Chapter 5 - The Will to Survive
The doctor’s office was silent. My mum and I were at a lost of words.
“I am afraid there is no time to waste. Unlike what we thought, the treatment has not been effective and the cancer has metastasised.” The doctor pulled out an x-ray of my mum’s abdomen “As you can observe, we have found a mass in the liver and in spleen. I know you’ve signed up for the drug trial, but I’m afraid that without surgery to remove these tumours your spot is at risk.”
I was silent as my stomach fell to the floor.
“How safe is the surgery?” My mum asked, reaching for my hand and squeezing it. She knew it would be bad news.
The doctor places his glasses on the table, taking his hand to his forehead. He sighed. “Jolene, I’m not going to lie to you, there is a big chance you won’t make it. First of all, your imune system is weak due to the chemotherapy which significantly complicates the surgery. Second of all, even if we manage to get the tumours out - which will be a mammoth task - there is also the chance that we’ll damage the organs. I’m not saying I won’t do the surgery, I will if that is your wish. I recognise that if everything works out perfectly, there is a chance of recovery, but as I said, it’s going to be a arduous journey.”
I closed my eyes, a tear falling down my face. This couldn’t be happening.
“Thank you Doctor, I think you’ve done everything you can do. It’s time to hang up the towel.” My mum said, her voice cracking at the end.
I turned suddenly in my chair, facing my mum “What? Absolutely not! If there is a chance we won’t give up! We can’t give up!”
My mum sighed, tears welling up in her eyes “Honey, I know this is hard, but we have to come to terms with it. And you sweetheart, wasting the best years of your life to support me. It’s not fair that all the money you earn goes to me. I’m the parent, not the other way around.”
“You can’t be serious!” I shouted, getting up from my chair. The doctor followed suit and places his hands on my shoulders to call me down. “Why are you worried about money? All the money in the world couldn’t buy you! I need you mum, I can’t lose you. I will work to the bone if that means that I get another day with you! ”
“It’s alright Johanna, it’s alright,” said the doctor, massaging my shoulders “I think both of you should go home, think about it and come back with a well thought out plan. I’ll support whatever you decide. Johanna, don’t forget, you mum is in constant pain. I know you want her in your life, but do you think her life is going to look like after the surgery?”
I shrugged away from his touch “We’re done here. Thank you for your time. We’ll be back to schedule the surgery.”
I walked out of the doctor’s office. My mum stayed behind, still discussing with the doctor the best option. I stormed out of the hospital, trying to hold my tears in. When I got in my car, the tears started streaming. I yelled in frustration. I could not be an orphan, I could not bear it. I refused to be parentless, going through life on my own.
My mum was my entire world. She was the only one who cared for me, who loved me. There was not a single bad bone in her body. Even after my dad was convicted unfairly when I was three years old, her heart did not grow cold. Even after he was assassinated in prison, her heart did not turn to stone. She loved me unconditionally as I did her. I could not lose her, I just could not.
After a while my mum walked out of the hospital. I drove closer to the door so she wouldn’t have to walk.
“What did he say?” I asked, my tears apparently dried up.
She sighed “The surgery is 100,000 dollars baby.”
My heart broke into a million pieces, but I kept a straight face “Alright. I’ll get it.”
“No you won’t. Even if we sold the house we couldn’t pay for it.” She said, matter of factually.
I drove home in silence. I knew deep down that it was virtually impossible to get the money, but I refused to accept it. I would do whatever it took, whatever.
When we arrived home, my mum sat on the couch, exhausted. She leaned back and closed her eyes. She usually did this not to fall asleep but to relax.
It was almost five, time for her medicine. I went to the kitchen and prepared a glass of water and brought her pills. She was currently taking 5 pills every day. I held them in my hands as I sat beside her on the couch.
“Oh sweetheart, I wish your dad was here. He would have done a much better job with you.” She sighed.
“Mum don’t say that, there is no way of know that.”
She chuckled dryly “At least he would be alive and be here to take care of his little girl.”
Her words were like a dagger to my heart. It was clear she was feeling guilty.
“I don’t want to give up Johanna, I really don’t. I want to see you grow up into the beautiful woman you already are. I want to see you get out of this town and make something of yourself. You’re so bright and talented. Why wasn’t Victor the one to stay? You two would have made such an amazing team. All I’ve given you was heartbreak, uncertainty, fear... not the mention a crippling debt-”
Her voice broke. She brought her shaky hands to her hairless skull, shaking her head. “I’m so sorry Jo, I’m so sorry for what I did to you. You deserved a normal life, a happy life, but all you got was this. You deserved to have a father, but I couldn’t save Victor, I couldn’t! You deserved a healthy mother, and siblings. You deserved a nice house and a nice school and a carefree childhood. I’m so sorry I couldn’t give those things to you.”
I was full on sobbing. It felt like I was going to choke on my own tears. “You gave me love mum, that’s all I ever wanted. Everything else doesn’t matter. And as of dad, even when he stood in that courtroom, hearing the sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, you gave him love, unconditional love. He was in there knowing the two of us where here waiting for him, loving him. He died knowing he was loved, and that’s more than many people get.”
I wiped my tears and nose on my upper arm sleeve. I extended the glass of water and the pills to my mum. She hesitated in taking them. I placed them on the coffee table in front of us. Then there was silence. After many years of pain, suffering, and disappointment, this was the end of the road. That was when my mum reached for the glass.
“I’m gonna fight for you.”
I reached over to her and hugged her tighter than I ever had. She was choosing to be in pain because of me, the least I could do was fight for her no matter at what cost.
“I’m gonna get that money, you’ll see.”
It was about six in the afternoon when I hit send. I massaged Johanna on Facebook using a fake name. The message read:
Dear Johanna Myers,
My name is John Thompson and I’ve come to the information that you provide mechanical services. I’m interested in speaking to you in person to discuss a future business arrangement. I can meet today in any part of Westray Valley. Looking forward to hear from you.
I decided that a simple message was the best course of action. It revealed the least about myself but also made it sound like a real proposition (which it was). I just had to wait and see what she said. I few hours later my phone vibrated. She had replied.
I’m willing to meet you today at 22:00 near the old windmill in Woodsvi Hill. Don’t be late.
I was taken aback by the dryness of the message. Whether she was in a bad mood today or she messaged everyone like this I couldn’t tell. I hoped it was the later, because if she wasn’t in the mood she would flip when she found out I had tecnically tricked her. I tried to call my anxiety. Once she knew who I was she would understand my need to be annonymous.
Oof, this was a hard chapter to write, and sad too! Sam and Johanna are meeting next chpater! Who's excited? Tell me your thoughts in the comments! Thank you again for your continuous support <3