Bad Panther Update

I’ve postponed writing this, then thought maybe I just wouldn’t update at all. No one reads this anyway. But pretending it isn’t happening isn’t good for me. We learned from “Inside Out” that Sadness is important to share, right? So even if no one sees it, the sharing is important – for me.

Panther has what her oncologist calls ‘regrowth’. She recommended stopping the electrochemotherapy. There are other things that can be tried, but she doesn’t expect any of it to help realistically. So there was a family meeting and lots of tears, and we have decided to stop treatment and help Panther live her best life for as long as we can with no more pills or needles.

It isn’t fair. She’s a baby. Cancer sucks.


Panther Update

She has had her first round of electrochemotherapy. She is mostly recovered but still has some skin healing to finish up. The original plan was to do the second round 2 to 3 weeks later, but she has taken longer to heal so we’ve postponed twice so far, and I expect we’ll probably push off this week’s appointment for one more week.

From what the oncologist told me, and my own reading about the procedure, these postponements aren’t a big deal. The timing isn’t super strict and is more of a case-by-case thing depending on how the tissues affected react and making a plan from there. So we’re happy that things seem to be working well and hope that the cancer cells are having an even worse time than the rest of her cheek cells have.

Panther is a cat that tends to blep regularly. But after her tumor removal surgery that took a good portion of her lip with it, now she has one fang that sticks out a little bit more, and her bleps are crooked. And Adorable.

Ya know what, just remembered what day it is, so I’m going to schedule this post to go out tomorrow. Our baby girl’s cancer isn’t a joke to us.


The Panther Cancer has returned

Panther is annoyed at the return of her cancer

. . . and she is very put out by her continued care.

A mass returned to the same area of her face as her original tumor 3 years ago. It almost shows in the photo – you can see that the right cheek of her face (left side of the photo) is a little larger than the other side. She had surgery to remove the new tumor a little over a week ago, and today we followed up with an oncologist.

We were given several options on how to move forward with her treatment from very aggressive and expensive (and far away) radiation down to doing nothing more and hoping it takes years to come back again. We are likely going to move forward on a middle road of electrochemo therapy. For her, in particular, we understand that this would be less invasive and traumatic for her, less expensive, and have fewer likely side effects, while hopefully still offering good odds on a positive outcome. Seems like it’s all about the odds with cancer treatment.

Considering we took one step up from the ‘do nothing’ level the first time, and got three perfect years with her, we are hoping we can manage at least that well getting a bit more aggressive with her treatment this go around. She is still a very young cat at 5 years old, so we are walking a line between giving her as much time as we can, and giving her heavy drugs that can cause long-term damage to her organs.

books · cats · crafty things

Handmade Christmas gifts for Me!

Life has been. . . full.

Let’s go with that. So I’m behind on things I’ve wanted to share. I usually post any handmade items I’ve made for gifts, but this past Christmas I received some very nice handmade things that I’ve been wanting to show off.

First, the above knit kitty sitting in a box (as all proper kitties are wont to do) was made by my sister. She said since I always make critters for others, it was time I received one. This little guy hangs out on my desk with me now.

From the kiddos, I got this cool bookcase magnet, and on closer inspection, they didn’t just include some random books, but some of my favorites and my own short story collection. Can you identify any of the titles? I’m not sure the level of detail can really be properly appreciated from a photo.

And to continue the book love, my oldest drew this picture for me. Any Diskworld fan would not need her caption telling us who this is, but I appreciate the thought. She’s only read one of the series herself so far, but that was enough for her to understand my love of the Luggage.

crafty things · crochet

Christmas Amigurumi

Crochet doll of Baron Zemo standing on the keyboard of my laptop

The first amigurumi I finished was this Baron Zemo doll. While I was very excited to have found this pattern, I started to get nervous when everyone I showed it to responded:

“Whos’ that?”

“It’s Baron Zemo!” I’d reply.

“Oh!” they would say, “Who’s that?”

But I held faith that if anyone would know who this was, and would know without me having to explain, it was my youngest. They’re a big Marvel fan, and the Winter Solider is their very favorite. For anyone still lost: Baron Zemo is the main antagonist in ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and also important in the ‘Falcon and the Winter Solider’ TV series. And – I was right. They knew immediately and they love him.

A probably more well-known Marvel character is amigurumi #2: Vision. Isn’t he cute? Both patterns are from Guichai on Etsy. They have so many cute patterns it was hard to choose. I changed the cape a little because I picked a yarn that was a little too small to fit the pattern as written.

books · writing

Winter of Wonder: Fauna

From Cloaked Press, the Winter of Wonder: Fauna issue is out now! It includes my story, “Give Them Wings” among many wonderful others. It’s a story about letting go, and about alien beetles, and about letting go of. . . alien beetles. I really love this story and am so happy it found a home in this beautiful volume.

It’s just out in ebook format at the moment, but fear not, I will announce when the print version is available.

books · writing

It’s NaNoWriMo time again

And I’ve signed up. . . again.

This year I really wanted to win. To really put effort into my word count, but I’m (not surprisingly) off to a slow start. Only 500 words on the first day.

I’m not doing the official method in that I’m continuing a novel I started in 2020. I few days before NaNo started this year, I thought I’d better review what I’d written so far because it has been many months since I’ve done any work on it and I just don’t remember enough details to get back into cold. I thought I had a few thousand words, but it turns out I had almost 30,000 words. This is great because adding 50,000 would be a good length to finish it, but bad because I didn’t leave myself quite enough time to review all of that.

So I was still finishing my reading on day one, and looking for my original outline to also review. I spent a lot of time looking, and couldn’t find one, and I think I have to admit now, that I probably never made one. My outlines are not detailed. I pretty much just use the 7 point structure to give myself some points to aim at when I start to get bogged down or lost in the flow of things. One of the reasons I had stopped working on this story, despite loving what I have so far, is that I was kinda lost about where to head next. So I felt I really needed those points before I could move forward. So I spent more time yesterday writing up a quick 7 point plot, then diving back into the actual drafting.

As soon as I’m done procrastinating by writing this, I’m going to continue the novel. I have learned over the years that I can’t sit down and plunk out 1500 to 2000 words in one sitting, even if I have enough time blocked off. My brain just stops well short of those goals. I need several shorter sessions to make that kind of progress in a day. That’s a problem for work days when all I really have is the evening when I’m already exhausted. So to make this work, I need to do more on non-work days to make up for not being able to keep up on work days. But I also homeschool the kiddo, and while they are great at managing themselves, I’m not completely free to write whenever I want, but I know I can do better with my time management than I do.

That’s the goal. To do better with my time. Maybe I won’t hit 50,000, but I’ll make good progress in the attempt. I hope.

crafty things · crochet

August Temperature Blanket

August temperature blanket by Kara Hartz

Since August just finished, this entry could be misunderstood to reflect that month. Alas, I am now a full year behind on my temperature blanket. This represents the temperatures from August 2021.

My Christmas Amigurumi projects from last year were bigger and more complicated than ever, and I admit to having some crochet burnout afterward. I had done very little crochet at all for months. I started up again when the kiddo and I came down with Covid a month ago (coincidentally when many of my co-workers stopped masking – to add my personal anecdotal evidence into the pro-mask collum) and we isolated together in my bedroom. They got me all caught up on the Marvel verse with a week-long movie and series marathon, and I started making progress on the temperature blanket again.

It is interesting to look back at last year’s temperatures at the same time I’m experiencing this year’s. Last year, while the temps were still high, with many days in the 90s, this week has been brutal, with yesterday and today hitting near or over 115. Because I have a record, I know we never hit that high last year. The rest of the week should be in the lower 100s, but that nice green stripe on the blanket representing temps in the low 80s is looking really nice.

Well, now that the sun has set, I’d best get out to water my plants so they have a chance to survive the rest of this heat wave.


5 Years Old and Cancer Free

Panther on her 5th birthday with her new toy. Photo by Kara Hartz

From her adoption paperwork, we learned that Panther was handed in over the counter at the shelter as a neonate that required a foster to bottle feed her. So while we don’t know her exact birthdate, we know our guess is probably within a week of the real date. We picked Aug 8th in the window of likely dates for her because it is also International Cat Day.

In bigger news: when she started chemo back at the beginning of the pandemic, her oncologist said that if she survived 2 years without a recurrence, then she was cured. We assume that meant 2 years from finishing chemo, not the start. Either way, she is officially over 2 years cancer free, so it’s time to party!