My Crazy Health Update

So — last year about this time I posted that I’d just been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Not a fun thing to happen. Especially when my oncologist added that I had 4-6 weeks to live.

Having just survived the death of my husband, though, and being a list maker, I went to work.

All death-related documents (will, medical and financial powers of attorney, etc) updated. I wouldn’t have time to do everything, but I donated all of books and research materials on needlepoint to the Saco Museum, which specializes in needlepoint and samplers of girls in northern New England. I invited the librarian for my local school to visit and take any of the children’s books in my local library that they could use. Same with Wiscasset Public Library, who also were happy to take my librarian’s cart.

I set aside and marked (or gave, when they came to visit) jewelry and silver and etc. for my children and grandchildren. I called my agent to say the two mysteries I had under contract probably wouldn’t be written. My publishers were understanding. I published two historical novels that had been completed but were sitting in my computer. (CONTRARY WINDS, set in 1777, and FOR FREDOM ALONE, set in 1848 Edinburgh, Scotland.)

All four of my daughters visited — some for the first in years – to “hold my hand while I died.” One of daughters who’d postponed her wedding fifteen years announced she was getting married at the end of August. I suggested she move the date up to make sure I could be there. She did — and I was.

Liz in Her Wedding Dress

I’d lost all my hair after 2 chemo treatments, and was feeling weak, but otherwise was fine. Waiting for the severe pain I’d been told would come any day. My readers, many of whom I didn’t know personally, sent prayer shawls and cards and angels, and many prayers and thoughts.

And — I stayed alive.

In October I decided I needed to start doing things other than reading and watching British movies. (Much as I’d enjoyed doing both.) By now my children, all but Liz, who’d found a temporary job in Maine, had left. They had children and jobs to tend to. I started writing again.

November? I attended Crime Bake in Massachusetts, with the help of my fellow Maine Crime Writers Dick Cass and Bruce Coffin, who drove me back and forth.

December? Three of my daughters announced they were coming for Christmas — which they instructed should be “like the old days.” No writing. Instead, used energy I had to bake cookies and bread, decorated the house with the help of my daughter-in-residence, continued chemo and etc. Rested when I could. Was happy to see everyone for the holidays and meet a son-in-law I’d never met. January 1? Everyone left, even daughter-in-residence. I packed up Christmas decorations, rested, and ended up with a 2-week kidney infection that kept me close to my bed between chemo treatments. I warned agent and editor that the book I was working on wouldn’t be finished February 1.

March: finished new book (THREAD AND BURIED), did promo for THREAD ON ARRIVAL, which would be published May 1, and published JUSTICE AND MERCY, my first historical mystery. Also had tests that showed my chemo was no longer working. Began another chemo regimen.

April: Side effects from new chemo were not pleasant. Among others – neuropathy worse. I twisted my ankle and – fun! – broke it. My first broken bone. Stubborn, I insisted on going to Malice Domestic in Maryland, one week post-break, complete with heavy cast-boot. Thank goodness for friends who drove me to and from the airport!

May: Side effects worse. Mouth sores were so bad I couldn’t eat or talk. Somehow I managed to get to Maine Crime Wave on June 1 and spoke on two panels. (Skipped lunch.)

June: Since DEATH AND A POT OF CHOWDER was a finalist for the 2019 Maine Literary Awards along with books by friends Bruce Coffin and Barbara Ross (whose husband drove me) I attended the awards ceremony! (Congrats, Barbara!)

Testing showed the new chemo was not working. My condition was deteriorating. Did I want to stop all chemo and consider hospice?  I took a couple of weeks to consider. Then, June 23 — surprise! I had a heart attack. That could be a whole blog, but it won’t be. Bottom line: after a catherization my heart was found to be fine. The anti-coagulants had worked. A good sign?

So earlier this week (July!) I decided to try one more – final – type of chemo. At least this one would have different side effects. And I’d just been moved to a lighter ankle cast. And survived a totally unexpected heart attack. Why not try?

This week I’m proofing THREAD AND BURIED, the book I wrote last winter. Next week, July 11, I’ll be speaking at a local bookstore. July 27 I’ll be at Books in Boothbay. Writing? I’ve been offered another contract, and have other ideas. Will see how I feel.

In the meantime, I’ve survived a year when given 4-6 weeks. Seems I’m ahead of the game …. and summers in Maine are special.

Now — off to my porch to enjoy the warm weather and proof a manuscript … And thank you to everyone who’s been cheering me 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
This entry was posted in Lea's Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

79 Responses to My Crazy Health Update

  1. Dee White says:

    Prayers work, and you’ve been in the prayers of many fans for a year. Praying that they continue to work, and that you remain able to do what you love best, without much discomfort. Enjoy your Maine summer.

  2. Barb Goffman says:

    Wow, Lea. Just wow. You have so much courage. I hope you continue to surpass expectations and a year from now you’re writing another update for us and publishing even more books. Hugs.

  3. Shirley says:

    Lea you are truely a testimonial of what prayer can do. There is power in prayer and you have so many people praying for you. Only God knows when our time here on earth is done and it seems like he isn’t quite ready for you to go home yet. I pray for your continuing healing and for God to give you strength to endure all things. You are an inspiration to all to never give up.

  4. Lin Casteel-Butler says:

    Hang in there fellow cancer survivor . Surprise everyone 💙💚✌

  5. Continue kicking butt! … and enjoying your friends and fans who all support you.

  6. Annette says:

    Lea, you are an inspiration. Your courage and bravery are undeniable. Keep up the good work, good spirits and good luck to you.

  7. ejrunyon says:

    Astonishing. It was meant to be.

  8. Crystal Lyn Toller says:

    Lea: Sorry to hear of the chemo not working, broken ankle and heart attack. Hoping and will be praying the new chemo works. I just finished the first in the antique print mystery series which I got from the library. Have a couple of hours on my the pilot need to get to. Will be thinking of you.

  9. crys101497 says:

    Should be a couple on my tbr pile to get to. He be about Charleston Hurricane of 1804 and Pizza To Die For.

  10. You are amazing to keep going in the face of so many problems. Your story is an inspiration.

  11. annettedashofy says:

    You are an inspiration to all of us, Lea.

  12. Wow, Lea, you are an inspiration. Sending love and hugs and positive thoughts. xoxo

  13. Anonymous says:

    Lea, we met at Maine Crime Wave when we were sitting next to each other for a moment. You shared what you were going through and immediately had my admiration and my respect. You also have my thoughts and prayers. I am grateful I had the opportunity to meet you. Ed Hunt

  14. Michele Dorsey says:

    It’s not just the courage you have to face and endure all of these challenges, it’s the courage and generosity you have to share your story. You a a true writer, Lea.

  15. Judi Stoy says:

    What a journey you have been on! And what grace you have shown. So many are praying for you. Hope to see you next week in Bath. Stay strong. 💖

  16. Cheryl says:

    You are a champion, Lea…can’t wait to see you at Books in Boothbay!

  17. Anne says:

    Gracious and stubborn…awesome combination.💓

  18. Darcy Scott says:

    Lea, you are the epitome of strength and grace. We are all praying for you!

  19. Andrea says:

    I am so sorry that you have to deal with all of this but what is really amazing to me is how resilient you are. You are beating all odds and with humor. Perhaps the biggest mystery is your health and you write so beautifully about it, like it has a life of its own. I wish you a wonderful Maine summer and don’t let those pesky health issues keep you down ! Live life to its fullest and keep writing.

  20. Ellen Booraem says:

    You are beyond amazing, Lea. Love that you kept producing through all this. You’d better get some of those needlepoint books back–seems like you’re going to need them.

  21. Lynn says:

    You are truly a miracle and I am thrilled for you. What a year! The broken ankle or heart attack alone would have slowed people, but you just kept on going. Will keep you in my prayers and thoughts!

  22. ConnieBerry says:

    Replies to your blog may break Facebook. Lea, for me, the big thing isn’t the fact that you’ve beaten all the odds, as wonderful as that is. The big thing is the practical, gracious, courageous way you’ve done it. You are a real hero. Your friends who pray are still praying (me included), and all who know you wish you nothing but the best. And many more good years.

  23. Sandra lynch says:

    You are an inspiration to all of us. Thank you for sharing your year with us. I have really enjoyed all of your books and have purchased a few of the older ones in hardcover. A couple signed.
    You story has given me the inspiration to get my own “house in order”. At 81, in fairly good health, but who knows what tomorrow has in store for us. Prayers that the new chemo will help make you better.

  24. Louise says:

    Lea. Sending my prayers. You are truly my Profile in Courage. Louise

  25. Kate Sullivan says:

    You are such an inspiration!! I am truly in awe of your positivity, strength, and perserverance. Blessings to you in your journey!

  26. Lydia Kitfield says:

    O M G I had no idea you were going through all this! I fell on the float last summer, lost my phone in the river and lost my Facebook friends ! I started a new account because I am not tec savy enough to find
    My old one. This is the first time I have heard of your endless challenges. You have my admiration and my prayers❤️ Lydia Kitfield

  27. Laurayne Presby says:

    Lea, you are one amazing woman. When we were children I looked up to you. Now that we’re in our later years you still have my adoration. When life throws you lemons you make lemonade. You have a fighters spirit that has brought you far and continues to sustain you. This life is not done with you and you certainly are not done with life. I wish you all the best and hope that this new chemo does it’s job. As always you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  28. Tina Tucker says:

    All I can say is, you’re one tough broad!
    An inspiration…a sermon in shoes…the embodiment of courage, faith and determination. And wonderfully blessed with loving and supportive family and friends.Thank you for sharing your very personal journey with us. ‘Praying for your comfort and peace as you continue on……..

  29. Liz Milliron says:

    Wow, Lea. Just…wow. Sending many prayers and positive thoughts. I’m sure your attitude has a lot to do with how you’ve survived thus far.

  30. Mary Wilson says:

    Lea, thank you for sharing your story. Your courage is an example to us all. Just hope when my bad time comes, I can remember to imitate it.

  31. Marilyn Meredith says:

    What a hero! I believe in miracles–prayer works. I’m praying for your complete healing right now, In Jesus name. I will keep praying.

  32. judyalter says:

    Joining the chorus of admiration for your spirit and determination. You’re living proof that even in dire circumstances, life is what we make of it. God’s blessings to you on this journey.

  33. Barbara Ross says:

    You are my inspiration before. You have been before when I took off down this crazy writing path, and then when I moved to Maine, and you are now.

  34. Edith Maxwell says:

    Oh my goodness, Lea – I hadn’t heard about the heart attack! You are the poster woman for perseverance. Hugs (well, cyber hugs, so I don’t pass along infection) and continued wellness to you.

  35. Harriette I. Sackler says:

    Lea, you are truly an amazing woman. So wonderful to see you at Malice. And, you’ve got so many friends in your corner.

  36. Clea SImon says:

    You, dear person, are more productive sick/suffering from side effects than most people in full health! May the third kind of chemo work wonders. Please know there are so many of us pulling for you to have as long as you wish – and even more love.

  37. Tonys says:

    You have been through the mill. Dru Ann posted your story and I’m sure she meant for people who read your books to read, but I had a friend who defied the odds and lived 3 years before she succumbed. Her spirit was like yours- indomitable and she had lots of prayers to. I wish no more side things to get you distracted. And I think I’ll look up your books to read.

  38. susanoleksiw says:

    OMG, Lea, you are a wonder and an inspiration to us all! I’m so glad you’re getting on with your life, living every minute. just WOW!

  39. What an inspiring journey, Lea. Maybe that was what this year was for? To show us all how to live with a devastating diagnosis. Carpe diem and all that. What strength and courage. Good health and good days to you.

  40. Leslie Budewitz says:

    Lea, though we don’t know each other well, I too am following your journey with admiration and awe. I’m sure some days you don’t feel courageous, but courage simply means “with heart,” and heart attack or no, you are clearly living your days “with heart.”

  41. Lois Bartholomew says:

    What an inspiring post. How wonderful that this past year has been so full of the good things of life. Best to you, Lea in your continuing journey.

  42. Mary Ann Corrigan says:

    Your fortitude is awe-inspiring. May you continue to beat the odds. Blessings on you and your family.

  43. noraadrienne says:

    Man predicts (doctors) GOD laughs. He’s laughing his ass of at your doctor’s prediction. The entity upstairs just isn’t ready for you yet. Keep on Truckin’!

  44. Mary Anne Sullivan says:

    Nothing much to say but I wish this battle hadn’t come to you yet I admire your spunk. I like the approach that when a doctor tells you that your time is up, you get busy with what “needs to be done.” It also breaks my heart that the chemo brings so many complications plus the broken bone and heart attack. You’re in my daily prayers and I keep hoping for a miracle.

  45. bangorgirl says:

    Lea, You are an amazing person…such strength and positivity! My prayers continue…May you enjoy this, and many more, Maine summers!

  46. Vicki says:

    You are something else! Wow! Just wish you much peace and little pain. Cheering you on from Missouri. (Actually right now Peaks Island!)

  47. Brenda Buchanan says:

    You are remarkable, my friend. This summary of the events of the past year is a testament to your courage and positive attitude.

  48. You are amazing, Lea! I wish I had a tenth of your courage.

  49. Deborah Almada says:

    You obviously have an incredibly strong will, it would appear you have things left to do and many reasons to be here, as well as many who love and support you. We are so happy you are continuing the good fight. Prayers that the new therapy works and that you get some peace to do whatever you want to!!!!!

  50. JH Authors says:

    You inspire us all. Enjoy this beautiful summer.

Leave a Reply