THE BLOG

Booking Bad: Author's Shameless Use of Her Terminal Cancer to Promote Her Novels

10/03/2013 04:19 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Walter White, c'est moi!

My Booking Bad has almost as many outrageous plot twists as the Emmy Award-winning TV series -- and that's without a single exploding RV.

Episode 1: "The Good Cancer"

Four and one-half years ago, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. Unlike Walter's, it was a "good" lung cancer -- it was operable.

"We'll rip that bad boy right out of there and have you up and running in no time," said my handsome young surgeon.

"Yes, but will I be able to breathe?" (As a compulsive jokester, I quickly established my formula: If they laugh that means they like you. If they like you they'll cure you.)

I had the surgery. Actually, call it two surgeries -- the first one to take out the tumor. Some weeks later a second one to remove a random wire that was left behind.

Got the chemo. Got the hair loss. Got the nausea. Certainly got my money's worth, plus as a bonus -- I got six months of a really expensive trial drug for free -- and I survived!

Getting cancer wasn't so bad after all. I was feeling pretty smug, but within that same year two more plot twists developed.

Episode 2: More Good News

They discovered a melanoma.

Oh, no! A melanoma. I'll be dead in six months!

But wait! This was a "good" melanoma -- a melanoma in situ, which means it wasn't going anywhere. I had it removed during outpatient surgery. It left a small scar on my forehead, which was nothing compared to the railroad track that ran down my back from the lung surgery.

And so I went on with my life. Writing my blogs, trying to get my latest novel published in the "traditional" way, getting my other books up on Amazon.com, and spending huge amounts of time trying to "build my platform." I probably should have been building my immune system as well.

By this time I'd practically forgotten the whole cancer thing, when one day my oncologist announced, "You have a new diagnosis."

"New, as in cured?" I asked, hopefully.

"No, new as in CLL," he said, "Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia."

New doctor gets added to the cast.

"The term 'chronic' in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia comes from the fact that it typically progresses more slowly than other types of leukemia. So it's something you just live with," she explained. I could live with it, not die from it? Yet another "good" cancer! How lucky can one person get?

Episode 3: The Plot Metastasizes

More time passed. I had never been so disgustingly upbeat in my life. All this good cancer cured me of a lifetime of negativity and low-level depression.

Now comes the Booking Bad part.

Within the last few months, I'd begun to experience numbness of my right hand -- of course, the hand I write with. I assumed it was carpal tunnel. I visited my handsome carpal tunnel surgeon who said, "When I operate on carpal tunnel, it never comes back!"

Whatever. I no longer had use of my writing hand. Couldn't use the computer or even write a check. And the numbness had spread to my right foot.

One of my doctors suggested I have a CT scan. And, lo and behold, I had two little spots in my brain -- one on the right side and one on the left side. The tumor on the left side was causing all the right side problems.

"Lung cancer tends to travel to the brain," the doctor explained.

"I'll make a note of that." Oh, I forgot. I can't. (If you sense a little anger here it's only natural according to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.)

So I had brain surgery. It was no big deal unless you know that they actually cut into your brain, which I didn't realize until I saw the six-inch scar a few days later. I was all excited about the drama of having had brain surgery. I loved telling people "Guess what? I just had brain surgery -- you want to see my scar?" Good friends ran the other way. "It really didn't hurt," I shouted after them.

Then I had four hour-long sessions of radiation and finished with one somewhat shorter one. "Why was this last session so much shorter," I asked one of the teenage technicians.

"Because I think we finally got it right," she said. My stomach dropped.

Actually, so far they haven't got it right. I still have no use of my writing hand, right arm and leg. But who knows, everything could change in the next episode.

Monique, my dear friend, asked the 64 thousand dollar question: "Why put Linda through all that brain surgery and radiation if it doesn't take care of the symptoms?"

"We're treating the disease," said the doctor.

Oh. And we thought the disease was the symptoms. I had actually thought of the tiny little tumors hidden in my brain as innocent, befuddled bystanders wondering, "Wh-what? What'd we do? Huh?"

Unlike Walter White, I'm not cooking meth or killing people. Basically, I'm just trying to get more readers for my blog -- and who knows, ultimately sell a few books. I'm definitely not looking for sympathy or God forbid, get well cards. I promise to keep most of the gory details to a minimum. Or maybe not. Like Breaking Bad, I'm going for drama excitement and suspense. And, hopefully, a few laughs.

Here's the really important part: I'm discovering that dying turns out to be a real growth experience. So my hope is that my future blogs will be helpful to people who may be facing serious illness, death -- or ever so much harder -- life.

This blog is courtesy of Dragon Dictate. (Dragon, call me. I smell a deal here.)