Saturday, 28 April 2012

When the World Tilts on it's Axis

I've had a lack of posts recently, and for a very good reason. My world has tilted on it's axis and I find that most days I'm struggling just to stand upright.

Around 12 weeks ago Shane (the grumpy old man I live with) started complaining about a pain in his back. Like any male he refused to go to the doctor saying it was just a pulled muscle. Eight weeks ago the pain was so excruciating he was taken to hospital by ambulance. That's when the ground under us started to tremble. Ten days later, specialists stood next to Mr Grumpy's hospital bed and announced he had eight weeks to live, give or take a few weeks of course because medicine isn't a perfect science, or so they said. Shane was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma of the right lung.  I didn't need to be told that this was one of the most aggressive kinds of cancer you can get. I already new.

Up until that point I'd never paid much attention to the saying "truth is stranger than fiction" but recently I've learnt that it is. When I wrote my first novel, Finding Angel, one of the characters, Steve Jax, was married. It became clear that he was a good candidate for his own book so, of course, I had to get rid of his wife. Callous...yes. I wanted something that would kill her quickly so I turned to my favourite research tool, google. By the end of the book, Steve's wife was diagnosed with a terminal illness...small cell carcinoma of the lung. Fuck. Who knew?

Mr Grumpy, before he got sick.
When the doctors announced Shane's diagnosis, I felt sick. My research already told me everything I needed to know and doctors confirmed the accuracy of what you can find on the Internet these days. Small cell cancers are the most aggressive and fastest growing kind of cancer you can get. In Shane's case the disease was advanced, but more tests were needed to tell us how advanced, there are treatment options in some cases but there is no cure, the cancer will kill you. Doctors scheduled a PET scan. They told us the scan would show what they call 'hot spots' in Shane's body. Cancer cells in clumps as small as eight to ten cells. He had the test and his body lit up like lights on a friggin' Christmas tree. The lung was the primary sight, other cells of varying size showed up in his lymph nodes, his neck, his liver, and in the bones of his ribs, spine, hips and the large bones of his arms and legs. Treatment options were limited. Doctors offered chemotherapy, a four month intensive treatment that he may or may not survive, that may or may not work to extend his life. As I said, medicine isn't a perfect science and as such outcomes can't be guaranteed.

Shane declined their offer of treatment. His philosophy being, why delay the inevitable. Why indeed? When doctors looked at me and asked what I thought I could only answer one way. It's Shane's life and I support the decision he's made.

So the world continues to tilt. Life confirming it is stranger than fiction every day. Over the last few weeks I've sat at Mr Grumpy's bedside and watched his eighty year old father beg him to have chemo, the answer was still no. I've seen him in such excruciating pain that he changes color like a chameleon as doctors battle to get his pain to a tolerable level, they now seem to have won that battle. I've listened to Shane comfort family and friends, reassuring them about his imminent death, when it should be the other way around. I've born the brunt of his anger when he's told me to fuck off and get out of his hospital room. I've fought with nurses when his pain medication has been overdue (yes, my terms of endearment moments have been many, although I'm sure in the movie Shirley MacLaine had her meltdown far more eloquently than I do). I've watched his chest stay motionless and found myself willing him to please take another breath. And over the last few days I've sat next to his bed and prayed for all this to just end. Selfish...I know...but sometimes when you're on an emotional roller coaster, all you can do is feel whatever's thrown at you, and brace yourself for the next crest of joy or gully of pain.

At least the world isn't completely upside down just yet. Even though Shane and my world may be spiralling out of control, the rest of the world is still normal. Well, as normal as it pretends to be. I'm trying to hold onto what I know will be my reality after Shane's gone. So, in the midst of all the chaos, edits for Playing Jax are done, it's releasing in May (hopefully). Healing a Cougar's Heart went through the edit and release process and came out a few days ago, which was ahead of schedule I think. And despite everything that's going on I've now gone back to working on the next cougar manuscript again, so with any luck I can get it to the publisher on time. Yes, even though truth is stranger than fiction, it's fiction that's currently keeping me sane.

So, as the world continues to tilt all I can do is be there for Mr Grumpy, watch and wait, try to maintain my balance, and hold on so I don't fall over the edge.

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't. Mark Twain

Post Update: 

My Grumpy Old Man, Shane Charles Tollis, passed away at midday on Thursday 4th May. He was 56 years old.
RIP Shane and thank you for sharing your love with me.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Healing a Cougar's Heart

Purchase Now
Healing a Cougar's Heart will be released on April 27th through Secret Cravings Publishing. I'm so excited about the release of the third novella in the Sydney Cougar Series.

Isabelle O’Connor never considered herself the type of woman who needed a knight in shining armor to come and rescue her, until one does. Well he’s more a knight in blue jeans and white shirt. After all, it is modern times. Unfortunately, her perfect hero has a flaw... he’s a cop.  Isabelle decided years ago never to become involved with a police officer again, and she isn’t going to change her mind now.

Mark Dean loves being a cop. He also loves the hot redhead he rescued from a creep’s unwanted attention at a local nightclub. Mark knows that before he can gain Isabelle’s affection he has to convince her of something. Being a cop has nothing to do with her reluctance to date him. Isabelle’s heart never healed after the death of her husband and Mark makes it his mission to help heal this feisty Cougar’s heart.