Monday, September 15, 2014
Big C Blog Fest: Cancer Stories for a Cause
Welcome friends! Today's blog fest is a special one. Many of you probably know that Melissa Bradley, a fellow author and blogger, is fighting cancer. She recently had her last round of chemo and the expenses are big, so Michael DiGesu has spearheaded this blog-fest for people to submit stories for an anthology, the proceeds of which will help pay for Melissa's cancer treatment.
I have a few personal cancer stories, but they aren't particularly happy or uplifting, so instead I'm submitting a work of fiction to be included. I will confess before hand that I have trouble with short stories, but the cause merited me giving it my best shot anyway.
Tommy Sontoro could tell a story. The night I met him was the first in my pediatric rotation, so of course they had scheduled me to work graveyard, but Tommy was awake.
“Shouldn't you get some rest?” I asked as I recorded his vitals on my chart.
“I'm dying.” His brown eyes were large and earnest. “Why would I want to spend the rest of my life sleeping?”
I looked back at his chart. That seemed like an awful lot of wisdom for a boy of eight.
I ran my hand over his hair. “I have to check on the other patients, but if there's time left before my next rounds, I'll come back and talk to you.”
“I get all the ladies,” he said.
I laughed and continued my rounds. When I finished, I had half an hour to spare before I had to check them all again, so I went back to Tommy's room. He was still sitting up, a solitaire game on the screen of his tablet computer.
“You play cards all night?” I asked.
“Sometimes. I like it better when there's somebody to tell my story.”
I smiled, set an alarm on my watch to remind me when rounds would need me again, and sat next to Tommy's bed. “So tell me your story.”
He sat up taller and set his tablet aside. “Come closer. I don't want the kids to hear.” As if he weren't a child himself.
I grinned and move to the edge of his bed. He leaned forward as if to tell be a secret and began.
“I see them when they come at night. I've seen them since the battle for Hannah Ganas. I wasn't supposed to see, but... I couldn't sleep.”
“Who's Hannah?” I asked.
“You can see her picture out there on the wall. Cured. She got to go home.”
“Tell me about the battle.” I wasn't sure if I really wanted to hear. His start had sent a chill up my spine, but he did seem to want to tell the story and I decided if he could tell it, I could listen.
“They don't come every night. Just, I think... when they have to battle. Decide who wins. And there is a blue one and a red one. When the yellow one wins, someone dies, but he isn't mean. He is just trying to help. They all are trying to help.”
“Are any of them here tonight?” I asked, afraid of his answer.
“Just the yellow one. There's nothing left they can do for me. He'll guide me on my way though. I won't be alone.”
My watch buzzed then and to be honest, I was relieved. I wasn't sure what to say to Tommy. He seemed a lot less upset by what he'd said than I was, and the last thing I wanted to do was make it worse. I checked his vitals and asked him to lie down.
“I'll be back if I can,” I promised.
“It's okay to be scared,” he said. “But they won't hurt us.”
I nodded at him and left, unnerved. It was a good thing nobody I encountered needed any real nursing care—just standard stuff. Halfway through I had a call asking me to do a double, and because I was too flustered to think, I agreed. Somebody relieved me for a break shortly after. Knowing I'd have an extra long shift, I went into the break room for a twenty-minute nap.
When I returned to the floor, Tommy was gone.
“What happened? Where did he go?” I asked, but the nurse on the floor had just gotten there and didn't know.
The work of nursing care occupied the next few hours, but finally, with relief, I saw them wheel back Tommy Sontoro.
“Is he okay?” I asked. “What happened?”
Tommy's eyes fluttered open. He smiled at me. “He wasn't yellow, he was orange.” And he closed them again.
I looked around to see Tommy's parents, their laughter and tears mingling. Tommy had turned a corner in the night. They'd just taken him for testing and proven the tumor at the edge of his brain was finally shrinking. A brain tumor might explain his visions, but when I looked into the room where they were wheeling him, I could have sworn I saw the air ripple with orange light as something rushed away.
So please check out some of the other entries, but more importantly, watch for the collection when it becomes available. It's for a very good cause. If you are able to donate additionally, here is Melissa's donation link: http://www.gofundme.com/c95f2o