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Issue 21 - Page 19

Yesterday brought a double hit of really bad news for Matt and myself. I'll go into things more once we've had a chance to fully process what all's happened and figure out where to go from here. For now, please enjoy the page and here's hoping for a good week for all.

Now that we've settled down a bit, here's what's happening... Hey guys. If you follow me on Twitter you already know what's going on. For those of you who don't... Matt was laid off yesterday. There was some reorganizing within the department and it was decided he didn't fit anymore. This is a first for Matt, and with a mortgage and a sick critter on our hands - more on her in a bit - it's a bit of an emotional blow right now. But, they did offer a nice severance package and we've friends and family who have offered to help us out, give us advice, and frankly just let us talk. We really appreciate it.

Last night was for dealing with the shock. Today is for getting back on track and moving forward. Matt's downstairs updating his resume and looking up job prospects. I'll be spending my day working through commissions and checking options on my end. While both of our families have said to keep with the art, I've been poking around for library positions in the area and found a few openings that I may qualify for. I'm not certain how good my prospects are, with my being out of the field for a few years now, but if I can land a spot that would be a great help.

I may try knocking out some prints to help supplement things a bit while I'm filling the current commission orders. We'll have to see. For now we're both figuring out what our options are as well as getting over the 'well that came out of nowhere' feeling.

The other bit of news yesterday was more of what's going on with Holly. She had her first appointment with the oncologist last evening. Our regular vet, either through not quite understanding the results or wanting to ease our worry for a bit, told us Holly's condition was curable. It's not. It's terminal. The doc explained to us that by the time most dogs start showing signs of lymphoma - lumps that can be felt near the skin, limping, and nausea - they're already around stage three. While she believes Holly's cancer hasn't progressed to other organs yet, she did see evidence of a much higher than normal white blood cell count and some abnormal cells in Holly's blood. So it may be starting to spread, putting her in stage four. If I understood her right, and there was a lot going on yesterday so I may have missed some things, stage five is when it's in the bone marrow.

She explained that lymphoma is very aggressive in dogs and moves quickly. The harsh truth... untreated, the life expectancy is four to six weeks. With steroid treatment alone it jumps to three months. Steroids mixed with chemo increases life expectancy to eight months to a year. The most aggressive treatment - a steroid, chemo, and radiation mix - to maybe two years. She did say some dogs react very well and carry on beyond these estimates, but this is typical. The main goal is to improve the quality of her life for as long as she's happy and enjoying herself.

The doc was able to give us the first dose of steroids and chemo free of charge thanks to companies and groups who donate medications to vet hospitals, which was wonderful. Holly has a month's worth of steroids, one a day, and took her first round of chemo pills this morning. If she seems to be reacting well to the chemo, she'll have a follow up dose once every three weeks for a total of five doses. It's been a couple of hours and she seems to be handling them well so far, though she's already starting to get the munchies from the steroids. As far as I'm concerned, she can have all the snacks she wants. She can turn into a ball for all I care, as long as she's a happy ball.

Which brings me to why I'm telling you guys this. I've always tried to be honest with you. I respect folks who are honest with me and feel the best way of showing you respect is to be honest in return. When I share the rough spots of life, it's not because I'm hoping to guilt-trip you into anything. Nor do Matt or myself want a pity party. But these events do tend to affect the comic at times, so I feel they're worth sharing.

Add to that the fact that I'm only human and like most human beings, I enjoy hearing myself talk.

I will keep CN:H going, no worries. I should probably mention that if I seem a little flippant about these things at times, it's not because I don't understand the seriousness of the situation. It's because humor is one of my main coping mechanisms. I make inappropriate jokes at inappropriate times and giggle when I'm in pain. So if I say something that you feel is off, please excuse me. I mean no disrespect.

Thanks guys. We'll see you next week with a scene change. I'll get to draw horses again. It's always a good day when I get to draw horses.

Comments [39]:

Beautiful as always. And \\hugs// on the bad news. If you need time to rest, recenter yourselves, and/or focus on life, please do so (no guilt allowed).
Thanks. My goal's to keep the comic going while I work through the commissions and see what jobs I may be qualified for.
I hope that whatever the bad news is, the two of you get through it ok.
We will. It's just going to be a little rough for a bit until we get things back under control and everything settles out.
You need a double hit of really GOOD news for a change. Here's hoping for the best!
We've had bouts of good news in the past. Now it's just the bad news' turn. Can't have one without the other.
Ouch to the double hit. *Offers a hug* Take all the time the two of you need to process this.
Thanks. I'd rather keep going if I can. Keeps me occupied and off the streets.
Well, I wish you all the love and comfort that this page exudes.
Thanks. We'll get through things in time. It'll be okay.
Geez. You guys are overdue for good news for a change. Hope things start looking up for you!
Thanks. They say bad things come in threes. If so, yesterday's events completed the recent trinity of evil.
Well, with any luck at least that means there shouldn't be anything new after this... although what shouldn't happen and what does happen are too frequently alike. Here's hoping though!
M. Peach
I still think you should look into selling your comics in book form through one of those print on demand sites that handle the shipping as well. I know that people would buy them. It would just take looking for a reputable site that pays you the majority of the sale price while only taking a small fee/percentage for the service (and uploading the art into a book format there).
We had done print runs for a while, and while the printing did sell, we couldn't justify the volume against what sold. When we decided to stop printing, Darc switched from drawing at print size (flipping huge) to a web size (just huge) which means that we don't have the resolution to send comics to print and have them look good.
*hugs* Ugh. Sorry to hear the bad news. Hope Matt finds something fast. In the meantime he should look at this as a chance to re-energize himself. Does he have a LinkedIn profile? That site is actually quite good for making contacts. As for Holly, let's hope she can handle the chemo and lives for more than two more years. Each cancer case is unique and the doctors always tell you the average. I know my cancer has a life expectancy of 1 to 5 years after going into stage five and I'm hoping to beat that. I also use hunour to keep my spirits up and even went looking for death-related quotes online. I found a site that listed all the unique ways that person had found for how people's tombstones listed the way they had died like "Departed This Transitory Life". Yes, my husband thinks my sense of humour is twisted. :)
He does have a LinkedIn which he updated a few days ago. Some of his former coworkers have helped spread is resume to their recruiters as well. Holly seems to be handling the chemo well so far. Hey, dark, twisted humor is the best kind. You'll beat this! Hang in there! *hugs*
Iron Ed
My prayers and best wishes for you, Matt, and Holly, Darc! I am behind you and rooting for you all whatever happens.
Thanks Ed. Things will work themselves out given effort and time. They always do.
choo choo george
Darc, Matt, want to wish you the best while going through these trying times, been there myself. What type of work does Matt do? Google could be helpful as well as other jobsites like And I also wish for Holly's best as well, don't try to keep up the comics schedule, we all understand what you're going through. Love, hugs and best for you both.
Matt's a programer/developer. He's been putting his resume out to the various online job sites and recruiters and has had a few bites already. The main trouble has been weeding out listings for his previous employer - they laid off a couple of people that day and are advertising for new employees. As for Holly she seems to be reacting well to the chemo so far. She's been a bit more perky and talkative these last few days, more like her old self. So that's good.
Sorry to hear about your problems. Although obviously not pleasant, they sound... 'survivable' ... ? Not a good word, but I hope you know what I mean. During my own bad times, I found that 'Get up in the morning, go to bed at night, and what happens in between happens', got me through to (eventually) brighter days... So, one day at a time, get it sorted out slowly but surely, and keep your chin(s) up. Regards, Eli...
Thanks. Things seem to be moving along so far. Right now it's a process of getting everything in order to make sure we don't miss anything and discovering our options.
Ouch! Poor you guys! Layoffs suck, I've been there with my own husband losing his job before so I can understand the feelings. Also, on the doggie front as well. :( I'm feeling maybe your vet was trying to give you some hope. It's really awesome that you were able to get some free stuff to start her out! Thinking of you guys and sending good thoughts towards Matt finding a job again and Holly doing well! ^^
Thanks. Our regular vet is pretty good, so they likely thought this was the best thing to do. I'm not sure whether it would have been better to learn right away or as we did. She seems to be reacting well to the chemo so far, which is good. We've a few relatives who are willing to help out with her treatments if needed. Matt and I don't have children, so Holly and Tiny are the only grandkids our folks have.
I understand what you're going through on both counts. Between 2009 and 2010 my husband was laid off twice due to a lack of work (he was an electrician's apprentice). Then I lost my furry baby to laryngeal lymphoma in 2012. We could only afford steroids and one or two chemo treatments, and after diagnosis he did last a happy 3 months before it spread. I wish you all the good luck in the world, and my heart goes out to your family. I hope things get better for you guys soon.
I'm sorry about your furry baby. *hugs* Our fuzzy kids are such bright spots of joy in our lives, it's painful when they leave us, especially so soon.
Sorry to hear this, good luck on your future endeavors. And thanks for the stories I discovered your stories during my time of unemployment they helped take my mind off my troubles.
Thanks. I'll keep CN:H/AYAD going for as long as I can, baring a slight hiccup now and then. I might be a little late with finishing tomorrow's page. I've been trying to expand my art audience and that's eaten into my weekend comic time.
Ayah, big load of sympathy and connection with you and Matt over your current grief. Heaven is going to be a happier place for me because all my dogs will be there; with souls as great as my dogs it couldn't be any other way.
Thanks. Holly seems to be reacting to the chemo well so far. No major sickness or irritation to report. So hopefully it will help keep her comfortable for a while yet.
Darc and Matt, so sorry. :( I wish the best and hope things get better soon.
Thanks Laurie. Things will in time. They always do.
Yikes, sorry to hear about the bad news... if you need to put the comic on hiatus eventually to concentrate on real life stuff, we'll understand. That said, I for one am happy to help you job hunt if you'd like an extra pair of eyes and hands to help look. May as well make good use of your fanbase, right?
Thank you! Things seem to be going well on Matt's end. For me, I'm running into some language barrier restrictions, so am trying to figure how to use the art to bring in a bit more income for the time being. Kicking around ideas and plans.
There's always the idea of Etsy sales... prints would sell like crazy, I think.
Ok the bad news stinks and some of it isn't going to improve At least you you seem to be keeping a positive attitude and trying to find solutions rather than just moan. As to being out of the field you have the basics not sure how much those change or how fast. If nothing else Darc you've always struck me as willing to learn
Librarianship is a lot more involved and tech centered than most folks give credit for. While my skills are still sound, my contacts, networks, and references are nearly eight years out of date. Oddly enough, the main block I've been finding is a language one. With us having such a strong Latin American population out here, most of these positions require a fluency in Spanish - the focus is on programing, community outreach, and ESL. I took German in college instead. Snagging a copy of Rosetta Stone and teaching myself Spanish has been on my to-do list for a while now. I just haven't gotten around to it yet. One day.
I don't know if you read the Patricia Brigg's series "Mercy Thompson". It's urban fantasy but in it there was a spot that made me think of how you portray the fey and made me smile. Mercy, lead character, thanked a character who happened to be half-fey of helping against a fey known as Guayota (separate from "Coyote" in Native American mythos, apparently) and she thanked her friend. He tells her "You aren't supposed to thank the fae, Mercy. You're just lucky I like you" It totally reminded me of how you portray the interactions with fey/fae. :D