Meet Ann, battling cancer with humor | My Last Days


-We’ve been married 18 years,
and we balance each other out. And it’s good for our kids, because they see two different
ways of doing things — completely different ways
of doing things. -She’s a real good mom. She sees what they need,
she sees how to give it to them, and, also, she sees how
to just to have joy with them in their lives. There’s a song called
“True Companion,” and I was so taken by this song that we used it
as the wedding march. Well, the last verse
of the song, which we cut off
before the ceremony started, was, “And when life has done
irreparable harm,” and about two old people walking
through the final days. And I hadn’t even thought
about that until I heard the song recently
the other day. I said, “We’re not really
gonna do that.” You know, “We’re not gonna walk
through the final days together, because one of us
is going out far too soon.” -I was diagnosed with
breast cancer three years ago. And then, I was diagnosed
stage IV 18 months ago. I know my cancer’s terminal, but
you can be optimistic with that. You know,
I’ve handled it with humor, and Matt even made a joke
about that the other day that I thought,
“Oh, yeah, he gets it.” It’s, you know, part of life,
and it’s okay to talk about. Chris is —
doesn’t talk about it as much, but, you know, I bring it up. It’s not a secret in our family. -When I started dating
my girlfriend, Alex, I would joke all the time
that Alex is pregnant. And I would get this
huge reaction out of Mom all the time,
and it was never positive. She was always mad at me. -Well, I raised my older boy
to be — to wait for marriage
before babies, but, you know, forget that. Just go ahead. I mean, “Forget
what I taught you.” [ Laughs ] Make babies. You know, I’d done the research, and most people do have
a stage II cancer diagnosis, and I had no reason to believe that I wasn’t gonna be
one of them. So everything that I did
when I talked to my family was alone those lines,
“Yes, I have cancer and I have to have treatment,
but I will be fine.” And it never occurred to me
that I would end up being one of the 30%
who moves on to stage IV. I understand
that it’s gonna happen. And I don’t want it to happen. If I could do anything
to stop it, I would. But I — I can’t.
I’m doing everything I can. I had half my liver removed,
I’m doing all the chemos, I’m doing
everything they tell me. But I understand the diagnosis,
and what typically happens is, you do a chemo or treatment, and it works
for a short period of time, and then it stops working. And you do another one,
and it works, and then it stops working. And eventually,
they all stop working. And I think my family thinks that one of them is gonna work
for years, and that isn’t the way it works. Maybe I just want to keep
the cancer at bay for as long as I can. I don’t want this to affect
my family until it has to affect them. And I want them to live
their lives… not with cancer, you know,
if that makes sense. We’re starting to look
at colleges for Matt, and it’s really hard
for me to do those things. But I’m still gonna do them because I want him to have
that normal experience. Someday,
his life won’t be normal, but I’m gonna push that away
as long as I can. -The graduation
is the big keystone. I’m, of course, a little scared that something bad
will happen up until then, but currently,
that’s my big repressor. That’s what’s keeping me from, you know, breaking down
all the time is because she’s gonna make it
to the graduation, and that’s
only a year and a half away. -Ann is not at a position
in her life to quit trying to live longer, and so she wants every minute
she can get. She wants every treatment option
that she can find. Because, to her, living another
two or three years is important. Living another six
would be even better. -You know, I would really love
to see my older son be a father. More than even having
a grandbaby, I just want to see him be
a father. And I know he’s gonna be
a fantastic father, and I wish I could be there
to see that. You know, my younger son, I know that he’s gonna do
something great with school and get a graduate degree
or something, and I would love to see him
walk across that stage with that accomplishment. And… [ Sighs ] It’s — It’s sad to think
I won’t be there, but… I know they’re gonna do it. I have faith in them, so… -And I don’t — I don’t know whether I’ve even said this
very often. I love the perspective
she brings to things. It makes me grow
as a human being, understanding things
from her perspective. And I don’t think I say that
nearly often enough, either, is the positive influence
she has on my life. -I take the time to see everything now
that I didn’t before. Just the beauty of the trees
turning, birds, nature, my son’s smile,
how beautiful he is, you know? My husband’s smile. I mean, I just take a lot
of time to notice those things, and that is the trick
to surviving this diagnosis, is living in the moment. You can’t do that
when you’re just a mess. -Life after death
is not the issue. It’s living life well
up to that point. I tell her how pretty she is now
more than I used to. It’s still true.
She’s a beautiful woman. -Most people live
with blinders on, and they’re so caught up
in all the little things that distract you
from what really matters. When all that stuff
is kind of washed away, and, you know,
your life gets clean, you see what really counts,
and that’s the people you love. -Although I’m sure that,
in my actions, she can read it, you know, in my behavior,
she can read it, I don’t think I tell her enough
that I love her. -I definitely don’t tell her
enough. -Yeah. -We need to rethink that. -I’ll always remember. -Yeah, we will never forget. -My children are my legacy. I have raised two good boys, and they’re gonna either do
good things in the world or they’re going to be loving
fathers and raise good children and, you know, just be good
people, and that’s my legacy. I’m very happy with my children.
[ Chuckles softly ] I’m happy
for every single day I’m here.