HANK: Here's where I usually write the introduction to the day's blogger. But right now, I have tears in my eyes and the letters are blurring.
Let's just let our dear friend Toni Kelner talk.
My big sister Brenda has lung cancer.
And that’s good news.
Before you conclude that I am the worst baby sister in the history of sisterhood, let me give you the background. Some months back, after a particularly nasty case of pneumonia, Brenda was diagnosed with lung cancer.
I was terrified for her, and so very angry, but I refused to consider the possibility that she wouldn’t get better. She’s really ornery. She’s been known to break a stick over the head of a man hitting her husband, and to break the back windshield of a car swerving to purposely hit a cat. I couldn’t imagine that she couldn’t beat a puny ole’ tumor.
She went through a round of chemo, and responded very well to it. The tumor shrank quite a lot a lot, and the doctors were pretty sure they could avoid surgery.
Then, about a month ago, cancer was detected in her kidney, indicating that her cancer had spread. I hit the web for information, and what I found was devastating. Without going into the horrifying details, when lung cancer starts to spread, the prognosis is very bad. They start talking about months of life, not years. Also, once lung cancer spreads, it often heads for the brain. Brenda needed to have that checked, too. She was immediately put onto another course of chemo and scheduled for a brain scan.
I don’t think I need to tell you what my feelings were, especially not when it fell to me to tell my parents and my other sisters.
That’s where it stood as of August 24. Today I found out the latest test results, and I laughed and cried at the same time. Brenda’s cancer has not spread to her kidney. Nor does she have a second cancer developing. The cells found in her kidney are almost certainly leftovers as the cancer is being flushed from her system. As for the brain, she gave me the best straight line in the world when she said, “The brain scan? They didn’t find anything.” We laughed for five minutes straight.
Of course she still has lung cancer, which isn’t exactly a walk on the beach. She has some other health problems, too. But compared to what she could have had--what we thought she did have--they all seem minor. Like the tumor in her lung, they are shrinking in importance.
It’s all a matter of perspective.
As a writer, I think that one of the best things we can do for our readers is give them a kind of perspective. As in, “Yes, my job was annoying today, but at least there wasn’t a serial killer lurking in my office building,” or “Maybe I wish my husband would trim his toenails before bed, but at least he’s not a werewolf.”
In An Apple for the Creature, the latest anthology from editing team Charlaine Harris and me, we give readers all kinds of perspectives on the horrors of school days.
Was your high school bad? At least your principal wasn’t a devil. Is that training seminar you have to attend for work a pain in the tail end? At least you don’t have to learn how to deal with vampires. Do you have to work with a total idiot for your college project? At least your idiot didn’t accidentally raise a demon. Have you lost touch with old friends? At least you’re not a new werewolf who doesn’t know any other werewolves.
Perspective is everything.
So my big sister has lung cancer. Just lung cancer. And that’s good news.
HANK: Toni, we love you. And much love to your dear sister. She's very lucky to have such a wonderful--and TALL!--baby sister. Right, gang?