Bravery Isn’t the Absence of Fear

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I have stage 3 breast cancer.

I hated typing that.

What do you do when you feel paralyzed by indecision? Just make a decision. However, if you’re paralyzed, it’s probably because you’re missing something or need to work through some old, buried trauma to find the missing piece. That’s me. Cancer 2.0. Cancer 1.0 has affected every decision I’ve made so far. I’ve written updates on my Facebook about my breast cancer, but not here.

How do I follow up on my Heartspace post? After I wrote that, I felt like it summed me up as a human being. If you want to understand me, just read that. But, still, a lot has changed since then. Then, I thought I only had stage 0 breast cancer. People e-mail me and message me to see how I’m doing, so I wanted to post an update.

I want to try to write uplifting posts, so I can help others. But reading honest blog posts and books about breast cancer have really helped me. I want to give back in that way. So here’s an update on the past ten months (including my experience at Taos Toolbox and talk with George R. R. Martin.) I wanted to write an honest account of what it feels like to have breast cancer, what I’ve learned about it and the tools I’m using to cope. I welcome all supportive comments, prayers, healing vibes… I’m gonna need them.

 

 

You have breast cancer.

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Me with my camera two months after becoming… a unicorn.

When the doctor told me I had DCIS (Stage 0) breast cancer, which is contained only in the milk ducts, I changed my diet. My intuition said that was crucial to do this first. I was unhealthy in a million small ways that added up to feeling terrible every day. I saw big improvements in my health and autoimmune disease, but after a few months, it was time for the mastectomy. A unilateral mastectomy with no reconstruction, because I didn’t want a fake boob I couldn’t feel or an implant when I have an autoimmune disease.

I got upset reading posts about people pressuring women with breast cancer to reconstruct. Breast reconstruction requires many surgeries, is very painful, and can have a high failure rate. Also, most women are numb after it.

I spent a lot of time looking at images online to lessen the shock of a unilateral mastectomy without reconstruction. I am so grateful to the women who were brave enough to share pictures. My surgeon did an amazing job. My scar healed well and quickly, and when I hug my daughter to my heart, I can feel her.

If you can normalize something in your head, even if everyone around you doesn’t think it’s normal, you can change your mind and your attitude. It’s a rule for every change you want to make or have to make in life. Society and past experiences have programmed your brain to believe one version of reality, but it’s not complete. Sometimes, it’s not even correct.

You don’t have to be a product of your environment. You can change to be what you want to be. You must overwrite old programming in your brain and do it on purpose. You do this by reading and watching whatever you can-immersing yourself and living what will be (or what you want to be) your new normal, until it is your new normal. I did this for my diet, which was a positive change, and I did it for my mastectomy, because I had to.

 

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Happy to be alive after surgery. I had a great view of the mountain outside my window, too.

Still, I was so afraid in the days leading up to my surgery… scared of every possible side effect and what my life would be like afterward. But my intuition said it was time. I took a two-day trip to Lake Chelan in WA right before my surgery, and as I watched the sunset with my partner, I cried, wondering if this would be one of my last sunsets. I knew the surgery was a pivotal moment that would change everything, and I was afraid that the feeling of impending doom I was having meant I could die during it, even though that’s rare.

So when I woke up from surgery, I immediately sobbed and told everyone around me how happy I was to be alive. The surgery didn’t kill me… but the feeling of impending doom was right. I had invasive breast cancer buried in the DCIS.

My surgeon had always been worried about hidden invasive cancer, but all my scans and tests (mammograms, MRI, ultrasound, multiple biopsies) ever showed were DCIS and nothing came back positive in my lymph nodes. Young women have dense breast tissue, and the DCIS clouded the picture. So inside all that DCIS, I had a large 5.5 cm tumor. They told me I had to heal before I could do chemotherapy or anything, so I decided to heal and then… I went to New Mexico for a writing workshop.

 

Taos Toolbox 2018

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After dinner at Taos Toolbox with George R. R. Martin.

My heart said to apply to the 2018 Taos Toolbox writing workshop, so I did, and I was accepted. It’s a graduate-level science fiction and fantasy writing workshop run by Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress every summer in New Mexico. I’ve never been to a workshop, and what I’ve been struggling with the most isn’t covered in any of the books or courses I’ve taken.

With everything that’s happened in the past two years, I’ve been slow to finish the next books in my Fractured Era series, and I was ready for a jump start (cancer be damned.) Taos Toolbox was taking place only a few weeks after my mastectomy, but my heart said to go, so I went. I couldn’t lift things easily and still had nerve pain, so they let me bring my partner. He drove, carried my bags, and cooked all our food, which required a lot of daily chopping.

Even though I was in pain during the long drive, I’m glad we took that road trip. Taking pictures is heartspace for me, and I lifted my heavy camera every day until it hurt too much to lift it. Besides income from my books, we also pay our bills with our graphic designs and photography, so we took lots of pictures while driving there, including in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Tetons and in New Mexico.

 

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Photo I took – Grand Tetons

Despite the bad cancer news, wonderful things continue to happen for us when we say “yes” and follow what’s heartspace. One of those pictures we took on our road trip will soon be available exclusively through a major retailer. I try to practice gratitude every single day for the things that are working out for us. Because the good things in life are helping make the hard things that much easier to bear. The workshop was another profound and important experience for me. Another thing I’m happy I said “yes” to.

At the workshop, I met some amazing people and learned a lot. I also had an hour-long conversation with George R. R. Martin at dinner. I’m writing a complicated series with lots of point-of-view characters, and one thing I wanted to discover at this workshop was a way to streamline my process. Instead, in my conversation with George, I realized he experiences the writing process much the way I do.

George’s world and plot lines are more complicated than mine are, at this point, but the experience is the same. Sitting down and getting the words is half-magic and half blood, sweat, and tears. He talks about gardeners vs. architects a lot. He and I are mostly gardeners. When I try too hard to act like an architect, I choke the life from my stories and have to start over. I know the big story arcs, but it’s everything in between that makes the story matter (much like in life), and I create everything important when I let go and embrace the flow of creation (also much like in life.)

That’s how I create and talking to him helped me embrace my own process instead of trying to fight it or change it. I now know what steps I have to take-and what habits or thoughts I must replace-in order to finish the next book.  (Also, fun / pointless fact, I later realized George and I have the same birthday and numerology number. Only he was born 9/20/1948 and I was born in 9/20/1984. Maybe it explains why none of my characters are ever safe, either. Ha.)

 

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The Red Workshop! George R. R. Martin and all of us after his talk at Taos Toolbox. (And yes, I was acutely aware of the irony of me playing dead, but my sense of humor is intact.)

 

 

I came back really excited to continue work on my books… but first I had to (still have to) deal with the breast cancer.

When I got back in July, I did a PET / CT scan and it was clear except for a lymph node that I did not allow my doctor to remove earlier (negative fine needle biopsy, but they aren’t that accurate). She ended up removing three nodes. The moment I woke up from that surgery, I cried and rambled to the poor nurse like a high scientist about research studies in cancer and lamented the lack of proper nutrition-related studies and how hard it was to know anything about anything. (Thank you for listening and being kind, dear nurse.) That shows you where my mind was at.

Unfortunately, three out of three lymph nodes had cancer.

 

Flip a Coin to Live or Die

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Ugh.

When we take all the information we have about me and my cancer and the treatments that are available and plug it into a survival calculator, it doesn’t look great. If I take all of the conventional treatments (which can lead to heart failure, more cancers, untreatable leukemia, brain damage, immediate menopause, and more), I get a 87% chance of being alive in 5 years. Wow! That looks great! (Which is why most amazing headlines about cancer are usually about 5-year survival.) At 10 years, it drops to 63%. At 15 years out, my odds are nearly 50/50 for seeing age 48. You don’t want to know what my odds are if they take more of my lymph nodes and find more cancer.

Now my cancer is not especially aggressive. My doctors told me I’ve had it for a long time-years and years. The first cancer cell could have formed while I was getting chemo for Hodgkin’s disease at age 15. My cancer has the qualities of some of the most treatable kinds… if I treat it with chemotherapy, radiation, and 10 years of hormone therapy. Then there’s that 50/50 chance I’ll be here.

Easy choice right? Get the chemo ASAP. Well, little known fact: We are still in the dark ages of medicine. I promise you, that’s what they’ll call it in 100 years or so. One of the chemotherapy regimens recommended to me is the same treatment my grandmother likely got in the 1980s. The other regimen contains a drug first used in 1959. If they worked, that would be great, but our current breast cancer treatments aren’t good.

For every one hundred women who receive chemotherapy for their breast cancer, only 3 to 9 women will be saved. The rest were going to die anyway, or they would have survived without the chemo.

So 3 to 9 are saved, but all 100 are harmed by the chemo. Hormone therapy seems to fare a bit better, saving anywhere from 5 to 15 of 100 women who take it. The side effects also suck, but they aren’t on the same level as the risks of chemo.

Just to be clear: Much of what you read about cancer survival improvements have to do with either diagnosing women earlier or delaying death from breast cancer. Sure, living a few months longer is nice if you are going to die from breast cancer. But all I really give a shit about is this: What are my odds of surviving for another twenty years? Of surviving this so I can die of (relatively) old age. ‘Cause right now, living to be a senior citizen sounds like a god damn dream.

Why You Can’t Wage War on Cancer

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Lightning in Wyoming at Night, on the way to Taos Toolbox in New Mexico.

Did you know how ineffective our treatments are for breast cancer? I didn’t. In fact, it’s this bad for most cancers. See, cancer cells leave most tumors pretty early on. They don’t just travel by lymph node, so you can’t cut it all out. They’re in your blood, they’re hanging around until they gain the ability to set up shop on one of your organs. That’s why so many early breast cancer patients go on to develop metastasis and die after treatment (20-30%).

Now, the chemo treatments for lymphoma and leukemia save lives in a big way, which is why I think people mistakenly believe chemotherapy works well. I likely would have died without chemo when I had Hodgkin’s disease. So I naively assumed that chemotherapy works well for all cancers. But any drug that saves 3 – 9 women out of 100 and can cause heart failure, incurable leukemia, secondary cancers, lifelong disabilities… that’s a pretty crappy medicine. And if I had a better prognosis, I wouldn’t consider taking the chemo.

But the absolute benefit to me appears to be higher than it usually is because I’m young and my disease is more advanced. And as you can see by the chart there, I double my chances to a flip of a coin if I do it. I don’t entirely trust the absolute benefit statistics, but again, it’s all I have to go on. Also, unfortunately, (ha) my intuition is leading me down this awful road. My intuition guides me to do lots of stuff I’m afraid to do. Just like with the mastectomy, it’s hard to do the thing I know I need to do, but I know I have to find my peace and do the thing.

 

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A photo we took of a Pacific Northwest River in February 2018, when I flew my best friend out for a road trip.  This was from before. Before my brain accepted what was coming for me, even though I guess I already knew.

 

I always swore I wouldn’t take chemo again, especially if I was older… but now? I’m 33! I’m not ready to leave yet. I’m not done here, god damnit. And yet… I am opposed on every level to using force, violence, highly toxic chemicals to solve any problem. I look around me, in nature, and see so much damage caused by our misguided notion that we can force nature to get it to act how we want it to. You cannot do that without consequences. Build a dam, kill the fish. Poison the water, poison yourself. Harm the planet, you harm all life. It’s pretty simple.

We are all interconnected, and we can’t harm another without inevitably hurting ourselves. We know this, to a certain degree, with things like pesticides and herbicides, but we haven’t really accepted it. We function as if we are above it all and separate from each other and other creatures in this world. Nope. You are me and I am you and when I harm you, I harm myself. (See The Story of Interbeing, which I have been calling “Integration”. Or read anything I write.)

My body is like a planet, too, with its own ecosystem. My body is me plus lots of tiny creatures and some cancer cells that forgot they’re me. I see my body get well when I feed it right. I see it deteriorate when I put not-food into it (Standard American Diet foods) and don’t exercise. I’m willing to take strong medications in some instances, but those are like short-acting herbicides. Chemo feels like a nuclear bomb. I’m dropping a nuclear bomb on a village of dissidents… because they might someday kill me. Holy shit, that lacks foresight… and yet. Statistics say these dissidents are likely to multiply and then kill us all. (But when has starting a war ever fixed that?)

I can not wipe out cancer cells without harming everything else in my body. I can’t even wipe them all out with chemo. That’s what the other treatments are for. There will be consequences to nuking my home. I’ve lived with the consequences of the last chemotherapy treatments for eighteen years: brain damage and a secondary cancer, this breast cancer, are chief among them. I can’t even lie to myself and pretend I can escape these consequences. I’m in an online group with women who have had both Hodgkin’s and breast cancer. Some are on their 3rd, 4th, and 5th cancers. The treatments for the cancer cause more cancer. And yet… they are alive. There are women just like us, women who aren’t in our group, women who didn’t make it. But the women in my group…

They are alive.

And that is the crux of it.

 

Diet and Cancer… It Matters

four-leaf clover, redwood sorrel, four-leaf redwood sorrel

Another four-leaf clover (Redwood Sorrel) found in February 2018. A gift from the same Redwood tree where I found all the others, mentioned in my Heartspace post.
Do you know that when I asked Redwood National Park park rangers about four-leaf Redwood sorrel, they insisted those don’t exist and looked at me like I was nuts? Take all expert opinions with a grain of salt.

A lot of people are worried that I’m taking too long. They act like I’m crazy for not treating this as an emergency. But this isn’t simple. It’s not straight forward. (And that shit has been inside me for years.) When it’s your second cancer you know too much about what you are sacrificing, and when you read the risks vs. absolute benefit numbers, it’s not abstract. It’s very real. And you know that no one knows what side of the equation you’re really on. Will each treatment do more help than harm? Is my destiny already set? No way to tell. These treatments aren’t something to take lightly or just agree to, at least not for me.

I’ve spent all of August and will spend most of September finishing up all the appointments I’ve made in order to get first and second opinions about chemotherapy and radiation, find out what I can do to reduce the nasty side effects of the chemo, and to test my physical heart to make sure it can withstand more chemo and the radiation.

There are things I can do and have already done, things that might have a huge effect on my survival. And I do mean huge, despite all the skepticism I see surrounding cancer and diet. Getting slim, exercising a ton, and eating a low-fat (10% of calories from fat or less), whole-foods, plant-based diet has the potential to help me survive this. The impact of eating this way is likely beyond what any survivor study has yet shown-maybe even as strong as the chemo (it would not take much.) But they have not done these studies despite overwhelming evidence it might make a huge difference. (The very first study ever is underway, but it’s small.)

In every large study I’ve read, researchers inevitably come to the conclusion that nutrition doesn’t matter that much when it comes to surviving breast cancer. But when you read the studies (I do!), you realize that all they proved was it’s really hard to get thousands of cancer survivors to change their diets and habits. People continue to eat the same stuff and maintain their same habits, even after interventions. The control group and the intervention group end up behaving in the same ways. Our Western diet is everywhere and eating the way I am right now is “radical” by all the standards I’ve seen in these studies. People simply don’t eat this way… yet.

Only a small number of cancer cases are solely caused by bad genes. Seriously. We all have some “weak” genes, but in a lot of cases, your diet, lifestyle, and what you’re exposed to is going to determine how those genes are expressed. So the one bright light in all of this is that diet and exercise could be really powerful… and they are not accounted for in statistics because the statistics say that a woman my age who gets this doesn’t change much after her diagnosis. I didn’t change my habits or food much after my first cancer, either. There is no nutrition counseling when you get cancer, at least nothing useful that would actually help.

I also wrote a post on what to eat (publishing soon). If you struggle with cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and autoimmune diseases, please read it.

 

Can You Cure Breast Cancer Naturally?

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Free Love Boobs by me / Nature Magick.

There are people who say no to all conventional treatments and try to cure this naturally… there is this great divide, this black and white feeling about it all when you get into it. People on both sides are fanatical. The “natural cure” people talk about how poisonous chemo is and how food or other random “natural cures” can heal you. Hey, one of the chemo drugs I’d be taking is made from the Pacific Yew Tree. It’s natural…

The doctors seem to have no education in nutrition and most seem to think it’s only marginally useful against cancer, partially because of the people who die after trying natural cures instead of conventional. I’ve also seen a lot of people ignore or try to discredit cancer survivors who believe nutrition and exercise saved them, even if nutrition saved them.

The “Cure for Cancer” is not a black and white thing, it’s not a conspiracy, and it’s not a controversy, either. Some people are making a lot of money off of this, sure. But it seems to me that people are just… ignorant. They don’t know what they don’t know. Everyone has lost someone they know or love to this disease, and almost all of us desperately want to eradicate it.

The researchers toiling away in labs want a cure as much as the person trying to raise funding to study less toxic (and less profitable) solutions. They just disagree on how to go about getting there. What we have is a lack of information–a dearth of good studies that might prove what the current evidence strongly suggests.

Cancer is what results when your whole system is compromised. We all have cancer cells in us… some of us keep those cells in check better than others. And so, it follows, that if you have a systemic disease… you can’t just cure it by cutting it out, swallowing a pill, or bombing it temporarily.  Get rid of the disease you currently have, as well as you can.

But then you’ve gotta try to stop the whole cascade of events that happen when someone gets and then dies from cancer. You’ve got to find a way to halt its progress. I think that’s going to mean huge diet changes, as I’ve mentioned above. There’s no miracle drug to keep you permanently free of all kinds of cancer. Maybe we will figure that one out someday, but until then, you have to heal your whole body if you’re to have any hope your immune system will kill off cancer cells. Again, please read my post on the most likely anti-cancer diet we have.

All that said, I really wish my intuition would say diet and hormone therapy will be enough for me, but unfortunately, my intuition says continue on the path I’m on, which is getting a second opinion and deciding exactly what treatment plan I’m accepting.

 

 

Listen to Your Intuition

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Redwood Road in the Morning

At times, it’s been hard finding my intuition beneath all the fear and grief that overtakes me several times a day… I am like most cancer patients at this stage, I think. I have played a repeat film roll in my mind of what life will be like for everyone I love once I’m gone. I mourn the loss of my youth, feel years are being stolen from me. I grieve the loss of my body’s function and form, if I do survive.

I fear I’ll never create something that will really help people. That I’ll never finish my book series… or that (superstitiously, in authorly fashion) finishing them will somehow coincide with my death. (A better world awaits! Ye Gods.) A good imagination is not my friend when I’m feeling marked for death.

Fear: “Death is coming for you.”
Me: “Death is coming for everyone!”
Fear: “Yeah. But you first.”

My intuition can help guide me about what I have to do next but trying to feel intuition through a cloud of fear and grief distorts the message. I used to lie awake at night and feel like something was wrong with my heart. It felt like something was wrong with my chest, on the left side. Did I know on some level what was in my breast all these years? I used to cry thinking that if I didn’t figure out how to change my diet and stick to it, I would get breast cancer. Was I just guessing? Or was it my intuition trying to tell me something was wrong? I couldn’t hear or feel my intuition all those years ago through the fear I carried about cancer and my health. But I’m trying not to think the “What if” stuff too much.

I’ve lived my life taking lots of what other people would call “risks”, because risks don’t have the same meaning after having cancer the first time. So I’ve gotten pretty good at shooing away annoying thoughts that tell me I can’t do something. I don’t assume something is impossible just because no one else has done it, or because the odds of succeeding suck. But death is something different. No one gets out of here alive. So I wonder, can I extend my time here?

I’m trying to break out of the negative thinking patterns, now. I must clear them so I can access my inner guidance system moving forward. I have to feel my feelings and let them go, but I also want to maintain a positive attitude whenever I can. Making decisions helps with the paralyzing thoughts, but it doesn’t stop them. Because I don’t have a lot of defense against them, yet. I can shoo away the thoughts that tell me I’ll fail at something I want to do. But death threats by my brain? Those are a bit harder to brush off. This shit is real.

 

This is Not a Battle.

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Photo I made for myself to trust the process — whether it’s my mysterious “gardener” acts of creation or the healing that happens when I trust my intuition and do what’s necessary even though there’s no way to know what the outcome will be.

 

I didn’t understand death when I was 15. I didn’t ever really believe I’d die from that cancer. I just knew I was going to live. Now I know too much. I’ve lived more. Yet a lot of the time, I’m not afraid of death itself… Especially if I get to a Heartspace place. But I still get sad.

I get depressed sometimes. I’m not ready to leave everyone I love. I love this life, and I can’t believe there was ever a time I was depressed enough to want to die. Life is wonderful, even if there are bad times.  I always have Heartspace.

And it’s because of finding Heartspace that I can’t see this cancer as a battle. I know it isn’t one. I can’t brainwash myself into thinking I must “fight” this. That mentality is all wrong, and I know it, now. It’d be a lot easier if I didn’t know.

 

“Fight the cancer!”

Don’t you know the cancer is me?

 

When you fight yourself, you always lose. This is Truth. Improving yourself, healing, leading a better life–all of these things are “won” by accepting where you are at, feeling what must be felt, letting go of what’s in the past, being present, and understanding you are already whole, no matter what has happened to you or what will happen in the future. But because you are already whole, because everything is interconnected, and one change can affect the whole… it is because of this Truth that “battling” yourself will never work. (If you don’t yet know this, it would take another long post for me to explain. All I can say now is: It’s true.)

The treatments we’ve discovered in our “war” against cancer may weaken the cancer, but they simultaneously weaken all of me. I have to find a way to get through the treatments while also somehow strengthening and healing what’s left.

I am not in a battle, this is not a war. This is the story of a defective, sick ecosystem that needs to be restored. If I choose wrong, it’s over. If I choose right, maybe it’s still over. I have to try.

So what’s helping me right now, in this moment, is remembering everything I wrote in Heartspace. I have to quiet the fear long enough to remember and feel my heart. To feel that I have that eternal light… the one that is undamaged by whatever this world throws at me. I had my mastectomy and adjusted. After my first cancer, I learned to cope with cognitive issues, chronic fatigue, all of it. There will be consequences to these treatments, but I have to trust I can handle whatever is coming my way. No matter what’s coming my way.

I must practice gratitude every day when I wake up, so the despair doesn’t swallow me whole. I will do as I did at age 15 and make positive quote posters to hang on all my walls.

YOU CAN DO THIS.

I CAN DO THIS.
My new mantra.

My next step requires a form of radical acceptance-of staring what I must do in the face-and then stepping into the unknown, only knowing I might not come out of this alive.

 

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“Bravery wasn’t the absence of fear. It wasn’t controlling every situation and avoiding pain. And bravery wasn’t accepting your lot in life without resistance. You have to take your power back. She’d done that. Instead of just letting life happen to her, she’d made things happen. Bravery was making choices and then facing the consequences head-on, all while knowing the outcome was uncertain. Fear didn’t make her a coward. Letting her lot in life dictate the course of it had. And she’d chosen to live or die on this mission.” ~ Autumn Kalquist, Better World

 

Yeah, I’m quoting myself. My stories hold all the things I most need to remember.

This mission requires faith that I will adapt as I go. That I will find joy everywhere I can, no matter my limitations.

That I will believe “A Better World Awaits.” (And then hope like hell it’s this one.)

36 Comments

  • Michael Walters

    August 29, 2018

    Thank you. You are making some of the same choices my wife made (thank God) for the same reasons. You have the survivor mentality and I love your analogy of a sick ecosytem that needs to be rebalanced.

  • David Peterson

    August 29, 2018

    Autumn, so grateful for your words. You are a real hero.

  • Scott Bowman

    August 29, 2018

    Hi Autumn, You don’t know me but I have enjoyed reading some of your works. I have sisters-in-law who have dealt with breast cancer. Your words accurately reflect what they felt before, during and after their treatments. Both are well now and continue to lead very busy lives. My prayers are for you to continue with determination, your fight against this disease. Thanks so much for being an author of stories I enjoy reading. Scott

    • Autumn Kalquist

      September 9, 2018

      Thanks so much for reading. And thank you for telling me that–I love hearing about other survivors! <3

  • Michael Whitfield

    August 29, 2018

    You have a couple of advantages to offset your disadvantages. You have a reasonable amount of disposable income, and a profession that doesn’t require passing drug tests. Look into hemp oil. There are some people who provide a care package for free, assuming one can get to them or pay a smuggler. You get hemp oil, marijuana cookies, and something else I can’t recall. (I’m neither a druggie nor has my cancer returned.) I don’t know if it actually cures anyone but I’ve seen it absolutely remove the pain, lethargy, nausea and loss of appetite common to cancer surgery, radiation and chemo.

    Best of luck in fighting your monster. I hate that you have go through this again. You’re a lovely person and in a better world, you’d have a great life. If there’s one benefit, one tiny sliver of silver lining in this depressing wave of gray, it’s that suffering tends to make great art.

    • Autumn Kalquist

      September 9, 2018

      Thank you! Luckily, marijuana is legal in my state. I have used the drops to ease pain after my surgery and such. I think it’s a good natural drug to help with pain.

      <3

  • James Fletcher

    August 29, 2018

    I helped my wife with her cancer for 5 years. I read and read. Talked to doctors…. 9 trials. Hundreds of consults. I have never read anything as well written and useful to people as care givers or for people with active cancer. Well done young lady. Jim

    • Autumn Kalquist

      September 9, 2018

      Thank you. <3 I'll be happy if it helps even one other person.

  • Tom Fincher

    August 29, 2018

    Dear Autumn,
    Thanks for writing this. It will help all of us through our struggles. I will pray for you because you need to let God become a part of this. Life does not end at death. Eternity awaits each of us, some sooner than others. God is the only one who can give you peace and guidance with the things you are facing. I would encourage you to be sure He is in the picture. His love is real. Seek Him and He promises that you will find Him. Do the rest of it too as you make your decisions. Means must be used too. Keep writing.

  • Bryan S Kemp

    August 29, 2018

    Thank you Autumn for sharing this experience with us. I am humbled by your honesty, courage, and perseverance. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Craig McClanahan

    August 29, 2018

    Autumn, thanks so much for sharing your story. I’ve known people (and partners of colleagues at work) that have suffered through this disease, and you know what … you are not the only one with such a strong approach to dealing with it.

    In the mean time, I’m enjoying every single SF story/novel you have written (I’m not so much into fantasy things, but am glad you are there for those who do enjoy it :-).

  • Troy Baker

    August 29, 2018

    Wow, Never have had to deal with cancer but I was nearly killed in a horrendous motorcycle accident in 2014. I had multiple surgeries and a long hard road recovering and I felt much of what you describe, just never could articulate it in the masterful way you have.
    It’s obvious to me that you are an emensely talented woman and I found this to be quite insightful and inspiring. Stay strong, and thank you for sharing your story.

    • Autumn Kalquist

      September 9, 2018

      Thank you. <3 I'm glad you survived and are past the worst of the surgeries and recovery.

  • Jennifer

    August 29, 2018

    Autumn,
    I am very happy to hear you got your creative fire back. I am truly sorry that you went from stage 0 to stage 3 in a matter of hours. Thank you for sharing your story. It sounds like your sharing has been cathartic for you. In that result for you it has been enlightening for all of us. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers. I am praying that God delivers unto you the choice you should make. You are so smart to read every scrap of material you can before making a decision. Many just allow the doctors to decide. Trusting they know best. When truly it is a guessing game. Or a game of poker. I wish you healing, happiness, and a long life! Sending lots of love, prayers, and healing light.

    • Autumn Kalquist

      September 9, 2018

      Thank you. <3 I appreciate your kind words and prayers.

  • Mark Krempl

    August 29, 2018

    Autumn I will be praying for you.

  • Brian Abbott

    August 29, 2018

    As you are discovering, to accept, feel and examine fear is the way to freedom. I admire your bravery and I wish you more joy and more life. Thank you for telling us about your journey.

  • Mark Griffith

    August 29, 2018

    Autumn, thank you for sharing your story. You are an inspiration to anyone facing a life crisis. I cannot tell you how your journey will turn out, but my intuition tells me you will be OK. My prayers and positive thoughts are with you.

    • Autumn Kalquist

      September 9, 2018

      Thanks! <3 I appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts. 🙂

  • Lynda Sheane

    August 30, 2018

    You are a very inspiring lady and I thank you for sharing your story so explicitly. I will you well on your continued journey.

  • KLynn

    August 30, 2018

    Congratulations on meeting GRRM. He’s such an icon. Sounds like he gives a great seminar, too. (Also, keep fighting, etc.)

    • Autumn Kalquist

      September 9, 2018

      Yes! It was awesome getting a chance to meet him and learn from him.

  • Latisha Frederick

    August 30, 2018

    Thank you. Sending hugs you can feel from here in Albuquerque.

  • David Tucker

    August 30, 2018

    I’ve enjoyed reading many of your sci-fi Kindle editions. The problem is that fiction is just fiction, whereas real life doesn’t have many happy endings. I’m now 78 years old, but I found reality when I was 16 years old when Jesus Christ found me and saved me. Since then, I’ve also done some writing, and a couple of examples can be found at http://tobaptist.com/sermon-topic/salvation/ If you chose to read them – and I hope you do – you may find the same reality I found those many years ago. In the meantime, I’ll pray for you.

  • Gary Graeff

    October 19, 2018

    Autumn, how are you doing? Are you finding sources of strength to fight the daily battles? Hopefully knowing that all of your readers, who are your biggest fans, want to be one of those sources of strength for you, is of some help! I guess it might seem a bit selfish on our parts, but we love your writing and we are ready for more, but we say that with our first hope that you annihilate this beast, and that you can stand in defiance atop it’s slain body, sword firmly planted, screaming “F**K YOU, Cancer”!