Annie's Strength

45262402_1580926421582894_r.jpegOn Friday, January 10th Annie texted Anathea and I and asked, “are either of you around?” It is a typical question we each ask each other at all different parts of a week. We knew she had her kids and we thought, maybe a playdate? Maybe she needs us to pick up one of the kids? Maybe we can all have dinner? Anathea responded first and Annie said, “I can’t breathe. I am picking Anthony up but I can’t breathe.”

Anathea and I shared a quick text between the two of us, “probably a panic attack” we agreed. We had both experienced them before and we knew Annie got them too. Being a full time working single mother can be stressful, it’s understandable that it can catch up with you sometimes. But also having this nagging thought in the back of your mind of, my cancer could come back, well it’s something that can throw anyone into a panic. Annie had been having back pain for awhile and had an MRI scheduled for the following Monday.

We arrived at Annie’s house shortly after and did our favorite divide and conquer routine. Anathea was on kid duty and I brought Annie to the ER. I was certain she was having a panic attack. After vitals, waiting, a chest X-ray and more waiting we headed to the back of the ER and waited again. The Doctor came in towards 8pm and asked, “how is your pain?” Annie was obviously very uncomfortable but we didn’t know why. Then she said, “well, we did see a mass on your chest X-ray"…long pause…silence…a look towards me, a look towards Annie…”and we will need to do a biopsy.”

You know those scenes in a movie when everything goes quiet and things seem to go in slow motion? Yha, it was one of those. Although everything in me said, “listen it can be anything, an infection, swollen glands, pneumonia.” My heart ached. I think it might have stopped for a moment. No. Fucking. Way.

Annie decided quickly that she wanted to be transported to Mass General Hospital in Boston where her surgical team was during round 1. The next week and a half was straight up torture. The biopsy happened Tuesday morning and the results would not be back for a week. I asked a few times, “if this could be an infection, why aren’t you giving her antibiotics?” Well because it wasn’t an infection, and they knew that. Annie was sent home and told to wait. She missed 3 weeks of work. A painful biopsy, countless scans, blood tests, IVs, MRIs. The result? Metastatic Breast Cancer. Stage 4, localized. Treatable. Inoperable. 12-14 weeks of chemo then 5-6 weeks of daily radiation. Depending on how she responds she might be able to work part time.

3 kids, rent, car, phone, house bills etc. You guys know the drill. It doesn’t stop. Cancer doesn’t care. Asking for help sucks. It’s uncomfortable and besides, we’ve done this already. So how do we make it so Annie can focus on fighting and getting healthy? How do we help when there’s almost nothing we can do? We do our favorite divide and conquer routine. We all do a little bit and a little bit grows into a lot of bits and we keep them afloat.

As I write this my father sits with his youngest daughter during her second chemo treatment. If ever there was a feeling of helplessness I imagine he is feeling it. I don’t understand the whys I only know that we will do everything we can to give Annie and her 3 kids a very long, happy life. And I know we are indebted to all of you for your love and support.

Thank you.  Always. 



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Organizer and beneficiary

Aleta Hickey 
Plympton, MA
Annamaria Luscko 
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