Saturday, August 22, 2015

Kicking Cancer's Ass

Three weeks ago, on August 1st, I sat in the very spot I am as I write this. At a desk with my monitor in front of me. I had huge intentions of producing a trailer entitled Death Dwellers Complete Series. When I created the last series trailer, it ended at Misguided. So I wanted one with all the books. My Rockin' Redhead designer, Crystal Cuffley, had just set the cover to Misfit and I was so excited. The biopsy for that upcoming Monday didn't even enter my head as something too significant. Well, other than my fear of needles. Beyond that, I have a whatever attitude. I saw it as just something else for my doctor to confirm there was no malignancy.

Looking back to that Saturday, I realize now, I knew my suspicions that the mass in my breast was more than a benign lump. Pain had set in at the beginning of January and the mass had grown. I also felt there was more to it than mastadynia <-- that might be misspelled. I thought, perhaps, there was an undetected infection. I realize now I thought I'd finally get some type of medication and make the pain go away once the biopsies came back negative for a carcinoma.

When the radiologist met with me prior to the procedure on the morning of August 3rd, he'd already read over my case. I don't know why that struck me as odd. Was it a premonition? Did he meet with all his patients first? His nurse had been quite wonderful at explaining everything in detail. He went over everything she said and ended the same way: do you have any questions about the procedure? I still don't know why seeing him spooked me slightly. I tell myself I still didn't believe it was cancer. I'm not so sure I believe that. If you know your body, you also know when it is rebelling against you.

I attributed my fatigue to stress and other health issues. The breast pain was annoying at most.

At the end of the procedure, the breast biopsy site would not stop bleeding. When I went in for the post-procedure mammogram, the minuscule cut bled all over the place, freaking me and the technician out. That was the first time I truly felt fear about what might be going on. As I sat in a little area with ice packs against my breasts, the technician who'd performed the mammogram on 7/28 and the lady in registration who'd scheduled me for the biopsy came in to check on me.

They made it a point to come in, actually. I'd held conversations outside and beyond what I'd been there for, so, I thought maybe they were saying hello to a new acquaintance.

So I tell myself. That's another lie. Because the gestures struck me as odd, too. Not because it has never happened. My girls tell me I'm too sociable, lol. I'm very good at making small talk. I've always greeted strangers and, somehow, found myself in conversation. When I worked in downtown New Orleans, I once took my mom to the office on a Saturday. The place was nearly deserted, but almost everyone who happened to be there knew me. Small talk is good, but I've come to realize I let very few people get too close to me. You'd think I'd be the belle of any ball. I'm not. That's when my shyness surfaces and I listen more than I talk. I'm good one-on-one, not with crowds. Unless I'm bartending, which is completely off-subject. My point is while I've had staff search me out over the course of my years with various illnesses, this time it felt off to me.

Premonition again? Paranoia? I didn't know then and I don't now. However, I remember having another moment of doubt. I wondered if they knew something that I didn't.

August 5th was the day that changed my entire life. I'd gone to the grocery store. When I got to the house, I was handed a slip of paper with my doctor's cell phone number on it. The call lasted three minutes. Three. Not five. Or ten. Or twenty. It just didn't seem fitting that a mere one hundred eighty seconds turned my world upside down.

"Hello, my dear. I got the results in. You have breast cancer. It's a fairly aggressive cancer. HER2 Positive. The mass is a pretty good size. And the cancer has spread to the axilla. A lymph node. I need to get you in my office tomorrow to discuss where we go from here. It'll be a good idea to bring someone else in to serve as your ears. This is a shock and some information might slip by you."

That's how I got the news. In between, she asked how many days had passed since the biopsy. I couldn't remember. I was sniffling trying to hold back tears to form any coherent thought. She said, "Monday, right? And this is Wednesday. Yeah."

I remembered that I was due to get the results 3-5 business days after the biopsy. It should've been Thursday at the earliest. I think I already knew what she'd say before I called her back. It was too early for it not to be anything except bad news.

My delivery of the news to my mother was as abrupt as the doctor's delivery to me. I was sobbing and she immediately started to cry. No, her face crumpled the minute I walked into the kitchen. She knew. While I ran upstairs, she called everyone and fell apart.

It was then that I realized that I could fall apart and give in. In which case, I'd put myself at a disadvantage. Cancer would be winning well before I had my first chemo. Or I could remember every trial and tribulation I've ever been through. Realize that I made it through. Remember that when I'm too weak to carry on, God will carry me.

There are so many days where I haven't felt strong or brave. I just knew what I had to do to get through whatever I faced. My mood and attitude wasn't always pretty to see. I have clinical depression, so bad shit makes me more depressed. Still, I get through it. The depression is something I came to terms with years ago. I've learned to ride with it and look to the future and that light at the end.

And so it is with my breast cancer.

At my last appointment, the oncologist staged the mass at 2b or 3a. I've also been told it looks as if it has spread to a second lymph node. Even worse? I can't start kicking cancer's ass, until I get rid of the infection caused by the placement of the portacath.

The response I've gotten from everyone has been amazing. The flowers. Well-wishes. Advice. Websites to look at diets and treatments. The photos of the hot guys. The funny memes. All I can say is thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU.

When my girl, Jordan Marie, texted me and asked about hosting an auction to be held in my benefit, I started to cry. She said she'd get my assistant, Claire Richards, to help. It overwhelmed me. They are the best. You ALL are the best.

Your generosity and thoughtfulness will help me through whatever dark days I might face. I've had moments of extreme fear, but I suppose that's normal. To make myself feel better, I made a wishlist on Amazon, that I titled F*ck Cancer. Amazon didn't like that too much.

Fuck it. It was just something to do while I battled the infection and was bored out of my head.

Meanwhile, Misconduct had been placed on the back burner. I thought, wait a fucking minute.

Cancer's winning if I ignore this book. Therefore, I've been writing. I have very limited energy. Probably from the infection but definitely from my low Vitamin D counts. I pace myself, though. Unfortunately, writing leaves little left over to socialize other than my updates on Instagram, which I share on Facebook. I still have my girls, too, and it's important for them to see that living isn't always easy, but it's worth fighting for.

Misconduct is still scheduled for release on September 21st. #fuckcancer

I so want to meet this goal and pray that I can.

On that day, I intended to do the cover reveal for Misfit, the last book, a novella, in the Death Dwellers series. Omigod, that breaks my heart....anyway, I can't do much more than say thank you for the auction and the support and the love. Before my diagnosis, I was asked about Misfit's cover. So I decided this would be my gift to you. Revealing it here and now. I don't know when it will be released, but I want you to know it will come.

I will fight and I will win. Claire and I will keep sending out tweets and posts via hootsuite. As soon as I am able, I will read them and respond. I do have a request for you: Get regular mammograms and yearly checkups, if at all possible. It could save your life. If you don't do it for anyone, do it for me. ;-) Tell yourself this is for that stubborn bitch, Kat, who just won't leave my ass alone about a fucking checkup.

I also created another Death Dwellers Complete Series trailer, just for today, and this post. Because this is the trailer I was making, twenty-one days ago. I'd intended to read over YouTube's policies and how to use certain songs. Instead, I've used Something's Come Over Me by Ernie Halter. I love the song, first of all. It's the same song on the original series trailer, that ended with Misguided.

Before I end this long-ass post, I have so many people to thank, but for the sake of space and time (I've taken enough of yours if you've read to the end, lol), I'm keeping it to twelve: Claire Richards, Jordan Marie, Crystal Cuffley, Zoey Megahey, Kimberly Beale, Angie Stanton, Danni List, Werner, Melanie Cooper, Kaylene Osborn, Kaz Blonde, Kristen Inselman, and Savannah Morgan. I also have to thank Daniel Sobieray, Logan Barnhart, Travis Lee Ferguson, and Delonn Donovan for gracing my covers with your beauty. Thanks to my readers for helping me to realize my dream. And, finally, thanks to everyone who organized and participated in the auction. You'll never know how much that means to me.


DISCLAIMER: I didn't reread the post, so it might have typos, errors, and other mistakes

DISCLAIMER, PART 2: I can't upload the cover of Misfit. In the spirit of Outlaw...ain't nothing but a thing. I will not be defeated! You can view the cover in the trailer included in this post.

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