Sunday, August 28, 2016

Writing in Agony

My mom is dying of cancer.

I've tried to write this post dozens of times over the last two months. It's time to write it down and get it out. It's a long story and I hope you'll stick with me to the end.

In May of 2014 I was summoned to my parents' house and informed that Mom had Stage 4 colon cancer that had already spread across her liver and her lungs. She was preparing to begin chemotherapy which would maybe beat the cancer into remission. Surgery was impossible. Mom was positive though, and certain she'd have a good amount of time left.

That December, Dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. It was operable and in the spring of 2015 he underwent radiation treatments and surgery and was down for months. Mom cared for him day in and day out. All while getting chemo every other week. Her cancer markers dropped and dropped and she seemed to be doing okay.

Cancer doesn't care about that. Dad had been working - he hangs wallpaper and paints when people need a room or several redone - up until just before he started radiation. The last months before his diagnosis, Dad also found out he had arthritis in his hip, which explained the stabbing pains in his hip and back. He needed surgery for that, too. When he was healthy, he got his hip done and Mom took care of him then, too.

Mom has only ever raised me and my brother, kept house for her and Dad and worked for herself. Dad has been self-employed since the late 80s. They don't have insurance beyond Medicare because until Obamacare, self-insuring was more than cost-prohibitive.

So the bills were mounting. Flash forward to spring 2016. Mom's cancer markers started increasing again. The doctor decided to change her chemo cocktail to something stronger, to see if it would help shrink the tumors. Of course it made her sicker. Not cancer-wise but she got weaker and weaker on the new drugs. And they weren't helping.

Meanwhile her liver was starting to shut down, she started retaining fluid. The doc told my parents Mom needed a break from the drugs. He wanted to see if she could get some strength back. The fluid retention made her tired, kept her from getting up and around. The doc could only drain her once a week. Six liters at a time, sometimes more. Her discomfort increased.

In late July, the doc said that there couldn't be a return to chemotherapy. Mom was given weeks to live.

All they have is their social security. It's enough to pay the mortgage and keep the house running. They've put aside their pride and taken charity whenever it's been an option, but the bills are mountainous now. And Mom is nearing the end. As I write this she has great days where she's really strong and really engaged. She's the Mom I know and love dearly. She's the Mom who encouraged me to explore art and music and storytelling.

So here's what I'm doing to help them.

I write stories on demand at comic book conventions. I call them Velocity Stories. How it works is I get a prompt from the client - a phrase or just a couple of words - and then I run with that for 125 up to 350 words. I hand write the story on a 5.5"x 8.5" card emblazoned with the rocket logo. Or if it's a longer tale, it goes on a 9"x12" piece of Strathmore. There are two examples here on this post. On occasion I've added a drawing utilizing my poorer illustrative skills.

What Mom and Dad need is money to keep afloat. I'm looking for commissions to do in order to get them some much needed cash. The small cards (usually 100 - 150 words depending on the size of the sketch) are $15 including shipping and the large pieces are $30 including shipping. All proceeds go to help my parents. Send me an email (jasonlarnett& [replace the & with @]) with 'Commission' in the subject line and your prompt in the body. I'll reply with a timeline and payment details. I like to work fast on these so unless I'm totally overwhelmed you should get it in two weeks or less depending on the mail. By the way, the two pieces shown here are for sale.

The other way you can help is to spread the word via social media with a link back here.

I understand we're not the only family going through this. Cancer affects more and more people all the time. Most of us know someone who's dealing with cancer. I hope that someday, with the right people in the right places, cancer can become a thing of the past. I hope that these pleas for assistance become unnecessary. Until that happens, any and all help is deeply and truly appreciated.

Tell me your prompt:

1 comment:

Just Wendy said...

I am speechless. And heartbroken for you.