So long, 2018

Well, that was really hard.

Not that I thought chemotherapy would be easy — every iota of evidence pointed to the contrary — but I guess I thought it would be different?
I thought it would be kind of predictable (which it wasn’t) and I thought I could keep myself entertained (which it couldn’t) and I thought I would come out of it lonely and sad and bitter.
But I didn’t.
Despite 2018 being the most difficult year of my life, I got through it. And that feels like a miracle.

2018 took a lot from me: my health, my focus, four of my five senior pets. It put a strain on my marriage and a hold on my career. It made me realize that I am both physically weaker and emotionally stronger than I’d ever imagined. It took me to damned near my breaking point.

And it’s finally over.

I had my last scheduled dose of chemotherapy on December 27th. I rang in the New Year with the hope that 2019 will be a year of healing. If 2018 broke me down, 2019 will build me back up.

I’ll get an idea of what the future has in store for me in about a month, after my next PET scan and (with any luck) a cancer-free declaration, and I’ll write more about my experience over the past six months at a later date, once I have the luxury of hindsight.

For now I’m just glad to be looking forward.

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Summer News (June Edition)

Author’s Note: I wrote this as a draft at the end of June, but it’s taken me a bit to get up the courage/energy to post it here.

This summer’s going to be a bit of an odd one.

After nearly a year of doctor’s appointments and referrals, it became clear last week that the lump growing above my collarbone is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Ugh. It’s stage one*, and the outlook is very good, but I’m nervous about starting Chemotherapy at the end of July and disappointed to have to take the rest of the summer off as the receptionist at the Veterinary Hospital. I mean, what the heck, bod.

The focus this quarter is to maintain my health as best as I can and to have patience with myself while my body heals. I’ve got a wonderful family and amazing friends to help me through this,  and while I’m sure there will be ups and downs I’m optimistic about the future.

In brighter news, we’ve adopted a new kitten!

We brought her home last Saturday and named her Lydia. She’s a scoundrel and a dear and we adore her already—a weird looking tuxedo with the sweetest mew. She loves to be around people. Grade A kitten. Would recommend.

I’m taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo again this July. I’ll be working on Coral & Bone, my queer-romance novel about a saboteur mermaid and the emotionally distraught whaler who falls in love with her. It was fun to dip my toes into the story this past spring and I’m really looking forward to spending more time with the characters I’ve made. I’m not used to writing romances, but it’s been a fun challenge so far. Also there are kelp forests and whale magic and bar fights and a pet octopus. It’s great stuff.

The veggie garden is looking great after a bit of a slow start. It’s been a spring of extremes—either very hot and dry or quite wet and cold—and while the plants didn’t appreciate the swings they seem to have forgiven and moved on. This spring, John built us a pair of rather cleverly designed raised beds with chicken wire cages on hinges, and it’s been enough to keep the deer and raccoons at bay. Time will tell with regards to bears.

Now, off to work on a novel!

*Whoops, turns out it’s stage II, but the prognosis is still good and we’re still aiming for a cure, it’s just likely going to take 6 months of treatment instead of 4. Bummer.

YouTube Roundup: 6 Creators That Brighten My Day

This past week saw me mostly sleeping while I nursed a serious bout of bronchitis. I think my cat was awake more than I was, but when I was awake I watched a lot of YouTube in an effort to lift my dismal mood. I thought I’d share with you some of my regular go-to channels for content that makes me smile.

Books and Pieces

Elizabeth loves science fiction and her enthusiasm is contagious. With a seemingly encyclopaedic knowledge of the genre and a high level of taste, her recommendations are sure to include a new favourite for just about any SF fan. She updates weekly with book reviews, anticipated titles, and hauls.

The Brain Scoop

Hosted by Emily Graslie and currently based out of the Chicago Field Museum, this SciShow title is chock full of interviews with professionals of the life-sciences and profiles of unusual species. Educational, humorous, and featuring the odd dissection video—I relish anything and everything the Brain Scoop puts out.

Jenny Mustard

This Swedish blogger talks minimalism, vegan eating, and creative pursuits, sometimes with her partner David. She’s inspired me to eat healthier and buy less, and when you add her weekly podcasts to the mix there’s plenty of inspiring media coming down the pipe. Between  Jenny’s feminist outlook, beautiful eye for detail, and quirky sense of humour, I always end up a little happier than when I started watching.

Just Between Us

A (semi-autobiographical?) comedy show by Allison Raskin and Gabby Dunn about two odd-couple besties living in LA. There are narrative shorts as well as couch interviews/chats and both are equally enjoyable. It’s updated twice a week, and always works as a pick-me-up.

Ask a Mortician

Death-positive activist and badass Caitlin Dougherty updates weekly with informative videos about cultural issues pertaining to death and dying. It’s funny, thought-provoking, and educational.

Cool Ghosts

Quinns and Matt of Shut Up & Sit Down talk video games, and it’s delightful. I don’t have the money/equipment to play a lot of newer games, and the Cool Ghosts channel lets me experience games vicariously and laugh while I’m doing it. If you like board games, be sure to check out SU&SD as well—brilliant stuff.

I’m on the mend now and looking forward to getting back to my regular schedule on the blog as well as life. If you have a favourite YouTuber that brightens your day, let me know in the comments below, as I’m always on the lookout for new channels.