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[cancer] Melting down like an ice cream cone on an August sidewalk - Lakeshore
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Jay Lake
Date: 2010-08-12 05:58
Subject: [cancer] Melting down like an ice cream cone on an August sidewalk
Security: Public
Tags:calendula, cancer, child, health, personal, work, writing
Yesterday, most of what I expected was confirmed. calendula_witch commented as well. In short, I am almost certainly entering my third round of cancer in the past three years, with a second metastasis, this time in my liver.

Apparently, I'm collecting organ systems one by one. Eventually I'll have the whole set, and can make a man of myself.

So late yesterday afternoon I went into a nasty, slow-motion meltdown and (figuratively) threw up all over calendula_witch. I had sad, ugly thoughts, and spoke some sad, ugly words. Revolving around the obvious of course. We worked our way through it, and made things right between ourselves, but damn it was hard and stupid and she doesn't deserve any of it. Neither do I.

I continue to struggle with, among other things, my sense that this is getting worse. The primary cancer in my colon likely took years to develop, they tell me. The lung metastasis last year was 5 mm in April and 10 mm in October, growing about 5 mm in diameter in six months. Call that a growth rate of 1 mm per month (assuming a linear progression for the sake of discussion). The liver metastasis this year was non-existent in November and 29 mm in July. That's a growth rate of about 4 mm per month. While on chemo.

In other words, every time this little bastard assassin child of mine comes back, it stronger, faster and nastier. And yes, three data points doth a trend describe. This is why we had the CT yesterday, to see how fast this thing is growing now. There are three possibilities, it seems to me. One, the tumor has stabilized. Two, tumor has maintained the linear progression and will measure about 33-34 mm. (Which, incidentally, falls within the 5 mm margin-of-error of the CT scanning process, with respect to the current 29 mm measurement.) Or, post-chemo, it has really busted a cap on my liver and is somewhat larger than 34 mm.

Over the past three years, whenever I think I've found the worst-case fear, the reality has trumped my thinking with something even more dreadful.

So I have trepidation about this CT scan. Mind you, it does not matter, we're doing surgery anyway. All this scan will do is establish our risk criteria, and govern whether we rush the surgery (and cancel the New Zealand/Australia trip) or let it happen in mid-September, per the current plan.

Now, take the above-described trending and map it forward. What happens next year? A big piece of yesterday's meltdown was me pouring out my fears about losing my writing career, my Day Jobbe, my ability to care for myself and the_child financially, as I get increasingly sick every year.

I am sane, I am rational, I am emotionally healthy. I am not going to let my fears stop me. But the stark simple fact is that the things I fear from this seemingly endless progression of cancer do have the power to stop me, regardless of my resolve. And I am afraid of that.

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fjm
User: fjm
Date: 2010-08-12 13:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I feel utterly useless, but still thinking of you.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-08-12 13:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2010-08-12 13:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Words fail. Hugs.

(If you get the news about this next development tomorrow, I will most likely be away from the 'puter and possibly cell phone until Sunday. So double and triple hugs to you and yours until then)
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cathshaffer
User: cathshaffer
Date: 2010-08-12 13:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There will come a time when you have to come to terms with your own death. That time may be next year or it may be forty years from now. The fact that it is forty years away will probably not make you feel all that much better when it actually happens. Most of us get through our day in a happy cloud of denial. What I would say to you, Jay, is find some tendril of hope, and hold onto it like your life depends on it. Tend it and nurture it and believe that you can get better. Doctors don't know shit. I can't tell you how much random, useless stuff we've been told by my mother's cancer doctors. As I understand it, there's still a chance this thing isn't cancer at all. And here, I think, is a hopeful thought for you. So far on this journey, you really haven't been sick from the cancer yet at all--you've only been sick from your treatments. Every time you go under the knife, every time you've been on the pump, you are kicking cancer's ass. It has not won one single round yet. Go you!
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-08-12 13:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There will come a time when you have to come to terms with your own death.

I am sometimes painfully aware of this. Oddly, the idea of my death doesn't bother me nearly as much as the consequences for the_child, my parents, calendula_witch and everyone else who loves me. What dogs me more right now is the notion of simply being sicker and sicker for a long time.

And you are right. Except for the very original symptoms that put me in the ER, the cancer has never bothered me directly at all...
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User: twinkelbelpeach
Date: 2010-08-12 13:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay, as long as you are breathing there is hope. My cousin Paul stopped doing chemo for his lung cancer because it made him feel so awful and the doctors admitted it wasn't working all that much on the cancer. That was almost two years ago and he's still with us. Yes, he's hooked up to his little oxygen tank everywhere he goes, but he's still here! Not saying you should stop chemo, not saying that at all, just saying that there's more to this cancer thing than the medicine men know.
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Talekyn
User: talekyn
Date: 2010-08-12 13:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You needed to have that meltdown. And it's a tribute to your relationshp with calendula_witch that she stayed with you through the emotional vomiting and talked it through. I'm glad she's there.

Fingers crossed that the damn thing has stabalized enough that you can do the planned trip and then do the surgery. Cancer has stolen enough from you.

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chris_gerrib
User: chris_gerrib
Date: 2010-08-12 13:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There's nothing I can do to help, but I am rooting for your quick recovery.
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Peter Hollo
User: frogworth
Date: 2010-08-12 13:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Nothing I can possibly say, but I really really hope you can come to Australia so I can give you a hug or two in person.
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W. Lotus: Peaceful
User: wlotus
Date: 2010-08-12 15:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Peaceful
I would be scared, too. Anyone sane would.
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User: otterdance
Date: 2010-08-12 15:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Otter mama
If psychic hugs from a stranger are any use, you certainly have mine. Your LJ is a wonder.
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L,  tequila powered avian superhero
User: asthecrowfly
Date: 2010-08-12 16:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Meltdowns help us keep going. It's okay to have them, once in awhile.

My housemates and I are fans of your work, and half of us have been through our own biopsies, and helped family through their cancer treatments. We're all rooting for you, and sending our strongest good thoughts.
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Dan/Дмитрий
User: icedrake
Date: 2010-08-12 16:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*HUGS*

Hang in there, Jay.
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farmgirl1146
User: farmgirl1146
Date: 2010-08-12 16:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
HUGS. Your reactions and fears seem sane to me. I send you my virtual hugs.
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Richard Parks
User: ogre_san
Date: 2010-08-12 17:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You're handling everything a lot better than I would. For what ever it's worth, you have my prayers and admiration.
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User: sandrawickham
Date: 2010-08-12 17:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sending you all the long distance energy I can..hope it gets to you.
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barbarienne
User: barbarienne
Date: 2010-08-12 18:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My thoughts are with you, Jay. It's a strong man who can acknowledge his fears and get on with things.
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dionysus1999
User: dionysus1999
Date: 2010-08-12 19:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If you can get through all of this sane then you are an amazing man. I know bad things happen to good people, but come on!

I'll distract you with literary critique. I love the way you flip between characters and do it well in Pinion. You keep unfolding the clockwork universe you've created in each book. It was great to catch up with Hethor and learn more about the Southern Earth. The way you take the figurative and make it literal is amazing. I can't wait to find out what happens next.

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