Well, this is not the update I wanted to make. Not by a long shot…
The same day we let Sargie go because of colon cancer, I found a lump. It was 3 days before Christmas. Since I live in the desert and have sensitive skin, I put on lotion every day, and know it was not there the day before. Everyone said not to worry, it was probably just a cyst. But I called that day for a doctor’s appointment ASAP. The earliest I could get was after New Years. Since then, my life has been a flurry of medical appointments. It was not just a cyst. I was officially diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer on January 19th. I’m still stage 2A, so it was caught early, but it’s an extremely aggressive and fast-growing monster.
This beast has consumed my life and every resource since I found that damn lump. First of all, when they tell you, you have cancer, it’s terrifying. At first, I didn’t know what to think or feel other than to have a lot of panic attacks. Sometimes I still can’t talk about it out loud, but I’m getting better at that. Then they started peeling off the layers of the onion. It wasn’t a generic, run-of-the-mill cancer, it’s the kind that requires chemo to start the fight. A lot of chemo. Anyway, the blows kept coming. There were a barrage of tests: mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies, MRIs (the worst of them all), surgery to have a port installed, cat scan, bone scan, EKG, blood tests, and I’m sure I’m missing a few. There were appointments with surgeons, the radiologist, the oncologist, my regular doctor, follow-ups, and all the diagnostic tests. Trying to keep up with all the appointments was a trial in itself.
Plus, it’s extremely emotionally taxing, and I was trying to keep up with my full-time job at the same time. Because they needed the tests done ASAP, because the chemo had to get started ASAP, I didn’t have any choices as to when the appointments were made. It was when they were first available. The loss of control was hard on me, really hard. And, of course, all this is extremely stressful.
I felt fine and had no pain until they started poking, prodding, and slicing me up. But I still mostly feel okay. I started chemo last Friday, finally. I slept most of the day after, had a headache, and felt a bit wonky stomach-wise. It’ll be a day-by-day thing, and I will lose my hair. This week, actually. Yay! (sarcasm) My first round of chemo drugs is 1x a week for 12 weeks. The second round is 1x every three weeks for 3 months. That’s 6 months. Then I have surgery and then radiation. That takes me nearly to the end of the year in cancer treatment.
So, that throws my life and plans into turmoil. It can’t be helped, and I have to be kind to myself and realistic. My garden plans will have to wait until next year. Playing in dirt is not safe on chemo because of bacteria and mold and stuff. If I get a splinter or cut, it’s a big deal. I can’t volunteer at the observatory this year. I have to isolate and stay away from germ-riddled people. So, I go back into a COVID lockdown type of life. More face masks. I’m trying to find all the ones I had for COVID. Guess I should get some new ones. Maybe in September when chemo is done, I can make it up to PMO for a night under the stars. I’ll dream of it, and I’ll miss it. I haven’t gotten any farther in editing The Afterworlds or making audiobooks. When I wasn’t at doctor’s appointments, I was making up time at work.
Work is important. First, I work in health insurance and have excellent health insurance now. So, I need to keep that. My company is nonprofit so I don’t work for the evil empire. That makes me feel good about what I do. Second, work helps calm me down. It’s nice to keep what bit of normalcy I can. I’ve been at this job for a little over a year and still have no complaints about my company. They fubared my FMLA a bit, but I think we finally straightened that out. Because I needed the time for medical appointments and surgery, I had to put ADA and FMLA in place. Chemo is an all-day thing pretty much. And as chemo goes on, some days are going to be really hard. So, keeping a 40-hour work week has been a challenge and will continue to be. I’m fortunate to be able to do my job fully remote. and that my hours can be extremely flexible. I can work more on days I feel good and move workdays to weekends or later in the evening if that works out better for me. I’m also fortunate to have a wonderful boss that will do whatever she can to get me through this. It’s rare to have a boss like her, and she’s a big part of why I like my job.
What does all this mean for my writing life? Well, I am beginning to divert funds from my business to my medical expenses. Soon I’ll run out of paid time off and will find it harder to meet living expenses and medical expenses, let alone my author business expenses. I’ll do my best to get The Afterworlds done. I’m in the second round of edits, but I have to put my health first. Often, I’m exhausted. If I don’t put my needs and health first, this cancer could kill me. It wants to very badly. Since I found the lump, it’s been growing and trying to spread. That’s why the doctors were moving so fast to get me started. They still wanted me on chemo much earlier, but scheduling all the needed diagnostics didn’t cooperate with what the oncologist wanted.
Most likely this cancer won’t kill me. Because I didn’t wait to go to the doctor. If you find wonky shit on your body, don’t wait. Waiting will kill you. Cancer is not the death sentence it once was, but you have to get treatment and get it as soon as possible.
The regimen I’m on is proven to be highly effective at killing the strange-hybrid monster cancer I have. But, the fear remains in my face. What if it isn’t effective? What if it comes back? What if? What if? What if? The beginning of a cancer battle is incredibly overwhelming, so I need grace and patience from all of you waiting on the next book.
One thing I did was change the Not of This Earth Bookshop back to Payhip. Woocommerce was just too temperamental and unreliable. It broke about every 6 weeks, and I don’t have the energy to deal with it at this time. Payhip never failed, so the store went back to Payhip. Same books, same prices, same guarantee.
If you want to stay updated on my battle, I’ll post once in a while here. But I’m more vocal about it on Instagram and FB. It’s harder on Twitter because you can’t say much in a post there.
In the end, I’ll be okay. Losing is not an option, and I have so many stories to write and series to finish. So, this is just a very hard bump in the road. It is not the end of the road. If you’d like to help me keep the office lights on here, think about buying some books or donate. That would really help a lot. If you want to spread the word, I wouldn’t mind that either. Thank you for listening and wishing you great health.