2013 has already become one of my favorite years for many reasons. The first reason is I was contacted by a reader who asked if he could do a guest post on my blog. This was a first for me, and I was very flattered.
Then Cameron told me why he wanted to do the post and I was humbled that he would do me the honor of posting on my blog. He is a caregiver to his wife who was diagnosed with Mesothelioma. They have endured so much since her diagnosis, but have come through the other side stronger. I will let him share his story in his own words. Here is his post:
Learning How to Juggle a Life’s Commitments Through Cancer
I didn’t ever think that I would have to adjust my life to make room for cancer, but the unthinkable happened when my young wife Heather, who had given birth to our daughter just months before, received a diagnosis of mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer. All of our plans went out the window and we had to make new ones. Even my job had to take a backseat as I drove her to and from appointments and treatments and supported her through them, not to mention all the assistance I needed to give her at home. I had become a caregiver for my cancer-ridden wife, and I was going to have to learn fast.
In addition to her needs, I had responsibility for our baby daughter, Lily, which presented challenges of its own. However, many people stepped up to help take care of Lily, prepare meals and lend their support in many other ways. I don’t know how we could have gotten along without the care and concern that these people showed, sometimes in very tangible ways, sometimes simply with their prayers and good wishes. All of it was deeply appreciated and led me to the conclusion that no one can do this alone, a lesson I learned the hard way by being reluctant to accept help at first. However, I quickly learned that there is no room for pride when a loved one’s life is on the line. The greater the sense of community, the better equipped a person will be to fight cancer.
Today, Heather is thankfully cancer-free after months of battling with intensive mesothelioma surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. While I wish she would not have had to go through that pain and fear, we both took something valuable away from the ordeal. We came to appreciate just how deeply our friends and family care. We learned to treasure every single moment that we have, knowing that the next is never guaranteed to us. We also learned a lot about time management as we struggled to fit in everything that needed to be done. Before that experience, I never would have thought us capable of juggling it all, but we learned just how much we could do when we didn’t have any choice.
Now, Heather, Lily and I are a normal, happy family, and I have taken the lessons that we learned and applied them to my venture back into education. Going back to school for Information Technology wasn’t easy, but with determination, I pushed through it to achieve one of the highest GPAs in the class and was awarded the honor of speaking at graduation. While I spoke to my fellow graduates, I told them that just a few years before, I never imagined I would be where I was. Heather and Lily cheered me on from the audience, and that was the greatest reward of all. Never doubt how much you can achieve with belief in yourself and a strong support system.
Thank you Cameron for posting on my blog. My prayers are with you, Lily, and your amazing wife Heather.
This is another Thanksgiving craft my son made in school. Isn’t it adorable?
I want to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. I hope your day is full of family, food and good memories.
It’s hard to believe at this time last year I thought I was healthy and was sending out queries for my book. I do plan on continuing the process once I am sure I will be able to handle rewrites and edits.
I have much to be thankful for this year. Surviving the bone marrow transplant, being home with my family and having the support of amazing friends are the first things that come to mind.
I did a vlog post talking about all I am thankful for this year. Enjoy…
Today is my 100th day since my bone marrow transplant. I have been home longer than I was in the hospital. I am getting stronger every day, though not as strong as I had hoped I would be at this point. I want to be able to walk around the store without using the electric cart or a wheelchair. I know it will take time.
I did get wonderful news from my bone marrow biopsy… no leukemia showed up and the transplant cells are still working! woo hoo!
On the writing front, I wrote a kid’s short story. This is the first piece of fiction I have written since I was diagnosed. Hopefully my muse is coming back. I need to read it to my 7-year-old to see if it passes the kid test.
uhoh, he might just be my toughest critic!
Huzzah! Today after 41 days in the hospital I get to go home. It has been a long tough stay. The first few weeks passed in a morphine induced haze.
I suffered from mouth sores- heck I got a whole new mouth basically. The morphine was mostly needed for that pain.
Then I had a set back when I developed graft vs host disease in my gut. So the new stem cells were fighting with my old ones and the battle ground was my gi tract. Not fun but not as bad as it could have been.
I can’t believe I have missed almost all of July. School starts next month for my son and we are not ready.
But I made it. 20% of people don’t survive this process, we learned that scary number going in. I can say I beat those odds. Now we have to wait until about day 100 (I am day 34 today) to see if the leukemia is gone. It should be.
Thank you all for your support during this whole ordeal. There are days I still can’t wrap my head around this year. I got Leukemia. Sounds so strange. But with the blessings of friends, family and even strangers I have made it through.
So Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
I got my new stem cells today. I am officially on day zero of my transplant. So from here I just need to wait for my counts to go up and to get over any host versus graft disease. (where the new bone marrow fights against what cells I have left). Then this nightmare may be over.
Huzzah. To celebrate I have written a few haiku:
Bone Marrow transplant
Good cells joining mine today
Rebirth day for me.
Second Chance today
For a strong and healthy life
Thanks unknown donor!
My donor is a 24-year-old female, who got a tattoo in January, traveled in Europe during the mad cow scare and has never been pregnant. She donated on 6/20. If you know this person please thank her for saving my life!
My husband even wrote me a haiku- his first ever.
Happy, happy day!
From the new stem cells to you
Look what we can do!
The nurses and hubby sang happy birthday and my favorite nurse wrote 2 haikus that I am not printing since I didn’t get her permission first same as another nurse who wrote her very first one and it is a good one too.
Had a bit of a reaction, swelled eyes and hives but they went away with steroids and 100 milligrams of Benadryl which left me loopy. I was singing Dancing Queen so loud to Mamma Mia the nurse came in laughing at me.
So in that honor enjoy the video:
I was reading a book and it ended mid-scene. Literally it ended with the guy getting ready to be murdered pinned on the floor and stabbed to death. What the heck?
That is not an ending. Well technically I guess it is a cliff hanger ending. But I hate them. They kill me. Luckily this was an older series I had just discovered so book two was readily available. What if it wasn’t? What it was the apocalypse and I was taking a much deserved break from zombie slaying to read this book? I would get to the ending and would have no way of finding book two. That could destroy my zombie fighting spirit and then how could I save the world? See why those endings are bad?
I think they are a cop-out. Now I hesitate to say that because recently one of my favorite authors had a cliff hanger ending and I wanted to scream- but still love the author. One difference was she finished the storyline of the original book before introducing the new danger.
Now I am not saying everything needs to be tied up in a little bow at the end of the book- heck no. Jim Butcher’s last Dresden Files book, Changes, had an ending a lot of fans weren’t happy about. Without giving away spoilers I can say it was dramatic, unexpected and I may have cried a little- but I’m sure that was just dust in my eye or something. It was a kind of cliff hanger- except it too resolved the main storyline in the book. It took me a few days to deal, but I realized it was a good ending and I can’t wait for the next book.
In my novel, I resolved the main issue, but I did leave the big bad out there so the story could continue. That way if someone read book one and never had the chance to read book two, they didn’t feel cheated. But really, why would anyone not want to read book two?
So though you may want to end mid-conflict, don’t do it. Finish your story and trust it is good enough to have readers wanting to read more. I think cliff hanger endings should be left to the pros who have several books in the series and know the next book will get published.
See, even Dennis DeYoung of Styx agrees with me…
I had to get a very claustrophobic MRI of my head the other day. It was made worse than normal because I have to wear a germ mask any time I am out of the room and I always feel like I can’t get enough air in those things as is.
So when they told me to relax and stay still for 20 minutes I did what any good writer under stress would do, I created a new story in my head. I think it might be a beginning of a novel. Something a little different than my usual. I started getting into the story so much that I survived the MRI without having to take any anti-anxiety meds. woo hoo
Today I had to have a lumbar puncture, not the most fun procedure. I tried to picture myself on the beach, ehhh, didn’t work. Instead I switch to my current novel and the next chapter and that helped.
I will admit when I found out I was going through all this, I was worried I would lose the writing. At first I was on morphine and Percacet for pain a lot, but not so much anymore. My head is clearer and I think I will be able to write.
I am also hoping to be able to continue the blog. But it will be about writing not Leukemia. Probably a mish-mash like this post and you will have to forgive me if the writing isn’t quite up to par- I am heavily medicated even without the pain meds.
For those of you interested in my chemo journey, I have started making Vlogs on Youtube. You can follow me on there, I have a few up now. I probably won’t post them here but will send ya over to the first one and you can follow on there if you are interested…
Tried to think of how to write this post. Gotta explain why I am gone from blogging for a while. But more importantly, need to thank such an amazing group of people.
So back story- hey this could be a good hook opener for a book. On Christmas I was writhing in pain. (gotta love that word) I had natural labor, the tattoos on my feet took 2.5 hours- dude, I can take pain. This made me cry. I went to the ER and found out my platelet counts were at 3,000. Normal is 150,000 to 400,000. My pain was in my bones from my body trying to make more.
Was admitted and several days later had my diagnosis… Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The version I have is a Philadelphia gene mutation that normally shows up in teenagers. (see, perfect that I write young adult- I am a teen at heart!)
Spent New Years Day in the hospital getting my first chemo treatment.
Have been perfectly healthy before this, aside from being tired after chasing around my six-year-old boy and husband (who I don’t have to chase so much after being together 13 years).
Normally I am a very private person, but when my friend, mentor, publisher (heck, pick a title, she fits it cause she is so awesome) heard about our medical bills. (I have to pay a deductible and co-insurance for 2010 and Happy New year- 2011 now. Plus I can’t work now. Money was freaking me out.) She posted on some of the writing forums and facebook that I could use donations.
I’ll admit at first my pride was not happy about it. But common sense prevailed. Within 24 hours my friends- writer friends who have never met me in real life- friends I do know in real life and some of their friends rallied. I had over $1000 in donations in one day. Was blown away!
But they haven’t stopped. Friends keep donating. Some have awesome t-shirt lines that they have created for me where all the proceeds go to me directly. They are cool- I am known as the ninja because, well, Asian but I am always ready to kick butt. The designs reflect that- can’t wait to wear mine!
There are pages set up for donations and Michy and Lynn have decided to send a percentage of the profits from the anthologies sold directly to me.
This is on top of the hundreds of well wishes and emails I get every day. In my low moments, these really help boost my spirits! Plus how could God ignore all these prayers? He’s gonna cure me to get some peace and quiet!
I apologize for not linking. I am on percocet and morphine alternatively for the pain so my head is kinda loopy. Please feel free to link in comments. I think there is one video that has all the links and let me tell you, when I first started writing there was a list of writers I admired who I always wanted to comment on my articles- Randy Barefoot was one of them. And now- I have been mentioned on his vlog twice. I feel famous. The hospital won’t let me load the link so you can click on it from my blog- so here is the you tube link for Randy’s video.
Thank you all so much for your support, love and prayers! It’s amazing how a community can rally around someone so quickly. Love you!
edited to add in the link I found that has a list of all the different fundraisers for me. It is pretty mind blowing…