cancer

Updates and Stuff

Cancer Stuff

We got back about a week ago from my wife’s latest round of chemo. She had an infusion reaction and a painful (but not life-threatening) side effect from one of the meds, but otherwise things went pretty well. The oncologist says the lymphoma is responding well to treatment.

In better news, it sounds like they’re going to transfer her care from the hospital in Detroit to a more local cancer center, which means no more 90-minute drives back and forth, and no more needing to stay in the hospital apartments for 1-2 weeks at a time. (At least until we get to the bone marrow transplant part of the process.)

People have asked what they could do, which is very kind and much appreciated. I don’t think there’s much we need at the moment, so my suggestion would be to look into donating blood. Amy needed a lot of blood products at the beginning, and will probably need additional transfusions, and it all drove home how important it is to have a well-supplied local blood bank.

Writing Stuff

On the writing front, I actually got a little work done on Terminal Peace earlier this week. Not much, but it was something. I’m hoping as the cancer stuff calms down a bit, I’ll be able to keep making progress there. But helping my wife to get well again and taking care of the kids is still the priority.

Thanks to everyone who boosted about Terminal Uprising coming out last week, and to those of you who’ve commented how much you enjoyed it and/or posted reviews. I haven’t been able to do as much promo this time, for obvious reasons, so I’m even more appreciative.

I’m still hit-or-miss on emails and such, but I’m trying to catch up and stay on top of things.

Depression Stuff

I’ve talked about my depression off and on. I’d expect, given everything that’s happened these past two months, that I’d be drowning in a nasty brain-weasel flare-up. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen too much sign of that yet.

Yet being the key word there. My response to crisis has always been to focus on helping the person in crisis and doing whatever I can do. I’ve been in that mode for two+ months now.

I suspect sooner or later it’s going to catch up and knock me on my ass. So I’m trying to watch my own symptoms, and to do what I can to take care of myself. Things like letting other people around town help out, or even asking for help when I need it. I also scheduled an appointment with my former therapist for next week, just to come in and talk and vent and see what happens. Then there’s stuff like sitting around and watching the second season of Dragon Prince with my son to relax and unwind a little.

I know I’m keeping some things stuffed down for now to help me function. But I don’t feel like I’m hiding from it. So far, this seems to be working.

Random Cancer-Related Observation

I’ve lost about ten pounds since this all started. This diet plan sucks!

Back Home For a Bit

Amy has gotten through the second round of chemo, which meant the hospital was finally able to discharge her to an acute rehab facility. (She’s been in a hospital bed for more than a month, so she needs some therapy to rebuild muscle and such.) Unlike the hospital, which was an hour+ from home, the rehab facility is only 20 minutes away, which means I’ve been able to split time between there and home.

There’s not really much else to report. From what they can tell, the chemo is doing its job so far. Amy’s in much better shape than she was a month ago. But we have a long way to go before we’re through. The current plan is for 3-4 more rounds of chemo, followed by a bone marrow transplant. We’ll be back staying at the hospital for the next round in a couple of weeks. Not sure if subsequent ones will be able to be done closer to home or not.

Thank you again for all of your support for my wife and our family. It means a lot to know we’re not alone.

Family Health and Ongoing Hiatus

I’m back home for the first time in a while, and I’ve been given permission to talk more about what’s going on. Last month, my wife Amy was diagnosed with cancer — an aggressive form of lymphoma, to be specific.

Aggressive, but treatable. We’ve done the first round of chemo, and the last scans showed some tumor shrinkage, which is a good sign.

This all started with a flare-up of lower back pain. Unfortunately, Amy has chronic back pain, and we’ve had flare-ups before. So the initial doctor visits just led to more painkillers and rest. It wasn’t until I took her to the Emergency Room last month that they discovered what was going on. By then we were dealing with a blast crisis (proliferation of immature white blood cells), dehydration, some organ failures…

I can safely say that was the worst week of my life.

I’m happy to say they were able to treat the immediate health crisis. The messed-up white blood cells have been cleared out, organ function is back to normal, dehydration and malnutrition have been addressed. We’re onto focusing on the long-term treatment plan now.

There’s no prognosis or percentages here. You can find survival rates for her particular type of cancer, but she’s significantly younger than the average patient. And five-year rates are based on patients who were diagnosed at least five years ago — we have five more years of research and advances now.

She’ll still be in the hospital for a while. She’s awfully weak after everything she’s been through. She’s not quite up for visitors yet, but she’s getting closer. I’ll be heading back tonight or tomorrow. I’ll still be mostly offline, and I haven’t written a word of fiction in more than a month, which is likely to continue.

To any of our friends or family who are hearing this for the first time, I’m so sorry. We’ve tried to update people, but Amy has so many people who love her, and my brain has not been at its best. Please feel free to text or email me.

My family has been holding up okay. Everyone has come together to offer support and help out, and I’m so grateful. The kids have been amazing, each in their own way. It’s hard, and that’s going to continue for a while, but we’re all doing our best to take care of each other as well as taking care of Amy.

She’s had really good care. We’re making sure that continues. So far, the insurance side of things has gone pretty smoothly. I’m not holding my breath for that to always be the case, but I’ll deal with that when and if it goes sideways. I’ve also taken care of things like her FMLA leave from work, and applying for short-term disability. The main priority right now is helping her keep getting better.

Oh, and I know the photos might be a bit odd — what can I say. Taking pictures is one of the ways I cope with the stress. Even with a relatively old iPhone camera.

I’m not up for answering a lot of questions online/publicly, since it’s not about me. And we’re not currently looking for advice. But your love and support and encouragement are always appreciated. Thank you.

Brief Update and Online Hiatus

We’re dealing with some family stuff. I may go into detail later, but for now, just know that blogging and social media are going to be sparse to nonexistent for the foreseeable future. I’m also going to be worse than usual about responding to most emails and such.

For readers wondering about book three, this does mean Terminal Peace is likely to be a bit delayed. How much is impossible for me to say right now.

I know this is … well, a bit ominous, and I’m sorry for making people worry without providing any specifics.

Love to you all.

Jim C. Hines