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< Piro >

Jack, being cute with his little car high up in the Smokey Mountains

"the 'good kind'"

Friday - November 19, 2010

[Piro] - 20:41:37 - [link here]

One thing readers have probably noticed over the past six months or so is that the comic release schedule has been noticeably slower than usual, even for me. It is probably seen by most of you as nothing more than a reasonable progression down from the +/- 2 comics per week that I was managing to produce up till starting work on MT Volume 6. Honestly, I wish that was the case. There is more to it than that, and it’s time we let readers know what’s up.

As most of you may remember, back in 2001 Sarah was starting to experience a multitude of health problems that was puzzling us as well as her doctors. One of these symptoms actually showed up in a comic, with Seraphim sporting the same knee brace Sarah herself was wearing at the time. It was almost a year later that she was finally diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disorder, which she talked about in this rant back in 2002. Over the intervening years, treatment helped a lot, so much so that it was easy to forget she was sick. She was the primary force behind the running of the MegaGear store, managing online sales and shipping as well as running our booth at conventions all over the country, and after a high risk pregnancy (three years ago last week!) gave birth to our remarkably awesome son Jack. That’s a lot. I look back and feel more than a little sheepish about the amount I’ve done in comparison ^^;;.

As some of you can probably attest, it’s not easy to bounce back from a pregnancy, especially one involving an emergency c-section. Sarah actually recovered relatively quickly... But not completely. All new parents know all about the happy exhaustion and remarkable work load that comes with a new little one, and the fact that its several years of 24hr gameplay with no pause buttons. Feeling “ugh” is something we both often suffered from and is usually blamed on the lack of said pause button. Things got a little easier after Jack turned two, enough that Sarah started to worry that some of her health issues may not be due to the wear and tear of the first two years of being a new parent.

To make a long story short, the path to a diagnosis really started with a trip to the eye doctor several months ago and some concern about a small lump over her left eye. Some immediate concerns were alleviated by a CT scan that eliminated more serious concerns, but it did show swelling that could just be part of her chronic autoimmune disorder - or it could be something else. The only way to know for sure was to have a biopsy.

Last month Sarah had a surgical biopsy on her eye (having general anesthesia for the first time which she tells me was loads and loads of fun :). While she was still moving towards waking up, the doctor came out and took me into one of the consultation rooms. I’m pretty dense (i didn’t really have a sense of what Sarah was worried about until she explained to me why they wanted to do the CT scan a week earlier) but at this point everyone, including Sarah and her doctors, were fairly certain that it really was just inflammation. The biopsy was just to confirm it. So I was a little taken aback when the doctor told me that the tissue really did look like lymphoma and that he was having the lab do a very quick preliminary look to see if it really was. I figured, ok, well it looks like it but it probably isn’t, right? Less than twenty minutes later he came back out to the waiting room and told me what they were seeing. It was lymphoma. Don’t worry, it was the “good kind of lymphoma” to have, he said.

About a week later, the final test results came in and Sarah was diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a blood cancer of the lymph and immune system.

We are focusing on the positives: As far as we know know, it has been caught early. While incurable, Lymphoma is well researched and there are treatments that can put it into remission. The Lymphoma clinic at the University of Michigan Hospital is well respected. And lets not forget - Sarah is very tough.

Odd as it may sound, it’s actually good *knowing*. It’s always good to know your enemy, otherwise you are just wasting ammo. :) Nothing is worse than the limbo that comes with knowing something is wrong but not what it is. Knowing what is wrong means knowing what to do next. At least mostly what to do next.

I’m sure it’s fairly obvious now why my schedule has been slow even for me lately. I’ve been covering both the store and the comic, as well as doing my best to take care of Jack and Sarah. Add to that an enjoyable trip to Sugoicon two weeks ago and a birthday party for Jack and 14 of his little friends last weekend... Yeah, you get the idea.

Things have started to settle down a little, I even found some time time to write a rant ^^;;. I’m doing my best to keep it all going, and Sarah is doing ok, but we don’t really know what the schedule for her treatment is going to be over the next few months. That brings me to the the issue of Holiday Shopping and the MegaGear store.

We will, as always, do our very best to make sure all orders for Christmas are printed and shipped in time to be there in time for the holiday. What I ask is that if you would like to give the Gift of Megatokyo stuff for Christmas, please place your orders early!! The earlier the better. I know it’s kinda scary to think of me being in charge of getting your orders to you in time, but I will do my best (and Sarah will probably step in and save me from time to time). Ordering from the MegaGear store is the best way to support us and we appreciate your business.

I am also trying to step up comic production. One per week is a little too slow. I appreciate your patience, but at least now you know that it’s not entirely just me slipping further into ineptitude ^^;;. It’s been a little rough recently, but things should be ok. Thank you again for your support.

(Oh, if you wanted post about this where Sarah is most likely to see it, head on over to the Megatokyo Facebook page where she tends to hang out more :)

< Dom >

"Helping where I can"

Saturday - November 20, 2010

[Dom] - 10:21:02 - [link here]

A month ago, I woke up to a simple message IM from Fred: "Hey Dom, when you're free, give me a call." It was a bit surprising since I was at Blizzcon, but on my way to the Anaheim Convention Center I managed to catch him on the phone.

That's when he gave me the news about Sarah and her lymphoma diagnosis. He asked me for advice on how best to cope with a loved one with cancer, since the memory of my mother's lung cancer is still fresh in my mind. I answered him as best I could, and while it sounds stupid, it's what eventually pulled me through the roughest patch of my life. I hope it helped him, and I hope it can help a few more people reading this.

I told him that there were huge ups and downs in his future - cancer treatment is rough on the patients, and while positive thinking sounds hokey, it really does help. The placebo effect and the effect of depression on the immune system are both well documented, and it's as important to thinkthat better days are ahead than it is toknowthat better days are ahead. Patients undergoing cancer treatments experience the lowest of lows as their bodies essentially break down on them, and they become very susceptible to a host of illnesses preying on their weakened state. Since Sarah's cancer was caught early, it would be easier to keep a positive outlook but still rough at many points.

This was the stock-standard stuff that the doctor tells you, really.

Then I told him about the part that wasn't as obvious, the lesson I'd learned the hard way. The temptation to regard the treatment as a private matter and take on every burden and responsibility by himself would be and will be very strong, especially since he's Fred Gallagher and prone to doing that for everything else. But asking for help is not shameful. It's not weak, it's not irresponsible. It's honest. No matter how strong you think you are, it's a stupid thing to try and bear it all yourself when there are so many people willing to take a part of the load.

They call it a social network because if you've built it right, it will catch you when you're falling. And if you don't take advantage of that at your toughest time, when will you?

Stay strong, guys. I'll be here. And so will a whole lot of people you may not have expected.


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