Thanks y'all for voting in our Barry Manilow cover band naming contest.
And the winner is:
THE BARELY MANILOWS
Stay tuned for our debut...
On to the post.
Every time we take my dad to visit a new doctor, we listen patiently to the spiel. We are quiet as he or she reiterates what a formidable foe cancer is. And then my mom opens her mouth, and I think to myself, I hope this doctor knows what he's in for. He's about to be whacked up the side of the head with a buttload of optimism.
She will take whatever abysmal numbers they throw at her, and twist them around to suit her outlook.
Odds are 100:1 against us? "Fabulous," she says. "That means one person, somewhere out there, is beating the odds. Why not Dad?"
This attitude infiltrates every aspect of his treatment.
Yes, the chemotherapy causes my dad's hands and feet to swell and blister. Some serious ouch.
|His hands, twice their usual size|
But how my mom sees it is, "If it's doing that to your hands, imagine what it's doing to the tumors! This is so good."
Every break from chemo means my dad's hands will shed their outer skin, revealing the super-sensitive skin below.
Mom: "Isn't that new pink skin underneath gorgeous? It's like baby skin!"
She says this as she tirelessly and delicately massages his hands and feet. She knows how much it hurts.
As for the fact that he could only survive Disneyland in a wheelchair?
Mom: "It's only temporary, and can you believe we get to use the wheelchair line? This is so good!"
Sometimes I get the sense that her optimism scares people. We hear whispers of "Doesn't she get what's going on? Is she unclear of the concept of Pancreatic Cancer?"
I can tell you, without a doubt, she's totally clear on the concept. She just expects the best, and plans accordingly. And I've seen her expectations defy science, and fly in the face of those pesky numbers known as "The Odds".
For instance, my dad's chemo regimen knocks out his white blood cells, the things that fight infection. If his white count is below 1.5 he can't get a full dose. At 1, he might not even get any, because the danger of infection is too great.
After my dad's break from his first round of chemo, he knew he was still weak, and he was sure his numbers hadn't recovered enough. On the drive to the hospital, my mom repeated, "You're getting infused today. Get ready."
They tested his blood, and it was at 1.0. Borderline. They agreed to give him 80% infusion. Because this was only the beginning of his second round, the doctors thought there was no way his counts would recover for his next treatment, as he would have no break.
The next week, they made the drive to the hospital, and my dad was sure he wouldn't get the infusion. My mom said, "Get ready. You're getting infused."
My mom called me for support, and I was all, "Oh yeah, I'm with you. He's totally getting infused." But inside I was thinking, "There's no way he's getting infused."
They get to the hospital, draw his blood, and wait. The numbers come back. 1.9.
There's no explanation. Those numbers didn't make sense. He got the full infusion.
And after Disneyland and Palm Springs, the sheer energy of the trip - and the fact that each infusion should have an exponentially detrimental effect on his white count - should've led to even worse numbers. Plus, he was pretty sure he had a low-grade fever that morning.
They drive to the hospital. My mom says, "Get ready. You're getting infused."
His counts come back. 4.8. What the what?
How does this relate to publishing? You can probably guess, but I'm going to explain it anyway.
Every person who's been published defied the odds. Every. Single. One.
And along the way, I bet every single author knew someone out there was saying, "Are you crazy? Don't you understand the odds?"
I'm sure most of you have heard me say this, but I found my first agent after a contest with my sister-in-law, titled "Who can get to 100 agent rejections first?"
Let me tell you, I hit 100 rejections first. In your face! Boo-yah!
And with every rejection, my mom and I would get together and say, "That's one rejection closer to success!"
When my first book didn't sell, and I had to part ways with my first agent, my mom was all, "Glad we got that one out of the way. Now off to find a better fit!"
Even though I sometimes forget it, my mom reminds me there is a power to positive thinking. Believing something will happen in the face of incredible odds.
I don't know the science behind that power. I don't have any proof. Would my dad's counts have the same acrobatic skills if my mom did not literally bleed sunshine and rainbows? Maybe.
Or maybe I'd be writing a different blog post. I don't know. I never finished The Secret.
But I can tell you, my approach during the whole query/rejection stage helped me survive the long and arduous journey. Survival turned out to be key. I could've easily given up after rejection number 99.
And my dad was supposed to be dead two years ago.
Here's to expecting miracles, when reason tells you not to.
Yesterday, I went over to my parents' house for our weekly Sunday lunch. I checked out my dad's hands, as I always do.
I turned them over in my own hands, ran my fingers gently over the blisters and said, "If the chemo is doing this to your hands, think about what it's doing to the tumors!"
My mom said, "Hey! You're beginning to sound like me! Or maybe I'm beginning to sound like you."
No mom, I'm beginning to sound like you. And I hope it never changes.
Are you in the middle of querying? Or any other struggle? Feel free to siphon off some of my mom's unwavering, unreasonable, emphatic optimism. She can enthusiasm your butt off. Only she'll do it more eloquently.