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Posted 2017-09-04T22:19:00Z

“Walking into Mordor”

In a nutshell: I’ve been diagnosed with esophageal adenocarcinoma. It’s pretty big, but not huge, and other than one lymph there is no sign of it having metathesized, so prognosis is good. Best-practice treatment today in both North America and Europe is a (probably five-week) course of radiation therapy with a supportive batch of chemo-therapy which acts synergistically with the radiation. This might completely eradicate the tumor, but whether it does or not, long-term survival statistics dictate that much of the lower esophagus and upper stomach then be removed surgically.

I could be eating (gently) again by Thanksgiving.

                                            🍁

A few of you will know immediately why I titled this little site “Walking into Mordor.” Many will probably think you know why — and you won’t be wrong; still, you won’t be entirely right.

There is the obvious parallel, of course, echoed near the top of each page here: overwhelmed everyman hero undergoes desperate hardship and (just barely, and missing some body parts) succeeds in vanquishing the foe.

But there is another. Though the dates — especially of my surgery and concomitant convalescence — are not entirely known yet, it looks as if the whole run of chemo- and radiation-therapy, surgery, and convalescence will exactly match the ten weeks or so which I have for researching and writing a chapter I’m calling “Mapping Mordor: Examining Tolkien’s Worldbuilding Method of ‘Construction by Revision,’” slated to be published next spring by Walking Tree Publishers.

I hope to climb both metaphorical mountains between now and mid-November: to eradicate the cancer and to research and write my chapter. Chemotherapy will not help me write “Mapping Mordor,” but “Mapping Mordor” might help me get through the therapy.

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Comments (8)

  • Sally Denmead
    Sally Denmead

    Geez, Erik -- life is just one damned thing after another, ain't it? First of all, good for you for getting yourself to the doctor when you noticed something was not right. We were relieved to hear you've got good treatment not too far away. And thanks for creating this post. Those of us who love you will want to stay with you and the whole family as you traverse this Tolkien-esque landscape. Wishing you health, strength and an unflagging sense of humor! Sally and Jonah

    5 years ago · Reply
  • Anna Soloway
    Anna Soloway

    Erik, we are sending love, support and future soft foods from North Carolina. (Along with continued inspiration and energy to write but also lots and lots of encouragement to nap.) Thank you for sharing this information. When you wonder "is anyone thinking of me?" the answer is YES! We are. And we will be. Lots of love from Anna and Dennis

    5 years ago · Reply
    • Karen Mueller-Harder
      Karen Mueller-Harder

      When Erik was all miserable after the surgery, and needed to go to sleep, I sang him Tomorrow's Just a Dream Away, and it helped tremendously!

      5 years ago · Reply
    • Erik Mueller-Harder
      Erik Mueller-Harder

      Somehow, especially, the “little fairy cars” made me smile!

      5 years ago · Reply
    • Anna Soloway
      Anna Soloway

      :) :) :)

      5 years ago · Reply
  • Robin Kynoch
    Robin Kynoch

    We are thinking about you! It may seem like a long journey to wellness, but you'll get there. We like your spirit- and hope that you'll get to play some recorder along the way, too. Much love to all, from Robin, Joe, and kiddos.

    5 years ago · Reply
  • Andrew Peterson
    Andrew Peterson

    You're correct - I "thought" I knew why you titled this little site “Walking into Mordor.” I was wrong...and glad of it. The parallel is awesome. I have no doubt that a little fellow such as yourself (who is not *quite* as little as he professes, btw) can conquer anything. And, like Frodo, you won't be walking alone. "‘You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin — to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours — closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo. Anyway: there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the Ring. We are horribly afraid — but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.’" - J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Fellowship of the Ring", Chapter 5, “A Conspiracy Unmasked”

    5 years ago · Reply
  • Erik Mueller-Harder
    Erik Mueller-Harder

    My dear friends — Thank you so much for your kind comments here and elsewhere on the site (and privately conveyed). It is both humbling and powerful to know that I am not alone in all this!

    5 years ago · Reply