calendula_witch (calendula_witch) wrote,

Let's Recap

This is long: veeerrrrrrry long. Feel free to skip, if you've been reading a while...or even if not. But it's been awesome for me to write it all out [even if I had to do it nearly twice, thanks LJ for your random logging-me-out nonsense] and, well, I hope it's helpful. :-)

[info]cathshaffer writes in a comment to yesterday's post: By the way, I may need a cheat sheet, here. I am new to your LJ and although it sounds like you're going through a big life change, I have no context. I wish you the best with it, though.

Excellent idea. *I* hardly know what I'm going through, any more. How can the rest of you keep up? And I've seen a lot of new people show up recently, as jaylake directed folks here to follow his progress through his most recent surgery and recovery.

But he's recovering and blogging again, and many of you are sticking around, and so: Welcome! I'm Shannon Page, this is my journal, and though it often has plenty to do with Jay, it's always about, well, me. :-)

So who am I and why am I here?

I met Jay in June of 2008 (at a small retreat called Writers Weekend), and we became good friends pretty quickly, reading each others' stories and emailing back and forth between Portland and San Francisco, where I lived. I was married; my social circle did not include a lot of writers (and almost no genre writers), so I was thrilled to make the connection with Jay and the whole community he's attached to. He was just recovering from his first round of colon cancer--I'd been following his blog for a year or so before we met, so I knew what was going on with him.

Time passed. [insert wavy lines here]

In February of 2009, I finally realized/admitted/conceded that my long-faltering marriage was truly over. I moved out and got an apartment in San Francisco. Jay and I started dating, long-distance. He travels enough for work that we could arrange to see each other fairly often. We made theoretical long-term plans to live together in San Francisco when the_child left for college ("the eight-year plan").

In May of 2009, a routine scan showed a likely metastasis of his cancer to the liver, some anomalies in the lymph nodes, and a strange spot on his lung that was probably nothing. His doctor quoted a very scary survival number: thirty percent/five years.

With a thirty percent chance of him living past the next five years, suddenly the eight-year plan seemed kind of ridiculous.

Meanwhile, my divorce negotiations were plodding along. The likely amount of the settlement would enable me to put a decent down payment on a decent condo in San Francisco. I looked at lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of condos. I kept working at my Day Jobbe, as a Lowly Minion at the Massive Bureaucracy (search tags here under "day job" for many amusing tales of bureaucratic hilarity and angst, if you have a few hours to spare) (including dead bodies in the hallway, and the neverending saga of Problem A).

Somewhere in all this, the idea arose: why not move to Portland?

I checked the real estate market and was astounded. And then, quickly, convinced.

More time passed. [more wavy lines] The doctors wanted to wait three months and do follow-up scans. Now it's October, and new scans show the liver anomaly vanished, the lymph activity vanished, but lo!, the lung spot is almost certainly a metastasis.

He had lung surgery the day before Thanksgiving, and began a six-month round of chemo in early January.

In anticipation of moving to Portland, and of being here through the surgery and chemo, I quit my Day Jobbe in December. It's truly weird, not working. I've never not worked--I put myself through college, I worked in high school, I worked all through my marriage. Not-working has been a terrific gift of time, during all that's gone on, though not the life of leisure and lotus-eating I'd always dreamed it would be. :-)

I was here for nearly every chemo weekend--we first thought to be together at least some during the "free" weekends, but that turned out to be a bad idea, so we rearranged the schedule so that I was here for the chemo times. I flew at first, but then began making the eleven-hour drive instead. (I HATE flying, just HATE it. Expensive too. And I missed my car.)

While here, I began shopping for real estate in earnest, although my divorce negotiations proceeded and stalled and proceeded and stalled and proceeded and stalled and....

We finally reached a settlement in March, and my divorce was final in May.

I looked at a lot of houses. The second one I saw, I just loved. It was ridiculous and gorgeous and over-decorated and bright and problematic and beautiful and crammed with stuff and HOME. I kept looking, but couldn't get this one out of my head.

I bought this house. The seller wanted to stay longer, renting it back. I wanted to make some repairs and do some small remodeling. Tedious negotiations ensued [insert wavy lines here].

Jay finished chemo in June; we had a celebratory birthday party, and a small family gathering here, surrounded by boxes, days after I moved in.

There was a routine scan in July....oh shit oh shit oh shit liver tumor.

We met with liver surgeon in August, scheduled surgery for September (after we returned from WorldCon in Australia and Au Contraire in New Zealand); and prepared for another six-month round of chemo starting late October, and suddenly....OMG no cancer, no chemo!!!


And here we are. Wondering what the rest of life looks like. Trying to remember who we are and what's supposed to happen next. Trying to remember we're writers.

Chemo is hard. Chemo sucks. Being here for chemo, while also moving and divorcing and buying a house and remodeling and quitting work....oh my god. I think I'm only just now realizing how hard it's all been. Now that there's finally, perhaps, soon, maybe, if I'm really lucky, time to think.

I've never lived outside California before, away from my family. I've never owned my own house all by myself before. I've never not worked before. I'm following a dream here, and my heart, and trying to be smart about it, and true to myself, and honest, and real.

I'm overwhelmed. I'm so thrilled Jay's cancer is not back now, that we're not diving right back into six months of sick and exhausted and stupid.


This is soooooo long, I hope you all forgive me. But it was really good to write it all out. To step back and look at it all. Even if nobody reads this, I'm glad I did it.

Any questions? :-)
Tags: cancer, chemo, conference, day job, divorce, driving, home, jay, no-job, real estate, travel, worldcon, writers weekend
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