"Stop sighing, we made a deal," She says and I stifle a groan. I made a deal with her that if I could go to school tomorrow while sick, I wouldn't make a peep.
"I know. But it's just you know how much I hate hospitals!" I say.
"Sakura, this isn't even a hospital. It's a doctor's office," She rolls her eyes.
"Yeah, close enough," I mumble and close my eyes, trying to shield them from the light. I've had a pounding headache since I woke up and I've spent the rest of the day with the aches and chills. Today is just not my day.
I hear someone knock at the door and I open my eyes, watching the doctor enter. She has short black hair and a kind face, her eyes are glued to a clipboard with what I'm guessing is my medical record. She looks up at me and smiles.
"Hi, I'm Doctor Shizune," She looks down at my mom and they shake hands.
"Hi," I say weakly and my mom shoots me a warning look.
"So, what seems to be the problem today?" Doctor Shizune asks.
"Well, she's been having aches and pains all day," My mom says and I just sit on the crackly paper, sulking.
"I can tell her myself," I snap, she's not even fazed, "I also had the chills. And my bones have been aching quiet badly," I finish, looking at the doctor.
She nods and rolls up her sleeves, "Ah, I see," She sets her clipboard down and pulls on a pair of latex gloves.
"Could you look up for me, Sakura?" She asks and I oblige.
She massages around my jaw and pauses at my lymph nodes, or I think that's what they're called. Her eyebrows furrow, "Does this hurt?" She asks, rubbing them with her thumbs. I shake my head.
Doctor Shizune's mouth sets in a tight line and jots some notes down onto her paper. My eyes widen.
Oh no! A flu is the last thing I need this week. It's homecoming week and I'm royalty. I was born to be Prom Queen; I spent half of my childhood wearing a plastic tiara and writing my acceptance speech. I still haven't finished it, though.
She lifts up my arm and feels my armpit in a similar manner, I stifle my giggles. I've always been really ticklish. Shizune's look becomes more focused.
"Could you lie down for me?" She asks and I lay on my back, causing the paper to crackle again.
She feels my stomach, pushing gently against my soft skin. I shiver.
Karin will be delighted to know that I have the flu. But I won't let that stop me from getting my crown. Who does she think she is, anyway? She wasn't even interested in becoming royalty until she learned I was!
"Hmmm," The doctor hums and I sit back up, pulling my shirt down.
She jots something quickly down in her clipboard, "I'll need to do a few more tests. But I don't think it's anything to worry about," She says and smiles reassuringly at us, although it doesn't reach her eyes. I smile back and so does my mom.
When she leaves the room my mom looks at the door, a thoughtful look on her face, "That was weird. I feel like there's something wrong," She says and I nod.
"It did kind of seem odd, the way she was 'hmmm'-ing and looking very concentrated," I note, checking my reflection out in the mirror, smoothing down my blossom colored hair. The part is weird and I attempt to fix it, only managing making it worse. I growl in frustration and my mom sighs.
"Sakura your hair looks fine. Beautiful, like always."
"I know but I just wanted to make sure."
There's a silence that fills the small examination room, my mom isn't even reading her magazine. She's fiddling with her hands, obviously nervous.
"Oh don't worry mom, I'm sure it's nothing," I say, trying not to roll my eyes. My mom and I have been on rocky terms lately and something small like an eye roll could spark a fight.
"You're probably right. But there was just something isn't sitting right with me," My mom says and right after a soft knock sounds at the door.
"Come in," I call and watch Doctor Shizune walk in, holding a few tubes and something I can't see.
"I'll just need some blood, you see," She says and I feel my face go pale.
"What? Why?" I ask, feeling queasy.
"Now don't worry, it's just a little prick. You'll barely feel it," The doctor says, suddenly seeming evil to me. I want to fling open the door and run away, away from the needle I see her pulling out.
"It's okay, honey. It will be over in a second," My mom comforts me and makes her way over to me, smoothing my hair down in a mother-like fashion.
I can't look when she cleans a spot on my arm, right near a vein. I hold my breath and wait for the pain to come. I hate needles, they've always scared me.
Several moments pass by and I wonder when she will just stick the god damn needle in me and get it over with.
"Alright. All done," I hear her say and I whip my head around to see a small needle being pulled out. I couldn't even feel it.
"Really?" I breath, bringing my arm closer to my face to inspect my battle wound, "Wow. That didn't hurt at all." I smile triumphantly.
"You're free to go. I'll just call your house later with the outcome," Shizune smiles at my mom and I feel relieved. We're finally out of this dreaded place.
I can't wait to tell Ino about how I didn't even flinch. I pause at the thought and laugh at how much I sound like a 5 year old.
. . .
I'm sitting in my room, doing my homework with Hinata on Skype when I hear the phone ring.
"I'll get it! It might be the doctor!" My mom calls.
"Okay!" I call back.
"Oh yeah, how was your doctor's appointment?" Hinata asks and I look at my screen, she looks worried.
"It was actually not that bad," I roll off, putting my pencil down and focusing on her, "I actually had my blood drawn and I couldn't even feel it!" I grin and Hinata smiles.
"Don't you hate needles?" She says in a light, sing-song voice. I've always been jealous of her voice; It's so light and soft and boys love it.
"Yeah. But it was weird, and I didn't even throw up when she-" I start to say but stop, I'm interrupted by a loud bang in the kitchen.
"What was that?" I hear Hinata say but I'm already up and out my bedroom door.
"Mom?" I call worriedly, rushing to the kitchen. When I find her she's on the floor, a chair knocked over. Tears are running down her face and panic shoots through me.
"Mom? What's wrong?" I pad over to her crumpled form, bending down.
"Ms. Haruno?" I hear on the other side of her and I look over her, the phone is on the ground. "Ms. Haruno are you okay?"
I pick the receiver up and put it to my ear, "I'm sorry but she's crying, who is this?" I ask, hoping it's my dad so I can chew him out. But it's a feminine voice that comes back to me.
"..Sakura? It's Doctor Shizune," I hear and my I feel my blood run cold, what did she say that made my mom cry?
"Yes?" I swallow dryly.
"Your tests have come back, we did a very routine blood test. We've found something," She says and I feel my hands go numb.
"What?" I ask shakily and my mom starts sobbing on the floor, the sound of it breaks my heart.
"I'm afraid to inform you that you have been diagnosed with Leukemia."
. . .
When I was ten I went to the hospital because of a shattered ankle I got during soccer practice, but I don't remember it feeling like this.
Although the lobby is brightly lit and open, it feels suffocatingly small. There's an antiseptic smell to the place, I can't seem to escape it; It's in the bathrooms, the halls, the small room with all of the vending machines and in this waiting room. My mom fumbles with her crumpled tissue and I flip through a magazine filled with glossy pictures of beautiful women and perfume, I really don't want to look around anymore. I feel so drained and week I just want to curl up on the modern looking carpet and fall asleep.
We're supposed to see the doctor soon, but it seems to be taking forever. Plus, my lip is chapped and raw from chewing it. Regardless of my fatigue I've never felt so nervous before, what will they have to do with me? Am I going to have to start Chemotherapy treatments? My hand flies to my hair, am I going to lose it?
I really, really don't want to lose my hair. I've spent 2 years growing it out!
My hair is the only thing going for me; I mean, naturally pink hair? I'm practically the only one in the town with it. It's my ticket for winning Prom queen! An image of a tiara being daintily put on Karin's fat head makes my hands clench and anger shoot through me. She can't win, she won little Miss Konoha when we were five, it's my turn to wear the crown.
"Look. There's a piano," My mom whispers next to me and I look at her like she's insane. She points and I look to the corner of the room. I see a grand piano nestled happily in a sun kissed corner, I look back to my mom and her eyes are red from crying and she has a tight smile on her face; She wants me to play.
She is insane.
"Mom, I haven't played in years," I say. She takes a shaky breath and just nods sadly.
"I understand," She says and I feel guilty.
"Haruno Sakura?" We hear and both look up at a plump nurse wearing Scooby scrubs, I stand up shakily and my mom follows. The nurse gives me a reassuring smile and leads us through two large doors she has to punch a code into. It opens up into a hallway with hospital rooms surrounding us, although I can't see in, there are curtains blocking my view.
We're to wait in another small waiting room. I'm so sick of waiting I could probably just pee on the walls.
Woah, that was a weird thought.
After a bit a knock comes from the door and it opens, revealing a very young looking doctor looking at something on a clipboard. He looks about my age and has bright sunshine hair, along with a very sunny smile.
"Hi," My mom greets him uncertainly. "I'm sorry but, you seem a little young to be a doctor," I nod in agreement. Either he's a genius or we're on the wrong floor, this IS the cancer treatment floor, right?
"Everyone says that," He gives my mom a charming smile and sits down on the sofa across from us after he shakes our hands. "I'm Dr. Uzumaki."
"You're Sakura?" He asks as he turns his blue gaze to me, I nod. I can't help but gape at him, how old was he when he was accepted into medical school? 12?
"So, we checked your blood again and it does seem that you're going to be here for a while," He comments and clasps his hands together, placing his elbows on his knees, "But don't worry about it. The food here is five stars and the beds are very comfortable," He says and leans back, folding his hands behind his head.
I don't understand, what the hell is he saying? What kind of a doctor is this?
"Um, excuse me?" I say, trying to hold back my irritation. Wouldn't want to punch a child genius, it might make his brain smaller.
"The only problems are the lack of cute girl patients," He rolls off and my mom gasps, he looks me up and down, that stupid grin on his face again "But you're pretty cute," He says and my face flushes warm with anger.
I may be sick and weak but that won't stop me from letting him have it. I'm about to start when someone else beats me to it.
"NARUTO!" The name is growled right outside of the door and it swings open, knocking over a lamp and shattering it on the floor. A woman with dirty blonde hair in low pigtails is fuming, her strikingly beautiful face red. The "doctor" stands up and puts his hands up in a calming motion.
"Oh, hey granny! I was just warming these two lovely ladies up for you," He says and laughs nervously, backing farther into the small room.
"GET. OUT. NOW." The scary woman grabs his ear and drags him out of the room with a chorus of complaints and hissing noises coming from the boy called Naruto.
My mom and I just sit in the now quiet room, eyes wide and looking at each other. What the hell just happened? Mom's hands are shaking and she looks like she wants to cry.
"Mom? Are you okay?"
"They're supposed to be helping us and they're having trouble with some punk teenager!" She cries and puts her head in her hands.
"Mom, it's okay. Don't cry," I say and rub her back, finding it ironic how I'm the one comforting her. "Everything will turn out okay."
As I'm saying this I really don't know if it's true, I don't know the first thing about Cancer, let alone Leukemia. Will I be in pain? Hell, I'm already in pain. How are things going to be in school? Will I still go to school? I gasp out loud and my hand pauses on my mother's back, what if I can't be Prom Queen?
"I-I'm sorry, Sakura," My mom rasps and sits up, wiping at her eyes. "I'm being inconsiderate."
"No, you're fine," I say absently, letting both of my hands fall limply in my lap. I study them, they're the hands I've always had, petite and unscarred. Underneath the skin are my bones, the bones I've had ever since I was born, they grew with me and help me function everyday. Are they really the bones that have cancer? I pull my palm up to face me, squinting at the soft pinkish skin, as if trying to see through it. What does Leukemia even look like?
The door opens again and the same strong, busty doctor walks in. She looks apologetically at my mother and I and closes the door behind her with a soft click.
"I would like to apologize. I know that that really wasn't what you needed at a time like this," She says formally and sits down across from us, holding her hand out for my mom to shake. "I'm Doctor Tsunade."
My mom stares at her hand with wet and absent eyes, not making a move to grab it, so instead I take hold of it. Our hands grip, our skin brushing together, warm and dry on cold and clammy, healthy on sick. I apologize for my mother, Dr. Tsunade just nods. She must get a lot of distressed mothers in her line of work.
"That was one of our patients, he likes to run amuck and cause trouble," Tsunade sighs and folds her legs, flipping through her files. She seems like the kind of woman I'd get along with. No non-sense, strong, smart, healing.
"So, do you think you can tell us-" I start but I'm interrupted.
"Oh! Yes, I'm sorry. I've forgotten with everything happening," She says and snaps her folder shut, giving me her full attention.
"Leukemia is cancer that starts in the tissue that forms blood," Dr. Tsunade explains and I glance at my mom, she's staring at the Doctor with no recognition or understanding on her face. She's checked out. Again.
She hasn't done this since Dad left us.
It's time for me to step up for myself. I listen carefully and I try to understand her as she explains why I have it. My head is flooded with images of red blood cells flowing through my veins but being intercepted and slowed by overcrowded leukemia cells, since they don't die when they should. The bone marrow is where most new cells come from, but for some reason in me, it's decided to spit out too many and too strange white blood cells.
She then goes to treatment options, but pauses and gives me a look, "Did you get all of that? Do you have any questions?"
"Yeah, I got it," I say with ease, I'm not taking 5 AP courses for nothing. Once I learn something it's quite easy to grasp and I don't forget it for a while. Tsunade looks impressed and then turns to my mother.
"Do you have any questions, Mrs. Haruno?" She asks my unresponsive mother, it seems to dimly pull her out of some kind of trance.
"Why did this happen to my baby?" My Mom asks, barely speaking in a whisper. More tears flood her eyes and I have to change the subject.
"So, what was this about treatments?" I ask, Tsunade drags her narrowed gaze from my mom to me. She doesn't like how my mom is responding. Shit.
"Well, your type of leukemia is acute leukemia, meaning that it's at a later stage. It also progresses quickly, so we need to start treatments right away to destroy the signs and make the symptoms go away," She says and I nod, the air knocked out of me. I may not have gone to medical school, but I know that when something is progressing quickly it's not a good thing.
"What?" My mom pipes up next to me, I look at her. There's awareness back into her eyes and I could almost cry out in relief.
"This is called a remission. After people go into remission, more therapy may be given to prevent a relapse," Dr. Tsunade expands, my mom nods.
"And the survival rate of… Acute leukemia?" Mom asks cautiously, I catch myself holding my breath.
"Well in children the survival rate is 85 percent, but for your age, weight and current health I would say about…" Her eyes flick from my mom to me. "50 percent."
I feel my manicured nails dig into my palms. I look down at them and let my hair act as a pink curtain to hide my face. 50 percent. There's a 50 percent chance that I could die. The reality of the situation slaps me in my face and I feel two pairs of eyes bearing down on me.
"I need to go the bathroom," I choke out and leave the suddenly unbearable room as quickly as I can.
I stumble blindly down the hallway, looking for the bathroom. 50 percent. One half. I suck in air and try to steady myself on the wall. I could die.
I can't die! I'm only 16.
I begin to make my way once again down the hallway, searching for the bathroom. My heart could stop beating and my breathing could still. I turn corners and wind my way through the antiseptic smelling cancer ward. Where is it? Where the hell is that god damned bathroom? The edges of my vision blur and sparkle and I have to stop and crouch low to the ground, head between my knees. My fingers find their way into my pink hair. I try to calm down, but the panic in me just keeps bubbling up. Soon it's spilling over along with my tears.
"Where is it?" I shout to no one in particular, emotion cracking my voice.
"Where is what?" Someone asks behind me and I stand and turn around quickly, trying to compose myself. It's the boy, Naruto. My eyes narrow when I see him, but he just leans against the wall with his arms crossed. He looks at me with curiosity and just a smidge of worry.
"The- The bathroom." I say, wiping any tears that might be lingering away.
He points right behind me and I see a door with the generic icon of a girl.
"Oh," I say dumbly as I turn back to him.
"Hey! I didn't need your help," I say in a huff, nose in the air. I'm acting quite normal for still being a little ruffled from my near mental breakdown.
"Uh-huh," Naruto says skeptically and smiles a one hundred watt smile. I ignore the fluttering in my heart as he pulls himself off the wall and walks toward me, one hand in his pocket, "See you around, Pinky." He rolls off and pats me on my shoulder, pausing beside me.
I'm about to turn around and tell him not to call me that when I see Dr. Tsunade and my mother turn the corner in front of me. My mother looks relieved and rushes up to me, I assure her that I'm okay as she smoothes my hair down. I tell her I found the bathroom and I feel fine. Well, fine besides the seemingly permanent migraine that thunders inside my head 24/7.
"Why are you standing in the middle of the hall, anyway?" Dr. Tsunade asks me.
"Well I was just talking to-" I turn around to show them Naruto but when I look he's gone.
"No one, apparently."
"Well, no one seems to have done a good job at cheering you up," Tsunade comments and pats my shoulder like a certain boy had done not one minute ago. My mom and I watch her walk down the hall.
I realize she's right, Naruto did do a pretty good job of cheering me up. He didn't even have to do much: just a flash of that crooked grin and the knot in my stomach unraveled, even if it was for just a second.
"Let's go home, Dr. Tsunade and I already arranged treatments," My mom suggests and I nod thankfully, a warm bed is just what I need right now.
Before we step out of the hospital I take one more look around for a flash of yellow, but I don't see one.
I'm surprised to feel a familiar feeling wash over me: disappointment.