4: Results

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The next morning, Autumn is taken to the doctor's office to receive her results.  

"Hi, Autumn. Jenny." he greets them. 

"Hello," her mother says. 

Autumn says nothing. 

"It seems..." he looks at the pages in his hands as if reading off of them, "your cancer has spread."

Autumn felt her heart pang in her chest. The words nearly make her flinch. She feels the tears in her eyes, but doesn't want to let it show in her voice. 

"What do I do?" she asks quietly. 

"Well, there is no need to continue the radiation, since it isn't working for this case."

 The room mutes for a moment before Autumn speaks up. 

"Is it too late for surgery?"

Her mother, this time, doesn't say a word objecting. She feels terrible not letting Autumn do it to begin with. It may have made all the difference in the world. 

"I'm afraid it's spread too far to have it take care of the matter completely," he responds calmly, though clearly afraid of how Jenny will react to the news he gives her and her daughter. "Though we can always try, if you'd like,"

Autumn and her mother look at each other, silently asking the other what they'd prefer. 

Autumn is frightened. She is scared out of her mind at the thought of someone slicing her open for just a chance at curing it. 

Autumn's mother has similar fears, only favoring the chance of destroying it. 

"It's up to you," her mother says, though afraid she'll disagree with whatever Autumn's choice is. 

Autumn is torn. She could attempt to save her own life, putting her mother through extreme stress and anxiety for a day, or she could say no, maybe not sparing her life, but keeping her mother sane for a while. 

She can't choose. "What are the chances that it'll get rid of it?"

The doctor responds expressionlessly. "It just depends."

She is afraid that whatever decision she makes will be the wrong one. "What does it depend on?"

The doctor can't help but smile a bit. "How much of it there is, where it is, and how quickly it is spreading."

"Can we test that?"

He nods. The last time they checked was a week ago, and it could have spread by then. He explains that they can run another MRI and compare the growth over the three tests they have taken to see how fast it is spreading. 

They do. They take Autumn into another room to do the MRI, and compare the results. 

They caught it at Stage 2, a relatively low stage; there are four. The second test showed slight growth, not quite to Stage 3 but not Stage 2 either. The last test wasn't quite to Stage 3, either, but it was extremely close. The cancer was spreading at an alarming rate. 

The doctor does not want to be the bearer of this bad news. He gives the results to a nurse and tells her the room number.

"The cancer is beyond surgery," the nurse says, getting the pain over with. "The only option from here is radiation, which it says here was ineffective, or there's chemotherapy, which can harm normal cells but is rare."

She hasn't looked at the family the entire time. At this point, she glances up at their somber faces. 

Autumn is stunned. How can she not feel this?

Autumn’s mother is petrified. How could this happen to her daughter? Her only family?

"I won't do chemo," Autumn whispers with conviction. The nurse doesn't argue. 

"I will tell your doctor," she says, and she does. 

Autumn and her mother are left alone. Autumn says nothing to her mother, for she is praying silently but so hard that her face is scrunched and her lips moving to the words. Autumn doesn't disturb her. 

She feels like she wants to cry, but she doesn't. She has to stay strong for the both of them. 

The doctor returns. "You know that if you do nothing, I can't guarantee you survive?" he confirms. 

"Yes," she says, not wanting to dwell on the topic of death. 

"You may only have 12-18 months left,"

She suppresses the urge to cry once again. "Ok," is all she can say. 

The doctor nods, leaving the room in silence. 

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