“It is what it is,” Jim will say, just as he always has. So here’s what it is.
In late June, he went to bed with a sore throat and woke up with an enormous mass on the right side of his neck. Over time, he compared it to a softball and later a paperback book. A friend had recently had MRSA and a staph infection and so doctors initially thought Jim had the same, but a couple of weeks passed on massive antibiotics with no improvement. Sleeping sixteen to twenty hours per day, unable to focus on writing for more than twenty minutes at a time thanks to the pain involved in just holding his head upright, having difficulty swallowing, eating, drinking because of the mass on his neck, Jim went to a specialist who took needle biopsies and told him she felt 90% sure it was cancer, and was scheduling him a visit to Beth Israel Deaconess hospital in Boston the following week. Well, we knew that most doctors aren’t going to say they’re 90% positive about an untested diagnosis unless they’re 99.99% positive.
The following Wednesday, July 10th, Jim went into the hospital. On Friday, he had a surgical biopsy. On Wednesday the 17th of July, he started an aggressive chemotherapy. As I write this, Monday, July 22nd, Jim is scheduled to be brought home tomorrow by ambulance, with a trachea tube and a stomach feeding tube, and daily home visits. Two weeks from now, he’ll begin radiation and another round of chemo. Two weeks after that chemo finishes, he’ll likely have a third. If all goes according to plan, the cancer will be gone by then. And it better be, or Jim may have to get ornery about it. After all, he has work to do.
If you have the misfortune of knowing anything about the American system of healthcare, you can imagine what the price tag for all of this is going to be. We could spend tens of thousands of words screaming to the heavens about the horror of that system, but we’re focused on Jim.
The life of a freelance writer is always a rollercoaster, particularly where health insurance is concerned. Fortunately, Jim has been working at Starbucks for over a decade, and Starbucks provides their employees with comparatively excellent health insurance. Sadly, “comparatively” is the operative word. There will be a bill, and it will be staggering. And while we all wait for the accountants and the insurance company to sort out exactly what burden will be placed on Jim and Tessa Moore, the bills at home are piling up and the lost wages are increasing. When writers don’t write, they don’t earn. When workers go on disability, even with comparatively good insurance, their income is slashed. And when you’re a freelance writer/barista who needs every dollar you make every month to pay the rent and your income vanishes…
So here we are. Jim is a proud man. A self-made man if there ever was one. He’s not inclined to ask for your help, but we, his friends, have prevailed upon him to let us do that. If he’s ever made you laugh, or given you chills, or inspired you to write even when you didn’t feel like it…if you’ve read his original horror or grimdark fantasy, or his Alien or Predator or Buffy the Vampire Slayer or White Wolf novels…or if you just want to help out of kindness…we’d all be grateful if you’d contribute whatever you can afford. Jim Moore is a guy who is always there for others, and now it’s our turn to be there for him. We have no way to know what the final bill will be, but we’re starting with $25K as a base. Sadly, the true cost may be much higher.
Do what you can.
It is what it is.