Buckle up. Here we go.

My second-line treatment of fulvestrant and palbociclib stopped working. I didn’t need the test results to find out. The truth is in my chest, in that lumpen foreign mass prodding my right lung with each inhale, prickling my mind when I lie in bed at night. 

Do you have asthma? You know how, with asthma, when you breathe in it feels like everything’s full already and you can’t get more oxygen? A lung met is a little like that:  an uncanny something taking up space where the air would like to be. 

It’s a very weird feeling. 

I think I also have a new small met in my throat which says “hello there” when I swallow. Gotta wait on the next scan to confirm that one.

I’m at the crest of the roller coaster. When I gaze around I can see for decades.  But right now my hands are gripping the harness and I’m focused on the track ahead: there are corkscrews and a 360 in front of me. 

When I went to Disneyland with Katie in 2017 we rode California Screamin’ for hours, heading back down to the ‘single rider’ queue again and again. 

There’s no do-over this time. 

I have more medication options. Not as many as I’d like. I am waiting on next steps. 

I have to finish the story I’m working on.  That’s priority. I have to prune everything else and focus on rest, on writing, on pulling in a paycheck to pay the bills, on the people I care about. When I have confirmed there’s less than 6 months left I can cash in my retirement fund and stop work and just focus on three out of those four. Ain’t that a double-edged sword.

I can make five years, surely? I can make five. March 2023. That’s nine more months. Wow, that feels like a big fucking ask right now.

Still, I’m asking, Universe. Give me the five.

Why I Cannot Commit Murder in the First Quarter of Any Given Year

While 88% of the world’s population stocks up on supplies of hot chocolate and hand-crafted mittens, in my little corner of the world we’re having a good ol’ crack at beating 2014’s record as Hottest Year Ever.

Usually the oppressive heat isn’t a problem, as fresh air is not my milieu. I spend the summer in air conditioned buildings, sipping iced beverages. (Nothing changes in winter, only the beverages are toasty warm and have whipped cream on top.) And I was reminded why in January, when I made an ill-considered attempt to spend time in the disaster zone called ‘nature’.

Nature doesn’t like me.

Here is a thing that humans do: we leave the shelters we spend our entire lives working to pay for, and we expose ourselves to the air until a 4.6-billion-year-old ball of flaming hydrogen eight light-minutes away literally incinerates the outermost layers of our epidermis, causing pain, onlooker hilarity, and, eventually, concerned glances, as our skin peels away from our bodies. Here’s the kicker: no one forces us to do this. We are not running for our lives from allosaurs. We do this for sheer enjoyment. Frequently we laugh merrily while doing it.

I did not.

I was under some misguided instructions that real life was more interesting that the struggle between Pagan Min and the rebel forces of Kyrat, and that even though zombies were not in evidence, I would have ‘fun.’

I was lied to.

So now, in February, as I sit minding my own business at my desk in my cool, sleeveless summer top, pale shreds of my skin drift down from me in an improbable dusting of macabre snow, discoloring the carpet around me until it looks like a Winchester brother got a little overzealous with the salt circle.

The bad part isn’t that co-workers with restless fingertips want to hurry the process along by peeling sheets of skin from my body. The bad part is that my unfortunate condition means I am unable to kill the as-yet-unknown neighbour who has been stealing my mail, costing me eight missing books and nearly $200 in various late payment penalties, because I will leave behind too much trace evidence.

Forecasters say it will be a longer summer than usual. What joy. I’m pencilling in May and sharpening the garden shears.

(I hope you’re enjoying reading my second-cousin’s Christmas present, you big jerk.)