Seven Months Post-Diagnosis … And I’m Still Here

Lea, With Her Own Hair And Happy 2019! Last summer I never thought I’d be saying or writing those words. In case anyone missed the excitement of my health issues, in mid-June of 2018 I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, metastasized. I wrote about it in a blog here . 

I didn’t include that my oncologist had told me I only had four to six weeks to live. But a month later I wrote about what it meant to know you had a short time to live. I’d updated my will and related legal documents after my husband, Bob, had died in April, so all that was in order. I signed a DNR and posted it on my refrigerator – what one does in Maine, and maybe other places.

In late July and early August my daughters all came to see me “to say good-bye.” Most of them choose silver, jewelry, paintings, etc., to “remember me by” and shipped them out. I donated books and reference materials to a museum in Maine, and to several libraries that had supported me over the years. A local used book store bought my collection of mystery books. Bob’s art supplies went to some family members and two Maine community art programs. I tossed out a lot of files, and, most important to me, I self-published two historical novels for young people that my current agent wasn’t interested in selling, and my previous publishers of books for young people didn’t want.

My daughter Liz, who’d been engaged for 16 years, even got married. I remember telling her to move her wedding date a week up, in case I didn’t make it longer. She was married August 9 in the front yard of my home in Maine.


My 4 daughters right after Liz’ wedding. From l-r, Caroline, Ali, Liz, and Becky.

It was a lovely and special day, and a tiny wedding. The wedding gown I’d bought for her 15 years ago still fit, and the groom ordered a tux from E-Bay — and it all worked. (I wrote a blog about it, of course!)

My next hope was that I’d see my two books — CONTRARY WINDS and FOR FREEDOM ALONE — in published form. I did. I bought a wig to wear to appearances, and even made a full-day school visit in September.

When I was still alive in October, my oncologist ordered more scans and — amazing! No; I wasn’t cured. But the cancerous lesions were gone from my liver, where they’d threatened an infection that would kill me quickly, and some pancreatic lesions were also gone. Clearly the doc hadn’t expected that to happen.

Liz was still with me. She got a job in a Maine supermarket and drove me to chemo appointments, did our laundry, and drove me crazy asking me how I was feeling and had It taken my pills? (Although that was all appreciated.) I made a few library appearances, and Skype visits. And in November, with transportation provided by fellow Maine Crime Writers Dick Cass and Bruce Coffin, I went to Crime Bake in Massachusetts and moderated a panel. My agent asked me which book I was going to finish next. (I have two under contract.) We decided on the next Mainely Needlepoint book — the ninth in the series.

Two of my other daughters decided to join me for Christmas “the way we celebrated when we were growing up.”  That meant I spent December using the strength I had to bake cookies and pies and muffins, and then had a party Christmas Eve and food Christmas Day. I didn’t get much writing done in December. But we had Christmas in Maine.

By New Year’s all of my daughter had returned to their homes. The editor of the Mainely Needlepoint series called to say the manuscript I was working on (THREAD AND BURIED) was scheduled for publication in October of 2019, the cover was done, and all other books scheduled to be published that day were in production. Could he have the manuscript by February 1? Optimistically, I took a deep breath and told him I’d try.

It took several days to take down Christmas decorations (a neighbor and his daughter took the tree out) and then I got to work. I wrote about 70 pages before I started to have pains — not pains connected to my pancreas or liver, though. I figured “no big deal,” although I was exhausted, couldn’t write more than a page or so, and started taking pain meds. After a few days of serious pain, I called my doctor, went in to see him, and was told I had a kidney infection. Messed up immune systems are part of this whole chemo deal.  So I went on heavy antibiotics, and rested more. (Couldn’t do much else.)  I lost almost 2 weeks of writing.

January 16, almost exactly seven moths after I’d been diagnosed, and having been off chemo for 6 weeks, I went back for more scans — and the results were the same as October. In other words — good. I was still dying, but the process was much slower than originally thought. I started chemo again. I also started acupuncture, to help with the neuropathy that was challenging my walking and typing.

So — I’m still here! My editor will not have my full manuscript February 1; he’s extended my deadline to March 1, or ASAP, and moved my publication date out. Frankly, he doesn’t have much choice. I’ve also started the process to self-publish my one remaining “finished but never published” manuscript: an adult mystery set in 1865 New York State, JUSTICE & MERCY. I hope it’ll be available in March. And my next Needlepoint mystery, THREAD ON ARRVAL, will ship April 30. It’s all set, and may be pre-ordered.

So, now you know all that’s been happening. And, the bottom line is still clear.

I’m still here. And, slowly but surely,  I’m writing on.




About Lea Wait

I write mysteries - the Mainely Needlepoint, Shadows Antique Print and, coming in June of 2018, the Maine Murder mysteries (under the name Cornelia Kidd.) When I was single I was an adoption advocate and adopted my four daughters. Now my mysteries and novels for young people are about people searching for love, acceptance, and a place to call home. My website is To be on my mailing list, send me a note at
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57 Responses to Seven Months Post-Diagnosis … And I’m Still Here

  1. Cheryl Worcester says:

    Lea, We’re all so blessed that you are still here and continuing to share your wonderful writing with us all. May the miracles continue!

  2. Dee White says:

    Lea, thank you for the update. I’m so glad you’re still here. Your grace and your dignity are inspirational. I continue to hold you up in prayer.

  3. Reine says:

    Dear Lea,
    Thank you for being so forthright. I love your spirit, and I’m cheering you on towards a peaceful finish line. I’m pleased that you are working and living your life as you find it suits your goals and fits your ability. I’m about to read Contrary Winds a favorite topic in many settings.

  4. Ann says:

    Such good news.

  5. Tari Hann says:

    This is great news compared to what could have been! You are just amazing and nothing short of a miracle has happened! Gentle cyber hugs to you!

  6. noraadrienne says:

    You are a WARRIOR ! My wife and eldest daughter are members of that club and we’re thankful every day that we have them with us. I look forward to you being with us longer also.

  7. Dru says:

    I’m just so happy that you are still here. I love that you are taking on the world, the way you want. All the best and I love the good news.

  8. diane schyberg says:

    thank you so much for sharing all this information. it means somuch to me. sending love and good wishes.

  9. Richard Cass says:

    Lea–Awful glad you’re hanging in with us. Your energy astounds . . . Cheers . .

  10. Joni Langevoort says:

    Your words and your life are a gift to us. Sending hugs from your Malice family!

  11. Vida A-J says:

    Lea, you continue to inspire, every word, every blog, every book, every appearance! Thank you!

  12. Clea Simon says:

    You are inspirational. Lots more, but that’s really it. Under the guise of showing us how to die, you’re showing us how to live. I hope you get all of your projects finished – and maybe start some more.

  13. Lois Bartholomew says:

    What a blessing that you have been able to see so many miracles these past months. You are an inspiration.

  14. judyalter says:

    You are a testament to grace and strength. You haven’t just survived, you’ve obviously done it with some quality of life.

  15. Kate Sullivan says:

    Lea, you are remarkable, and an inspiration to us all — about life, imminent death, fortitude, motivation, and grace. — Just one criticism: call your doctor BEFORE you have “several” days of serious pain!! — Namaste. Kate

  16. Sending ongoing love and light to you, Lea!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know what else to say except that you are one very special person. Am thinking of you. Patrizia

  18. Patrizia says:

    A lesson in love. You are a very special person. May you continue to defy the odds

  19. Maureen Conaty says:

    To read this matter of fact synopsis of your life since you were diagnosed is truly a story of courage and true grit. Wow, I am so impressed! You will inspire anyone who becomes aware of this saga. Talk about the sheer power of self- determination, you are the definition. Pat yourself on the back! With my best wishes … Hope the days of reduced pain continue and you continue to be able to write as this is your pursuit of happiness.

  20. Tina says:

    Dear Lea,
    You are truly inspirational. A sermon in shoes! Thank you for sharing your journey, a model of mindful living, and dying, for all of us……

  21. Barb Goffman says:

    Good for you, Lea. You’re an inspiration.

  22. Vickie Williams says:

    You have definitely had a few miracles arrive and I see more coming for you. I cannot wait to read your new book and my continued prayers are sent.

  23. God bless you, Lea. You’re sharing this journey means so much to all of us. It means the world to me as I lost my mother and grandmother (her mother) to pancreatic cancer. They were both diagnosed too late for any sort of medical treatment. You continue to be a source of inspiration (though you may be getting tired of hearing that) to us all.

  24. Sandy in St Louis says:

    You’re still here and I’m so glad.

  25. Leslie Budewitz says:

    Amazing, Lea, amazing. Thanks for sharing the story. And I’m glad to hear the acupuncture is helping with pain and other things.

  26. kaitcarson says:

    You are an inspiration! Keep fighting the good fight.

  27. Hugs to you, Lea. May the writing help keep you going. So happy to know you were able to enjoy the wedding and Christmas in Maine.

  28. Lea, this is wonderful news! Here’s hoping it’s long and lasting….

  29. Shirley Garvin says:

    There’s not much more I can say except,God bless you ,Lea and may God give to you much more time here in this world .Thank you for sharing with us your trials and triumphs.

  30. Tina Swift says:

    I am so happy for you and your family! Yes, you are an inspiration — but first of all, as a Mama who adopted four beautiful babies! Keep on truckin’!

  31. So very wonderful! Rooting for you in Winthrop!!!!!

  32. Barbara Ross says:

    You are a model for us all.

  33. Debbie Little says:

    You are an inspiration! In 2017 I wrote to you about my mother in law. She grew up in Maine and was a big fan of your books. She had COPD and passed away last January, she was 95. With your busy schedule you sent her an email which made her day. She loved your books. Thank you for being so awesome 🤗
    Best wishes to you…

  34. Lea, this has made my day–heck, it’s made my year…

  35. Mo Heedles says:

    Wonderful news. You are amazing.

  36. Brenda Buchanan says:

    You are such a hero, my friend. Your positive yet pragmatic attitude is astounding, and I am so, so happy (and not at all surprised) that you are still writing every day, as energy allows.

  37. Susan Van Kirk says:

    Lea, What an amazing post. I am so in awe of all that you have done. I’m also in awe of what your kids have done..You have raised them well. Ever since I heard about your diagnosis, you’ve been in my prayers. What a courageous woman you are! I hope you will continue to improve, the pain will go away, and you’ll continue to write. I don’t think that is too much to hope for!

  38. Thank you for sharing this update. Your time is precious, and that you chose to spend some of it speaking to your readers and friends shows a generous spirit.

  39. Sharon Ward says:

    I’m so happy you’re still here. With any luck, you’ll be here for a good long time. I hope so!

  40. Judi Maxwell says:

    I’m glad to hear you are better and not about to meet your ancestors. I know I must have read about this and somehow lost sight. Blessed Be.

  41. Rita Moreau says:

    Stay here. Don’t go away.

  42. Jane says:

    Glad to here you are still here! I know I have said it before but I will say it again “ I love your books!” But saying that, take all the joy you can find, if you don’t feel like writing, don’t, take time to rest, and enjoy nature, only do things you really want to do! All your readers would want that for you! You have given all of us so much joy! Now is time for you!

  43. Kitty says:

    I am so glad to read this post and know that you are still hanging in there. As such as I enjoy your writing (and I really do), it is nice to know that with your doctor’s help and your daughters, you are enjoying things that you didn’t think you would, like Christmas. My thoughts will be with you.

  44. KImberley says:

    Thank you for this update. May you continue to draw strength from the love of your family and fans. Blessings to you!

  45. Mary Harris says:

    Fight on, Sister Warrior.

  46. Vinnie Hansen says:

    I’m glad you’re still here, Lea. I’d like to spank that doctor who gave you a window of time to live. In Love, Medicine and Miracles, Dr. Bernie Siegel says that those kinds of pronouncements by physicians can become self-fulfilling prophecies. People believe what they’re told by authority figures. I’m so glad that this didn’t prove the case for you.

  47. You got this thing, Lea, and you’re clearly tuned into a survival energy you need. We are all blessed to have you!

  48. Alexandra Hoch says:

    Dear E/Lea, Thank you for sharing this amazing good news. I rejoice with you and all your family and friends, and keep sending you my very best wishes. Writing, publishing, and staying in touch are obviously a strong elixir for your continuing good news. May you find every strength and blessing in your life. ♡

  49. Linn says:

    Dear Lea; I was dx’d with terminal cancer in December of 1995. Stage IV malignant melanoma that had metastasized. The surgeon told my husband to let me do whatever I wanted to do, because I was going to die. Eighteen surgeries, extreme chemo, and a clinical trial later, I was proclaimed cancer free in December of 1999. So, I, too, am still here. Best of luck, hold onto hope, enjoy the good days, rest on the bad. Sending you good vibrations.

  50. abbyvandiver says:

    I send love and blessings, hugs and prayers. Your courage is amazing. Here’s to many, many more seven more months . . .

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