Although I have maintained my monthly blog on this website, I must fess up to a truth: I did not write in 2021. This admission from an author whose premier precept is to write regularly, is not only hard for me to admit, but surprises me. I thought my art would help me handle chaos, giving me something familiar to rely on, distracting and soothing me through tough times.
Cancer and Covid shot my creativity to hell.
In March of 2019, Covid brought the world to its knees. In July of 2019, my birthday month, when Cancer stars the sky, my PET scan showed metastasized melanoma cancer cells lighting up the inside of my body. I was deep in the middle of launching a short story and a novel, not a good time to be dropping thirty pounds, struggling to swallow food, and fighting a painful, itchy skin rash. So began the battle for my life.
On New Year’s Day, 2022 surrounded by friends, my husband and I lifted our champagne glasses to mark eighteen months facing down cancer. Eleven immunotherapy infusions and several PET scans later, proved the drugs were killing the bad cells on my bones and liver. Recent PET scans show stability with no new lesions. I suffer from side effects (rashes, dry mouth/eyes), but my oncologist believes I’m one of the lucky ones whose T-cells have stepped up their game (with help from the drugs Yervoy/Optivo) to make me healthy again. I thank my family, friends, and doctors for their incredible support. And yes, I worked hard those eighteen months, determined to stay positive. Two more PET scans, three months apart, and we’ll know more about my future. If I win this foray, I owe my life to an ornery Texan, James Alison, who spent years convincing scientists immunotherapy works, finally winning approval in 2015 (and earning a Nobel Prize in 2018). His story: https://www.amazon.com/Jim-Allison-Breakthrough/dp/B082G8LT1K
Every day is a bonus; I’ve learned to treat my body as a gift even though aliens created havoc on my bones and liver. Once I knew melanoma was my invader, I figured I’d start walking no matter how sick I felt, covering at least three miles each day. My husband has been my stalwart cheerleader all these months, and with his new hip, he’s better able to jump for joy that I’m on the mend. My family and friends taught me how to make healthy smoothies, inhale soothing scents, meditate, use a humidifier nightly, and drink high Ph water. Since my bones were a target of the cancer cells, I also have a bone-strengthening regimen. I consult with two specialists at UCLA and UCSF and work hard to understand my disease and prepare for appointments. Truly, being a cancer patient (and dodging Covid) has been a fulltime job.
Today is a first. After I finish this blog entry, novel twelve, WHEN WINDS HOWL, gets my attention next. I am once again, an author!