I know it’s been some time since I’ve written about all the magical props and projects I’ve been working on. My hands have been a bit full over the past few months and I’d like to share with you now a little of what I’ve been dealing with.
As you know, my husband and best friend, Norm Nielsen, passed away last April. You all knew him as a remarkable world class magician, a magic builder, a vintage poster collector, and as a wonderful human being. I still miss him every single day. A good thing is that I have the best support network a girl could ask for, with all my magic friends and extended family, that it has made it a little easier to bear.
But now, another challenge has come my way.
On October 5, 2020 I was diagnosed with cancer. The type of cancer I have is Triple Negative Breast Cancer – Stage IIA. Which means that I have a tumor the size of a small lime measuring over 4 cm in diameter. The staging tells us that it has not spread quite yet to the lymph nodes. This cancer represents 15% of all breast cancers, and is attributed to genetics. Alas! I came out negative on the genetic test, which means that no one has any idea what caused it.
The bad news is that this is the most aggressive form of breast cancer there is, and it is the one that kills most women with the disease. There are no medications for it either, because it has no receptors that react to modern drugs. It is not affected by estrogen, progesterone, or the HER2 protein, hence the name of “triple negative”.
The “good news” is that it was caught early and it does react well to an equally aggressive chemotherapy treatment.
I am grateful to the medical team I am seeing at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada. A week after the diagnosis, I saw both my surgeon and oncologist, who immediately put me in a chemotherapy regimen, which I started during the first week of November.
The treatment consists of eight chemo sessions, once every two weeks, for four months.
The idea is to reduce the size of the tumor to, hopefully, the size of a small pea. That will allow the surgeon to excise it with a simple lumpectomy surgery, instead of having to remove the entire breast. This will be followed by radiation.
Overall, it sounds like a good plan. Unfortunately, this cancer can be chronic, and the odds of getting it again are high. But I remain positive and I hope to live the rest of my days with a relatively good quality of life.
By now I only have one more chemo treatment to go, and I feel relatively okay. Side effects have been the typical ones: Hair loss, fatigue, nausea, dry skin, dry hands with fingernail pigmentation, dry mouth, occasional myalgia and arthralgia after treatment, etc.
As one undergoes these treatments, a person learns their “chemo schedule”. There are “bad days” which are the three to four days after treatment, followed by the “good days”, during which one has enough energy to work. I love the good days.
Speaking of good days and work, I’m grateful for the work I have and that I have managed to remain quite active during this time. Due to physical issues, I am not able to do heavy duty production work right now, but I am still able to work on various lighter, yet productive projects and make an income.
Here are things I have worked on in the last few months:
I finished making a batch of picture frames that will house large posters for a client.
I helped a dear friend of mine, who happens to be an illusion builder, with woodworking issues in an illusion he was making. For this effect, he needed an octagonal compound miter dome atop the main box. Combining magic and woodworking is one of my favorite problems to solve!
I worked on printing more magic poster reproductions.
Putting my woodworking skills to use, I made lots of Christmas knick-knacks for clients and for my entire medical team: From custom pens, to cutting boards, to pill holders, etc.
I made magic wands for a few clients, and even a magic wand stand for another one!
A very popular item that I sell on Nielsen Magic’s shopping site.
A finished batch of Okito-Nielsen Chinese Sticks.
I am currently working on another batch of marionette controllers for my friends at the Scott Land School of Puppetry.
After making the above list, I am amazed at what I have accomplished during this time. I am also deeply grateful for all our friends and clients who have supported my small business during these strange pandemic times.
Frankly, I don’t know. I currently live my life one project after the next, one day at a time, and hoping to figure out what I am going to do when I grow up.
Once I do get better, I know that I plan to make a batch of Dean’s Boxes (a trick for which Nielsen Magic acquired the rights) and hopefully have them ready by the end of summer.
Be well, stay healthy and safe!
– Lupe Nielsen
(February 7, 2021)