Cancerversary #2… complete. :)

typewriter 21Wow. I hardly know what to say.

After a solid month of getting poked, prodded, scared, tested, and gouged… it’s done. And the results are in.

Monday, I visited my oncologist and I don’t believe the news could have been better. Every test, biopsy, and scan have come back stellar. Also, we have this:

First, it appears new guidelines concerning stage 2 colon cancer were installed around six months ago. My particular cancer (2A) was revised as such:

Before: I had an 80 percent chance of not having cancer five years from diagnosis.

Now: Statistically, I now have an 87 percent chance of not having cancer five years from diagnosis.

Before: At my diagnosis, I could have opted for chemo or go with a plan consisting of blood tests and CT scans.

Now: CT scans pose more radiation harm than they’re worth. I now only will receive blood tests every six months. Also, today chemo is not recommended, or even offered, to people with my cancer, grade, and stage (T3N0M0).

And yes… I aced all my tests, including the tumor marker (CEA). Mine is .6. “Normal” is 0 – 6.

So, it appears as though I’ll live another six months. All in all, good news, including a slight suspicion that I may have more colon left than originally thought.

So, while my future is still a tad mysterious, it’s certainly brighter than it has been in a long time.

Now, I’m off to write. Cool… :)

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Totally not a cool week.

So, the second year cancerversary tests are in full swing. So far, so good. I’ve got two appointments this week, the final one with the oncologist next.

I dislike May. Thinking about cancer, reliving gory details, watching newbie practitioners gawk at my crazy scar… it’s not what I’d like to do. Then I have the big C hanging over my head, something I’d rather not think about.

Truth is, my stats aren’t that bad. There’s a 20 percent chance cancer will come back within five years. These next two years are when, statistically, it’ll happen.

So, imagine my surprise when, after my oncologist left, the temporary doc changed our treatment plan. “You don’t need CT scans anymore.”

“Why not? That was the plan. ‘Vigilant monitoring’ they called it. Just for the first five years. I was supposed to do blood tests every six months and a CT scan once a year to catch anything the blood test missed.”

“Nah. I’m cancelling it.”

“Why?”

No answer.

And that was that. My original oncologist is gone. The treatment plan we set was gone. Temporary doc changed everything. Even my family doc retired.

So, I’m starting fresh this year. I like my new family doc. Still no permanent oncologist, though. No treatment plan concerning the cancer. Sometimes I feel like I should just skip all the oncology appointments. After all, I could probably find someone to give me a CEA tumor marker test and if it’s in the normal range, I’m good to go. But my dear husband would likely object.

Life would sure be easier, though.

Enough complaining. On to my next appointment. Yippee.

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More freebies

Pensive RueSo… edits are complete on all three novels. I’m sooooo excited. This means that if you’re a VIP reader, you’ll get a full trio of goodies to check out. If you’re not a VIP reader, it’s easy (and free) to sign up.

I’m a sucker for great romance novels and if I do say so myself, I’m pretty excited about these latest incarnations.

Watch for more changes on this page. After, erm… a gizillion years of blogging I’ve got some tidying up to do. So, we’re going lean, mean, and fun. You’ll see what I mean as the project evolves.

In the mean time, check out the new freebies. Sign up and become a VIP reader. Life’s too short to not have some fun, eh?

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Feral Cats and Arrows

Zi6_2820Kristen Lindsey is a vet. Or was a vet. At the time of this event, she was a Texas veterinarian.

One day Kristen decided to take her bow and arrow outside and shoot what she considered “feral” cats. She even took a pic of said event and posted it to Facebook. (Beware. Click that link at your own risk. It’s heart breaking.) Her caption?

“My first bow kill, lol. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s head! Vet of the year award … Gladly accepted.”

The cat was not feral. He was someone companion.

Let’s chat about unwanted cats for a moment.

Last October, a stray cat took residence under our deck. She lived there for quite a while (weeks) before the temp took a nose dive. She watched us through a basement window any time anyone went downstairs.

Finally, my son took a good look at her and asked why her neck looked so long. I opened the window and she crawled right in. She has lived with us ever since.

She was rail thin (hence the long-looking neck). Her fur clumped in small mats. And she was HUNGRY. I made the mistake of feeding her and that was the end of our cat-less home.

Her life likely wasn’t very good. She evidently lived with continual hunger. She was stone cold when she came in the house. Today, when thunder strikes, that little bundle of fur flies through the house in a panic.

When I reported that we found a stray to the city offices, I was told to just “take it out back and shoot it. We have hundreds of those things in the abandoned elevator.” I didn’t feel that was a good option.

Thing is, Luna (her name) didn’t deserve to die. She didn’t ask to be born. Someone, somewhere wanted a cat and didn’t spay her. They didn’t neuter their Tom. They weren’t responsible pet owners.

Luna wasn’t vaccinated, she wasn’t microchipped, she wasn’t fed, she was left, as a kitten, to fend for herself.

Who are we, as humans, when we treat someone like Luna with such disregard? That said, we seem to have trouble treating each other respectfully, how can we expect to treat someone as tiny as Luna with compassion?

All the companion animals in our home are rescue animals. The two pups come from the Humane Society and I just shared Luna’s story. Every one of them has every reason to be cranky, angry, and biased against humans. But they aren’t.

In that regard, I sometimes wish I could be more dog-like and perhaps more like stray-cat Luna.

I just hope that no one would come at me with a bow and arrow. People like that really shouldn’t work with anybody… let alone vulnerable animals.

More info. here.

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Cutting Checks

Luna DeskToday I get to embark on one of my favorite spring activities: cutting royalty checks for Filbert Publishing authors.

This day always makes me tremendously grateful for our incredible authors, readers who entrust us with their time, how wonderful this community is.

I’ve had the opportunity to take part in a number of Internet groups these past two years and wow… we’re a lucky bunch, us writers. The professionalism, the kindness, the constructive criticism is awesome. Somehow we seem to have learned to discuss hot topics minus dog piling (I didn’t even know what that meant until a couple years ago), flaming (another new word), and anger (ha, I knew that one). :)

I never could have come back from the nightmare of cancer without the incredible support I received from the Writing Etc. community. They’re an awesome bunch.

So, today I’m back in my office cutting author checks. It’s a good day. (And yes, as you can see from the pic, I need to clean my desk. It’s difficult to do when it’s covered with such awesomeness.)

I hope you take time to do something fabulous today.

— Beth :)

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The Starter Library

I’m not sure you’ve  noticed, but I’ve been tinkering with this site.

Well, that’s not quite accurate. It’s getting a major overhaul.

I’ve been a bit of a recluse lately as I’ve been polishing, editing, spit shining all my titles, chopping them to bits, killing my darlings, and building an exclusive Starter Library for my favorite people in the world… readers.

Best of all, it’s completely free, no strings attached.

Better yet? It’s growing.

I have the first book uploaded, the next one’s good to go. I’ve also got at least eight more in the queue.

How fun, eh?

Be sure to check it out.

All you have to do is sign up to become a VIP reader (it’s free, btw) and you’re in. Instructions to download will be forthcoming.

Onward and upward. This will be an incredible year. :)

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Rebuilding after cancer

antique typewriter 21What to do, what to do…

So, here I am. Not quite a cancer survivor, not exactly a cancer patient.

I’m not classified “in remission” but the primary tumor is supposedly gone. I’m lucky they caught the cancer, I’m unlucky in that my life, career trajectory, everything I thought was true, has been turned upside down.

I’m in limbo; not real sick, not exactly well either. Slowly but surely, I’m getting used to this new body. Often, I long for the days when I had cancer and felt fabulous. Yeah, I know. I only think that after a particularly bad day.

But that’s beside the point, I suppose. What bothers me the most is what has happened to my personality.

I was always a “ready, fire, aim” type person before the cancer. Now I continually second guess myself. I proceed carefully.

I sometimes find reality to be crushing, sobering, overwhelming.

Sure, my chances of five year survival are OK. Docs are watching the liver and lungs. Considering I don’t have much colon left, my chances of actual colon cancer showing up there are rather small. Now, we watch for mets.

But it’s confusing. Docs aren’t exactly skilled at communication and as I approach my second cancerversary, I’m not looking forward to reliving my cancer nightmare once again.

When I was diagnosed, docs told me if they hadn’t removed the tumor, I would be inoperable in two years, dead in five. In a month, I’ll enter year two.

Which brings me to writing.

In the past, I’ve always used copywriting to finance my fiction career. After taking a good look at the prospect of death through a Vicodin haze, I’m not sure I want to do as much copywriting anymore.

Throughout my writing career, my mantra has always been, “chase your dream, don’t compromise.” And I’ve done that… most the time.

Except now, time suddenly feels precious. I find myself avoiding various projects I used to jump at. I find myself longing to return to my roots and enter the worlds of imagination I’ve often forsaken, instead taking the safe route of financial security. But I can’t seem to do that now.

I love writing. Cherish it. I adore my characters and the worlds they inhabit. The stories they tell amaze me.

And so, today I explore. I wonder. I tentatively take a step back and become the writer I wanted to be way back in the days before surgeries, scans, slick seminars, mentors, and tumors.

I’m terrified yet far more hopeful than I’ve been in a long time. But through this, I find writing fun again. And I suppose that’s what counts, eh? I hope you join me on this interesting adventure.

If you haven’t signed up for my VIP newsletter, please do so. I’ve got a couple awesome freebies set to go… more coming.

But most of all, enjoy life. Love living. Hug someone you find precious. :)

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Ack! Vintage advertisements that’ll curl your toes

My how times change. The magazine ads after the jump are… interesting.

We’ve got fannies, diarrhea plagued playboys, “chubby” girls, women who would shoot themselves in the head due to a bad hair day, cocaine tooth drops, phallic gaming equipment, inappropriate use of a child in advertising, and a very young Nick Nolte.

Go figure.

Enjoy the mayhem after the jump. :)

Link

Nolte

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Caribou Coffee 5k, Weekend Update

Fantastic weekend.

First, on Friday, on our regular morning walk, little Rudie (the Doxie Cross) found a dollar in the middle of the road. Ha. I’d never been paid to walk before. I gave her strict instructions to find a few more bills, but she didn’t listen. Dang.

Second, on Saturday morning, my dh, Rudie, and I attended the first annual Caribou Coffee 5k walk/run.

Now, I walk a lot. Usually, I vary my path, making sure to get enough steps to fill my daily allotment, careful to make sure weather isn’t a factor in my return trip. If it’s too cold, life becomes unpleasant. If it’s too hot, my elderly dogs are miserable. A quick plan before heading out generally results in a pleasant experience.

I’ve never walked an official 5k on a track before. A couple thoughts came to mind while doing so.

1. It’s weird to walk in circles. How do people do it? We just went round and round twelve times. At first it was fine, then I got a bit concerned at the boredom creeping into my mind. Then I began to carefully tick off each lap, waiting for the end.

I liked the 5k. I didn’t like walking in a circle. But that’s just me.

2. I appreciated this event. It was held at the same location as the Relay for Life, yet this one felt different. Perhaps it was because all the coffee donations went directly to the oncology center I frequent. Perhaps it was because an additional 20 percent goes directly to cancer care. Perhaps it’s because I really like our local Caribou Coffeehouse.

It was fun… a very personal event that felt more hopeful, and less sickness oriented, than the previously mentioned fund raiser.

3. Cancer changes everything. Absolutely everything. I’m back at work more than ever since the cancer, but it’s still rough going. I don’t have much to say. That’s a bad thing for a writer. If I don’t have anything to say, I generally don’t send out an issue of Writing Etc.

So, my editorial schedule is still quite flexible. By necessity. Despite all the laps around the track, I still couldn’t figure out what’s going on when it comes to writing. But I’m finding my way. Hopefully.

Finally, the weekend ended with my dh finishing a few outdoor projects. Turns out he left the outside door open. So, when I entered my office today, I had at least four flies buzzing around my desk.

After hunting them down, one by one, I had one final bug to annihilate. He evaded me for over an hour before the buzzing stopped. Suspicious, I searched for his location. I finally found the pesky creature perched on the fly swatter. I let him sit.

Well played, wily fly. Well played.

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