|LoneStarCon2 · The 55th World Science Fiction Convention · Thursday, August 28, 1997|
In August, 1996, author Jo Clayton was hospitalized in Portland, OR with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer that attacks the bones from the marrow out. Since then, my wife Elizabeth and I--along with Mary Rosenblum--have been Jo Clayton's authorized medical and legal advocates. It has been our pleasure to get to know Jo during this difficult time and assist her through the labyrinth of medical procedures, personal adjustments, and the day-to-day ups and downs that are a part of any prolonged hospitalization. We have also tried to keep her fans and friends (both online and off) informed of her condition--typically a Good News/Bad News situation.
The current Good News: As of last Monday, Jo's mood and spirits continue to be "up." She long ago adjusted to being a long-term resident at the hospital, and remains pleased with her oncologist and other care providers who tend to her daily. She has also adjusted to the reality of her medical status--which includes the fact that her myeloma is very stubborn, her bones are in poor condition, and she is unlikely to return to what most of us take for granted as a "normal" life. While under radiation treatment and chemotherapy, she has continued writing--completing the second and third books in her Drum series and turning in short stories to magazines and anthologies.
She has not been entirely bedridden. Her motorized wheelchair allows her to get around the hospital and the neighborhood, where she is becoming a connoisseur of the numerous restaurants and bakeries within wheeling distance. She also paints and sketches, reads, researches story ideas, pops up online in her Genie Science Fiction Round Table topic, and is now hooking up to the Internet.
Though her condition was near fatal when she entered hospitalization, she has called this situation her "fortunate fall" because of the surprisingly generous flood of support offered by fans and friends she had not previously been aware of. Because of this, she has over the past year become more social and outgoing, and enjoys the frequent visitors who drop by. She has also developed a remarkable fondness for bacon cheeseburgers, but that's another story all by itself.
The Bad News: At the moment, Jo is in an isolation room because of a staph infection that has caused troubles before. The source of the infection is currently unknown, and it may come from a "reserve" somewhere within her body. This and other possibilities are being explored and the staph is being treated as thoroughly as possible. The chemotherapy has slowed the advance of the myeloma considerably, but has not stopped it. Steroid treatment has done wonders for her stamina, overall body strength, and (a pleasant side effect) lifts her joie de vivre to enviable heights. Nevertheless, Jo's bones remain porous and easily breakable, and therefore cannot support weight for very long. She has a cracked sternum as well as the staph infection, so will be in bed and in iso for at least the next five weeks. Her oncologist tells us that a detailed long-term prognosis is still impossible. A great deal depends on factors that remain changeable and therefore unpredictable. Jo has made enormous, surprising progress during the past twelve months--but her myeloma was advanced and remains a stubborn adversary.
So, all things considered, Jo is doing better than anyone--even Jo--thought she would or could be at this point. She is writing. She is enjoying friends and fans. And she is emotionally and "spiritually" healthier than many people who are in far better physical condition. After all, she's a former nun who has taught inner city street youth in New Orleans and Los Angeles. So she's tough.
A Web site for previous Jo reports and ongoing updates can be found at http://www.sfwa.org
Her mailing address is:Good Samaritan Hospital
1015 NW 22nd Street
Portland, OR 97210
Donations can be made to:Oregon Science Fiction Emergency Fund
PO Box 5703
Portland, OR 97228
So far, the donation fund has purchased art supplies, a CD player, in-room shelving units, and a wide variety of personal items. It has paid Jo's personal bills, provided pet care and surgery for her cats, maintained her apartment and now provides a long-term storage unit for her belongings.
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