Monday, September 17, 2012

Writer Therapy Contest

I entered my very first writing contest today! Here's the link to the contest:

My entire story is here. It's pretty short. Transformation
       What if everything you knew became history in one single day? What if a single year changed you dramatically?
It just so happens that this change happened to me. From ninth grade to tenth grade, I became a completely different person: different hair, looks, personality, etc… At the end of tenth grade, I can safely say that I was transformed into a completely different person. I didn’t even recognize myself at the end of tenth grade!
   Our story begins the night before the first day of my freshman year of high school. “Melissa”, said my mother, Laura “Are you excited for tomorrow? Is your backpack packed? Clothes laid out? “Yes, mom. Tomorrow should be fun! It’ll be nice to have some new people and teachers to meet! Then again, there is the new school to navigate…”I said reluctantly. Secretly, though, I was terrified of starting high school! New Trier was gigantic! How would I ever learn to navigate a school the size of an airport? On top of that, I’d been hearing rumors about mean teachers and cliquey girls. What did I get myself into?
  That night, I could barely sleep! I was so stressed out that I’d been having terrible nightmares for the past week or so- not healthy! I think the reason that I was so nervous was because of the fact that I’d seen the movie “Mean Girls” one to many times!
 Before I knew it, it was morning. My stomach  felt like there was a swarm of butterflies dancing in it. I felt dizzy, and my nose started bleeding. This was just too much for me. I called my mom in. 

I didn’t think anything of the fact that my daughter’s nose was gushing blood like Niagra Falls. What a mistake that was! When it went on for a couple of hours, I decided to take Melissa to the emergency room. See, Melissa is an only child, and I’m a single mom, so it’s pretty quiet around here. When something like this happens, it’s a major event! 
 As soon as we stepped into the emergency room, I was wheeled away by a clad of doctors and nurses.  The hospital was as comforting as being chained to a yapping chihuaua! My leg was shaking uncontrollably, and I could hear my heart beat in my ears! I was wearing a gross blue gown that was drafty and itchy. We were taken to a room with a glass door and a billion machines in it! Eventually, a nurse named Mary walked in. " Melissa, my name is Mary. I'm your nurse. I want you to feel comfortable here, so I am sending in one of our volunteers, who's name is Morgan. She can get you whatever you need. In the mean time, though, I'm going to need to draw some blood. Some of your symptoms are consistent with Acute Promylocitic Leukemia. We need to make sure you don't have it!". My mom's face was as white as a ghost when Mary said that. Frankly, I didn't blame her. I mean, this whole situation was scary- I just wanted to go home!
Mary was terrible at drawing blood! The needle went through my vein and left me with a big bruise on my arm “ I will be back with your results in just a minute. Morgan will be in shortly”. Said Mary. 

This hospital is hell, I tell you! The nurses come in and wake me up in the middle of the night to do all sorts of things- blood pressure, temperature, you name it! It’s ironic, really- I’m supposed to rest, but I don’t get to sleep! I have to have a bone marrow aspiration tomorrow, and I’m freaking out about it. A bone marrow aspiration is basically a test where they draw out bone marrow from your hips with a needle. Although you are sedated when the test is done, it’s supposedly very painful. The main purpose of the test is to see how far the leukemia has spread and what stage it’s at. I want to shake Dr. Turner. I want to beg her not to do this bone marrow aspiration. This whole thing is unreal, really- to go from a being without a care in the world to being surrounded by doctors, nurses, and needles. 


I’ve been awake since about 3:00 a.m. It’s so hard to sleep with all the anxious thoughts going through my brain: what if she dies? Will I ever survive this? Will she ever get better? 
    It’s 7:30 a.m. I am just about to go get breakfast in the cafeteria when the doctor walks in. “Hello, Laura”, she says. Taken aback by the first name basis, I let her in. “ Laura, I have some bad news”. “It seems that the only thing that will keep Melissa alive is a bone marrow transplant. Does she have any siblings?”, asked Dr. Turner. Although I am unaware of it at the time, I am pregnant with baby # 2. “No”, I said sadly. “ That’s a shame. It’s much safer to have bone marrow donated from a sibling. If you have another baby someday, we’ll have something to work with. In the mean time, we’ll just have to find a donor on the national bone marrow registry”, said the doctor. 
Two weeks later, I take a pregnancy test, and… it’s positive! I am on top of the world! I run to tell Melissa. “ Honey, do you realize what this means? You’re going to get a bone marrow transplant from a family member! This is a miracle!” I explained! Melissa, however, looked as thought she’d just saw a ghost. “ No, mom! I am NOT spending more time in that hospital! No more needles!” she shrieked. 

I immediately call Dr. Turner to tell her that I’m pregnant. “ That’s excellent news! When are you due?” she asks.  “September,” I say. “ Excellent. Melissa’s not in a grave clinical state, so we’ll stabilize her with bone marrow from a donor right now, and then we’ll transition to bone marrow from the baby. Is the baby a boy or a girl?” she asked. Girl, I tell her. 
      Two months later, I give birth to a healthy nine-pound baby girl. We name her Olivia. Immediately after she was born, Dr. Turner whisked her away. This was too much for me. “Hey! Give her back!”, I yelled. 
    Dr. Turner said she wanted to have Olivia donate bone marrow. “Look, Dr. Turner. I don’t think you understand”. I said. “ Olivia’s an infant! You can’t do a painful procedure like this on a newborn!” , I said.  “I’m sorry, Mrs. Smith ( Smith is my last name), but this is the only way that we can save Melissa’s life. We need to put her first.”, said the Dr.  
   Whoa, whoa, whoa. I just gave birth to Olivia yesterday! I need to have some one-on-one time to bond with her first! “Well, there’s only one thing left to do: sue you!”, I yelled. 
   That night, I did some research, and what Dr. Turner did can be considered medical malpractice. Boy, do I have some work to do! I thought. I began to walk towards Dr. Turner’s office, all the while preparing to give her a piece of my mind!

At this point, I’ve been in and out of the hospital for three months. I’ve gotten used to all the IV’s, needles, nurses, etc… I’m not even scared of needles anymore! 
    It’s Halloween now, but sadly enough, I’m in the hospital for my stem cell transplant. I have to stay in one room for a month. I am not allowed to leave my room ( I have a suppressed immune system). The nurses are nice, but talking to them doesn’t substitute for being with my friends. 
I wake up the next morning to my worse nightmare: my hair is all over my pillow! 

I wake up the next morning, and Dr. Turner walks in, a crying Olivia on her shoulder. “ What have you done to her? You’re such a bastard!”, I yelled. I was so fed up with her. This is medical malpractice, I thought.
     “ I took some bone marrow from her hip, Mrs. Smith. It’s the only guaranteed way we can save your daughter’s life”, she said. 
“ Dr. Turner, can I ask you a question?”
“ Sure”.

 “ Do you have kids?”
“ Yes, but I don’t see what that has to do with-”
“ How would you like it if a doctor did this to them?”
“ Mrs. Smith, I would hate it. But I have to do what I think is right from a professional standpoint”
“Sacrificing one child’s health for another?”
“ Yes, but-”
“ I’ve heard enough. I’ll sue you if it’s the last thing I do!”

That afternoon, I loose so much hair that you could see my scalp. I scream at the top of my lungs. Why me?!? I think to myself. My mom hears my scream and runs into my room. 
“ Honey, what’s wrong?” 
“Look at my scalp, mom. I’m a freak!” 
“ Oh, sweetheart. I’m sure there’s a way to fix this. Let me go grab Allie, the Child Life intern.”
Allie  walks in, carrying a gigantic book of wigs. “ Melissa, I have a gigantic book with all the wigs you can get”, she says. “ They’ll be free, courtesy of the American Cancer Society. With your brown hair, you’re guaranteed to find something. We can even get you free hats and headbands. Nobody will know a thing. I’m going to take a bit of your hair that has already fallen out. This way, we can get a wig that matches your hair’s color and texture”, she says. 
I feel a wave of relief wash over me, since I now know for a fact that I won’t be bald forever? 
“ When will it be available for me to wear it?”, I ask.
“ It should be available by Monday”, Allie replies.
“ Awesome!”
 At that moment, Mary (the nurse who I have not seen in months) walks in. “Melissa, I’m going to have to give you an injection of chemotherapy,” she says. 
At that moment, my entire body tenses up. I hate Mary, and I want her out of my life- now!!

Tomorrow, November 3, is the day of my daughter’s stem cell transplant. I can’t believe how big this mess has gotten.Right now, Melissa is sitting up in her hospital bed reading and coloring. She seems like she’s enjoying herself, but I’m guessing that this will be short lived. After all, a stem cell transplant requires that the patient be in an isolation room for a minimum of three weeks. 
  Meanwhile, Olivia is a mess. Dr. Turner has been taking stem cells for the transplant nonstop. Olivia has scars on her hips, and she’s been crying nonstop. I’ve decided to go ahead with this lawsuit. Enough is enough! 
We’ve already hired a lawyer- Campbell Alexander. He has a 91% success rate, and a service dog named Judge. Campbell is an epileptic.  
Campbell walks in to our hospital room. “Can you tell me a bit about your case?”, he asks me. 
“Well, it’s a long story. My daughter, Melissa, has leukemia. Dr. Turner, Melissa’s oncologist, suggested that I have another baby so that Melissa could have stem cells from a sibling. I gave birth to Olivia in September. The moment she was born, Dr. Turner took Olivia away and took bone marrow from her without my consent. I didn’t even know what was going on!”
“ Well Laura, that’s medical malpractice. Let’s get to work on this lawsuit!”, said the lawyer excitedly. 

It’s November 10th. I’ve been in this hospital room for a few days now. It’s been horrible.  
I’m  not allowed to leave this room. It’s called an isolation room. The stem cell transplant has essentially taken out my immune system, which means that I am not protected from germs and infections. I can leave the hospital in a few weeks. Everyone who comes into my room ( besides parents and Olivia) has to wear gloves, a nasty blue plastic gown, and masks. 
    I’m going stir-crazy at the moment. I know this hospital has a teen lounge, and I really want to go check it out. Apparently they have a pool table, couches, two desktop computers, a t.v, and much more.
  Mary walks in. I still hate her, by the way. She says, “ I need to take your blood count now”, she says. “ This will determine how much longer you’ll be in the hospital”. 
A few hours later, after the blood test. Mary walks back in. “ I have some great news. It seems that your counts have risen exponentially. That means that your immune system is starting to function again. However, we still have to do one or two rounds of chemotherapy before we can discharge you. You’re going to be here another two weeks, at the most”, she said. 
I was ecstatic, except for the fact that I she said chemo. That means more IV’s, which means more needles! Or so I thought…
 “ I can tell you’re nervous, probably about the needle aspect of it. I understand that, and we have a way to take the fear away by eliminating needles! There’s something called a central line. With it, we can draw blood and put in chemo medications without needles”, Mary explained.
“ How do you get it in?”, I asked. I could tell that my mom was wondering the same thing.
“ It’s a small surgery, but it’s minimally invasive”, Mary replied. 

     It looks like the lawsuit is finally underway! Our court date is scheduled for December 20th. Although it is more than a month away, there is a ton to do before then. We have to interview with the local radio station, file a restraining order against Dr. Turner, take pictures of Olivia and Melissa, etc.. So much to do in so little time! We’re so ready to get this over with! Of course, Olivia has no idea what’s going on. 
Melissa is doing well. She is happy, in good spirits, and keeping busy. Child life specialists make sure she has things to entertain her and distract her. 
   Our relationship with Dr. Turner is becoming increasingly worse, which is unfortunate. After all, she is Melissa’s oncologist! Dr. Turner brought this on herself, after all. Recently, she has stopped talking to us entirely. She’s put another doctor in her place. How rude! I tried to ask Dr. Turner a question a few days ago, but she just turned her back and walked away. I made a note of that for Campbell. I need to convince him
   Recently, I’ve been crying a lot over Melissa’s condition. I keep asking, “Why me?”. I guess that’s normal, though. I’ve been trying not to let Melissa see me crying. Children and adolescents pick up on their parents’ anxiety very easily. I want Melissa to be able to express her feelings; however, I don’t want to cause her anymore anxiety than she is already feeling. Melissa is the bravest girl I know, and I cannot believe how much she’s gone through. Our family and friends have visited, which helps to keep Melissa’s spirits up. They’ve brought her balloons and 
Luckily, Mary has been nicer lately. She’s been taking very good care of Melissa.  Melissa has been nervous for the surgery ( which is tomorrow), but luckily Mary is answering all her questions and is making her feel at ease. It’s amazing how much the nurses know! 
“Mary”, I ask, “ Why is Dr. Turner acting like this?”
“ Oh, you didn’t hear? Her daughter was in a car accident. She is very stressed right now. I, however, am always here to help”, Mary replied. That was good to hear, because Melissa is terrified to have the surgery. 

Melissa - 1:00 A.M
I cannot sleep. I’m so nervous about the surgery later that I’ve been awake legit all night! Mary is nice enough to spend the night with me to help me calm down. She suggests some relaxation medication that will help lower my anxiety. It’s called valium
“Do you want to try it? It won’t put you to sleep, but it’ll help you relax and stay calm tonight. It’s a tranquilizer, given intravenously. You already have an I.V, and the I.V medication is better and stronger than the pill kind”, she says.
“Is it safe?”
“Yes. There are no side effects”.
“ Let’s do it!”
My mom, who never leaves my side, is also in the room; however, she is asleep, and I don’t want to wake her. Besides, she said to me earlier that the nurses know what is best for me. 
Mary puts the medicine into my I.V. It works almost immediately. I feel relaxed almost instantly. I just lie in bed, taking deep breaths. I’m not thinking about anything medical-related. It’s not productive, and it’ll just make sleeping even harder.  I count backwards from 100, and I make it to 89 before I fall asleep. 
I find it funny that I hated Mary,  and now I like her. First impressions can also be wrong! I realize that she is only doing what’s best for me, and that is always the right thing! 
The next time I wake up, it’s 6:00 A.M. Mary gives me another does of valium as I request.

Melissa- 6:00 A.M
  It’s 6:00 A.M now. I’m in my room, my heart rate skyrocketing as I wait to be wheeled down to the Operating Room ( OR).  My mom is going ballistic, which isn’t helping. 
“ Oh my god, Melissa! I can’t do this anymore”, my mom said, her fact as red as a tomato. “ You can’t go to surgery! I’m so nervous and, and, and….”.
“ You know you’re acting like a baby, right? If this is what the medical team thinks is best, then this is what I have to do. Maybe you should talk to a child life specialist”.
“ Mom, you’re seriously making me loose it. I need to stay strong, and I need you to do that, too. If that’s not possible, I’d be glad to have someone else help me through this. How would you feel if you were in my situation?”
“ Honey, you’re right. I’m going to go grab Michelle ( the child life specialist). She’s better equipped to help you than I am. Maybe she can even help me!”
A few minutes later, Michelle walks in. She says, “ I’m going to go with your mom on a walk. I think she needs to sort through her emotions with me. In the mean time, I’ll send Allie, the intern, in to be with you before surgery”, says Michelle. 
Allie walks in. She is gorgeous- blond hair, blue eyes, pale white skin. She’s so nice, and we immediately make a connection. I start getting overwhelmed at this point, as there are a lot of nurses and doctors in my room at this point. Allie is a huge help. While the nurses are prepping, she distracts me by talking to me and having me blow bubbles.  She also holds my hand the entire time. 
Before surgery, I am remarkably calm, which surprises me. I thought I’d be screaming and crying. I am put on a bed with wheels and am wheeled into the OR. Allie comes with me, which is awesome. I cannot express enough how much I like her. I start crying as we enter the OR. Allie is not aloud inside ( she’s not sterile), so unfortunately there was nobody to help me calm down. The doctors just jam the anesthesia mask over my face with no warning whatsoever. I guess they just wanted to get it over with! The anesthesia air smells like wet dog!
When I woke up, my mom and Michelle were waiting by my bedside. “ You did great, honey! The surgery went well!”, said my mom.
I breathed a giant sigh of relief. Was I glad it was over! My mom took me back to my room, where I was allowed to have a popsicle and some juice. 
I think I might have mentioned a bit about the central line thing before, but I’ll go into more detail. The line sticks out from your chest. Scar tissue holds it in place, and it’s like a big I.V. It has a  tube that goes all the way to the big vein in my heart. 
Dr. Turner walks in. Immediately then, my body tenses up.  Ever since the lawsuit thing started, I’ve been terrified of her!
“Melissa, we’re ready to inject the stem cells now. It’ll only take an hour. However, from this point on, you’re going to have to be on isolation for the next two weeks until your immune system starts working again and your counts are up. The great thing is that you won’t be loosing any hair”, the Dr. Said. 
I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Being bald was horrible, and my hair was starting to grow back a bit. I was still wearing a wig. 
“Melissa, I’d like to talk to you about something”, said the Dr. 
“ Yes?”
“ You’ve been great about this whole treatment, and this stem cell transplant will be the thing that will ensure you’re cured. I’m confident that you’re going to be cured- you’ve made so much progress these last few months. What I wanted to talk to you about is the lawsuit that your mother is filling against me. I respect her opinions, and am planning on appearing in court. However, just because she’s suing me doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to take care of you. I want you to get better and go on to pursue your dreams. Cancer does not control you, and neither does this lawsuit”
“I’m very glad to hear you say that. I was worried that you’d hate me for the lawsuit. There’s no other oncologist like you!”
“ Thanks! And now I need to go talk to your mom...there’s a lot of work to be done!”

I have been so busy between Melissa, Olivia, and the lawsuit that I haven’t had time to do anything! Melissa has been making steady progress. Her blood counts are rising steadily, and she’s getting really bored in her room, which is a good sign. She’s dying to get out of her room and go to the teen lounge. However, on the bright side, she’s now allowed to take showers and wear her own clothes. What a relief! Lately, Melissa has been doing a ton of activities in the teen lounge, which is awesome. She’s been making some new friends and having fun in the process!  The doctor says she should be going home in a week. She’ll keep her central line in for more tests, but no more hospitalizations! 
This lawsuit is getting underway. We’ve been talking to Campbell, and everything is all set for December 20th. The media has been here a lot to cover the lawsuit, but that’s ok! I want people to know about medical malpractice. That way, it can be prevented more easily! 
   Olivia has been doing very well. She is a healthy three month old, making noises and rolling around. Melissa loves to hold her, and Olivia seems to enjoy that!
   Recently, I had an interesting and insightful conversation with my mom.
“Mom, I feel like I’ve changed and matured a ton over the course of my treatment”.
“ What do you mean?”
“Well, I’m a lot braver than I thought I was. I also got more mature because I lost my hair. I dealt with it, and now it’s starting to grow back!”
“ Oh, sweetheart. I’m so proud of you, and I totally agree with you. Your hair has grown miraculously! It’s already almost covering your scalp!”

As you read in the last section, my hair is growing back. Because of this, my head itches like crazy! It feels like I have a million mosquito bites! Also, my hair is slightly different that it used to be- chemo changes your hair! I don’t fully understand that… Anyway, I still have to wear a wig, but I’m feeling more like myself again. I’m feeling way less self-conscious now! 
This central line is the best thing ever! I haven’t been poked with a needle for quite sometime, and it feels great. As of right now, my blood counts are stable. I mainly get blood drawn from my central line. Occasionally, the doctors give me some fluids too, but that doesn’t hurt! I haven’t been in the hospital at all recently. I still have the central line because I have to get blood drawn daily, and this way, no needle pokes! The best part about it is that I can easily hide it under my clothes. 
       I’ve also been getting periodic bone marrow aspirations to check for relapse. Let me tell you- it’s not a pleasant procedure! Basically, the doctors have to insert a needle into my hipbone to take out some bone marrow for testing. Yes, I’m always asleep for the test, but it still hurts! However, the test is really important, and so far, it’s been clean every time! 
I haven’t been in the hospital now for a month. We go to Dr. Turner’s office twice a month for blood tests. We are on our way now to the office. I’m sweating,and there are butterflies in my stomach…
It’s December 20th now- the day of the lawsuit. We’re so ready for this to be over! Campbell and I have been preparing for this moment for months! 
We walk into the courtroom. Melissa is here too, although she’s not going to speak today. I also brought Olivia along. Of course, she cannot talk yet; however, I want to show the judge how much physical damage has resulted from this. At the moment, she has a huge bruise on her hipbone and has an infection as well. Since Olivia’s an infant, her bones aren’t hard enough for a needle to go into them yet. 
Dr. Turner walks in, her face as red as a tomato. She looks about ready to punch us in the face! I guess she’s mad because she got caught doing something wrong. She doesn’t even acknowledge us (except Melissa!). Dr. Turner goes directly to the back of the room. Ha! This proves that she’s ashamed of her actions!, I thought, laughing to myself.
The moment Campbell walks in, everyone snaps to attention. “Ok, let’s get started!”, he says. Campbell is looking rather official today, wearing a suit and tie. 
The Judge is Joanne DeSalvo. She’s all business! 
I get called up to the podium. I tell the jury and the judge about everything, as well as show them the bruise on my daughter’s leg .  I start crying eventually, but then my turn is over, so it’s alright. Everyone here is very understanding and sensitive. Melissa is watching meticulously from the back of the room. She wanted to be here even though she’s just watching. 
Then, the real action starts when Dr. Turner comes onto the podium. She and I have a heart to heart conversation. I talk about how much she’s physically and emotionally hurt my younger daughter. She just stands there with her famous ‘poker face’ look. However, I know she gets the message of what I’m trying to say! She’s nodding often, which is a good sign. 
After this, the jury goes into the judge’s chambers. It seems as though an hour goes by before the jury makes a decision *taps foot impatiently*.  After a while, Judge DeSalvo says, “ Guilty on all accounts! Campbell, take this Dr. Away!”, she declares. 
Dr. Turner gets whisked away by security guards. She has handcuffs. 

So, we’re in the doctor’s office right now. The waiting room is small and cramped. We check in at the registration desk, and it was not even a minute before we got called into the office.
After I had my blood drawn from my central line, we unexpectedly get called into Dr. Turner’s office. She has  a huge smile on her face. “Well Melissa, I have some great news for you! You have been in remission for six months now. We’ll continue to preform blood tests and bone marrow aspirations every month just to make sure nothing comes back, but as it stands right now, you’re cancer free!”, she exclaims. 
“ Wait- why do I still have to get bone marrow aspirations and blood tests? More needles? Ugh!”, I reply in disgust. Haven’t I already been through enough pain? Why do I have to have more? I thought I’d be done with this stuff now that I’d been in remission for so long! 
“ Well, we need to follow you closely for five years to make sure the cancer doesn’t come back. If you are in remission for five years, you’ll be considered cancer free. However, we’ll keep your central line in place so that blood draws don’t cause you any pain. We might need to replace it eventually. Central lines can only stay in so long. We’ll talk about that later. With the bone marrow aspirations, unfortunately, this option is not possible. However, we can sedate you each time to minimize the pain. Bone marrow aspirations are the key to following this. If this comes back, which I don’t think it will, we need to catch it as early as possible”, said the doctor. 
“ Well, I still don’t like this idea, but since you explained it, I guess I agree-reluctantly”.
“We should go ahead and schedule the next bone marrow aspiration. We’ll do them every month for six months, and then gradually reduce the frequency depending on the results”. 
“ When should I have it done?”, I ask nervously. I abhor these procedures!
“ As soon as possible. It’s been about a month since the last one. How about Friday?”, she replied.
Immediately, my entire body tensed up. Sadly enough, my mom agreed, so I went along with it.
“ Excellent. I’ll see you both Friday”.
Friday Morning 
“Melissa, wake up! It’s already 5:45 A.M, and we have to be at the hospital at 6:30. Get up! And remember- don’t eat breakfast!”, said my mom. 
Did she really think I needed a reminder? I’ve had more surgeries in the past year than I can count! This had become routine. I was sweating, and we had not even arrived at the hospital yet! This is going to be a long day….
    It’s 6:30 A.M now. We just got to Lutheran General Children’s Hospital, and we’re waiting in Pre-Op. I put on a horrible green hospital gown and lie down on the hospital bed. A few minutes later, the nurse came into my room to put in the I.V. I was used to it, so it didn’t hurt very much. 
A few minutes later, we went to the operating room. They gave me some sedatives intravenously, so I can’t say I really remember much after that…..
When I wake up, I am in so much pain that I can barely move. Luckily, it subsides a few hours later. We get the results a few hours later, and I am clean… again! 

I just talked to Campbell, and apparently Dr. Turner was fired. The lawsuit was so intense that he and Judge DeSalvo didn’t think that she could handle her professional responsibilities anymore. So, now we need to find a new oncologist. However, that will be super easy. Lutheran General has a ton of good oncologists. We’ve been doing some research, and Dr. Jeffrey Wayne is top rated. I make an appointment for next Monday. Melissa is doing well, except for the fact that her hips are killing her from the bone marrow aspirations. Hopefully we’ll be able to solve that problem. 
It’s Monday now- the day of the appointment. We’re nervous, but we know this is the right thing to do. We check in, and Dr. Wayne comes in a few minutes later. I like him immediately, and I can tell Melissa does, too.
Dr. Wayne has a wonderful bedside manner. He’s nationally recognized in oncology, and he really seems to get along well with Melissa. 
Dr. Wayne suggests giving Melissa some perfectly safe pain medication before each bone marrow aspiration. It’d be given from her central line, so no needles involved! He also says we can remove her central line in about four months if all goes well. Melissa breathes a sigh of relief!
Once again, the next aspiration comes out clean, and the pain meds work wonderfully! We’re so grateful for this incredible oncologist!

Epilogue- 5 years later - Melissa 
Five years have passed, and I am proud to say that I am cured! This journey has been really hard.   I now volunteer at the hospital I was treated at, and it’s amazing. I have grown tremendously during this experience- both physically and emotionally. I have been through a tremendous transformation, and I can definitely say that I’m a better person now. 

About the Author 
Morgan Katz is a Junior in High school. She loves reading, writing, cooking, and listening to music. Morgan is a skin cancer survivor, and she volunteers in a children’s hospital on the weekends. 

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