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TV Journalist, Cancer Advocate Ann Murray Paige Dies
03/17/2014   Reported By: Keith Shortall

Author, cancer patient advocate and former Maine TV journalist Ann Murray Paige has died after a 10-year battle with breast cancer. Paige used her skills as a reporter to chronicle her experience in a documentary called "The Breast Cancer Diaries." She also shared her story with MPBN in 2007, on the the television program MaineWatch. Keith Shortall has more.

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TV Journalist, Cancer Advocate Ann Murray Paige Di Listen

In the late 1990's, Ann Murray, as she was then known, was a broadcast journalist for WCSH6 in Portland, and after leaving there, would go on to host a number of programs for MPBN.

But it was as a guest on MaineWatch six years ago that she shared her personal story, a story that began the day she discovered a quarter-sized lump in her breast during a self-exam at home in the shower.

Shortly after that, her suspicions were confirmed by her doctor.

"The day I got that call, which was 3 o'clock on Friday, March 12th, 2004 - I'll never forget it - he said to me, 'I don't have good news for you - this is a breast cancer,'" she said. "And I froze. And then he started talking and I couldn't hear a word he said because my mind was in 50 different places. So I had a pad of paper and a pen nearby and I grabbed it and just started writing."

And so began a 10-year journey for Ann Murray Paige of intense research, discovery, discomfort, triumph, disappointment and acceptance. She became a fierce advocate for other cancer patients, beginning with her documentary film "The Breast Cancer Diaries." In it, Paige shares raw and intimate moments of life before and after her double mastectomy.

In this excerpt, the camera rolls as Paige's young son helps her prepare for an anniversary dinner with her husband, Sandy.

"Now my big date with Daddy for our anniversary - are you going to help me pick out my dress?" "Yes I will," her son says. "Great - let's go over to my closet." "OK."

In addition to the dress they also pick out a wig - and a pair of prosthetic breasts.

"Maybe - which ones do you pick today?" her son says. "Well, I have to wear them both." "Oh yeah, that's right - how do you stick them on, though?" "You wear them like this." "If I were a girl I'd have these?" "Yes."

Paige says she made the documentary, in part, for her two kids.

"Because I did not want my children, were I to die, to think 'My mom got mowed down by cancer.' I wanted them to remember me as a strong person who tried very hard - and continues to try to this day - to be healthy, for them and for myself, and that they should react that same way if, God forbid, anything ever happened to them."

In 2008, Paige and Breast Cancer Diaries Director Linda Pattillo created Project Pink, a non-proft that gives help and hope to young women with breast cancer. In 2010, Paige learned that her cancer had spread to her lung.

But instead of despairing, Paige used the diagnosis as motivation to write a book, "Pink Tips," which contains her best advice for dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

Last year, as she was honored as one of Massachusetts General Hospital's "Top 100" cancer advocates, Paige announced to the crowd that she was facing her most difficult challenge.

"And not just metastatic breast cancer in my lung," she said. "Three months ago, they told me it's now in my brain and my liver too. So for this last moment, I would like to take off my advocate hat, and I'd like to put on my patient hat."

Paige lifted her wig to reveal her bald head, and proceeded to offer thanks and encouragement to all those in the room who work in the fight against cancer.

On her Project Pink Web site she is remembered in her own words: "Bad things happen. Good things endure."

Ann Crowley Murray Paige died Sunday in Davis, California. She was 48 years old.


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