It's Always Darkest Before Dawn

Round One

In a complete daze, they left the doctor's office, and walked back to the car. Cancer. That word raced around in Rachel's head, like a freight train. Cancer. She had learned to fear and dread that word, as she lost her grandfather to cancer, when she was only 8 years old, and neither the best doctors nor the best medicine could cure him. Cancer. Just the mere thought of the word, as enough to make Rachel feel queasy. Of any disease, why did Emma have this one?

'It's not fair', Rachel thought to herself, as she looked at her precious daughter. 'It's not supposed to be like this'. She had every detail of Emma's life planned out, from the second she knew she was pregnant. Emma would finish high school, go on to college, where she would meet a handsome gentleman, graduate, and start a family of her own. Cancer was nowhere to be found in her plans. Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. As hard as she tried, she could not seem to get that dreaded word out of her head. Life use to be so simple, routine, and at times, downright mundane. Now all because of one word, Rachel knew none of their lives would ever be quite the same, again. She began to see just how fragile and delicate life could be, and was not something to be taken for granted.

They got back to their house, as Rachel sighed and reached for the phone. 'Hey Emma, come on. I'll teach you how to play pool', Ross said as he took her hand, and walked her to the game room, so Rachel could talk in private. With trembling hands, and her heart racing a million times a second, she started to dial a number. The phone rang a few times, and she was about to hang up when the other line picked up and a voice said 'Hello'. She paused to catch her breath and collected her thought and said 'Monica, I just wanted to tell you that we got the results back from the doctor'.

Monica motioned for the kids to be quite, as they were running around the living room, playing tag. 'Is it good news or bad', Monica asked, already knowing the answer by the tone in Rachel's voice as Chandler walked over, and laid his hand on his wife's shoulder. Rachel's voice started to crack and said 'It's bad news, sweetie'. Monica felt weak as she walked to the dining room, and sat down as her eyes started to water.

'What does this mean', Monica asked, afraid to hear the answer. Rachel was no longer able to suppress her emotions and thru tears and sobs, said the following week, Emma was begin a chemotherapy regiment. Monica dabbed her eyes with a tissue, saying how sorry she was, asking what she could do for them. 'I don't know. To be honest, I don't know what even I could do'. Monica told Rachel they didn't have to face this alone, and offered to stay with them, for a while.

'Thanks for the offer, but we couldn't ask you to do that. Besides you have your own life, too', Rachel said as Monica kept telling her that it would be no trouble at all. Rachel insisted they would be OK, as Monica made her promise that she would call, if she needed anything at all, regardless of time of day, nor night. There was a knock on the door, as Rachel told Monica she would talk more later and went to answer the door and saw Emma's best friend Donna, with tears streaming down face.

'Aw, don't cry honey', Rachel comforted as she hugged her, inviting her inside. 'Will she be ok', Donna asked and Rachel forced a smile and said 'Of course she will. Emma will be just fine'. She took Donna too the game room, as Ross was teaching Emma how to use a pool stick. Rachel stood at the doorway, watching her daughter struggle with a pool stick that was bigger than she was, and with her father's help was able to sink a ball into one of the pockets.

'See', her dad said with a smile, 'You can do it'. Donna hands Emma a card the entire class had signed as she reads it, as Rachel takes the card and said 'Isn't that so nice. We should put it on the refrigerator'. She and Ross leave as Donna asked if she was scared, and Emma thought for a second, and nodded. They talk for a while longer, before Rachel tells Emma that it's getting close for her bed time, as Emma and Donna say goodbye

It was a few hours later, as Rachel made her way to Emma's room, to check on her. She quietly opened the door, in case she was asleep, but found her to be in bed, wide awake. 'What are you still doing awake, Brat', her mom asked as she sat down on the edge of the bed. Emma shrugged and her mom said 'You couldn't sleep either, huh'. Emma silently shook her head. Rachel asked if Emma wanted to sleep with them, and she nodded her head. Rachel smiled as she picked her daughter up, and carried her downstairs to the master bedroom, as all three huddled together, under the blankets.

Time Lapse

Emma was laying down on the sofa, as a Nurse was present, hooking a bag of liquid on a pole. The nurse had already explained the procedure, and what to expect as she placed a bucket next to Emma, saying she may get sick. 'Ok, I have to put a needle in your arm now', the nurse said. She took an alcohol pad and tenderly cleansed the area on her arm, telling Emma to relax her arm, as her arm was tense. Rachel took her hand and said 'Sweetie, you need to relax'. Emma closed her eyes, and turned away, as the nurse expertly slid the needle into her vein, and connecting the other end to the IV drip.

'Ok, that should do it', the nurse said, saying she'll be back in a few more hours and to call her on the cell phone, should they need her. Rachel nodded, thanking the nurse, and went back over to Emma, asking if she needed anything. Emma just shook her head, as her mom handed her the remote control, saying she could watch anything she wanted. The doctor and nurse had already instructed Ross and Rachel over the treatments, and how to take care of their daughter.

About an hour later, Emma started to squirm, saying she didn't feel good as her mother grabbed the bucket and placed it next to Emma, who leaned forward, and started to cough and heave as her mother gently rubbed her back. Ross went to get a damp rag, as Rachel wiped the sweat from Emma's forehead, talking to her and saying how proud she was, that Emma was being so brave. Emma coughed into the bucket more, and violently started to heave and gag.

Rachel was scared, but remembered both the doctor and nurse said this was a normal reaction. Finally Emma simply laid back down, her mom gently wiped her mouth and handed her some water to drink, but she said she didn't feel like drinking anything. 'Emma, you don't want to get dehydrated', her father said and encouraged her to drink. Emma swallowed a few sips, and shook her head as her mom took the cup, placing it on the table.

'How much longer', Emma asked as her dad sat down next to her, saying she still had a little while to go. 'I don't feel good', Emma weakly said as her mother nodded and said 'I know you don't, angel'. Rachel gently rubbed her arm, as Emma had drifted off to sleep. When she woke up, she found herself in her parent's bed. She looked at her arm, and there was a bandage, where the IV was connected earlier. Hey, how are you feeling, Brat' her dad asked, saying Round 1 was finally done, and that she had been asleep for quite some time.

Rachel asked if she was hungry, but even the mere thought of food made her queasy again, and just shook her head. 'What about oatmeal? Could you eat maybe just a bite or two'. Emma shuddered and struggled not to get sick, and just shook her head. Rachel studied her daughter's reaction and said 'Do you need to go to the bathroom'. Emma didn't respond, and weakly tried to get out of bed, as her mother grabbed her saying 'It's ok, honey', and carried quickly carried her to the bathroom

Emma knelt down in front of the toilet, coughing and heaving as her mother stood behind her, gently rubbing the back of her neck, as Emma continued to heave. Her mother washed her face, as Emma collapsed, totally exhausted. Her father came by with a glass of water, and Emma rinsed her mouth. With tears running down her face, both Ross and Rachel carry Emma back to bed, worried about the other treatments. Even though the doctor told them what to expect, neither expected this and knew it was going to be a very long 6 weeks

- To Be Continued -

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