Chapter 38

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They sat in the waiting area for over an hour, waiting to be taken to an exam room. Once back there, by the time a doctor had come to see her, they had been there nearly two hours.

"Melanie?" he asked as he pulled the curtain back. "I'm Dr. Kendall. What's going on with you today?"

"My head hurts. And I can't see right. Everything is blurry. And dizzy. The room is dizzy. I'm dizzy."

Her speech was slow and she seemed to struggle to put sentences together.

"Where does your head hurt?" Dr. Kendall asked as he checked her eyes and ears.

"The worst is here." She put her hand on the right side of her head.

"How long have you had the headache?"

"All day."

"She's been having really bad headaches for a couple of months now," Brian said. "I'm Brian by the way, Melanie's boyfriend. She has slept a lot today and when she woke up a few hours ago she seemed different. Her speech was off and she said she saw two of me. She also said she'd felt nauseous and been very dizzy."

"I see. Well, I'm sure it's nothing, but these are all possible symptoms of a brain tumor. The odds are pretty low that's what is causing all of this, but how about we get CT scan of your head just to make sure. If the scan shows nothing we'll go from there and see if we can't figure out what's causing your symptoms."

"A brain tumor?" Brian asked. "Are you kidding?"

"Like I said, the odds are low that's what we're dealing with. Sit tight and someone will be in to take you for the scan in a few minutes."

He left and Melanie looked up at Brian. "Cancer? Did he say I have cancer?"

"Sweetheart, no. He said he wants to get a scan of your brain to rule that out. I'm sure that's not what it is."

"Ok. My head hurts."

"I know babe," he said, stroking her hair. "I know. Just close your eyes and rest until they come to take you for the scan."

She closed her eyes and he sat in the chair next to her, his mind now racing. Nearly 15 minutes later a nurse came to take her for the scan. Brian waited for her in the exam room. He fidgeted with his phone, then paced, running his hands through his hair, before finally calling his friend Bryan.

Bryan was always good at calming him down. Brian filled his friend in on the current situation and told him how worried he was for Melanie. Bryan listened then told him to just take things one step at a time, to not jump to conclusions and worst case scenarios.

By the time Melanie was wheeled back in he was feeling calmer.

"Dr. Kendall will be in shortly to go over the results," the nurse said just before she left.

"How did it go?"

"It was fine." She looked over at him, her eyes welling with tears. "I'm scared."

"Oh sweetheart," he said, grabbing her hand and giving it a squeeze. "It's gonna be ok. I promise. No matter what, you'll get through this. We'll get through this. I'm not going anywhere. I'll be with you every step of the way."

Tears trickled down her cheeks. "Thank you."

"Do you want me to call your parents? I just realized they have no idea what's going on."

"No. Not until we know what's going on. I don't want to worry them if it could be nothing."

"Ok. We'll wait."

She closed her eyes, trying unsuccessfully to wish the pain away. Nearly fifty minutes passed before Dr. Kendall returned, carrying her scans and a folder. The look on his face revealed nothing about the results. Melanie reached out a hand to Brian and he took it.

"I'm afraid I have some bad news," he said. Her stomach dropped at his words and Brian gripped her hand. "The scan shows a dark mass on your right frontal lobe. A tumor. There is no way to tell if it's benign or malignant from just a CT scan. We'll have to do a biopsy. But before we do that, I want to get an MRI. It will give a more detailed image of the tumor and will tell us if it can be removed."

Melanie and Brian stared at him, neither knowing what to say.

"I know it's a lot to take in, and I'm sure you have a lot of questions."

"I...I don't know what to say," Melanie said.

"How soon can the MRI be done?" Brian asked.

"I've already ordered it. A nurse will be in soon to take you up for it."

"Can I go up with her?" Brian asked.

"Yes but obviously you can't be in there during the actual scan. Sit tight."

"Hey," Brian said, putting a hand on her arm, seeing the far away look on her face. "I'm right here. We're gonna get through this together."

She looked at him, tears streaming down her face. She was having trouble coming to grips with what she had been told.

"I have cancer," she said matter of factly.

"Yes."

"I'm going to die."

"No. Don't say that. We don't know that. It could be benign."

"It could be malignant."

"Stop. You have to stay positive. You can fight this."

"I'm so tired. I just want the pain to go away."

"Once the tumor is removed your head will feel better," Brian said. "I promise."

He pulled her close to him and stroked her hair. She closed her eyes and clung to him, the tears still flowing. It was about ten minutes later that a nurse appeared.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," she said softly. "It's time to go up for your MRI."

Brian kissed the top of her head then pulled away from her. He helped her into the wheelchair and followed as the nurse pushed her toward the elevator. As he waited for her he sent a text to Bryan, filling him in on what the doctor had said.

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