Dr Thomas continued to talk but to Scout it sounded like she was underwater.
She just said cancer.
How was that possible?
Lucky was twenty four and fit and healthy. He looked after himself and watched what he ate. How could he have cancer?
Dr Thomas was talking about genetics and Scout suddenly wished she had paid more attention in her science classes. Lucky told her that there was no one in his family that had had bowel cancer before. The doctor scribbled notes in her file. She was explaining how it took time to develop, this wouldn’t have happened overnight. She told them how they would need to do more tests to ensure that it hadn’t spread anywhere.
“If you have any questions then you have my number. I’ll answer anything I can,” Dr Thomas told them.
Lucky just stared at her. This woman had ripped away his life and she thought a phone call would clear things up?
Scout nodded her head, “Thank you Dr Thomas.”
Thank you. It felt weird to say thank you to the woman who had just given Lucky his cancer diagnosis but it was what left her mouth. Dr Thomas gave her a kind smile and Lucky and Scout let the hospital. No words were exchanged between them until they got to the car.
“I’ll drive,” she told him. Lucky handed over the keys without a word and they got in.
“I need to tell Dad and Ava,” he said numbly.
“Do you want me to drive you there?”
They usually had the radio on but today the car was quiet. The atmosphere that was usually light was heavy with unspoken words. Scout couldn’t take how suffocating the silence was. “Are you okay?” she asked. It was possibly the stupidest question she could have asked him right now but apparently her brain was spurting out whatever it felt like today.
“I don’t know,” Lucky answered her.
Scout looked over to him at they stopped at a red light. He looked like he was in shock. Scout took her hand off the gear stick and clasped his hand in her own. It was icy cold and he gave her the smallest squeeze.
“We just need to take each day as it comes,” Scout.” Scout repeated the words that he once told her. Right now, they had no idea what was going to happen.
Lucky suddenly turned to look at her and she didn’t she a twenty four yar old man that she had grown accustomed to. Instead, she saw a frightened little boy. “Am I going to be okay, Scout?” he whispered.
She wasn’t a medical professional by any stretch of the imagination. She couldn’t give him an answer to his question but the way he was looking at her made Scout realise that she was going to need to be the strong one through this. If Lucky wanted support and reassurance then that was what she would give him.
“You’re going to be fine, Luck,” she said. “We’re going to get those tests done and figure out what’s the best treatment option and then you’ll be back up and running.” She said it as brightly as she could. You had to put things out in the universe. Lucky would get through this. He was in the best hands now the doctors had found out what was going on.
“You’ll be there?” he asked.
She blinked at him for a moment and then a car horn made her jump. The traffic light had turned green. She untangled her hand from Lucky’s and put the car into first before starting to drive again. “I’m not going anywhere. You’re my partner in crime.”
“You’re going to frame me for something, aren’t you?” Lucky joked weakly.
“When I said you were my boyfriend, I meant to say you’re my fall guy.”
There was a small sense of normality as they joked. The sinking feeling inside Scout hadn’t left but it eased a little.
She stayed with Lucky as he told Chris and Ava the news. She had never seen Ava look so near the verge of tears but this news seemed to dislodge her usual happy persona. Lucky joked with her, telling her that she was going soft in her old age and then Ava told him why.
“We were waiting to tell you all, but I’m pregnant.”
With every piece of bad news there was good news. The universe seemed to have a way of balancing itself out. There were congratulations and hugging and they let Lucky’s diagnosis sink away quietly under the news of new life.
A few weeks later, Scout stood in front of her childhood home. Jim would be on the other side, probably with a cup of tea in his hands. Everything about his life remained normal. Everything about his life still had order. It struck her as strange how hers had derailed while his ticked along steadily.
After a few moments of starting at the metal numbers on the door, Scout put her hand on the handle and walked inside. As she entered the living room, her Dad craned his neck to look at her and broke into a smile.
“Hello, sweetheart! I didn’t know you were popping over today.”
She looked at her Dad in his sweater vest and, just as she imagined, the cup of tea in his hands. She watched as the smile dropped from his face as she surveyed her and put the cup on the table in front of him.
“Scout? Is everything okay?”
She found herself shaking her head. Her bob swung slightly with the motion. Jim got up out of his chair.
For the majority of her life she had kept everything separate. Scout had a life where it was just herself and Jim and then another life with Scott. There were no blurred lines. She dealt with things in those lives alone. She could spend hours crying and cursing to nothing but a wall until she built up enough strength to sort things out. Scout did it to protect everyone else, not herself.
Lucky had infiltrated all areas of her life. He knew her Dad. He was a part of her job. He’d met old school friends. He knew people from the studio Scout danced at because he picked her up. There was nothing but blurred lines.
“Scout, you look pale as a ghost. What’s wrong, love?”
Jim came up to her and the moment his hands were on her arms was the moment that Scout stopped being strong. The tears welled in her eyes and she couldn’t pull in enough oxygen.
“Scout! Love! What is it?” Jim pulled her into a hug and she collapsed against him. All the things that she couldn’t say to Lucky, all the worried that she kept buried came rushing to the forefront of her mind.
“L..Lu…Lucky…” She managed to get his name out in between sobs as she clung to her father. He suddenly seemed like a towering giant he was when she was a kid as he guided her over to the sofa. Jim left her momentarily, his warmth and strength going with him but soon returned with a glass of water.
He helped to guide her breathing back to normal before handing over the glass and asking, “Did you break up, love?”
A fresh wave of tears burned her eyes and she struggled to swallow the water as a lump formed in her throat. She handed back the water. Her throat ached from the effort of swallowing.
“No. It’s not that.”
“Then what is it, Scout? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so upset.”
It was true. When Scout was upset it usually manifested as anger that was displayed at the world. The tears that came were saved for herself. She took a few minutes to compose herself and Jim sat beside her.
“Lucky has cancer, Dad,” she whispered. “Bowel cancer.”
She heard Jim take in a deep breath before uttering a single word in Welsh. “Duw.”
Scout had never believed and it was hard to even contemplate that there was something in existence that would do something like this to Lucky.
“We just found out that it’s in the muscle and not the lining. They want to do surgery and chemotherapy.”
Dr Thomas had walked them through the results of the extra tests Lucky had had done. They sat in her office and Scout wasn’t sure if Lucky took anything in. Every time they stepped into her office, he seemed to zone out. Scout wished she knew what was going through his head but he had become withdrawn since his initial diagnosis.
Scout sat there with him, notebook and pen in hand, jotting down everything the consultant said. Surgery was the first line of attack. They would need to remove a part of Lucky’s bowel that had been worst affected. Stoma. That one had made Scout look up at Dr Thomas. The would take the bowel and have an opening in his abdomen where a stoma bag would be fitted so he could pass waste. Not permanent but he would need it for some time to allow himself to heal before another surgery to reattach everything again.
Chemotherapy would be needed to ensure that they had killed any of the cells that had affected the lining of some of his other organs. Stage two was what Dr Thomas had said. On a scale of one to four, Lucky sat in the middle with Dr Thomas telling them that he had a decent chance of beating it considering they had caught it so early on.
“How’s he doing?” Jim asked quietly.
“He’s…” It was hard to say. Lucky was quiet. He was pensive. When Scout tried to talk to him about it he changed the conversation and there was no steering back onto it.
Jim wrapped an arm around her and Scout leaned into him. “Okay. How are you?”
“I don’t know. I’m trying to be positive for Lucky and I’m not getting much from him. I’m trying to be strong but look at me.”
“Sweetheart.” Jim hugged her close. “You don’t need to be strong all the time. Any time it gets too much, you know that the door is always open. I’m here for you Scout.” Scout wrapped her arms around him, feeling small as he hugged her back. “He’ll get through this, Scout.” Jim kissed the top of her head. “He’s got plenty of people behind him.”
Scout hoped he was right. She hoped that this would be straight forward and that Lucky would find the strength he needed to fight this.