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.