HOW I FOUND OUT

At the beginning of this year, my best friend and I drove down the Great Ocean Road. We went around a curve in the road and I drew in my breath because the forests were laid out before me in a startling contrast of gold lace against shadow. The next moment I realised, with another quieter shock, that the shining woods were burned land and the bright leaves were ashes.

It was my first time in Australia, and I loved it so much that I planned to go back this winter. But for a while before that, I was enjoying being in Ireland with Loved Ones, etc.

MUM: So you’re getting ready for Australia.
SARAH: Yep, I bought ankle boots!
MUM: Cool priorities. You might want to see the doctor before you go, just for a check-up about being so worn down and that cough.

I went in for a quick check-up. I wasn’t all that concerned. Writers are just sick a lot: we have an awesome job, but we also have a weird job where you often overwork and keep odd hours and do not take care of yourself. A guy I know worked so hard he got shingles and lost his hair. One of my close writer friends got pneumonia and broke her rib coughing. I got pneumonia from overwork four years ago, and since then have had recurring bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia, depending on my luck! So I went to the doctor and was like ‘Check me out, not to brag but I haven’t had bronchitis since February and it is September, but if you could do something about the persistent cough that would be great.’

Away I went. A few days later it was my birthday, and my phone rang. I was asleep, due to being a lazy toad who regularly wakes up at I’m-too-ashamed-to-tell-you o’clock. I flailed about in my bedsheets and seized the phone, assuming muzzily it was a Loved One with birthday wishes.

SARAH: Hey, sweetie!
DOCTOR: Er, hello… this is your G.P…
SARAH: Hey, er… doctor sweetie… I just feel very close to you since the thermometer incident… No. Uh, why are you calling?
DOCTOR: So your haemoglobin is half the haemoglobin of a normal person’s.
SARAH: Huh.
DOCTOR: I would never have thought you were as sick as you are when I saw you!
SARAH: I cannot say you have a soothing bedphoneside manner, doctor.
DOCTOR: Go to the hospital. Soon.
SARAH: Okay, I promise I will. Soon!

And I did, though not that day, because it was my birthday and I had business calls. I was not very worried. Just a bad beginning to my birthday, thought I.

Then came the news there was a ‘shadow’ on the chest scan I’d done, and I hopped to the hospital. Best to get this sorted out, I thought!

SARAH: Hello hospital. Please examine and heal me.
EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR: We must keep you overnight! But we have no beds. Sleep on this shelf.
SARAH: Can I have a pillow?
EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR: *gentle laughter* She wants pillows. Oh child you dream of wild luxuries. Pillows are the first thing to go around here.

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Pictured: The Maiden’s Non-Pillow Book

DOCTORS: In the morning, we come to take your blood and give you a pillow.
SARAH: I’m comfortable with this blood/pillow trade.

The hospital was not too bad a place to be. I was given a bed. They constantly took my blood, which led me to suspect they were secret vampires, but they were all very cheery vampires and I trusted them. I did scans. In one scan I was hooked up to a long curly straw, which made me feel like a funky milkshake. Student doctors came by and asked to do tests on me and I chatted with them because I was bored.

STUDENT DOCTOR 1: This is cool, when we tap against your stomach we get a different sound than with an older patient’s.
SARAH: When I start a band, I will be the drum.
STUDENT DOCTOR 2: Oh yeah! I’ve never had this result from a living subject before.
SARAH: A—a living—doctors, please let me maintain my beautiful suspension of disbelief about where your hands have been.

Then a glamorous lady doctor came in. She had such an air, and her surname was Kelly, that I kept calling her Doctor Grace. Her name was not Grace.

Doctor Not Grace sat down my bed, and said in an intently sympathetic voice that they would have to do a biopsy, because this could be an infection or it could—just possibly—be cancer.

When I went to Australia, I went snorkeling off the Great Barrier Reef.

Being submerged in a whole other element is funny because your mind keeps trying to compare everything to your own element: phosphorence in the water is like a whirl of cinders carried to you from fire by the wind and the tiny bright fish are like flickers of electricity. The coral becomes a dressmakers’ shelf full of ruched bronze satin and green lace and scarlet net. And when real-life comparison fails, you fall back on stories and you think you are looking at the White Witch’s garden: stone creatures, stone toadstools, stone ferns, stone lace, until a fern gives way to a scarlet ripple or a rock opens like a stone fist and an octopus unfurls to flee.

As the doctor spoke, I felt myself tip a little into another world, where things were not quite what they seemed and stories were slightly too real.

But I turned my face resolutely away and went ‘Hopefully it’s an infection! Yes indeed, biopsy away! Let’s get this done!’

In the theatre of surgicality, the doctor asked first—who had put the bands on my wrist and ankle, they looked ridiculous.

The trainee nurse still beside me had put on the bands. I reassured her with my eyes that I would never betray her secret.

Next he asked me to sign a form to say I consented to him doing the biopsy.

SARAH (knowledgably): Yep, I consent to you making a small incision under my arm to get the materials you need to test!
THEATRE DOCTOR: And if we can’t get what we need there, you consent to us going under the other arm.
SARAH: Sure!
THEATRE DOCTOR: And if not there, incision one side of the collarbone.
SARAH: Less sure but okay!
THEATRE DOCTOR: And if not there, incision on the other side of the collarbone.
SARAH: You do what you have to.
THEARE DOCTOR: And if not there, the neck.
SARAH: … When I wake up, will I be more sieve than woman?

As they were putting me under, I heard the doctor ask why I had nail polish on, and they explained they were gel nails.

DOCTOR: And why is one fingernail a different colour from the others?
SARAH’S LAST GASPING WORDS BEFORE CONSCIOUSNESS FELL AWAY: It’s a… signature nail…

I woke up. I only had one incision. This felt like a big win.

Hopefully, in a week, we would get the biopsy results back and I would learn I just had an infection!

I called my parents when Doctor Not Grace said it might be cancer.

SARAH: It might be lymphoma, Mum.
MUM: Oh great!
SARAH: Excuse me?
MUM: They’ll just pop it right out.
SARAH: With the… chemotherapy?
MUM: Oh.
SARAH: Yeah.
MUM: I misheard you before.
SARAH: Right.
MUM: Oh it’s not cancer. No. Not that.

I told my brother about it. Now, I have two brothers and one sister, all younger than me, all taller and blonder and altogether delightfuller, the apples of my eye. The oldest is my brother Rory, who has always helped me out—he kindly makes writing look like a safe responsible job in comparison to being a pro poker player.

The other two were out of the country.

My brother Saul had very recently moved to Bristol for his first job out of college. He was only just starting. He and I had shopped for business clothing weeks before and become bewildered and distressed among the bow ties.

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Pictured: Baby’s First Suit!

Then there was my sister Genevieve, who works in television but, even though she is a dazzling blonde, behind the scenes. She was in Costa Rica. She’d been saving up years for her dream to quit her job and go around the world. She’d only left a few days before.

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Pictured: She Is Not Wearing Make-Up, Thus Will Be Mad I Shared This, But Look How Stunning!

I told Rory it might be cancer, and I saw him look scared, and I felt my world try to tip away into that other, stranger world, and we told each other firmly that it was probably just an infection.

And then I told him we couldn’t tell the younger ones. They were so far away. It would freak them out. It was probably just an infection.

There was, of course, a small voice at the back of my head saying doctors don’t go around saying ‘cancer’ unless there’s a good chance that’s what it is. Doctors are a serious folk. They do not say these things to add a spice of excitement to the day.

I had been doing a lot of research on cancer, because my newest book (the treasure of my heart, which I am currently editing into shape because the treasure of my heart is super long!) has a cancer subplot: the heroine’s sister has cancer.

FRIEND: Do you feel like you maybe wrote this into existence, in a vaguely Stephen King flavoured manner?
SARAH: I’m not saying I have eldritch writing powers but soon I plan to write a short story about someone winning ten million dollars, just in case.

The research meant I knew more than I really wanted to.

And there had been warning signs.

I’d come up with excuses that seemed reasonable at the time, like ‘Must be low blood sugar,’ ‘am recovering from pneumonia’ and ‘am incredibly lazy, like a sloth and a tortoise had a little slotortoise baby.’

DOCTOR: You must have often felt like you could not move from the couch or do anything but read.
SARAH: Sure. Ah… Tuesdays.

I’d get out of breath faster than my friends, but I put that down to the lungs being in bad shape.

SARAH: Also wow it has just been too long since I did yoga.
BFF: It has been several years.
SARAH: Exactly!

And when I came back from Australia, I’d lost some weight. Now, I am a lady of plumpitude, due I imagine to the fact I love sofas and cheese and run only when chased or late for appointments and planes. I was surprised it had happened, but mildly pleased because people complimented me about it and I enjoy a compliment!

SARAH: I guess it’s sunny and beautiful here, I walk more, I eat better…
SARAH: I’m proud of me for living a healthier lifestyle!
SARAH: I’m going to repress all those memories of eating noodles at midnight…

Nobody’s fault, but this is a sad world in which weight loss is automatically seen as a good thing, especially if you are a lady of plumpitude. But friends, I was not walking that much. I was eating the midnight noodle.

I also had cold hands for years, but instead of worrying about those, I just put them on the backs of my friends’ necks and whispered ‘The touch of the grave!’ in their ears. I know they enjoyed this as much as I did.

I had some dizzy spells, and once I admit I fainted in a supermarket in Australia. I sat up, acquired a Lilt and a chocolate bar (which I paid for! Eventually!) and decided to take iron pills. I told my Australian cousins what had happened, and was puzzled when they seemed distressed.

SARAH: Ah yes, I looked a right idiot.
AUSTRALIAN COUSINS: You should have called us!
SARAH: Oh no. Oh that would have been silly! I was fine.
AUSTRALIAN COUSINS: You could have been hurt.
SARAH: Oh no, my fall was totally broken by the frozen broccolini. Lucky, right?
AUSTRALIAN COUSINS: … We love Irish Cousin Sarah, but we fear she is simple.

And I was cranky, and slow at work, but I put this down to being a lazy wretch with a black and twisted heart.

I put all the little worrying things down to a variety of small causes, easily solvable.

SARAH: Oh but your body just goes to hell in your thirties, right?
FRIEND: Sarah I am a decade older than you and you flag after a walk around the shops. Might be low blood sugar.
SARAH: Right. I’m going to start carrying a Snickers bar in my purse. But you know what will happen then.
FRIEND: You’ll feel weird and open the purse…
SARAH (nodding): And I will have definitely eaten the Snickers bar in a fit of greed several hours earlier.
FRIEND: Maybe you should carry nuts in your purse.
SARAH: But you know what will happen then.
FRIEND: You’ll feel weird and open the purse and be mad the nuts are not a Snickers bar.
SARAH (sadly): This is a painful dilemma.

All the little signs could have been just little things. Or all of it might be adding up to a big picture.

I told some of my close friends. My best friend came and visited with me all the time, in the week we waited after the biopsy. Only near the very end, gently and lovingly, did she suggest that I should maybe consider showering.

My friends who were far from me were also angels. Maureen Johnson, writer extraordinaire and now fancy pundit, sent me a massive box of brownies and iced lemon cakes.

RORY: I’ve come to visit the sick and I brought you a brownie—
RORY: I see I’ve made a bad call.
RORY: I also brought a banana because they are very healthy.
SARAH (coldly): I reject the banana and will not have it in my home. I will accept your brownie because it is an offering of love.
RORY: So now you have… a million and one brownies?
SARAH: That’s love, baby.

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Pictured: Let ‘Em Eat Cake

Later, I was told Rory must be very worried about me, because he hardly ate his turkey burger and broccoli. I reflected back on Rory the last time I had seen him, with one glorious brownie and one tremendous lemon cake in either hand.

‘Or perhaps,’ I said, ‘some mysteries are never meant to be solved.’

The day before the diagnosis, a beautiful hamper arrived. It smelled of lavender and fanciness. It had a robe and slippers and French soaps within. It was from all my writer friends I had told: Maureen, Holly ‘Beautiful Soul’ Black, Pulitzer finalist of my heart Kelly Link, redheaded queen of fancy loveliness Cassie Clare and the wise and wonderful Robin Wasserman. Even though I was far away from them, they wanted to make sure I felt looked after.

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Pictured: Woman Gloating With Hamper

And I did. And it was all going to be fine, really. Though I was slightly concerned as the week passed that my mother, a wonderful lady in many respects but a sharer with all the world, was telling a lot of people the news. The maybe-news.

I was really worried that my little sister or brother would get word of it, and freak out. I didn’t want them to fret. After all, everything was fine. Probably. Hopefully. Maybe.

I went in for my appointment with the doctor, Glamorous Not Grace Kelly. She was wearing a stunning dress. My parents were sitting on either side of me.

Yes, she said, it was cancer. Hodgkin’s lymphoma, very treatable. Definitely the cancer to pick, if you were going through a cancer catalogue. I would have an appointment with my oncologist on Monday, and did I have any questions?

The world tilted decisively, into that strange world where things I did not quite believe were nevertheless true.

‘Well…’ I said. ‘I would like to know where you got your dress.’

Dr Not Grace laughed and said I was something else. She did not tell me where she got her dress. I was only partly joking, Dr Not Grace!

My mother was crying. Dr Not Grace gave her tissues.

When we drove home, Rory met us at the gates. I went right to him, and he said ‘Well?’ With my usual smooth wordsmithing, I said, ‘Well, uh, yeah.’ Then I glanced up at him, and I said, very quickly: ‘Yes, it’s cancer.’ My brother’s a big guy, and strong in a lot of ways. He made a noise as if he’d been hit. I reached up and put my arms around his neck and my head down on his shoulder, and I believed I had cancer, and we were terrified.

I thought: I have to tell the younger ones now. I don’t know how I’m going to tell them.

I wanted to write this up, to explain why I might be out of commission at times, disappearing offline for stretches: to make sure it didn’t seem like I was just disappearing. I’d love it if people shared this post, to make sure word gets to everyone who might want to know, since I am low energy often and unable to tell all the people I’d have liked to tell individually. And I want to go on to talk about what happened and what will happen next, if people are interested: to have the experience be seen and shared and real. I never do quite believe in stories until they’re shared.

This is how I found out, and this is how I’m telling you.

51 Responses to “HOW I FOUND OUT”

  1. November 03, 2016 at 6:27 pm, Melissa Simmons said:

    Sending you all my love & well wishes, Sarah. <3

    Reply

  2. November 03, 2016 at 6:28 pm, Ariel Zeitlin said:

    Sarah, only you could be so funny in a story about getting cancer. I love your writing so much, and am 100% behind you. Get better soon! Do whatever it takes because the world needs you.

    Reply

  3. November 03, 2016 at 6:37 pm, Andrew Horn said:

    I had never really heard of you (except passing mentions on twitter), never read anything by you(I don’t read nearly enough books), until my friend from the internet, Maureen Johnson, pointed me here. I laughed and cried, and realized I really should see a doctor.

    I’m sorry the bastard Cancer bit you, but am happy it’s the Bichon Frise of cancers that did. Punt it out the window, and write more. I’ll be looking for everything I can get my hands on of yours, not because I feel sorry for you, but because this was wonderful, tough, funny writing, and I need more of that.

    Get well, please.

    Reply

  4. November 03, 2016 at 6:39 pm, Tansy Rayner Roberts said:

    I knew there was Bad News Ahead, but your post kept making me laugh out loud = no one combines the terrible and hilarious like you and your writing.

    I had a rare lymphoma removed this year — such a tiny piece of cancer compared to what others go through, to the point that I hesitate even to mention it to people. (no chemo, just surgery, it was gone before we knew what it was) But when I first heard the word I was so terrified I felt like I couldn’t breathe for weeks. I had a month (a whole month!) in which I was convinced I wouldn’t see my kids grow up, before I calmed down and started reading actual facts about my condition.

    I am interested to hear you document what you go through because I agree with you that these stories are important and best shared — we need the cancer stories with the “and then she went on to have many decades of writing books and tormenting her family” happy ending because it’s become such a large and terrifying word in our culture, and yet so many people go through some kind of cancer-related treatment in their life without it turning into a Tragic Novel.

    (This is not to minimise those whose lives/families are wrecked by cancer, but we know those stories already. They are huge and looming and they shouldn’t be the only ones we hear.)

    Much love & support in the times ahead. So couch. Much books.

    Reply

  5. November 03, 2016 at 6:39 pm, Vicki said:

    Oh, oh, hang in there, the doctor was right, this is totally the kind of cancer to pick if you have to have cancer. I have a dear friend who went through this and she is FINE now, happy and healthy and all of the good things. So take care and surround yourself with what and whoever you need to feel better for the duration. *hugs*

    Reply

  6. November 03, 2016 at 6:51 pm, Pat said:

    My son had Hodgkins. He’s fine now, 5 years clear. Pamper yourself excessively and accept all the help you can get. Wishing you lots of love and luck.

    Reply

  7. November 03, 2016 at 7:04 pm, rockinlibrarian said:

    Love and strength to you! I love your sense of humor and I know it will help you get through, so I’m glad of that.

    Reply

  8. November 03, 2016 at 7:09 pm, Debbie said:

    Sarah,
    You’re a wonderful writer. I wish you a quick recovery.

    Reply

  9. November 03, 2016 at 7:47 pm, Alex said:

    Dear Sarah,

    You lovely, gorgeous woman.
    What does one say when they find out their favorite author has cancer? Do you tell them you are so sorry that this is happening? You definitely gotta say that you hope everything will work out fine and that you’re sure they will beat this! What kind of tone do you write in though? Especially to an author who brings so much laughter and happiness into your life.
    Not morbid, don’t be morbid, I tell myself, she’s not dying! Dr Not Grace says it’s treatable, even if she keeps her dress shop a secret, she must be qualified to make these kinds of statements.
    Now I’m calming myself down because my favorite author, who I don’t know personally (only as personally as you can know someone by reading their words, which is quite personal), has cancer. I chastise myself for a second before I remember that this is a person, a person I’ve grown to care about, because her words inspire me and she’s awesome on Twitter, where we sometimes interact. I’m allowed to care about this wonderful person’s health. So I will. So I am.

    My dear Sarah,
    You will beat this. You will kick that cancer’s ass. Because that’s what you are, an ass-kicker.
    Please keep us informed as much as you want and can. I’m here. I don’t know how much weight that has with you, but I think you’ll appreciate it. It’s nice to know people care about you. I mean, who doesn’t like that?!
    If you need distractions, silly conversations or an emergency kitten just come on Twitter, say so and you will be given. (Disclaimer: I won’t be able to send you ACTUAL kittens, just the digital kind)
    You’re a strong woman, so don’t worry. It’ll be fine.

    Sending you lots of love and good thoughts.

    Yours,
    Alex

    Reply

  10. November 03, 2016 at 8:03 pm, Michelle said:

    Sending best wishes and positive thoughts.

    Reply

  11. November 03, 2016 at 8:07 pm, Abbie said:

    I can relate to the strangeness of realizing that life has imitated art in the worst way possible. One of my MCs lost her father & 2 uncles & the only grandparent she’d ever known in a very short span of time. I lost my father, 2 uncles, & 2 aunts in a very short span of time. It’s miserable. It doesn’t feel real. It’s not the same, I know, and I can’t relate in the way that probably matters most to you right now, but my heart is with you. My prayers are with you too, and since Jesus can handle swearing just fine, let me say… Fuck. Cancer. Fuck it. Kick its ass, girl. I’m sending you all the strength and love I can.

    Reply

  12. November 03, 2016 at 8:33 pm, Glenda said:

    ❤️

    Reply

  13. November 03, 2016 at 9:49 pm, Gillian said:

    I love you so much and I am in tears.

    Reply

  14. November 03, 2016 at 9:56 pm, ellery lawrence said:

    I don’t know you, but you’re amazing.

    Sending anonymous, stranger-but-not-danger love to you.

    Reply

  15. November 03, 2016 at 9:59 pm, Sandy said:

    You are going to kick this things ass Madame Brennan and you are going to kick it so hard its going to runaway to the moon and never come back. I am sending you healing juju from the Cayman Islands it is sunny and warm

    Reply

  16. November 03, 2016 at 10:02 pm, Kelly Ramsdell Fineman said:

    My ex-husband had Hodgkins lymphoma. And he did chemo. And after treatment ended, he was cleared of cancer, and he is still clear of cancer and fine. (Our marriage is not fine, it is over, but that is not exactly because of his cancer – though he became distant and depressed, which didn’t help. But I’m now in a very happy relationship and he is not unhappy, and is healthy, and that’s the point.)

    Reply

  17. November 03, 2016 at 10:31 pm, Poor Jared . . . er . . . Sarah. said:

    Sarah, this is your old Pen Pal, Danielle (in America). I obviously did not know about this, and I know we have not talked in a long time and you clearly have a very excellent support system already . . . but I do want you to know that you are still thought of and loved on my end. And if you ever need me, I am here for you. Turn about is fair play. You helped me through a very rough time in my life. But truly . . . I mean it.

    Reply

  18. November 03, 2016 at 11:39 pm, Aphotic Ink said:

    All my best wishes. I’m sorry, and I hope you’ll be well.

    Reply

  19. November 04, 2016 at 12:11 am, Laura said:

    Its a strange thing to feel as if you know someone quite well, when they don’t know you at all. But here I am, crying as though one of my closest friends has called to break this news. My thoughts and good wishes are with you. I hope you recover, and quickly.

    I met you once in Portland. You signed a book for me–you laughed at the library style bookplate, and wrote, “Nobody touch this!!! This is definitely Laura’s book!”

    I’ve been reading your blog since before you were published. I remember your first publication announcement–your writing has been a source of both joy and inspiration to me.

    Reply

  20. November 04, 2016 at 12:43 am, Wendy Darling said:

    Sarah,

    I’m so very sorry to hear this. In our brief interactions, you’ve always been unfailingly kind, and the bright loveliness of your spirit shines through on this post.

    Wishing you the best. I’m glad you have friends and family who will be there to send you hugs and chocolate. <3

    Wendy

    Reply

  21. November 04, 2016 at 2:20 am, Marianne Curley said:

    Hi Sarah

    You are very witty and your sense of humour will pull you through the darkest days of chemotherapy. If not, your family and wonderful friends will be by your side, probably in turns, cheering you out of the darkness and into the light.

    Twelve years ago I had Myelofibrosis, a fancy name for bone marrow cancer. I too was very tired but made up excuses. I had three teenage children, of course I was tired but the inevitable day came when I realised it was something more. Tests confirmed that I had cancer, the type that is probably the last one you want to have as it is very hard to beat with only a 30 to 35% chance of surviving. But I did survive. And yes, it was hard, but I had a wonderful family beside me, and friends too. It always amazes me just how remarkable the human spirit is, what we are capable of handling, especially with a sparky positive attitude like yours. You are going to fine.

    At every check up since my transplant my blood counts have been within the perfect range and I am thrilled to be alive. Before cancer I had four books published and translated into more than a dozen foreign languages. After cancer I wrote several more with three of those published and more on the cusp of completion.

    I wish you all the best.

    Reply

  22. November 04, 2016 at 6:44 am, Jessie Lane said:

    Stay strong! Taking care of you and your family is #1 priority right now. Know that all of us are thinking of you, sending you lots of love and healing vibes.

    Reply

  23. November 04, 2016 at 7:02 am, Mystery said:

    Good luck for the future.

    Reply

  24. November 04, 2016 at 9:21 am, To Sarah said:

    I am Robin Wasserman’s mom. I send you good thoughts, good wishes, and hope for all good thing! Barbara

    Reply

    • November 06, 2016 at 10:03 am, Sarah said:

      Hi Barbara, Thank you–and thank you for Robin! She is a treasure.

      Reply

  25. November 04, 2016 at 9:22 am, To Sarah said:

    Sending you all good thoughts and good wishes from Robin’s mom.

    Reply

  26. November 04, 2016 at 9:49 am, Alysa said:

    Oh Sarah, by best wishes are with you!

    I had been thinking of you on your birthday (which is also my father-in-law’s birthday so I always remember it) and thought about emailing but didn’t because you and I sort of have this weird acquaintances/vaguely-friends-but-not-really thing going on, and I didn’t want to seem stalkerish. And you had such a lot going on that day, I see!

    I’ve recently been in touch with my father, from whom I’d been estranged for over 14 years, and he has cancer too. He also says it’s “The good kind of cancer!”, but for totally different reasons. It’s CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia). His condition swings back and forth wildly from day to day.

    Cancer is awful and scary and I’ve always been pathologically afraid of having it someday. I’m sorry you’ve been feeling poorly for so long, and I hope now that you know why, you will get well soon!

    XO,
    Alysa

    Reply

  27. November 04, 2016 at 10:38 am, IndigoJo said:

    Dear Sarah,
    I have been following you online since before you were published. You are my favourite author and I love the characterisation, the dialogue, the playing with tropes, the humour, the tragedy, the using-fantasy-to-explore-reality in your writing. I love your writing, full stop. We have the same birthday. I met you at an event at Foyles in London several years ago – you gave me a poster of the Japanese cover of Demon’s Lexicon.
    All of which is my way of trying to say: I’m very sorry to hear that you have cancer, thank you for being brave enough to write about such a private thing on the internet, and know that I am sending you good vibes and well wishes. I am glad that you have such a good support network and delicious brownies.

    Reply

  28. November 04, 2016 at 10:57 am, Ioana Popescu said:

    I send you all the love and courage in this world, dear heart. May all the gods of medicine help you along the way.

    Ioana Popescu

    Reply

  29. November 04, 2016 at 1:07 pm, Jim Short said:

    What a wonderful writer you are, Sarah. Best of luck to you. I’ll be staying tuned.

    Jim S. Virtual friend of Maureen Johnson

    Reply

  30. November 04, 2016 at 4:16 pm, Ilona Andrews said:

    So sorry, Sarah. So very sorry. Best wishes.

    Reply

  31. November 04, 2016 at 4:31 pm, Ella said:

    Hi Sarah,

    You’re a wonderful storyteller, even for something as difficult as your own diagnoses. I’m sending you all the best wishes and good thoughts for a quick recovery. A good friend of mine was diagnosed with Hodgkins two years ago, after a similar period of little symptoms that could have been nothing but were building up to something. He is doing great now, in remission. Hopefully it’ll be the same for you. Hang in there and take care of your emotional and psychological state, it’ll be as important as what the doctors will do for your physical condition. <3

    Reply

  32. November 04, 2016 at 4:57 pm, Shiloh Walker said:

    Hugs, prayers and good luck.

    Reply

  33. November 04, 2016 at 5:21 pm, Ginny Sue's Mum said:

    I remember Zena Warrior Princess standing in my living room. Of course it was Halloween, but you could have pulled it off any day of the week! Her spirit will get you through this. Personally I would choose Zorro, but that’s because I like black and swords. I would shout at people a lot and swing my sword at the unsuspecting.
    Ginny Sue was rather thrown by the news, but we had a big talk and she finally came out from under the covers. Good thing…the crib wasn’t big enough for her and Rosalind. She loves you very much (me too) and we wish you strength and patience. Dreena

    Reply

    • November 06, 2016 at 10:02 am, Sarah said:

      Thank you so much, Dreena. I’ve never been wonderful on the patience front, but I’ll try! I can’t wait to meet Rosalind when all this is well behind us!

      Reply

  34. November 04, 2016 at 7:22 pm, Jo said:

    I’m always sorry to hear about someone getting diagnosed with cancer, especially someone young. Your next few months are going to suck. I had Hodgekins 15 years ago and no sign of recurrence. My best advice is rest all you can and eat all the ice cream you can get. It’s important not to lose weight on chemo, so milkshakes for breakfast are fully acceptable. Also, gingerbread cookies helped calm my nausea (it might have been psychosomatic, but who cares).

    Reply

  35. November 04, 2016 at 9:09 pm, cegluna said:

    You are so lovely and entertaining and funny and your writing is very pleasing. Thank you for sharing your story. Positive thoughts for a healthy future are headed your way.

    Reply

  36. November 06, 2016 at 1:23 am, Miranda said:

    Hugs & prayers coming your way!

    Reply

  37. November 07, 2016 at 11:38 am, Kimberly Madrid said:

    Hello, Ms. Wordsmith. I have never heard of you before now, but your story is moving and funny and heartbreaking. I have never had cancer, but my son did, so I know a little about what you are going through. Thank you for sharing. I am sending you much love and many prayers. May you heal quickly and completely.

    Reply

  38. November 07, 2016 at 11:35 pm, Sarah said:

    A couple years ago my neighbour and I both went through cancer at the same time. He had your dx, I had a different one, but we both fasted during chemo. And we both did amazingly well. You might want to look into it, it’s not as bad as it sounds. I wrote of some of my experience here: agreatbigbeautiful.com

    Reply

  39. November 08, 2016 at 9:09 am, Jeaniene Frost said:

    Hi Sarah, we met once a hundred years ago (it was actually only ten years ago at Conestoga, but it feels that long.) You won’t remember me, but I remember you because your sweet, funny personality and insistence that a zombie boyfriend COULD be a viable plot point were unforgettable (side note: I held my disagreement about the zombie boyfriend thing until I saw the movie Warm Bodies, so belatedly, let me acknowledge that you were totally right about that one!) I am so sorry that you are going through this, but glad that you have a wonderful support system around you. I am saying prayers for your full and speedy recovery, and hope to hear good news about your health in a future post.

    Reply

  40. November 08, 2016 at 11:39 am, fishgirl182 said:

    I wanted to laugh and cry while reading this. So sorry that you’re going through this but I will be thinking of you and hoping for a successful treatment and recovery. I know it’s not the same but a good friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago when she was in her mid 30’s. It was quite a shock to all of us but she good now and in remission.

    Sending you lots of virtual hugs and brownies.

    Reply

  41. November 09, 2016 at 7:17 pm, Clary said:

    Ah no no no, this is preposterous and should, in fact will, not be allowed, you’re far too funny and nice. Am stuck in bed illing myself but sending all the rockets of cancery doom in the general direction of the badness, and every possible good thought at you. Pls kick its stupid arse, love, C xxx

    Reply

  42. November 17, 2016 at 5:01 pm, YAWednesdays said:

    Sarah, you are a bright and beautiful soul. Wishing you all the hugs, cake and hampers and a speedy recovery. xoxo

    Reply

  43. December 01, 2016 at 12:07 am, Ginny Sue said:

    Dearest Sarah,
    I should have written sooner; in fact, as soon as I found out. You should know that I think of you (and the gang) often, not just when there is bad news! Your unconquerable spirit will see you through this, as will your wonderful friends and family! Take time to get better, treat yourself gently and remember that you are loved! I can’t wait to see you again one day and have a proper catch up over tea! I can’t believe it has been two years since we visited in a London. And now I have a little one for you to meet! And she has such good taste: she can’t yet read but loves to flip through your books and look at the covers.

    Get better my friend. Hugs and more hugs!
    Ginny Sue

    Reply

    • December 02, 2016 at 1:15 pm, Sarah said:

      Loads of hugs, to you and your mom and sis and the little one I can’t wait to meet, but I know she’ll be one of my favourite Canadian ladies in a family of my favourite Canadian ladies!

      Reply

  44. December 02, 2016 at 6:14 pm, Mary Pearson said:

    Dear sweet Sarah, I am only just now hearing this news. I am so sorry you are battling this! It sucks. But I wanted you to know that BOTH of my daughters had Hodgkins Lymphoma. Double suck.–and both are doing quite well. (Both mommies now!) One daughter is ten years out and the other sixteen. Humor was such a part of their healing process too. We laughed more during treatment than any other time. Sending you love (and give your mom a big hug for me. I know what she’s going through!) You couldn’t me more gorgeous in your “chemo selfie.” xoxox

    Reply

  45. March 09, 2017 at 3:06 pm, Annie said:

    I know this is rather late to the game, but I wanted to wish you very, very well and healthy everything! I also wanted to let you know that nine years ago I was diagnosed with Stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s. I’m doing really well now, thank all that is good and holy. You are a strong, amazing person who knows how to fight (and be silly while doing it, that’s very important!). I’m sure you already know this, but it’s a rough road. But so worth the battle. I’m holding a good thought for you!

    Reply

  46. March 20, 2017 at 9:28 am, Fatomelette said:

    I am sorry to hear such sad news and I’m astounded at your brilliance in the way you conveyed it in this post. Wishing you a swift recovery filled with hugs and brownies!

    Reply

  47. May 01, 2017 at 12:36 am, Lizzie said:

    I’m late to this – I only check the blog sporadically. But I’ve been a fan of your work for about fifteen years now, almost half my life. I got halfway through this post and reached for the vodka. I felt like I knew what was coming because it read like one of your short stories: a bunch of laughs and a punch in the gut.

    You’re great. You’re freaking delightful. You don’t deserve this. You’ve given me so much joy over the years. If I can do anything, anything, if there’s a PO box where I can send you a gift card for a chocolate and pastry emporium, just say the word. It’s going to be fine; Hodgkins is very treatable. But the treatment sucks and you’ll want pastries, right?

    As a side note, I’m Australian and I’m just so happy to hear you went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, and driving on the Great Ocean Road. In 2003 I did the same thing with my best friend, who’s also a fan of your work. They’re the most stunning parts of our country.

    The reef won’t be around for much longer. You’re going to outlive it by a freaking century. I know it. DON’T LET ME DOWN, BRENNAN.

    Reply

  48. June 01, 2017 at 9:59 pm, Alex said:

    I can’t send you baskets of brownies but I can send you baskets of hope and strength! I hope you kick cancer’s butt! I love your writing and have been reading your work since your fanfic days.

    Reply

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