spira spiritum noctis

This page is here to inform our beloved "customer friends"
about the health situation of Tess Avelland, the creatrix
of Midnight Muse.

Thank you all so much for your incredibly kind inquiries!

Tess went into the hospital with abdominal pain in December 2008, and the CT scan showed a ruptured appendix. After surgery and ten days in the hospital, she was given a shocking diagnosis especially given her age (38): she has Pseudomyxoma peritonei (called PMP for short), an extremely rare cancer thought to originate in the appendix, which attacks the abdominal organs.

During what was supposed to be just an appendectomy, her appendix, caecum, part of the omentum, and 15" of her large intestine were removed. Further surgery was required to remove more organs, and to flood her abdomen with a heated chemotherapy wash. This is called the 'Sugarbaker technique' and is the only known treatment for PMP.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Jeffrey Sussman of the Barrett Cancer Center, at University of Cincinnati Hospital, on July 13, 2009. Surgery went better than expected, and was much shorter in duration as well (about six hours). Dr. Sussman said Tess was "relatively early on in the disease process" and he was confident he cleared out all the tumor. What remains is to watch and wait for recurrence, of which there is about a 50% chance. Periodic CT scans are the way to determine if the cancer has come back.

Approximately one in every million people have PMP. It's what is known as an 'orphan disease' -- in other words, so few people have it that there is little financial gain in studying it, therefore not much is known about it. Being diagnosed with it is much like hitting the lottery...in reverse.

Tess is doing okay at the moment, but is suffering from ill health in secondary forms -- severe symptoms of premature menopause, plus depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, frequent digestive upsets, and chronic pain of various kinds.

The future of the business specifically is uncertain at this point, due to the disaster the situation poses to Tess's financial situation. (No health insurance.) But updates will be posted here regarding any news.