I spent the 7th Anniversary of what Jon calls 'Deb Not Dying Day' sipping bubbly and watching Good
Life has always been a strange and wild trip for the Hubs and me since coming to Los Angeles. There were many days during the 20 plus years out here that I've seriously questioned what in the hell we're doing out here. But with all the diabolical and challenging obstacles thrown our way, there has been some magical serendipity in our professional and personal lives as well. Nothing put this in sharper focus than how I was diagnosed with a rare cancer and how I found treatment in my own backyard.
Fewer than 50 doctors worldwide know how to treat Appendix Cancer. Not many have ever heard of it, let alone know how to diagnose it. I still argue with docs that don't believe I had something so rare. Bitch, I wouldn't learn to spell Pseudomyxoma peritonei for the fun of it! Most patients die because it's mistaken or a host of other abdominal ailments or types of cancer. It's typically found during a surgery for something else. In most cases, it's too late to save the patient. My Oncologist believes I was sick for at least a year before I was diagnosed. So, in a country where treatment is available in only a handful of cities, and most doctors have never seen a case, my community clinic had a Supervising Physician who was once a resident under an Oncologist who had treated the disease years ago. She remembered the odd symptoms and physical characteristics she'd heard about from a single case and sent me to the nearest ER with a detailed diagnosis. I was days from dying. Of course, I didn't know that at the time, especially after the morphine kicked in. I didn't get why all the nurses were coming in to see me along with the minister (no priest was available) until after I got back from surgery.
The magic continued after the first surgery. They'd saved my organs from being crushed by a 13-pound tumor, but I was still full of cancer. The Community Clinic Physician continued to be a rock star. She alerted the lead Oncologist at LAC USC that there was another patient, and that solved a gigantic hurdle I had for getting any treatment at all – no health insurance. As an extremely rare case and a potentially lucrative surgical procedure to teach, I was a find. My treatment was covered in full by the Hospital. If we had remained in Philly, and if I found someone who knew what I had, the nearest treatment center was in Washington, DC and he was not in network for the most part and that's before travel, room and board are factored in. Here, I could get to the hospital by bus or train if I had to.
Life in LA can be soul crushing in how it frustrates creative people. But it is also the only place in the US where we feel normal. Everyone we know here is some kind of creative person. Anyone of is a few steps in a random direction from the brass ring. It's a place that is alive with inspiration and connections. Because of this environment, we became publishers and I became a professional author (and now cover artist). Jon has also started writing prose as well as scripts. We have a richly satisfying creative life which makes up for most of the frustrations. While I've been sidelined by cancer treatments and recovery, I've also found an amazing network of connections to writers and readers via Social Media. And I became a national expert on a very odd sub-genre of Japanese manga and anime. All of this has resulted in writing to partially support our household (something I have always wanted to do).
Thus, on this anniversary of being cancer free, I can say things are pretty good overall and gradually getting better. We're still working hard to get a film or TV project off the ground. Most of those plans are not for public consumption for a number of reasons, but they are still ongoing. And I've had the time to learn really difficult recipes and kibitz with some of my favorite TV chefs. Bourdain remains elusive, but I am patient. Also. One of his authors owns a restaurant walking distance from out place. I'll find him eventually. I've also had a lot of to tp read/ My favorite book this year is on burglary and architecture! It's better than any caper film. Seriously! Thank you, Craig! I'm hoping to get back to world travel as soon as my knees and our bank account allows it. All in all, life is pretty good.
Meanwhile, The Month of Fun is nigh! Stay tuned.