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Memorial, Donations, Cards

Amy’s memorial/celebration of life will be Sunday, September 8 at 2 p.m. at the Overlook Pavilion in Burchfield Park. 881 Grovenburg Rd, in Holt.

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In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Amy’s memory to Saint Vincent Catholic Charities or the Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan.

Amy worked for a time at St. Vincent, which does a lot of good for children and families. And the Leukemia Foundation supports other blood cancers as well, and doesn’t limit that support to children. They helped us with copays and other expenses in recent months.

I’d also ask that, if you’re able, please consider donating blood or platelets. Chemotherapy kills cancer cells, but it also damages the bone marrow, which is where blood cells are produced. Amy required a lot of transfusions to get her through chemo. Those donations make a real difference to people fighting cancer and other diseases and injuries.

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For those who might want to send cards, they can be sent to our home address if you have it. If not, you can also use:

Hines Family
P.O. Box 521
Holt, MI  48842

(I hope you’ll understand and forgive my not posting our home address here.)

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Finally, Amy’s obituary is on the funeral home’s page.

Amy

Amy in 2016My wife Amy died yesterday, bringing an end to her nine-month fight with cancer.

There’s so much I want to say about her, and so much I’ll probably be writing in the future.

For now, know that she’s the strongest person I’ve ever known. She fought this thing so hard… Again and again, she surprised doctors and nurses with her strength and determination. That fight gave her the chance to see her son start high school, her daughter start her first real job. It gave us nine more months to be together and love each other.

She dealt with chronic pain for most of her life. Cancer and treatment made that worse. But at the end, she wasn’t hurting. She was comfortable. Her children were with her, along with me, her parents, and others who loved her.

She worked as a child and family therapist, and the tributes I’m already seeing from some of her clients and coworkers confirm what I already knew. This was her calling and her passion, second only to loving her children. She’s the most caring and empathic person I ever met. She helped and inspired so many people.

A few nights ago, we were able to transfer her to a wheelchair, and I took her for a walk outside the hospital. We got to enjoy the (sort of) fresh air, the flowers and trees around the hospital. She loved going for walks, and I’m so glad we had the chance to do one more.

Our family and a few close friends have been helping out, sharing love and support and grief, so we’re not alone. We’ve got a lot to do… it actually helps me a little to have things to do to keep myself busy for these first days.

I appreciate so much the love and understanding and support you’ve all shared through this. I hope you’ll understand if I’m a little hit-and-miss in responding to email and messages in the immediate future.

I’ve been telling my son the reason it hurts so much is because we love her so much, and as hard as that pain is, would we trade away the love and the time we had with her?

I was lucky enough to have almost sixteen years together with her as a family, and another fifteen as friends.

I’m sure I’ll share more in the days to come.

For now … I’m just so grateful for who she was and how much we shared and how much better our lives were because of her. And I miss her.

Quick Personal Update

We’re still at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Amy received the first round of RICE chemotherapy about two weeks ago. It appears to have helped some against the tumors, but it also hit her pretty hard. So we’re working to get her blood counts back up and help her regain her strength so she’s able to tolerate continued treatment.

Still a long road ahead of us to get her strong and healthy enough to be able to do the CAR T-cell procedure, which is the one that holds some hope for a cure. But she’s still fighting, and the rest of us are doing what we can to help.

I honestly don’t know what else to say here. Mostly, we’re just holding course and holding on…

Another Update

A brief personal update.

The GEMOX chemo my wife began at the beginning of June has been ineffective. After meeting with the oncologist this morning, we’ve decided to try another type of chemo called RICE, which we’re hopeful will get her well enough for the CAR T-cell procedure. She also received another dose of radiation this morning to help try to shrink the various tumors.

She’ll be transferred to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit this afternoon. If all goes well, she’ll be there for at least 1-2 months of treatment and recovery. Possibly more.

This obviously isn’t the news I was hoping to be able to share by this point in the process. But Amy’s not giving up. She’s fought through so much already. I knew she was strong, but I hadn’t realized just how strong…

Thank you all for the ongoing love and support. It helps.

Writing Hiatus and Other Changes

There’s no real news on the cancer front. If all goes well, Amy will get the next dose of chemo on Monday and Tuesday. But we have to wait a bit longer to see if and how well this is working. We’re also waiting on insurance approval for the CAR T-cell procedure she needs. In the meantime, she’s still pretty weak, but her pain is better managed, which helps a lot.

This last round – discovering the masses in her abdomen after six months of chemo and treatment – flipped a switch in my brain. Before, I’d been struggling to make time to write, squeezing in anywhere from 200-500 words a few times a week. But with this setback, I just stopped.

I’m not quitting forever. Terminal Peace is still under contract, and I’ve got an idea for a contemporary fantasy I want to do next. But…priorities, you know? I need to spend time with my wife. I need to be there for the kids. And I need to stop pushing myself to do ALL THE THINGS, and to stop beating myself up for not being able to do everything.

My editor has been incredibly understanding. So much love for Sheila and DAW! The longer gap between books two and three of this trilogy is going to suck, but c’est la vie. I just can’t worry about that right this minute.

Another change I’ve started looking at involves the day job. Back in 2015, I mostly quit my full-time job with the state. The ended up creating a 10 hour/week job I could do mostly from home, which gave me a nice, modest income and provided a little structure to my weeks. But Amy’s not going to be well enough to go back to her job in the near future. We’re trying to get her long term disability straightened out, but so far it’s been “under review” for three weeks. And we’re paying for COBRA coverage for dental and vision right now.

All of which has me looking into going back to work full time. I’ve started having that conversation with my bosses, and it sounds like we should be able to figure something out. I don’t know what it will look like, exactly, but it should hopefully be enough for me to support my family.

It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but at least I have the choice. I don’t know exactly when I’ll make the change, either. I’ll be giving up some of that time with my wife and kids, which means I want to put it off as long as I can. But I might be able to continue telecommuting for at least some of it, which would help a lot. And I still have some sick time and FMLA I can use, if necessary.

Most of my books were written while working 40+ hours/week, so I know I can continue to do both, once things settle down a bit. For now though, we’re just gonna keep going one day at a time…

Another Personal Update and Changing Plans

We’d been hoping to be done with chemo and moving toward a bone marrow transplant for my wife. Unfortunately, the scan eight days ago showed several masses in my wife’s abdomen. So we’ve spend most of the past week in the hospital, where they worked on pain management, hit the cancer with radiation, and began a new chemotherapy regimen.

Chemo will continue for approximately two months. This type of chemo attacks the cancer differently, so the hope is that while the cells may have developed some resistance to the prior chemo, this new type will wipe them out.

If all goes well, the doctors are talking about maybe using CAR T-cell therapy after chemo. Ideally, we’re hoping this would be the new “finishing move” against the cancer.

It’s been a difficult and scary week. I’m so grateful to friends and family who’ve been helping out and providing so much support while we try to cope with everything. We were able to get Amy out of the hospital yesterday afternoon, which is good. Now … now we’re back to waiting and hoping.

I don’t know how active or responsive I’ll be online. I hope the next one of these updates comes with better news.

Jim C. Hines