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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Downtown Doctors

A Cancer Post ™

We went downtown this week to do the chemo infusion, because Laston's oncologist (the one close to us) is on vacation. Some of the same nurses, much bigger infusion suite. A few interesting things.

Sometimes the steroids in the chemo trump the antihistamines, and Laston goes to bed at 10:30 PM, gets up at 1:30 in the morning for a snack, and doesn't go back to bed. He finally went at about 3:00 PM, slept for almost four hours, and is just now getting back up for a few hours before going to bed properly for the night.

This week's food craving is apparently a Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger. It seemed to hit the spot.

On the Taking Care of Oneself front, I had completely forgotten about my own flu shot. But with an immune-compromised spouse, my own chronic asthma (and a stagnant air warning through Monday), it's in my interest and Laston's to get one sooner rather than later.

So that's what I did today, got my flu shot, took the kids' thank-you notes for Christmas gifts to my workplace and Laston's old one, took Abby on a girls' afternoon out (Leanna's with her mom and Lizzy's with Grandma), and then we came home and watched the series nine end of Doctor Who (except the Christmas Special, which we plan to watch this weekend). Now we're watching Leverage episodes, interspersed with tidying up and folding laundry and so forth.

It's a good time.

Monday, December 28, 2015

First World Problems

Not a Cancer Post ™

It started with a missing remote control.

They go missing on a regular basis around here, but it wasn't in any of the usual places where Lizzy someone forgets it when she someone absentmindedly moves it from its accustomed place on the side table by the couch.

This is at least in part because the side table is currently across the room from its usual spot, under a small Christmas tree. And the (slightly wobbly) little decorative rack that is normally in that space is where the side table generally lives.

Got that?

Because it's heavily involved in the next part of this story.

In the mad search for the remote (because we must watch the last episode of series nine of Doctor Who (not including the Christmas special, which we plan on watching later this week with my mom, so no spoilers please) and the season finale of The Librarians), we dropped the couch (more on the couch later), and knocked it into the little stand (and dropped it on my foot; there is no permanent damage).

That's when I lost it and ranted all over poor Abby for leaving a small glass bowl on the stand, which naturally hit the floor and shattered. Toes are throbbing (just bruised, don't worry) and I'm hauling out the vacuum to clear up broken glass, as well as ranting about Abby leaving her stuff everywhere and why the aitch ee double hockey sticks are there still things out from Christmas!? (Yeah, it was three days ago. This was not my best moment today).

We never did find the remote, so we changed the input and the volume manually, and we're watching things on Netflix instead of Comcast for tonight. We'll look for the remote tomorrow.

Oh, the couch? Yes, we bought it when we moved in. Two years ago. From a Reclinerland that was going out of business, which was apparently not our best move, because it started breaking down almost immediately. So the remote may still be in here somewhere... we won't know for a while.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Holly Jolly Christmas

Abby gets Real Manga
Art Supplies
Leanna's only wanted
this book and the
others she got
for AGES
Not a Cancer Post ™

It's kind of cool how well the kids chose things for one another. Abby and Lizzy got Leanna a shirt off her wish list. Leanna got Lizzy and Abby each a cool little toy like a mini-furby (they talk to one another, and are the origin of this post). Abby got Lizzy a cool set of fifteen Roald Dahl books (a Costco special).

Speaking of Costco, my mom renewed our Costco membership. Now that's a gift an adult can get behind.

But man, between gifts from coworkers and friends and family, and employee discounts here and there, a Christmas dinner with few calamities (one spill and one cough-induced vomit) and lots of great stuff (my sister's apple cake is to die for, and I had forgotten how much I adored the mushroom rice of long ago. Balsamic reduction-drizzled squash is no hardship either, and my cousin makes a lovely spinach salad with pear and cranberries and onions). Anyway (I digressed there for a bit), this has been a super Christmas, in spite of the C Word.

Daddy's Little Scientist
The Force appears to be with him
It's been lovely. The big girls are now all snuggled at their respective other parents' houses. Thank you so much, everyone. You have all really saved the holiday at our place. And now I am going to sleep off my food coma while Lizzy plays with her new Kinex dollhouse and Laston hangs out online.

After I post a few pictures. Because nothing says Christmas like excited children.

And adults.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Only peripherally a Cancer Post ™

 Peripherally in that this bastard of a thing called cancer has apparently been a catalyst for a lot of the spirit of giving and love and so forth. I mean, I've pointed out some of these things before, but tonight as I contemplate our little tree, I'm kind of seeing it all at once.

And I thank you all for it.

You know who you are.

So here's the thing: with Laston being sick and me being the primary breadwinner at the moment, I was pretty sure we would not have a lot of cash for things like Christmas presents. When it comes to asking for help for me (and Laston) I have a lot of angst; I don't like feeling like I'm not pulling my weight. But when the kids are potentially affected, I have no shame and all bets are off.

I signed them up for the Giving Tree at my work, wherein you can put your child's age and interests down and someone chooses a little gift (or gift card) anonymously and donates it to them. So we got some of those for the girls, all three of them. Add to that the gift card I mentioned in my last post (a bunch of my coworkers got me a gift card for Taking Care of Jenn so She Can Take Care of Her Family - also known as "fastening one's own air mask before tending to the child"), and the huge amounts of gifties given to our kids from Laston's work (told you they love him and would not have laid him off if it hadn't been for budget issues), and they just might have even more gifts than usual rather than less. And that doesn't even include the usual round of things from extended family and friends.

So I feel blessed and loved and most of all reassured that no matter what I hear on the news, not everyone out there is a raging nutjob. Lots of them have solid cores of decency and kindness, and for that I applaud them.

Update: Laston's old boss thinks he looks great, considering. Laston himself is generally doing well on the chemo, though tired much of the time. Most of his pain is gone most of the time.

In general, cancer or not, life's pretty okay!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Good News and the Kindness of Friends

A Cancer Post ™ (and some Not a Cancer Post ™)

So yes, we had heard last week that the tumors were somewhat smaller than before, in spite of the markers. I told you then that I would let you know the details when we knew them.

Now we do.

One of the tumors in Laston's liver is just over half the size it was four treatments ago, and the others have shrunk somewhat, though not as much. This is a big deal. And if he has food cravings and upset stomachs and all sorts of gastrointestinal discomfort as a result of the chemo, well... they're better than the alternative!


I am reminded of an entertaining, though not really connected, remark from Abby (now 13 if you can believe it) today. She said, "So in science class, we did some roleplaying. I was a kidney. It's my job to collect nutrients and hand my waste cards to the boy playing Urination."



The kindness of friends - especially when one does not expect it - is kind of amazing. Several of my coworkers clubbed together to get me a gift card for some pampering. A friend of my parents' whom I have not seen (except for Facebook) in decades is sending me a copy of his latest book as a Christmas gift.

And then there is this: a mutual friend of mine and Laston's over on G+ came to us last week with a suggestion: Laston has written plenty of  short science fiction stories; why not sell some of them on the Internet to help defray cancer care costs?

You know, it hadn't actually occurred to us. You see, Laston's been feeling less than creative (or energetic)  here lately so the concept of writing new fiction and marketing it and all that just seemed like too much work. This friend pointed out that not only is there plenty already written, there is a place online where you can sell them, and he'll be happy to help administer same.


So, my friends, I give you Laston's page on (click either link to download a PDF or ten). They run from $1.99 for a single story to $9.99 for a collection of nine stories. And there may be more up once we get them formatted properly, so check back.

How cool is that? I mean, it's not like the man who came up with the idea is someone we've ever met offline; he's just a decent guy we know from online forums (fora?) who came up with a creative way to help. Kudos to him.


Also, Abby?


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cancer Sucks (But Slightly Smaller Now)

Cancer Post ™

Last week there was a certain amount of worry (over and above the usual worry in my family because cancer). This was because a blood test three or four chemo treatments in showed little to no change in the markers that shout HEY, TUMOR OVER HERE!!!

So they scheduled a CAT scan for Monday, and Laston went and did it, and today we got the preliminary results.

They are very good.

The markers may not show it, but the tumors in Laston's liver are shrinking (the side effects of the chemo are better left unsaid. Suffice it to say that they are very uncomfortable, jokes about pregnant women notwithstanding). And a manager at my work says that in his experience, the markers in most Things Medical are an iffy measure at best, because they go by percentages, the way that side effects do.

Have you ever had a doctor (I have trouble not capitalizing that word, thanks BBC America) write off something you are definitely feeling as a side effect because it's not on the list of side effects? Just because you are the only one appearing in the written records, doesn't mean it's not a side effect. We are not identical machines, after all; human beings vary, as do their reactions.

In any case, that's a long way of saying that just because the markers don't show it, doesn't mean other tests won't. That's why we ask for second opinions, is it not? Too many variables for a one-size-fits-all solution.

But mostly?


Thursday, December 3, 2015


Yes, this is a Cancer Post. You can tell by the blue ribbon.

Not that Blue Ribbon; since the cancer is question is liver cancer, that blue ribbon is a Bad Idea.

Anyway, Laston himself brought THIS ARTICLE to my attention, and guys... this totally rocks it. It explains the concepts involved in cancer and chemotherapy and other treatments, and in ways that a literal-minded eight-year-old groks completely.

A random newbie on facebook shared our GoFundMe link because I was kind to her (she just wanted a friend in the Great Couturier game, and given her skill with the game and her facebook profile picture, I'd say she's played the off-facebook version for a long time). Anyway, she shared the link, which induced other people to share the link. Boost my signal all you like, ladies and gentlemen; I appreciate it.

This is also an other-than-cancer post, because life.

Abby has the first show of four of her school play tonight; it's Game of Tiaras, and if I understand the blurb in the front of her script, it's King Lear as done by Disney Princesses, with the body count of Game of Thrones. This is not what I thought we were talking about when they said "adolescent drama."

Lizzy is at home with Daddy tonight (because Game of Tiaras is rated Doctor Who, not Sarah Jane). She has promised to do her homework without fussing at her dad.

And now I've got to get my actress to her role as Peasant Number Two.