Brain Cancer Update and House Plans

Brain Cancer Update and House Plans

Before the brain cancer update, first things the first: Chapter 23 of Who You Gonna Believe is up for Patrons. Read it now.

The past couple of weeks have been eventful, just not so much in my online life. Mom came to our house here in Urbana to help us with landscaping. (And when I say helped, I pretty much mean she did everything because she is the best mom on the planet.)

There are plans in the works to get the shutters and trim on the house painted, but first: estimates. It really makes me happy to look at the prettied-up yard this year. Because last year during the pandemic, we didn’t have the money or motivation to do much of anything with the yard.

After Mom spent a few days here helping us out, I went back to stay with her for a bit. One of my brothers and I worked on getting more things sorted at her house. My Dad had a pretty ginormous model railroad thing going in the basement, so Ryan worked on that while mom sorted documents and I shredded the stuff that couldn’t be recycled.

It was hard work in that it tugged a lot of nostalgic strings, but it was good to get Mom several steps closer to a more manageable household. One evening she and I assembled a lateral file cabinet together. The instructions were terrible (there were no words, only pictures) but after two hours, we got it done and she made me a root beer float as a reward.

We also talked more about Dan and I moving to be closer to her and my brother and sister-in-law, and we are thinking the best idea might be to make a separate living space by finishing Mom’s basement. My brother the architect is willing to help us with plans. Also, because Mom’s place is only about 30 minutes from St. Louis, it would mean we’d be closer to Siteman Cancer Center if/when I need treatment again.

Speaking of the cancer stuff. I did have a consultation with a neuro-oncologist at Siteman last week, and the news actually brought me a little relief. The doctor said that it’s not clear whether the growth they’re seeing on my recent MRIs is cancer growth (if so, I’m a little ahead of schedule based on what they know about my kind of tumor) or if it’s radiation necrosis (if so, the timeline seems to fit).

At the moment, the only way to be certain is for them to biopsy the area they are seeing and look at the cells under a microscope. Having had one brain surgery already, I’m not really excited about the idea of another one. And because of the location (my medulla) doctors aren’t really eager to start digging around in there either. For now all the doctors involved in my case seem to be recommending another MRI in three months.

I think a huge factor in waiting is that I’m not experiencing new or worsening neurologic symptoms and the growth is small. With a little time it could become more obvious which treatment plan is needed, and in the meantime I can live my life knowing that there are treatments available for either scenario.

Anyway, I’m still a little uncertain when my next Zentangle video will be as I still have a lot of to-do’s that take priority. But I am feeling the itch to draw again and set up my bullet journal for May (I skipped April) so that I can keep things sorted a little better in my mind.

***

WELL FUUUUUUUUUUCK. It’s a couple of hours later, and I just heard that they want me to do low-dose chemotherapy again. I mean, it makes sense. I don’t disagree with their recommendation. But I was just starting to see some daylight after losing my dad, and now I’m preparing to be broke, fight insurance all over again, and just generally have no energy to even wipe my own ass.

No End in Sight

Hello, and happy Tuesday! A few months ago, I was interviewed by Brianne Benness for the No End in Sight podcast. No End in Sight is about living with chronic illness, and for episode 72, I had the opportunity to talk to Brianne about brain cancer, misdiagnosis, and finding community with others in the chronic illness community, not just people with my specific diagnosis.

That episode was recently published, and I’d like to invite you to check it out:

Listen now

(Or, to find this episode in your podcast app, just search for No End in Sight and look up episode 72 “Emily.”)

If you just really can’t get enough of me talking about junk, there’s a new Tangled Talk episode up on my YouTube channel today too. I’m Zentangling my way through my March Bullet Journal setup while Izzy “helps.”

Apparently, there’s also no end in sight for the content I’m going to plug in this blog post. Because I also want to let you know that February’s chapter of my webserial memoir is available for your reading enjoyment too. If you’re a patron, you can read Chapter 22: Larry, Moe, and Curly right now. If you’d like to become a Patron, you can get access to this and all previous chapters (to read anytime you like) and support my work in the process.

Become a Patron

Help Me Celebrate My 40th Birthday

Help Me Celebrate My 40th Birthday

I turn 40 Wednesday!

To celebrate, I’m taking my webserial memoir out from behind the paywall (Pay-treon wall?) for the month of March. So, not only can you read all 12 chapters of Who You Gonna Believe through the 31st, BUT you get to read chapter 13 in real time when I publish it at the end of the month!

Scroll down to start reading.

Or bookmark the Table of Contents if you want to read later.

I think turning 40 would be a pretty big deal for me anyway, but it’s monumental reaching this kind of milestone while toting a brain tumor around every day. I’m glad I’m here, and I’m thankful for all the people here with me—both virtually and IRL—and I wanted to give you all something to show my appreciation. Having cancer means there isn’t always a whole lot I can do to give back. Money’s tight, energy is low, and anxiety is high. But that won’t stop me from trying to say thanks.

Whether you’re a long-timer follower of this blog or you’re visiting for the first time, I hope you enjoy!

And of course, I’m so grateful for the support of my patrons who help keep me, this website, and the WYGB project going. If you enjoy reading WYGB this month (completely ad-free, I might add!) please leave a comment thanking these lovely people for making it possible.

Amiee S.
Angela R.
Becky Y.
Bonnie C.
Beth R.
Chris P.
Elizabeth G.
Emily A.
Geoff O.
Heather G.
Heidi D.

Ilene K.
Jeff G.
Jennifer G.
John P.
Judy L.
Karen D.
Kenneth R.
Kimberly C.
Kristin D.
Len B.
Mahesh M.

Melanie S.
Rachael U.
Rick K.
Stephanie A.
Stephanie K.
Susan K.
Susan M.
Tara A.
Tina J.

Give It Some Consideration

Give It Some Consideration

“Give it some consideration,” he says. At first you think maybe Rodney’s trying to do me a favor by playing up the whole garbage person bit. But then you remember: This is not an act.

After I announced that I’d be sharing Rodney’s emails—but before I got around to publishing Rodney Writes a Ruse—my ex-husband jumped back on my contact page and wrote me again on Wednesday, December 11. Presumably because as a Certifiable Attention Whore™ he was jonesin’ for his next bad publicity fix.

And cripes what a trainwreck his email is. Even people who question my decision to deal with a narcissist by putting his work on display must be having a hard time looking away from this one.

I’m going to take the line-by-line approach again on this for two reasons 1.) repeating the email text in the body of the post makes the content accessible for people using screen readers, and 2.) it worked well for me last time. Once again, Rodney’s words are highlighted with a gray background.

Emily — Like I mentioned in my last message. This is very good writing (the memoir, more precisely). Am I a narcissist for reading it? Yes, in your story I am.  Someone’s got to be the villain, right? All good storytelling has a villain.

Remember in the last episode when he praised me for how well I “showed his scumbaggery” and then I explained that he wasn’t truly accepting his faults? Right off the bat we’ve got him setting up a scenario in which I’ve sensationalized my portrayal of him.

Yes, I am “a self-professed compulsive liar, an unrepentant cheater, and an egomaniacal, manipulative boob” in your story. But I take umbrage with “boob.” I’m much worse. You give me too much credit.

Got whiplash yet? Imagine the pain in the neck you get from living with this shit 24/7 for five long, miserable years. The early part of our relationship did the most damage to me because I was completely ignorant of Rodney’s condition. And I don’t just mean I couldn’t see he had it because the relationship was shiny and new. I mean that at 23 I still had no clue being self-centered reached clinical levels in some people.

Aside from your medical problems, I’m glad you’re still writing.

I’d like to remind everyone that I am not a professional, but those who are say people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder lack the ability to identify with the feelings of others. Raise your hand if you think bringing up my brain cancer this late in the game and in such a dismissively unapologetic manner ought to go in a text book.

But, you know, thank Jesus he’s glad I’m still writing. I suddenly have a reason to live.

And, I hope you unblock me to read your next chapter.

I don’t think I’ll ever hate myself that much, but time will tell.

There are really two advantages: 1. I could write something like this message and my previous one, which gives you more material to work with and gives your readers more reason to hate me, which will give them more reason to read your work. (You don’t want to tell them that, because it’s a propaganda tactic that comes from the research done on compulsive lying in social settings.) 2. Following from (1), you’ll likely increase your following, reach, subscribers, etc. I know you know what happens with more subscribers. Give it some consideration.

I know you know what happens? Give it some consideration? Almost sounds like someone with delusions of grandeur just finished watching The Godfather.

I will never, ever hate my readers and subscribers that much. But it amuses me Rodney thinks he’s so good at this he can manipulate me into manipulating others all while making my platform (a platform I worked very hard to build over the years) susceptible to his treachery.

Despite all the horrible things that make his dysfunction worth academic study, he’s still just a mediocre white guy at his core. Trying to get out of doing the work. I welcome him to build his own platform if he’d like to show us the alternate reality in which he lives. I never considered at the outset that Who You Gonna Believe, a non-fiction webserial with humble beginnings on Patreon, would one day inspire fanfic—how flattering.

Rodney Writes a Ruse

Rodney Writes a Ruse

Last we talked, I promised to share that message from my ex-husband. Hope your popcorn isn’t cold! Also, apologies to the estate of Dr. Seuss for the Rodney Writes a Ruse thing. It just sort of happened.

Mobile screen capture of Rodney's message with identifying information in the header censored.

That’s it, folks. That’s a screenshot of the first email from the ex-husband. (If you noticed my use of the word “first” here, you might wonder if I’m implying there is already a second email. Yes, yes I am.)

For some context: Rodney sent that message to me on November 20 via my contact form. He is writing in response to my post, So My Ex Wants to Read My Memoir. Although my blog post wasn’t for him, I do take some responsibility for the parenthetical toward the end that directly addresses him. I should’ve known better. I DID know better. I just really wanted to name-call.

Despite egging him on, it remains my position that if Rodney were an emotionally whole person, he would’ve recognized from the full context of my post that contacting me was likely to be perceived by even the most objective reader as a dick move.

Anyway, I don’t want to spend too much time on this today. I think the quickest way to cut through the crap is to take a line-by-line approach, so I’m excerpting as I go here. His words appear on a gray background because I couldn’t make superscripts work to do footnotes.

OMG! Busted! LOL! Ok … enough about being glib. Yes, I am interested in the memoir because you’re a good writer. In ten years or so,  you have an uncanny knack for capturing rage in the details and showing my scumbaggery. I highly encourage you to continue writing. It appears you have a good audience, engaged, and it appears to be growing. That’s good!

The praise of my writing and self-debasement in these opening lines are classic Rodney. You may choose to interpret them as genuine, but I couldn’t if I wanted to. Not after the life I’ve lived. See, while Rodney’s emotional development is irreparably stunted, he’s not incapable of complex reasoning. He has learned during his forty-something years on this planet that if he wants to be likable, he must concede things he doesn’t believe. He’s also learned that he needs to be considered likable, at least some of the time, if he’s going to get what he wants. That I was already confident in my assessment of his character and in the quality of my writing before he made these comments is probably lost on him, but he didn’t write them for my sake. He wrote them for his.

(I bounced in when I learned of your post “Who You Gonna Trust,” which is chapter 4). And, yes, I have read all of the chapters. AND, I’d like to read the rest of the chapters too.

That is, in fact, not the title of Chapter 4. It’s actually Liar, Liar. That he can’t get this small, easily verifiable detail right indicates to me that there’s a glitch in his internal matrix. I’m not a shrink, but I can tell you from about five years of intense observation that Rodney gets the little stuff wrong when he’s struggling to maintain a solid grip on the lies he tells himself.

AND, no, I am not trying to intimidate you.

Bullshit. If he wanted to read the memoir, he could have easily done so without the dick waving. He could have used an alias and never said a word. He could have simply waited to read new chapters during the promotional periods I occasionally offer—periods when all Patreon content is open for public consumption. But he didn’t do that. Because Rodney wanted me to know it was him, and he wanted me to acknowledge his presence. That’s why when I initially refused to be baited and ignored him, he kept pushing buttons.

AND, yes, I knew by joining, Pateron’s system would out me. I’m ok with it … obviously. You’re a damn good writer, that’s all. AND, you’re writing a damn good story.

I know I can write. It was my vocation for many years before the brain tumor. I’m not sure whether Rodney wants to make himself look generous here or what. Maybe? Maybe he also wants to take a stab at minimizing Who You Gonna Believe by framing it a ‘story’ and suggesting it’s not entirely factual. If that’s the case, meh. Memoirs are not biographies, and the preface clearly explains what kinds of liberties I have taken and why I have taken them. Most readers, especially fans of the genre, know this without being told. My disclosure is just a formality.

On another note, I hope you and Dan are doing well.

LMAO.

You’re also welcome to use any or all of this message in your story or other content.

Just for the sake of clarity: Rodney wanted me to post this. I have weighed my choices in handling this matter and decided to post his nonsense despite his narcissism, not because of it.

This Still Isn’t About You, Rodney

This Still Isn’t About You, Rodney

I swear, when this is all over I’ll have all the experience required to teach a masterclass. I’m going to title it, This Still Isn’t About You Rodney: How to Include a Narcissist in Your Memoir. And people are going to sardonically use the name Rodney like they use the names Karen and Becky.

***

If you’ve had the chance to read the first few chapters of my memoir, you know quite a bit about my marriage to a guy I call Rodney. (For those of you who haven’t had a chance or aren’t interested, let me give you a little background: Rodney is a self-professed compulsive liar, an unrepentant cheater, and an egomaniacal, manipulative boob.)

Although Who You Gonna Believe isn’t ABOUT Rodney per se, he’s a prominent character in early chapters. That’s because I’m recounting pivotal moments in my life that give context to the larger story and support the theme of my work. You know, basic storytelling shit.

Unfortunately for me, Rodney—who is at best a creepy lurker and at worst a cyber-stalker—has a keen interest in my memoir. And not in that harmlessly curious way your ex might wonder what you’re up to these days, either.

Recall that back in November I wrote about Rodney signing up to be my patron. I wondered then whether he was just not bright enough to use an alias or whether he was using his real name and email address intending to intimidate me. The post was my way of signaling that I wasn’t going to quit telling my story. I shared a link to it on Twitter, like I do everything I write, and not long after received an email from Rodney via my website contact form.

The letter was a laughably, transparently desperate attempt to blow smoke up my ass and make himself look better. Rodney all but ASKED me to share it with the world, so publishing it was the last thing I intended to do. “Just ignore it,” I told myself. “He gets off on the attention.” But the thing about ignoring a narcissist is that it’s simultaneously the only hope you have of getting him to leave you alone AND the best way to ensure he will keep harassing you.

Not getting immediate gratification from seeing his letter on my blog, Rodney tried needling me again—by favoriting one of my tweets. When I saw his nauseating face in my notifications, I immediately blocked his Twitter account. Then I asked a few people I trusted to help me determine the best course of action. We all eventually agreed that refusing to acknowledge him would cause the most suffering and ridiculed him mercilessly behind his back. (Hey, I’m only human.) Then, feeling much better after a good vent and a belly laugh, I went back to not thinking about Rodney for a while.

That is, until Saturday night when he signed up for my Patreon a second fucking time. “But I thought you said in your other post that he deleted his account,” I hear you saying. He did! And then he signed up again after I published Chapter 9: Corpse Pose—again using his real name, again using his real emaI was in bed listening to the Sleep with Me podcast when I got the notification that Rodney’d shelled out another buck to secure his title as the World’s Biggest Slice of Dick Cheese. I rolled my eyes, scooted down the hall with my rollator to my get my laptop, and blocked him. Again.

Sunday morning I woke up, still slightly annoyed, and tweeted about this second Patreon sign-up. My sister-in-law texted me when she saw it.

“I’m stuck somewhere between ‘don’t give him airtime’ and ‘try to make money off of the drama,’” I confessed.

“Make that money, honey. Make it rain all day,” she said.

I have no idea if putting Rodney’s present awfulness on display will generate interest in WYGB, but I haven’t had a new patron sign up in a little bit, the appeal against Lincoln Financial Group is ongoing, and our SNAP benefits are fixing to be cut again, so I figure why not try? It’s not like I owe Rodney a single courtesy.

You guys might want to make some popcorn. I’m planning to post his letter soon-ish, and it’s going to be annotated.

So My Ex Wants to Read My Memoir

So My Ex Wants to Read My Memoir

On the night of November 1, I couldn’t sleep. So I grabbed my cell phone from my nightstand, thinking I’d play a mindless game until I eventually crashed. Before I could open the game app, though, an email notification popped up. I had a new message from Patreon. Normally, I’m excited to acquire a new patron, but on that night my mouth turned dry and my heartbeat became irregular. My large intestine seized and the acid in my stomach sloshed in waves.

“New $1 Patron! Meet [Rodney]” the subject line read.

My wants to read my memoir on Patreon

Yup. My ex-husband had signed up to read my memoir. Only he used his real name and his real email address to do it, not the pseudonym I’ve given him. I know he still stalks me online and don’t usually give it a second thought, but that night I started to fill with rage. It began in my toes and had worked itself up to about my collarbone before I recognized it for the resurfacing trauma it was.

Writing the memoir can also trigger such a response, but I’m aware of what I’m doing to myself and can mentally prepare to deal with the feelings before they morph into physical malady. Being triggered unexpectedly by someone else—the asshole ex no less—well, that required time to gather my wits.

In the middle of defending myself to myself in my head (don’t pretend you don’t do it too), I stopped abruptly, letting the amateur therapist in my brain take over.

“It’s my story to tell. If he doesn’t like—” Me-Me was saying.

“Didn’t you tell yourself he would probably pull a stunt like this when you started the project?” Therapist-Me interjected.

“Huh? Oh. Yes.”

“And what was your conclusion at that time?” Therapist-Me prodded.

“Fuck him. Who cares?” Me-Me replied, somewhat unsure.

“Right. And what’s different now?”

“Nothing,” I said. “His existence literally doesn’t matter to me anymore.”

Therapist-Me paused, waiting to see if Me-Me had anything to add. I did. “OMG! This is absolutely hilarious! Is he trying to intimidate me by paying me $1? I have to tell Melanie. I have to blog about this. But first I have to block him from commenting on Patreon. He doesn’t get to make MY story about him. Do you remember when he hijacked the comment threads on my old blog? Narcissist gonna…narcissist?”

My thoughts trailed off as I opened the Patreon app to block my ex-husband’s account. The app notified me that the requested action couldn’t be completed because the account had been deleted.

Heh.

I don’t honestly know whether “Rodney” meant to pop in for a minute to intimidate me and thought giving me a dollar was the best way to do it, or if he just couldn’t help himself. Maybe his curiosity got the better of him and he just had to have a look. Maybe he didn’t realize the name and email he used to create his patron account would be sent to me. (In which case, what a dipshit! Next time use an alias and a burner email, you twit.)

Either way?

LMFAO.

I don’t know if Rodney had enough time to read all the published chapters of Who You Gonna Believe before he bailed, but there’s plenty of time for YOU to catch up before a new chapter drops on November 30. Your patronage gets you all the juicy details AND it helps me keep the lights on.

Think about it!

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Who You Gonna Believe Chapter 4 Now Available

Who You Gonna Believe Chapter 4 Now Available

It’s the 30th again, and that means there’s a freshly released chapter of Who You Gonna Believe over on Patreon. Chapter 4 is titled “Liar, Liar”, and this month we reach the part in the story where Rodney, my first husband, confesses to being a compulsive liar. (Yes, of course, he picked after we were married to come clean about that.) I also spill the beans about the night I confronted him for cheating.

Fun times!

Anyway, thanks to my Patrons for supporting this project! Without it, I’d be a right mess. As it is, I already spend way too much time languishing somewhere between “this brain tumor is killing me too fast” and “this brain tumor isn’t killing me fast enough.” (What can I say? Cancer is depressing. Medical bankruptcy doesn’t really help.)

However, knowing that people out there are reading my words gives me a sense of purpose, and I really need that right now. So thank you.

If you’re not a Patron yet but you want to be, it’s pretty simple:

  1. Go to patreon.com/emilysuess.
  2. Make a $1 pledge.
  3. Read my memoir.

Every time a new chapter of my memoir is released, you’ll be notified. Plus, you’ll see your name in the spotlight with all those other wonderful people when I post next month.

Who You Gonna Believe Chapter 3 Now Available on Patreon

Who You Gonna Believe Chapter 3 Now Available on Patreon

Today I’m saying goodbye to June and hello to another chapter of my serial memoir, Who You Gonna Believe. Chapter 3 is titled “Suicide is Painless,” and though I don’t want to give away spoilers, I will tell you it deals with my mother-in-law’s suicide in 2006. The title may sound flippant, but I assure you it is entirely fitting.

If you’re already a patron, you can read it right away. If you’re not, you’ll need to sign up at patreon.com/EmilySuess.

Not familiar with Patreon? Patreon is a place where writers like me (and artist, musicians, podcasters, etc.) can run a subscription content service. We make things you enjoy; you support those efforts with a monetary pledge of as much or as little as you can afford.

For instance, with just a $1 pledge, you get access to Who You Gonna Believe Chapter 3 as well as all previously published content. (Also, a quick reminder: you can catch a sneak peek her on emilysuess.com if you’d like to try before you buy.)

So hop on over to Patreon to catch the latest installment of my memoir. Don’t forget to share my Patreon page with your friends, because I publish bonus chapters when I hit new goals!

That’s it for now. I’ll have more for in the coming week on the latest developments with my fight against Lincoln Financial Group, for those of you watching to see how that saga is going to unfold.

Until then, have a wonderful Sunday and enjoy Who You Gonna Believe Chapter 3.

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We Survived the Urbana Tornado ICYWW

We Survived the Urbana Tornado ICYWW

So, there was a tornado here in Urbana over Memorial Day weekend (nothing like Mother Nature and Lincoln Financial trying their darndest to make us homeless), and I only recently got a solid WiFi connection again. The twister, more Lincoln Financial bullshit, and the ever-present health problems that complicate my life are why I haven’t been around emilysuess.com or my YouTube channel much lately.

I did manage to post Chapter 2: You’re Wearing That? for patrons last night. So if you sponsor me there, you can read up on my sordid past while I try to sort out my life, upload a video to my channel, and just generally get back to regular updates here on the blog.

(If you’re not a Patreon supporter, you can get access to all my past, present, and future posts for a $1 pledge.)

Who knows, after you read Chapter 2 of my memoir, you just might get an inkling why I had two PTSD-style nightmares last night. Fun times!

Related to publishing my memoir, I’m really struggling to decide how to market this thing. I’ve been scouring the internet to find how other serial memoirists get their work in front of eyeballs, and so far all I’ve learned is that I’m like the only writer out there publishing a memoir this way. There are spaces designated for fiction webserials. But non-fiction? Not so much.

I guess I’ve got my work cut out for me, but that’s pretty much just a perpetual state of being for me.

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