"Bone Cancer?" I repeat. "I thought only old men could get that!" Slowly Dr. Barker adjusts his glasses with his wrinkled hands. "This just isn't right!" I mutter to myself,"I'm almost a high school graduate. I've been accepted with a full scholarship to the University of Madison. I'm just getting everything started!" pools of tears start to form in the corners of my eyes.
"Lydia I need you to listen to me for a moment," the elderly doctor orders me. I try to focus on him as he speaks to me slowly and calmly. "Unfortunately the cancer is in the advanced stages, which means that the tumor is beginning to to spread to other surrounding tissues. We could attempt chemo therapy which would most likely prolong your life by a month or so but that is all. We may also still be able to surgically remove the tumor but there are no guarantees that that would work." Dr. Barker pauses a moment to let the harsh realities sink in. As I sit there he gets up from behind the desk and walks over to a beige filing cabinet. Dr. Barker rustles through some files before pulling out a large pile of paperwork. The paper is dropped on the desk with a resolute plop.
"I want my mom in here before any decisions are made," I say.
"I'm sorry what did you say Lydia?"
"I want my mom in here!" I say slightly louder before the tears attempt another escape and my chest constricts. My breathing starts to come in quiet gasps as I try to remain calm until the doctor leaves the room. Slowly He shuffles towards the door and turns the door knob. Quickly the elderly man shuts the door and it clicks shut. There is a quiet whispering and then the door is reopened, the doctor in the lead and my mother following. In a swift motion I bring my hand to my face to wipe away any tears that might have slipped free. Dr. Barker points to the empty seat at my left and my mother nods and takes a seat.
"Now may we continue, Ms. Winters?" I nod numbly. He again speaks calmly and steadily. I zone out and let the lull of the voices allow me to remain indifferent.
"Lydia! Pay attention!" my mother says snapping me out of my surreal state. I give her a small nod and reposition myself. Dr. Barker starts speaking again,"If you were to start the chemo therapy I recommend that you start immediately,"
"Wait," I say interrupting him."You said that if I did the chemo it would only prolong my life by a month. How much time would I have without the chemo?"
"Only about three months I'm afraid," My mom starts to sniffle beside me. I give her a hard look.
"So even if I do do the chemo I would only have four months?" I say rhetorically.
"Yes that is correct, but if you were to have the surgery performed that would also need to be done immediately. Unfortunately survival rates are slim among those who have received the procedure," My mother gasps and begins to weep inconsolably. I pat her shoulder awkwardly.
"Mom! I need you to pay attention! So get it together," I hand her the box of tissues and signal the doctor to continue. When he doesn't I say,"What are the effects of chemo therapy?" The doctor grabs a packet from the top of the huge pile and tosses it to me. 'Effects of chemo therapy' "How original," I mutter.
"To be perfectly honest with you, Lydia, there are a lot of side effects such as, Anemia, appetite changes, bleeding problems, and hair loss," I shrink away from the packet when I hear hair loss.
"So basically if I choose to live one more month the whole rest of my life is going to be one hellish nightmare?" my mother and the doctor wince at my use of a profanity.
"Not quite 'hellish' as you put it but you are correct it won't all be rainbows and daisies," he warns me.
"Then I won't do it," I say defiantly. Dr. Barker and my mother stare at me in a shared awe with their jaws dropped. Dr. Barker collects himself faster than my mom does.
"There is still the surgery to consider," he offers halfheartedly.
"No!" I blurt out thoughtlessly. "What's the point? I mean if the surgery goes wrong I would die even sooner, so if we want to 'prolong' my life I think it would be best to not do anything that involves surgery or chemo therapy," My mother gives me a cold glare before speaking to Dr. Barker,"Could my daughter and I have a moment alone to discuss this?"
"Of course," the doctor says graciously. He gets out of his chair and hurries out of the room. When the door shuts my mother turns to face me.