Our fight

By balder

I've wanted to post news before now, but I'm struggling.


I'm struggling with the fact that there is still so little time. Even when you get it down to only the vitally important things, there is no time to handle them all as well as they need to be done.


I'm struggling with the fact that nothing I could write here could even begin to acknowledge what you've collectively said and done for us this week. Anything short of everything seems pathetic and insufficient. "Thank you" feels especially inadequate, reflexive, compulsory, diluted to the point of meaninglessness. You get a "thank you" when they hand you your twelve cents' change and a receipt for your burrito. That's not what I want to say.


I'm struggling with some kind of technical glitch in my monitor. Whenever I start writing what I do want to say, the screen gets blurry.


I'm struggling with the fact that the news on Tuesday wasn't good, and that sharing it won't be a joy or a relief.


I'm struggling with the fact that what we know is still incomplete, and I can't even share much about the "what exactly is it" and "where to from here" questions.


But we do want you to know. We want to share with you that the diagnosis is metastatic cancer, and we don't yet know the site of origin. I want Linda to keep telling her story and experiences in her own words, as much as she feels like doing that.


And I want to be the one to tell you that there's objective reason for hope. And that's not just because "hope is good for you," either. There's a lot of hope here, and a lot of it is because of you.


That is not a corny sentiment. I mean it strictly literally.


In our unusual situation, where we both work for Erfworld and I can write from the road with nobody's permission or PTO days needed, we can just pack up and travel where we need to go for the best care.


Because of this completely stupefying show of support in the Toolshed figures, we can do that without thinking twice. However this fight plays out, we do not have to make choices based on what expenses we're racking up, or what the insurance might or might not cover. Together, our family will choose the best course of treatment for Linda. If it's covered, hallelujah. If it puts us 6 figures in debt, okay. I'm all right with that outcome now. I won't have to think twice, because this pledge level means that we would dig out eventually, just by continuing to create Erfworld.


That relief is what you gave us this week. Your gift takes the form of an unbelievable luxury and outcome-multiplier, a thing that most families fighting cancer never get.


And still, what you've done goes far beyond even that.


I really can't begin with it, because I can't do it justice. Because time. Because glitchy monitor. Let's let just one message stand in for all of the many astonishing and touching messages we have received. Through the Contact Us form:

Hey, if whoever reads this could pass on to Rob; I don’t know if Linda’s cancer has spread or anything like that, but if it’s just a liver issue I wouldn’t mind being a donor if I happen to be a match. You guys have my email [USERNAME_REDACTED] if that works out to be a thing.


That's real. That's beyond real. I'm struggling to write this news because what can I possibly say to adequately acknowledge a message like this? I do write for a living, and I can't think of appropriate words.


We are receiving so many personal, touching stories and offers of assistance that all deserve acknowledgement. All I can tell you is that I'm reading everything, I'm thinking about everything you are telling us. It's helping. We're both buoyed by it. You may not hear back from me, even though you deserve to.


And then there's...this...whole other jaw-dropping dimension to it. This, I have to tell you about. We've been offered (and are receiving) the kind of expert help that you could only dream of in this situation. Among the offers of help, we can count FOUR professional cancer researchers and/or clinicians who have volunteered their guidance.


Our Chief Warlord is a cancer researcher and a professor at an Ivy League university. His work is focused on pancreatic and digestive cancers, and he's an Erfworld fan. I will not out him by name or username.


Have I ever told you how proud I am of how many engineers, scientists, creators, visionaries, entrepreneurs, and other exceptionally brilliant people think our story is worth their time? That's a big deal for me.


Well, our CWL has been exceedingly generous with his time. We've had a couple of long phone calls and lots of emails. He's answered my every question about this, even about the difficult nonclinical side of things. He's given us lots of practical information and help, including things I probably couldn't have found any other way. He has helped put us in contact with the right doctors at the right world-class treatment center.


Backing him up on the battlefield for fact-checking and other advice, we have a second and third warlord. They're kind of a duo. Not only is Yshl a research PhD with years of oncology focus, but his wife RedGirl is a medical legal expert, who's been all the way through a bad-odds cancer fight. Together, they beat cancer. They won one of these suckers.


And we have reserve warlords we haven't even sent into this fight yet.


Maybe the best thing our warlords have done for us is to give us science-based reasons for optimism. The treatment discoveries and breakthroughs that have been made even in the last couple of years are kind of astonishing. There are things in Linda's equation that actually do resemble saving throws, such as "let's sequence the genome of the tumor cells against the genome of the healthy cells of that organ, once we know site of origin. There's maybe a 1d8 saving throw that a drug to fight that specific mutation already exists."


All in all, Linda's odds of beating a digestive or other difficult cancer are vastly better even than what Xin's mother was facing in 2011. With the expertise and technology we're bringing to bear, we (you and the providers and the researchers and us) will give Linda the best chances anyone on the planet can get for this diagnosis. It also amounts to the best odds anyone in human history's ever gotten. Whatever the particulars turn out to be, this will remain a winnable fight, and we're fighting. If you don't hear much from me, that's why. We're fighting.


Anyway, I'm calling time on writing this post. On the recommendation of our cancer survivor RedGirl (and Linda's sister-in-law the RN, and some random happy-sounding people on YouTube), we just bought a new juicer. This will help get Linda's body the nutrients and energy she's been lacking, due to her loss of weight and appetite. We're going upstairs to the kitchen now, to turn a still-life painting into a glass of delicious Nickelodeon-style green slime.


But look, your words of love and support have meant more than my monitor will let me say. So, um...not in a "here's your burrito" kind of way, but in a "oh right, that's why life is worth fighting for" kind of way, thank you.