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Nom!

Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook is now available for pre-order!

Food, beverages, badgers… it’s all there!

I’m in, with the stupidest recipe ever. (What? I’m not telling!) But I know there are some really good recipes to make up for it.

This cookbook is a fundraiser for the SFWA Legal Fund, and should be a great treat for any fan of food and speculative fiction.

Fragile

I’m wearing my mother’s American Cancer Society SURVIVOR pin. Best I can manage today.

Done!

In the past sixteen months since being diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer, I’ve had chemo, chemo-radiation, surgery to remove parts of my liver and colon, and more chemo. As of 12:30pm today, I am fucking done with all of it. The home nurse pulled out the infusion needle and I signed my discharge papers. I don’t have to see my oncologist until August.

There’s still some medical stuff left, but it’s clean-up: reversing the ostomy, possibly fixing things that the post-surgical infection screwed up, things like that, but those are all voluntary, rather than “you’re going to die if you don’t.”

There are also some scary scans in my future, starting in June. I don’t remember the schedule, but it’s frequent CT scans for three years, I think, and less often for five, and after five? Not so often at all.

Right now, though, my CEA is still normal, I have no symptoms, I’m done poisoning myself and I get to start to recover. I’ve gained most of the weight I lost–having chemo every three instead of every two weeks helped a lot there–and so next I need to work on the muscle I lost, which I haven’t yet been able to do much about.

Right now I’m tired and queasy, but that will mostly fade by the weekend. By next week sometime I’ll be able to start yoga again, and will be eating normally (chemo weeks are all about the toast, even for a few days after).

I really want to call my mother and celebrate with her.

Fuck cancer, fuck the sixteen months I spent being poisoned, zapped and cut, fuck the years that it took away from my mother, fuck the uncertainty and risk I’ll be living with. Even the successes hurt.

Wandering through

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I put a lot of stuff online, both good and bad. Sometimes, though, something big enough comes along that I need to hold onto it for a while before I can write much, and if it’s really huge, then it seems wrong to blog anything else until that thing has been said.

So. Many of you know by now that my mother died on April 15. I’ve made any number of jokes about the long-time bookkeeper and Tax Day, but none of them were any good, really.

Maureen Vincent Goslee, July 30 1947 – April 15 2015.

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Pissing in the pool

I grew up reading the Hugo award winners anthologies, those collections of the best works of the year. It wasn’t until much later that I learned how the Hugos work, and even later that I made the miraculous discovery that I could participate in that process by nominating works I cared about, and voting from among the finalists.

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GENIUS LOCI anthology

The GENIUS LOCI anthology has only 20 hours left on its Kickstarter! We blew past the $22k stretch goal: deckle edges! foil stamping! a bookmark to keep your place in this GIANT anthology!

Reader, I got to see an early complete version this week, and wow. So many good things!

Not only are these my first deckle edges, here’s another GENIUS LOCI-related first: my first interview, at the Qwillery. So much fun!

Four of six; also six plus two

In entirely different scales.

I finished round four of the planned six chemo infusions this week. Sort of: the side effects other than exhaustion were minimal until today. You’d think by Friday I’d be feeling better instead of worse, but you’d be wrong. Even with a bit of a lapse today, I’m feeling enormously better than I did last round. Frustrating as it was, I think the delay may have helped me recover.

These lovely flowers also contributed to overall health and morale.

flowers

Not the snow, the snow did NOTHING good for morale, but it’s long gone, my snowdrops are blooming, and I saw a robin yesterday.

I did sleep with the velocikittenraptors last night, and ended up dreaming of being eaten alive by a telepathic shark that liked to play with its food. They were snuggly when I was awake, at least. Mostly snuggly, with only a few sharp bits.

I’m on a new med, Neulasta, that increases white blood cell production so I shouldn’t have any more delays. Sadly, I don’t think this means I get sushi yet. (Insert pouting here.)

With the week-here, week-there stuff, I should be getting my last treatment the first week of May. Originally I should be just about done right now, but no. Stupid recuperating body.

Which leads me to the “six plus two” bit. It’s six months and two days since I sacrificed chunks of colon and liver in the name of survival. I was going to blog on the actual anniversary, but my current chemo coping strategy involves spending as much time asleep as humanly possible, so I didn’t get to it.

My liver should be about 2/3 grown back. If I were otherwise healthy it would be completely grown back after six months, but chemo interferes with that process. (Even post-chemo livers are less robust, let alone those currently being poisoned.)

Sometime in June we’ll do some more scans to see how everything healed up, and decide when to reverse my ostomy, and if I need additional surgery to fix the fistula that formed due to the abscess and infection I had post-surgery. (Probably. Bah.) But my surgeon assures me that all of those can be “whenever” and will not interfere with my travel plans. (I like my colon surgeon. She’s quite awesome.)

My scar itches horribly whenever it feels like it, usually after I haven’t been moving much and it tightens up (yes, I oil it), and I occasionally have a tiny bit of pain when breathing deeply after sitting for a while. Which all just means don’t sit for very long, which is healthy anyway, but not compatible with chemo weeks. But nothing hurts when the velocikittenraptors stomp all over me, and I am otherwise healthy. Even the iodine-related thyroid problems may be improving, though I had to move my endocrinologist appointment due to all the changes in my chemo schedule, and the first opening is June.

Medical science appears to be doing its thing. I frequently think, though, that people a century or two in the future will look back at this in amazement at the horrible things doctors did to their patients. “They zapped them, and poisoned them, and cut bits out! How barbaric!” Still, best we’ve currently got, and it’s working.

Things we like

Science. And graphs. And this graph in very particular.

CEA

My CEA has been normal since surgery in September. Isn’t that a pretty curve?

This sounds familiar

Once again I’ve been sent home after having my blood examined. I continue to not be studying hard enough for my blood tests. My platelets are doing very well with the every three week regimen, but my white blood cells just can’t keep up. This is likely due to the effects of radiation: all that pelvic bone marrow is no longer as robust as it used to be. My numbers are fine when I’m not taxing my bone marrow with chemo, but the combination is too much.

There’s a treatment for this, an injection called Neulasta, that I can have in conjunction with my next three chemo treatments (by which I mean LAST THREE), that raises white blood counts. It of course has its own side effects, the main ones being sticker shock and bone pain from the marrow being stimulated. I’m hoping my insurance takes care of the first one, and that the latter isn’t too bad. Like everything else in this cancer business, people’s responses vary enormously, from being achy for a couple days to needing narcotics.

I was dreading this week’s chemo, since the last round was brutal. My anti-nausea meds aren’t cutting it, and while Monday and Tuesday were really not bad despite being infusion days, Thursday and Friday had me running for the bathroom. (Things that cause vomiting: drinking water; walking to the kitchen; walking to the bathroom; pretty much anything.) But I’d still rather get it over with than keep extending this out. My final treatment will now be the first week of May. Bah!

And I’d already had to rearrange everything, and now I’m doing it again. I keep finding things that are messed up by changing weeks, including the meeting this week that I didn’t prepare for because I couldn’t attend it, and now I can and I’m totally unready. And the medical appointment I had to cancel, and for which the next available opening was June, and which now I didn’t need to cancel at all.

I set up a bunch of time-consuming work projects to process while I was out this week so that I could work on them next week, and now I’m here at the computer and none of my stuff is ready for me to do anything.

With the Neulasta, at least there shouldn’t be any more health-related delays. We’re keeping the three week spacing for the remaining treatments since that is working for my platelet counts; there’s no Neulasta equivalent that boosts platelets. I just really want this over with, so I can get on with figuring out how my life is going to work now. (More on that later.)

Up, up and away!

Not only has GENIUS LOCI funded on Kickstarter, we’ve already blown past the first stretch goal (my favorite: a pay increase for the authors). The next stretch goal is for the readers: more artwork!

I admit, I’d kind of like to hit the $22,000 stretch goal of a ridiculously attractive book, with foil embossing and deckle edges and such. Wouldn’t that look lovely sitting on your shelf? You should all go increase your pledge right now, to make sure that you get the print book and that it will be so amazingly lovely.

Or not, if fantasy and horror aren’t your things, or if you’re broke, or whatever. Y’know, nothing to feel horribly guilty over. I’ll let you read my contributor copy, just not borrow it.