Off Leash Reboot


shutterstock_52210522I’m going to start writing again.

My goal is to be as prolific as J.K. Rowling on a Harry Potter bender. I want to eat and breath literary excellence, summoning the wise Virginia Woolf, the caustic Edith Wharton, the wisecracking Dorothy Parker…and roll it off the press faster than Danielle Steele’s latest and greatest…Or maybe I should be content to finish this short piece.

First, I probably should explain why I quit.

Before I had cancer, I loved to write about all the things I found amusing. I’d pound out a post during the day and then my husband and I would edit into the night over a few glasses of wine and a lot of laughs. Then I got sick. I tried to hold onto my humor through cancer and chemo, but it became increasingly hard as the treatments ended and I was supposed to resume living with rekindled purpose and joy.

But I didn’t know how. I was scared to eat anything for fear it would return. I was reminded over and over that reoccurrence usually happens in the first five years. As much as I tried to live in the moment and not think about that timetable, my thoughts always circled back. So I exercised until exhausted. I became a slave to perpetual motion…somehow believing the culprit was the sedentary sloth-like hours I spent at my writing desk. Ultimately I stopped doing EVERYTHING I loved since it seemed obvious the life I led caused that dreaded disease.

For the first two years I waited for time to pass, hair to grow, and my mind to reboot. I became fixated on things to avoid…chocolate, alcohol, coffee, stress, root canals, red meat, processed food, white rice, microwaves, vegetable oil, artificial sweeteners, soft drinks, …the list grew longer and longer as I turned each calendar page. I snacked on Brazil nuts and almonds, made a commitment to whole grains, and tried a conscious uncoupling with Monsieur Cabernet.

I wanted to figure out who I was, the “new me”, the one who could no longer write or read because my brain was foggy. I began small though lofty projects, but soon left them halfway done, moving onto the next. When I finished a book, I forgot its contents immediately. I would take out a mop, a footstool, or a vacuum, plug it in and walk away, leaving a perfect toe-stubbing obstacle course for my uber patient husband.

I was bald for over a year, with token cameos from my eyebrows, eyelashes and  short patchy stubbles on my head before they would all exit stage left again. Every ounce of hair on my body went MIA for those first two years and I pined for everything from pubes to nasal follicles. I felt sexless and depressed and I just wanted to be left alone, but my mind was on a tape loop. If I ate or drank something that was on the no fly list, I felt guilty and worthless. It was not fun to go out to eat or rendezvous with friends as no one wanted to be reminded of illness. An uncomfortable meeting with an old acquaintance leading to a comment about my appearance could set me back for months. My emotional skin was thin, leaving me ultra-sensitive when someone found all those new little sprigs on the top of my head to be a real knee-slapper. I stayed home, tucking myself away in the writing alcove and bounced on an exercise ball, praying that I’d find a lift, while feeling like a spoiled brat for being depressed. For God sakes, I was one of the lucky ones.

Now that I’ve filled this page with doom-and-gloom, I’m going to tell you what I probably should have said at the beginning. I’m finally done thinking about reoccurrence. I am going back to my old mantra…”I am healthy and I am healed.” I will enjoy each moment, whether it’s writing this post, running a half marathon, or eating a super sized bacon-cheeseburger and fries. Besides, if cancer makes another guest appearance, wouldn’t I be pissed that I spent my days worried about it? I’m going to stop feeling sorry for myself, get on my Quidditch stick and skewer demons!


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  1. Good for you Annie. A shot in the arm for the literary world.

  2. Thank you Ian. You of all people knows how sporadic I’ve been! I hope to change my evil ways!

  3. Love you girlfriend! Now let’s talk screenplay ; )

  4. Ha! That’s an evening with a little Patron and a lot of creative license! I’m in, but I guess I should make sure I’m over my vacuum obstacle takedown before I sign up for a screenplay!

  5. Yay Annie! I’m so sorry you were going through all that after your cancer–I had no idea. But I’m sure glad the old Annie is back. I have missed your posts.
    Keep up the good work and cal me i-f you need a pep talk. Love ya’

  6. Lyn, you are such a strong woman, full of wisdom and compassion. I truly enjoyed our conversation and I would love you to call if you ever need anything…or just feel like talking. You helped me so much in dealing with medical issues and I will always appreciate your time and understanding. Thank you!

  7. Thank you my dear friend for your spirited words!!
    I love you and I have been waiting for the writing to begin again!
    Good job!!

    • Beth, I’m almost ready to hit that windmill tap dance step, but got to make sure my white blood cell count is high enough…then watch me go! Kidding…I’m ready now. In our day we gave Fred and Ginger a run for their money! Hope you are still tapping and finding laughs.

      • Tapping and hula hooping is in my daily routine! I have a new shuffle to teach you! It’s a piece of cake! Guess what…….in 3 weeks I am going to be a Grandmother! 👼 Just like YOU!!!
        Robyn is expecting her 1st Babe! 🎉❣⭐️👼

  8. Whew. I’m happy you found your way back to writing. Isn’t it crazy what we put ourselves through? I was checking around for you a few weeks ago a bit dismayed you hadn’t written for quite awhile. That’s what I did after treatment– I checked on all my fellow cancer patient online. Because I’m cavalier about my own well-being (my oncologist determination). Someone disappeared from my sphere used to fill me with dread. But as I rounded year four, I began to see the folly in that and stopped having to check. Still, once in while someone pops into my head…and here you are! Welcome back.

    • Thank you Lynne. Congrats on year four! Time for a celebration! I appreciate your words and the fact you were checking on me. It means a lot! All the best to you and continued health and happiness!

  9. Welcome back Annie. You’ve been missed.

  10. Welcome back. Then again as your writings were still here you never really left….

  11. Annie,
    If you give yourself, and allow yourself to enjoy, even a small fraction of the joy you give others simply by being you, every cell of your body will constantly be doing a happy dance! I’m so glad you are listening to your heart! Much love to you.

  12. oh my lovely girl, there you are! just like the Hogwarts’ phoenix you have risen whole and ready to go! sure there might be a lingering ash smell, but its nothing a little Chanel wont cover!
    jesus, i’m sooo sorry, that was a very bad joke.

    i am so happy and proud to read your words again. those strong, beautiful words! i’ve missed them and you. xxxx

  13. I’ll give Chanel a spritz and take the world on! Love your humor! You always make me laugh. Your writing is rare and wonderful and I hope to read more from you soon. Much love to you! xoxo

  14. So glad you’ll be writing again … I’ve missed your posts.
    Coincidentally, I listened to a show on CBC this morning about recurrence hanging over you, or the guilt one feels being grateful for good health. You are healthy and healed … go forth and skewer!

  15. Thank you, Astra! I shall go forth and skewer with a newfound vengeance. I would have loved to hear that CBC program and heard what they had to say. I knew I wasn’t alone, but sometimes you sure feel that way. I guess we all do about something. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a nice comment.

  16. So wonderful to have you back at the keyboard, feeling well enough to punch those keys! More please. Hope you’re feeling good. xo

    • Thank you Dani. I am feeling good and enjoying writing something again. I have been reading your blog, but for some reason it won’t let me leave a comment. I know I mentioned this before, but it’s still happening. Your writing is wonderful!

  17. You are so fiercely wonderful, and wonderful and fierce. Your honesty surely resonates and your humor always brings a smile. Write, write, write, and write some more.

  18. Thank you Tracey. I am sure going to try…and enjoy it! I’ve missed you. We have to catch up soon.

  19. Bravo….as I age and the time in front seems so much shorter than the life lived before, I have my days…but all in all, I am thankful that I’ve made it this far. Some friends haven’t, and I’ve learned to just say thank you for each wake up. You have been missed, and my heart hurts for the pain you went through, and so hard, I can only try to imagine. Sometimes, we need those kind of days even when haven’t had the trauma of what you have, but glad you’re strong, and knew you were to pull yourself up by the britches straps, out of the funk, and write again. Your writing has been missed. ~hugs~ to one of thee most awesome ladies that I’ve met in my journey along this virtual highway.

    • Peabea, thank you for your dear message. I know what you mean about being happy to just wake up! I am beginning to understand that one cannot live a fully present life and survive whole, and yet we do the best we can. By writing this blog post, it freed the part inside me that was painful. I hope it was not too big of a burden on all of you. Thanks so much for your support!

  20. How thrilled I am to join the chorus of Annie’s Back; honestly, you have such a gift when it comes to writing – which, by the way, pales only in the light of your luminous Presence.

    The serendipity of this post gives me goosebumps. I was searching through my cabinets a few days ago looking for the Book Journal I started when my original Book Journal filled to capacity. In so doing, I flipped through many a journal I’ve filled over the years. I was arrested when I came upon a page titled ‘Arrowhead Beach’. How long ago did we begin that? Feels like a lifetime – and yet, here you are now; ready to shine your light, your wit, your magic with the world yet again.

    I was a fan then, I’m a fan now, I will forever remain grateful for being able to say that my life interacted with yours, virtually. Your significance, however, permeated every cell of my being. For that, I thank you.

    Write on …

    • Sally, you sweet thing! I love that you still have our writing on Camano Island. It was my favorite place in all the world and it deserves a wonderful story.

      I think we need to revisit that writing and finish what we started. It’s important…or at least it feels like an appropriate time.

      A few years back we sold our cabin there. My father built it with his father while he was in college. It held treasures from long ago, but we had to part with a lot of them. That’s okay. I’m still that kid running down that beach, collecting rocks to polish, raking in candlefish with the good looking boy who lived on the hill, digging clams, and catching fish. It was a great setting, but we both brought a strong sense of “beach life” to the script. I’m so happy you came to write a comment. Thank you!

  21. Wow, thanks for such enjoyable reading! I sent a link to my Stanford Grad Literature major sister who is likely about your age for her comments. She has sent me clever cards and articles for years. She loved your blog! Thanks for helping me bring some payback.

    • Hi Jeff,

      Thanks so much for reading my post and for sending the link to your sister. I really appreciate it. I had about two hundred such pieces that I recently deleted because I want to someday compile them…if for no other reason than to pass a copy to my kids! (Maybe then they’ll stop wondering what I’ve been doing with my life!) Thank you for your very nice comment. All the best to you!

  22. Good for you and welcome back.

  23. So thrilled to be back with your element of writing!
    So filled with classic ” YOU!!”
    Your writing is my “go to” reading……….Now that I am a
    Grandma just like you!!!

    your forever “tapping” partner!

  24. I have thought of you , prayed for you, sent love your way..even though I have not interacted on your blog- love your spirit

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