2: Diagnosis

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Autumn wakes up in the night, feeling like her throat has closed up to the size of a straw. She inhales deeply, but can't get enough air. 

She begins to panic. Is she dying?

She rushes to her mother's room, and wakes her up. She can hardly speak, but her wheezing does the talking. 

Her mother jumps out of bed, keeping her arm around her daughter and rushing her to the car. They make it to the emergency room in ten minutes. 

Struggling to stay conscious, Autumn lets the nurses lay her on the table and hook her up to a machine. They put her on oxygen after stabbing various needles into her flesh. She doesn't complain. 

When her lungs begin to fill with air once again, the doctors let her rest a bit. In the morning, they ask her questions. 

"Has this happened before, or anything similar?"


He makes a note. 

"Do you feel lightheaded or dizzy often?"


"Do you have trouble sleeping?"


"Does it happen more often during allergy season?"

"I-I guess so... I never paid much attention to when."

"I see." He makes another note. "And you've never had breathing issues before?"


The doctor scrunches his eyes at what he has written, then tells the two that they would know the results of the tests they had run by the next day. The two women leave, the adrenaline having been released the night before, exhausting them. The two drive home and sleep the day away.

A few days later, they get a phone call from their therapist. "We have diagnosed Autumn with asthma. It's simple to treat, simply an inhaler during any period of time where Autumn feels her breathing restricted. It isn't too hard to administer. I've have at the office a prescription for you to pick up. No worries."

"Thank you," Autumn's mother breathes. She hangs up.

She drives by the pharmacy and picks it up. Paranoid as she is, her nerves calm a bit when seeing it is just a little tiny bottle with a button on top to release the medicine. Hoping her daughter won't choke on the mist, she takes a breath and drives it home. 

Every night, she asks Autumn if she needs it, but Autumn declines. She was feeling better. 

One night, though, it happens again. The little silver cylinder that contains her breath is kept on her bedside table. When Autumn wakes up, she tries the inhaler. She feels the mist fly through her trachea and stick to the inside of her lungs. 

She takes a breath, but feels the tightness in her chest, like her lungs are already full but refuse to release the air. 

 She is afraid to try the medicine again in fear of overdosing. She wakes her mother and they go to the doctor. 

The procedure resumes. They get her to breathe again and run more tests. 

Autumn despises the tests. She is terrified of needles, and winces at the pain as the doctors draw blood. 

A few hours of tense silence goes by, Autumn's mother positively trembling. 

The doctor returns, his eyes darting around the single sheet of paper he holds. He seems confused. 

"The test results say that... That Ms. Paisley may have stage two lymphoma," he says certainly, though his expression says he isn't as sure as he sounds. "Lymphoma, it's... a rare form of... cancer." He looks up at Autumn and her mother forlornly. "An eight-hour surgery will easily eliminate it. We must take her right away."

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