Isn’t it amazing how a good lipstick can make you feel? What a great color can do for your face, for your mood? I grew up with big lips…all the rage now, but I grew up when Farrah Fawcett and Cheryl Tiegs were hitting their peak…thin lips. The last thing I ever wanted to highlight was my lips. After college and beyond, larger lips started becoming the obsession…thank you Angelina Jolie! I am a lipstick fanatic. I am a wife, mother, and singer and have sang on stage, radio, and television. Music has always been my passion and my voice, an important part of my life.
In December of 2007 I began a journey that changed me forever. After suffering for months with a sore throat, I was finally diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. Going into surgery in January I felt confident that they would take out my thyroid and my cancer journey would be over. After the surgery I was told two things; my cancer had spread throughout my neck and probably my lungs, and that I would never sing again because my right laryngeal nerve was cut during the six hour surgery leaving my right vocal chord permanently paralyzed.
The next two and a half years were extremely difficult, cancer just kept coming back. My last surgery was the most complicated. The large tumor had completely surrounded my left nerve as well as invaded part of my trachea, amazingly it was a success. Afterwards I did seven weeks of aggressive external beam radiation to finally rid myself of the cancer. Unfortunately, the radiation and scar tissue partially paralyzed my remaining left vocal chord.
My journey has been incredible. I’m still having a little difficulty breathing, but yes, against all odds, with one paralyzed vocal chord and another partially paralyzed, I am singing again! I have learned many things along the way. Many people from my past, friends, and even strangers prayed for me, encouraged me, and even made meals for my family. It was a stunning reminder that sometimes a moment or chance encounter is enough time to impact someone’s life in either a positive or negative way. It’s the simple command, “Love God, Love others,” (and tell them often). I also learned that everyone has a story, so take your time listening. In my silence, I was able to truly listen. We live in a virtual society where relationships and physical presence have gotten lost. People still want to be hugged, look them in the eyes, open yourself up and be present because time goes so fast! Of course, use your voice, it’s a gift. Use it to stand up for what you believe in, to encourage and tell others how much you care and love them, to praise God who gave it to you. But choose your words wisely because words are powerful, they come from the heart.
Anna Marie Warner is a thyroid cancer survivor, singer, and of course, lipstick connoisseur. Currently, Anna resides in Southeast Michigan with her husband and three children.