When Ann and I were fellow reporters at WCSH6 back in the 1990s, she was young and beautiful — full of fun and spunk.

And when she died yesterday, on Sunday, March 16, 2014, she was young and beautiful — full of fun and spunk.

Ann Murray Paige

Source: Project Pink

This picture is posted on Ann’s Project Pink Facebook page, along with this message:

“Bad things happen.
Good things endure.”

–Ann Murray Paige

We love you Ann. Your courage, joy, love, humor and FU-fight against cancer have inspired so many.

When I saw it, I felt my insides dissolve. I wanted to scream and hit something — so sad and so angry at the same time.

The news wasn’t unexpected,  but it still came as a shock. A deep, visceral shock. Several times a day over the past few weeks I would think of Ann, see her face, wonder how she was doing. I’d stop whatever I was doing and concentrate only on her, thinking surely, all of the prayers and positive energy that must be emanating from around the globe would bring a miracle.

I remember when she told the newsroom she and Sandy Paige were getting married. I remember bumping into her in the Augusta Hannaford when her children were still small enough to fit into the carriage. I remember when she came to a Mercy Hospital Breast Cancer Awareness Event to present her documentary, The Breast Cancer Diaries. Always a big smile. Always a big hug. Always a positive attitude. No matter what.

In 2004, when Ann was only 38 years old, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She made the bold decision to turn the camera on herself and share her experience. The result was The Breast Cancer Diaries, which has been televised in 30 countries and translated into two languages.

In 2008, Ann and The Breast Cancer Diaries director Linda Pattillo (and sister-in-law) created Project Pink, “a non-proft that brings a message of help and hope to young women with breast cancer around the world.”

In October 2010, the cancer was back. Here’s what she had to say about it in her Project Pink Diary:

So to all of you who pray, pray.
To all of you who chant, chant.
To all of you who vibe with the universe, vibe.
And if you’re like some people I know who find God in different places, I ask that you send out a holler in my name to that God.
I am a fighter and I plan to win–with good medications, great doctors, amazing friends, a strong family, and Faith–from any and everywhere I can get it.

She joked about the recurrence as “taking Breast Cancer Awareness Month to a whole new level.” And even as she went through surgery and chemotherapy, she continued to blog about living with cancer and traveling the world, “to motivate and inspire others to fight back and win against the ‘terrible’ of life.”

In 2011, her book pink tips. breast cancer advice from someone who’s been there was published. It includes her 50 best tips on how she got through the worst year of her life.

Ann continued to advocate for people with breast cancer and to inspire everyone wherever she went. The cancer continued its destructive path. Into her liver, her lungs, her brain. It didn’t stop her.

This past June, Ann was an honoree at the one hundred, an annual event sponsored by the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center that celebrates 100 individuals and organizations who have dedicated themselves to making a difference in the fight against cancer. You have to watch her speech.

There is no way that I can do Ann justice for all that she accomplished in her short time on Earth. All I have left to say is, I love you Ann. Thank you. Oh yes, one more thing: FU Cancer!

I’ll let Ann have the final say. This is an excerpt from one of her last blog entries, posted on February 7, 2014.

Ann’s Diary: The Gifts

“Life is about giving out your gifts. I don’t know what they are, and at this point you may not have discovered them either. But you have gifts, from learning and sharing your gift of music, to bringing a smile to a sad person’s face by just acknowledging them when you walk into a room, to maybe being the best doctor, business owner, teacher, tennis coach, –whatever. And you have many more, too. Life goes forward. Not backward. You don’t look back and say “I should have..” You say, “I think I’m ready for…” and then DO IT.”