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Trying Times

Okay, I know that I asked for things to start happening, but I didn’t mean these kinds of things.

We at Fleen would like to send our very best wishes to two of the finest people in the world: Jenn Klug and Ryan North are, as near as I can tell (including from personal experience) universally beloved. If they have a fault, it is that they are, jointly and severally, too awesome. They had kind of a rough 2012 due to Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but they took the most positive approach to such a diagnosis as ever I’ve seen:

We were lucky and caught it pretty early though! This sort of thing generally responds pretty well to treatment. Wikipedia has a pretty great summary about Hodgkin’s if you’d like to learn more!

Several months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed; Ms Klug was heard to declare that if she was going to have to do this, she would be the best at chemotherapy, and made good on that goal. Hooray for modern medicine.

But cancer is a pernicious, nasty, mean-spirited son of a bitch that doesn’t know when to stay down or get its ass kicked again, so you’re always watching for it to poke up out of its hidey-hole:

What you do then is basically drink radioactive juice. The radioactive sugars get absorbed by tissues, and you look to see if there’s any growths absorbing them, which would indicate some cancer cells that made it through the first round of chemo. Unfortunately there was some uptake in that growth we were worried about and a few other places too, which means treatment has started again.

Cancer treatments have made tremendous strides; chemo and radiation therapies are far less scattered and debilitating than they used to be, but they are still no walk in the park. That hasn’t stopped North from approaching this challenge with a sense of wonder:

This is the hardcore round, where they throw everything they can at it. At one point the treatment will be so strong it’ll actually completely destroy Jenn’s immune system. But before they do that, they extract stem cells from her, and once her immune system is gone they’ll inject those stem cells back into her, which will restart her bone marrow and reboot her immune system. That’s kind of amazing. And it is a complete reboot: she’ll lose any acquired immunity she ever had. She’ll have to be re-vaccinated. She’ll be able to get chicken pox twice. You thought it wasn’t possible, but SCIENCE FOUND A WAY.

All of which is to say, for the very best of reasons, you won’t see Ryan North on the convention circuit this year, except for hometown show TCAF in a couple of weeks.

Here’s what I’d like those of you heading there to do: go over to the table where Ryan is (perhaps for abbreviated hours, which I think we all understand) and after whatever else you do there — get a book signed, buy some amazing comics, just give him high fives if you think you’ve got the necessary vertical leap — give him a card for Jenn. Make him take home a 30 or 40 liter tub of well wishes to her. Send her so many good thoughts that they will stretch through the trying times ahead and still have some to open when she’s through with treatment.

And if any of North’s projects are a little slower coming out than they would otherwise be, let’s all resolve to remember why that is and be grateful for the fact that modern medicine is able to reboot an immune system, and that Klug & North live in Canada, so they won’t be bankrupted in exchange for the privilege of not dying.

Jenn, Ryan, I’m so sorry about this. If the love of family, friends, minor acquaintances, and total strangers was enough to fix things, you’d already be nigh-immortal. We’re thinking of you and know that you’ll be best at showing that vicious little bastard clump of cells who’s boss.¹

There was other stuff today but it can wait until tomorrow.

¹ It’s Jenn. Jenn is totally the boss.

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