my life back almost like I feel alive again. Does that mean I don't think about cancer and what it's done to me the past 8 years absofuckinglutly not. The reality is it still looming in the background. Through this ridiculous pandemic that's going on, no hate I know it's a thing it just took it in a different way because ya know-Cancer is still part of my life. I found myself like “screw you covid- I had cancer I sure as fuck am not going to let covid kill me”. I think a lot of us in the cancer world found ourselves saying that. But I started to think what the hell has happened these past 8 years. So much has happened and truthfully it is all on cancer. 


It all hit me last night when I had a headache. I've always had headaches. I haven't had a brain MRI in a long time and it doesn't usually stress me out but for some reason last night it did. What people don't realize is when you have a PET scan it is from your neck to about your upper thigh -does not hit your brain.  So I started to freak out if they missed my brain and it's headache is really brain METS. Now two things here first of all I know that many people find their brain METS this way. I totally get it, that's not what this blog post is about though. This is about the fact that every ache or pain will always be “could it be cancer coming back”. Like I'm serious every pain I don't care if it's a hangnail or you stub your toe and all the sudden you have extreme pain in your foot after having a cancer diagnosis the fear of it coming back never goes away. 


Maybe I'm feeling this way because my 8-year anniversary is coming up. Next week will be 8 years that I had my lumpectomy and they told me “it's nothing, don't stress about it”. So I went to that doctor's appointment by myself to get the results. I remember it like it was yesterday seeing my doctor walking in the door and saying I wish you weren't my first appointment. I knew right away what was going to happen so I looked at her and said “why because it's cancer?”. Funny cause we all sort of have that feeling whether we have a biopsy or testing that it could be cancer but no matter what you think just maybe it is nothing. But deep down you know. After hearing those words the rest is like a dream big nasty fucking dream.  You hope you're going to wake up from that nasty dream but then you realise, nope here to stay. I remember having the attitude that I will just get this shit over with and I can get on with my life. How freaking naive I was. I now know that cancer does not leave you but you can learn to live with the stupid dumb fool.  My perspective changed so much. 


My very close friends now I'm a worrier it's just how I am. The funny thing is I worry more about other people.  I can make a whole story in my head about how someone simply going to work, a drive they do everyday; hit a bump, car flipped, went into a ravine, they can't get to their phone and they're going to die because no one knows where they are-in a heartbeat. I just worry about others, it's truly who I am. I don't necessarily worry about myself. Part of that is because I have faced death so many times I just don't think about it. Living with depression and suicidal thoughts I had many a moment where I just was like ok cancer just kill me and let’s be done. That way people would not worry about me. I had a hard time letting my friends and family worried about me during my diagnosis. I was the worrier who took care of them. I didn't like it being flipped onto me. It was very hard for me to let them take care of me. After all, how many times did they all tell me how strong I was? This isn't a dig it is just hard to be taken care of when you are “strong”.  I realize that being strong is about getting help. Again my perspective changed. 


Cancer affects you physically there is no doubt there we can see it. They forgot to send the memo about cancer and the mind fuck it does to you. Self body image is screwed up, depression/anxiety is peaked, PTSD is no joke, anger mixed with happiness is confusing- just to name a few. Cancer is scary as hell and there is no rule book about it. I learned that every emotion is valid and ok for you to have. I went and got therapy, support groups and kept SDBC going for me. SDBC is just as much my therapy as it is for those asking questions. I started to see those “cancer free” moments and I held them. The times when I am laughing, singing, cooking and there is not one single cancer thought in my head. I had to change my perspective and embrace these moments. 


Now one thing remained the same. This tiara has never left me. Maybe it needed polishing or to be straightened but it remains. I am not any stronger or braver than anyone else going through this. I am just a North Side, Italian girl who has changed her perspective but is bringing herself back-tiara, stilettos and all.


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