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Elise Manion

Random Thoughts from a Hopeless Romantic

The Cancer Won; Healthcare Failed

In a previous post, I wrote about my father’s diagnosis of metastatic melanoma to the lungs and liver. At that time it wasn’t known that the nodules had also spread to his brain. Though he fought the good fight, my father succumbed to this horrific disease on March 20th, just two weeks to the day after receiving word from his oncologist that the nodules in his lungs had grown significantly and that the treatment (immunotherapy) wasn’t working. The oncologist recommended hospice for the next month or two. Dad was sixty-eight when he passed away.

Melanoma is a sneaky bitch. In my father’s case, he developed a brownish spot on his cheek ten years ago. It wasn’t dark and we all thought it was just an age spot, even his general practitioner. He said he had a treatment that would “bleach” the spot so it wouldn’t be noticeable. It was an in-office procedure and the spot scabbed up and went away for a few months before returning a hideous dark brown to black. The doctor said nothing.

When Dad went to the dermatologist, it was found to be melanoma and they did surgery to remove it. He was left with a huge “z” shape scar but it healed so well that after a month or so the scar was barely visible. When they removed the section, it was determined that the cancer was “lateral” and that it had not spread. He would be fine.

That was three years ago.

Last year, my father developed a cough; a nagging, nonproductive tickle that was so bad that he would lose his breath. He had other symptoms, too, like shortness of breath and becoming exhausted after minimal exertion. He told his general practitioner, who told Dad not to worry, that he was only suffering from “the hundred day cough.” Then my father told his cardiologist, who monitored him for a possible heart condition, other than his high blood pressure and AFIB (irregular heartbeat). Still the cough persisted, but the cardiologist found nothing unusual otherwise.  Dad then told his otolaryngologist (ear, nose, throat doctor) and was told it was probably allergies. In the mean time, he kept up his regular appointments with his dermatologist who proceeded to burn off any skin lesions or irregular spots that were found on his body, but the dermatologist said nothing about his cough.

No one thought to order a chest x-ray until eight months later. Hello? HE HAD A COUGH.  Shouldn’t that have been the first thing to order, especially with his history of melanoma?

Needless to say,  my faith in the medical profession is greatly shaken.  I am beyond angry that my father lost his life because this wasn’t detected a year ago. I am frustrated that no forewarnings, no scans, no check-ups were advised after the initial lesion was removed from his face. I’m heartbroken that he wasn’t given any information about melanoma; no brochures, no literature, no anything. No talk about metastasizing lesions or survival rates by stage.

None of us saw this coming because we were told they “got it all.” Had my father been given some basic information about melanoma instead of just a pat on the back and shown the door, maybe, JUST MAYBE, he’d be sitting next to me right now helping me blog something different, like good treatment options, diet, sun protection, CBDs, etc. But no advice was given. He was just sent on his way.

Through the course of his short illness, there were roadblocks left and right in treatment and in the way insurance handled billing. He was even denied cough syrup! Ironically, once he was on hospice, the cough syrup was covered. Nothing made sense.

I have a lot of questions, lots of thoughts going through my mind but trying to remain objective is difficult because Dad is in Heaven now. Though I know that he is no longer in pain, and in a much better place, Mom and I are still missing him greatly. I can’t help but think that the gaping hole in our lives left by my father’s death could’ve been avoided if only ONE of his physicians had taken him seriously and looked at his chest last April.

My advice to anyone diagnosed with this heinous form of cancer is to make your doctors listen to you. Don’t let them sweep your symptoms under a rug or offer antiquated diagnoses like “the hundred day cough.” Make them do their job.

St. Patrick’s Day Two-Book Giveaway

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I love the Luck o’ the Irish!

Enter now until March 17th (Hey! That’s St. Patrick’s Day!) for a chance to win one of two signed copies of Jason’s Princess and Jarod’s Heart!

Hold on a minute… That’s TWO giveaways in one month!

Click here for your chance to enter and WIN one of two signed copies of Jason’s Princess, the first in the King Brothers Trilogy…

and…

Click here for your chance to enter and WIN one of two signed copies of Jarod’s Heart: A King Brothers Novel, the second book in the trilogy.

Why am I doing this? Because I can. Good luck to everyone!

~Elise

 

Designing a #ContemporaryRomance Website for Author @EliseManion

I’d been struggling with creating the perfect website for over three years before I admitted to myself that it was too much for me to do alone. Once again, Blue Harvest Creative has come through and designed this fabulous website. Elegant and simply efficient, visitors can find whatever they are looking for with a simple click. Many thanks to the creative team at BHC! As always, you’ve rocked my world again!

Blue Harvest Creative

Our latest website design is for Elise Manion, contemporary romance author of the King Brothers novels.

Introducing: elisemanion.com

Author Elise Manion Website

We created a sleek and beautiful design, which also works across all technology platforms (desktop), tablet, and phone (mobile). A few of our favorite touches: Elise’s signature on her home page and color coordinating the text and banner designs to her latest release (love that green!).

Author Elise Manion Website DesignIt’s All About the Books: We created oversized images of Elise’s current titles. Each graphic opens to a page all about the book, including reviews and purchase links.

Elise Manion Website Jason's Princess

In-depth details: After clicking on a title, a new page opens showcasing all the book’s information. Featured is Elise’s latest release Jason’s Princess.

Get to know more about Elise Manion and her books by visiting her website at: elisemanion.com

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Snow Day

img_3087-1  Yep, it’s a snow day but technically I don’t have to be back to work until Monday! Wasted, right? Not at all.

Normal romantics would wax poetic about the wonderland that has been presented to us, or the fun to be had on the slopes. Uh no, that’s not me. I can’t think of anything worse than stuffing myself into a snow suit, driving up a hazardous mountain road, climbing onto a ski lift that whisks me up to a frigid mountaintop to discover that the only way back to safety is to hurl myself down a steep slope on two sticks strapped to my feet at a hundred miles an hour while praying that I don’t slam into an unsuspecting tree. Whew!

My natural response to this kind of weather is to scoff at the hideousness of snow, proclaiming my allergy to it and cursing the horrible roads, the ice, and worrying that My Man will be driving in the mess with other drivers who either aren’t careful or are drunk from hanging out at the ski lodge all day.

Snow is messy, cold and dangerous. No sir, snowy days are best observed from the comfort of a warm home, or a writer’s lair. Perhaps even from a luxury cruise liner off the Coast of Alaska. (Hmm, I’ll have to think about that one.)

However, when you’ve got no where to be but in your own head, there’s nothing better than a snow day.

I love the coziness of a fireplace while watching the fluffy stuff drift gently to the ground. I’ve got my mug of warm liquid goodness next to me. Franklin (my Weenie Dog) is happily snoozing on the new doggie bed I purchased on sale from Amazon for my office. The space heater is adding that extra warmth, and the quiet of the snow outside is allowing the voices in my head to be heard inside, loud and clear.

Plus, there’s the added bonus of our wonderful neighbors and their snowblower (Bob doesn’t mind his snow suit and he loves that snowblower!) doing all the snow removal for me and the rest of our sweet cul-de-sac. *winks* Honestly, My Man and I have the world’s best neighbors. Every time we contemplate a For Sale sign we look at each other and ask, “If we go, how can we take them with us?” But that’s a topic for another post. LOL

Run Over By The Cancer Truck

My dad was diagnosed with cancer a week before Thanksgiving. To say that we were hit by a truck would be putting it mildly. My father is only sixty-eight, far too young to receive such devastating news. I’ll be blogging more about this as his treatment progresses because there have been some snags—for lack of a better description—that involve Medicare, scheduling, and the general attitude among the medical field that I want to discuss in finer detail.

Today my question is this: Do you think that your doctor should have the final say in your treatment or should your insurance <insert company name here>?

My dad has metastatic melanoma in his lungs and liver. Melanoma is not treated with radiation or chemotherapy anymore. Today it’s treated with either immunotherapy, which helps the body fight it on its own, or if the melanoma has a mutated gene (BRAF) it can be treated with a new medicine that targets the specific mutated cancer. If my father is found to have this mutation, his oncologist believes that the treatment for it works faster than immunotherapy. The plan was for the oncologist to order more pathology on the biopsies taken from his liver to determine whether or not the mutation was there. Once the report was back from the pathologist, the oncologist would meet with my dad and a protocol for treatment was to begin. His appointment was planned for yesterday.

Keep in mind that through this whole process, a weekend or holiday would interfere with scheduling. So even though the oncologist would say we needed a test or scan done ASAP, we were still waiting a week in between these “ASAP” tests and appointments. Frustrating doesn’t begin to cover it.

After some confusion and delays, my parents finally met with the oncologist yesterday for the results. Here’s where the question above comes into play. The pathology report was sent directly to MEDICARE, not to my father’s oncologist, so the doctor has no idea whether or not my dad’s melanoma carries any kind of mutation. It will take Medicare (read GOVERNMENT) two weeks to process this information and get back to the doctor on whether or not THEY will APPROVE his treatment for the mutated melanoma, if he indeed has it. Let me say it again; the TREATING PHYSICIAN does not have access to the pathology report until after Medicare has read and processed it.

Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong? Granted, there’s only a fifty-fifty shot that my dad has this mutation. Thank goodness that his oncologist will begin immunotherapy treatments—once every three weeks—beginning next week (eh hum, this will be discussed in another blog), as a proactive measure for now. If the report finally comes back saying he has the mutation, he will finish out the immunotherapy and then begin the new treatment.

Again, am I crazy to think that that report should’ve been handed to the DOCTOR first and then submitted for insurance and not the other way around?

Hiatus

Have you heard the phrase, “Life JUST got in the way?” Well, that’s putting the past few months lightly. Writing has been as elusive to me as a giant squid is to a camera. Here’s the gist:

My Man turned the big Five-Oh back in May and for his birthday we decided to take a family vacation to Grand Cayman Island the first week in October. But, in late summer my son announced that he was moving out…two states away…in October, a week after we returned from the Caribbean and a week prior to attending our annual Aftershock Rock Festival in Sacramento. Sure, we could’ve sold our tickets but Avenged Sevenfold was headlining! Wasn’t giving that up for all the tea in China.

If you follow me on Snapchat (JacksWriterMom – EliseManionSnappin📱) or Instagram (@elisemanion) you got to see how October played out for us. Though we were busy and had a lot of fun, writing was nearly impossible.

We were both heartbroken and hopeful for our only child’s move. He was taking a big leap into adulthood. He quit his two jobs and made a plan. He’s now enjoying his new career in the culinary arts (okay, that sounds a bit pretentious. He’s cooking for a popular dining chain. He’s recommended that we stick to either eggs or burgers. Ha!)  while establishing residency so that he can attend school in Colorado. He’s doing well and we couldn’t be prouder. He surprises me at every turn. We were hoping to get him home for Thanksgiving but we were forced to settle for three days of FaceTime instead. Unfortunately, it looks like Christmas is going to go the same way.

A week before Thanksgiving my dad got sick. My parents live in a small town three hours away. They have been staying with us while he seeks treatment, escaping to their home on the weekends. While the news was devastating, my family remains hopeful that treatment will begin soon so that my father can feel better.

And finally, the resident rock star that we’d adopted two summers ago as a stray 17-year-0ld homeless kid finally moved out of my office and into his own two-bedroom apartment. He’s now nineteen, working a day job, singing on the weekends and his band even scored a rock festival in LA last summer. While we hugged and said our goodbyes I realized that a whole new chapter was beginning in my life; middle age. This is the time when everything changes at once.

Thus, the unexpected hiatus. Even though I tried to write while all of the above was happening, the words either wouldn’t come or there just wasn’t the time or space to do it. Poor Josh and Missy remain temporarily suspended in their burgeoning romance (Josh’s Challenge) and the paranormal story I’d been outlining still remains drifting about in my head. I do see a light at the end of the tunnel, though. It’s called 2017! Just being here with you right now is a step in the right direction.

~Elise

Book Review for Jarod’s Heart: A King Brother’s Novel – Review by Michelle Randall, Readers Favorite

Completed on:
10/18/2016
Review Rating:
4 stars.
Reviewed By Michelle Randall for Readers’ Favorite

Jarod King, the oldest of the trio of King brothers, may have his dream job as sheriff, but his personal life is anything but a dream. He married his high school sweetheart, thinking she was his true love, only to have her desert him for a life of drugs. His younger brother Josh’s best friend Lauren is his administrative assistant and she has no problem giving him grief when she needs to, but Jarod has no idea that Lauren has been in love with him since the day she first saw him when she was just a freshman in high school. Now that Jarod’s ex is dead, a long held secret has been dumped in his lap in the form of a daughter, and there is something funny going on with the drug dealings in town. Jarod’s Heart picks up where Jason’s Princess ended and focuses more on Jarod and Lauren. Author Elise Manion has blended a broken heart, a love for family, and an insecure beauty together to weave an amazing story.

Jarod’s Heart, being the second book in the series, starts where book one left off, so we still have some of Jason and Julie’s continuing story in this book, however, the focus is on Jarod and Lauren. We learn more of the history of everyone in this book, and the scars that run deep for both Jarod and Lauren. The one thing that just might heal them all is Jessica, the daughter Jarod never knew he had. Author Elise Manion again weaves the tough strong cop and his battle ready brothers into a story of romance and family values that will have you crying to the end! This is another amazing story about the King family. I am dying for the third story to come out!!

Review of Jason’s Princess: A King Brothers Novel – Review by Michelle Randall, Readers Favorite

Completed on:
10/18/2016
Review Rating:
4 stars.
Reviewed By Michelle Randall for Readers’ Favorite

Looking for her Prince Charming has not been at the top of Julie’s to-do list. She is more worried about raising her teenage brother and providing a safe and comfortable home for him since their parents died. Her best friend, Josh, and his band of brothers, Jason and Jarod, have been there every step of the way, whether Julie liked it or not, but she has to admit that they have been exactly what her brother needed. What Julie has failed to see is that Jason has been in love with her since he first laid eyes on her when she was just a freshman in high school. Jason’s Princess is Julie and Jason’s story, and what happens when an old enemy comes back into town, determined to settle what he feels are old scores meant to harm Jason and Julie. Author Elise Manion builds a wonderfully complex story full of emotion and drama. Everything is contemporary and yet it will restore your faith in family values.

Jason’s Princess is the first book in what is set to be the King Brothers series. Although it is Jason and Julie’s story, you get to meet the whole family and start learning the history between Jarod and Lauren, and the amazing friendship between Julie, Lauren and Josh, as well as the bonds of brotherhood between the King boys. Author Elise Manion may build the King boys up to be tough, battle ready men, but there is a strong family bond, and parents that instilled in them the value of family and protecting those smaller and weaker, never being the bully, and looking out for others. This is an amazing story that had me laughing and crying the whole way through! It’s classified as young adult, but the main characters are 25 and up, so it’s really a great book for any reader.jasons_princess_e_manion_release_ad

Book Review – All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris

MY REVIEW OF All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris ❤️❤️❤️❤️💔

(This review may contain spoilers)

Official Book Blurb:
Aurora Teagarden is basking in the news of her pregnancy when disaster strikes her small Georgia town: four kids vanish from the school soccer field in an afternoon. Aurora’s 15-year-old brother Phillip is one of them. Also gone are two of his friends, and an 11-year-old girl who was just hoping to get a ride home from soccer practice. And then there’s an even worse discovery―at the kids’ last known destination, a dead body.

While the local police and sheriff’s department comb the county for the missing kids and interview everyone even remotely involved, Aurora and her new husband, true crime writer Robin Crusoe, begin their own investigation. Could the death and kidnappings have anything to do with a group of bullies at the middle school? Is Phillip’s disappearance related to Aurora’s father’s gambling debts? Or is Phillip himself, new to town and an unknown quantity, responsible for taking the other children? But regardless of the reason, as the days go by, the most important questions remain. Are the kids still alive? Who could be concealing them? Where could they be?

With Christmas approaching, Aurora is determined to find her brother…if he’s still alive.

I was delighted to learn that Ms. Harris was releasing another Aurora Teagarden mystery and she did not disappoint.

All the Little Liars begins where we left Aurora at the end of Poppy Done to Death; newly discovered pregnant, newly engaged to Robin (they have quickly married before confirming the pregnancy with a doctor and telling their family and friends their happy news), and newly taking guardianship of her half-brother, Phillip.

Ms. Harris expertly directs the reader to look at every angle of the mystery before the final reveal, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. Emotionally, we are swept up in Aurora’s joy, confusion and fears. To add insult to injury, Phil and Betty Jo Teagarden show up on her doorstep to cause even more angst, and forces Robin to show us his angry side. Gotta love a man who defends his woman.

This read is clean, i.e. no gratuitous foul language, sex, or violence. In other words, it is perfectly safe to recommend to my mother.

My only complaint with All the Little Liars is its abrupt ending, and unanswered resolution regarding Phillip’s future living arrangements with Aurora and Robin. The assumption is that he will stay and, my hope, is that we will find the answer in a future book. *crossing my fingers*

My final score for All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris is 4 ½ hearts. Ms. Harris, I eagerly await your next book!

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