Disclaimers: All characters referenced in this story are mine and mine alone. Any similarities between them and anyone else living, dead, or fictional, is purely accidental/coincidental. Basically, hands off without my permission-pretty please.
Warnings: No violence, sorry. This does involve a look at loving relationships between women. If this is not your style, you are under 18, or if this is not legal where you live: Either don’t read it, don’t get caught reading it, or forget you ever saw this stuff.
For those who think lesbianism is wrong -sorry, perhaps one day after we cure stuff like cancer and AIDS we’ll work on stupidity-until then, don’t read and don’t flame.
Sex: Of course-not in all sections but it does happen now and again.
Sue: Always for you!
Anything I missed? Fill in the blanks or email me.
All comments, questions, suggestions and nice stuff are LOVED!
The first day of Jay’s second round of chemo was cold, so Bailey made sure to bundle her up and get the car warmed up well, before she brought Jay outside. Jay was more tired than Bailey had ever seen her, and she was having a near impossible time getting and keeping anything inside of her. Her mouth and neck were so raw from the radiation that a bad bout of coughing could tear open scabs on her neck and make her bleed. It had become physically painful for Bailey to watch, as her strong and sensitive lover became weaker and more dependant as they battled this disease. Jay had asked Bailey to buzz her hair as she couldn’t tolerate showers on her burns, and washing it had become a problem. Jay slept most of the way to the cancer center and when they arrived, Bailey dropped her off at the main entrance and went to park the car, so that Jay wouldn’t have to walk as much.
They went to the lab first, and then down to radiation for her treatment. Jay had worn a loose shirt with a lower neckline so she didn’t have to change before radiation this time. When the tech came out for her, he motioned Bailey to follow as before.
This time, when they went into the control room for the treatment, he asked her, “So, how is Jay really doing? When I ask her, she tries to be as cheerful as possible and says she’s fine. I can see that she isn’t, is there anything you need? If there is any way I can help, please, let me know.”
Bailey smiled, “Thanks, she’s trying to put up a tough front, but I know she’s hurting. Just keep kidding around with her. I know she appreciates the humor.”
“She’s been one of my most memorable patients. She comes in and keeps a smile on her face, no matter how sick or tired she is feeling. Last week, she brought in a trick light bulb and pulled it out when we got her on the table. She stuck it in her mouth and told us we were turning her into Uncle Fester, and then she made it glow.” He smiled at the memory and checked the progress of the treatment. “If you guys need anything from us down here, please let us know. She’s been really brave and we all admire her fighting this as hard as she has been.”
Bailey smiled and felt the tears welling up in her eyes. It was comforting that others saw Jay the way she did, brave and strong, trying so hard not to let the cancer, and the treatment, steal her sense of humor and fun. Bailey thanked him and the other techs, and promised they would check back after her treatments were over. She only had seven more and she would be done with the radiation portion of her treatment.
When Jay was done, they went to see the oncologist before getting the infusion done. When Jay did her weigh in no one was surprised to find that she had lost close to ten pounds.
Trying to make light of it, Jay joked, “I finally got rid of that bulge around my middle that I’ve been fighting for years.” It hurt to talk, but she was still making jokes.
Bailey fell a little more in love with her each time she saw her take another shot at the cancer, refusing to let it get all of her. The doctor and his staff met with them and discussed her lab results.
“I’m not really happy with some of the numbers this time. I’m going to order an extra bag of fluids for today and Friday. It will add some time to the treatments, but it should make you feel better too.”
Jay just nodded slightly, too much movement hurt, and she was starting to feel worn out again. “I’m also going to have them give you a shot to boost your red blood cell count. Your count is a little lower than I would like it to be going into treatment, but we’ll fight it with the medication.”
By now, Jay knew what to expect so she waited patiently as the nurse set up her chair and all the paraphernalia. Jay had brought her own fleece blanket as she found the room a little cold, and the room temperature fluids going into her body temperature system chilled her off as well. She waited until they had her set up, and then put on her iPod and dozed off. Bailey kept watch again as her lover slept and worried even more about her lover as she watched the poison drip into her body.
“Jay, we’re here.” Riley tried to wake Jay up gently as they got to Fox Chase for her last radiation treatment on Friday. She had made it through a major part of her treatment after this last day. Riley looked compassionately at her friend, noting the increased burn damage and the start of hair loss. Her heart twisted and she wished once more for a magic wand with which she could heal Jay, but she knew it was futile. Gently, she unlatched Jay’s seatbelt and went around to open her door.
“Jay, buddy, it’s time to get up, we’re here.” Jay slowly opened her eyes and promptly grabbed for her bucket that was a constant companion now. Riley held Jay’s head as her friend was sick and she tried to hide her fear. When Jay was finished, Riley gave her some water to rinse her mouth out and took the bucket from her. She helped Jay out of the car and into one of the wheelchairs by the main entrance. With a quick stop by the first bathroom they found, Riley cleaned out the bucket and gave it back to Jay before taking her down to radiation.
As soon as they got to the treatment waiting room one of the nurses came over and spoke to Jay. “How are you today Jay? Any better than yesterday?”
Jay mumbled something, and Riley filled the nurse in on the last twenty-four hours. Jay hadn’t kept anything down at all, including her medication that morning. The nurse said she would be right back and went to consult with Dr. Zach.
Dr. Zach came in and sat down next to Jay. “So, I hear you’re having some increased problems today Jay.”
Jay looked up at him with an expression on her face that could only mean “Duh!”
“I’m glad to see you still have some humor left in you. I’m going to pre-treat you with an IV dose of anti-nausea medication before we put you on the table today. I want to make sure you will be safe. This way we should be able to finish the treatment without stopping and you will feel better at the same time.”
Jay nodded and smiled very weakly. “Thanks Doc, I really don’t feel too good. It got much worse this morning, and my hair started coming out two days ago.”
He patted her knee and promised that he would do his best to make her feel better. He also prescribed Marinol for her, a liquid capsulated version of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. He hoped it would help her beat some of the nausea she was facing.
After the IV medication, Jay was brought into her treatment and the techs locked her into place for the last time. They turned on a station they knew she liked on the radio, and afterward the treatment was over, they gave her the mask to take home. Everyone wished her well and reminded her to visit when she felt better. With that, Jay’s time with radiation treatment was done but she declined to ring the bell on her way out.
“No sense tempting fate,” was all she said to Riley as they left.
Sirens, Jay knew she heard sirens. Not that unusual in the city, but they seemed really close. Suddenly, nausea wracked her body and she felt herself vomiting again, and again. All she knew was pain as her body tried to turn itself inside out. As the spasms eased, she felt someone turn her over and wipe her face with a cool damp cloth. Sounds faded again as she lost her tenuous grasp on the world around her.
Bailey sat in the front of the ambulance as it made its way from their condo to University Hospital. She had called 911 after she found Jay unresponsive on the bathroom floor after another bout of vomiting and diarrhea. She prayed for Jay to wake up, and when the EMT’s arrived, Jay’s eyes did open for a moment. Then she had another round of dry heaves and passed out again. Now, they sped to the hospital and all Bailey could do was pray and tamp down her panic and fear.
When they got to the hospital, the EMT crew directed Bailey to registration to sign Jay in and give her history to the staff. Thankfully, she had grabbed their big cancer notebook that had reports on her tests, surgeries, treatments, medications, and listed her doctors’ names and contact information. After she finished the registration process, Bailey called Jay’s parents and asked them to call her own for her. She also called Riley and asked her to let Sharon know that she didn’t think she would be in to work tomorrow, or until things were stable.
“No problem Bail, she’s here with me, I’ll tell her, and then we’re coming down to be with you.” Bailey, too numb to really hear anything, just mumbled something and hung up.
Finally, a nurse said she could go back to Jay and sit with her. She was hooked up via her port to an IV, with a second bag piggy backed to the first. Bailey checked the labels and realized it was normal saline and the piggyback was Compazine, to deal with the nausea. She had learned a lot recently, more than she ever wanted to know, about medicine and its procedures. Bailey knew the staff wanted to introduce hydration as quickly as possible, and give Jay’s body a chance to settle down.
Just then, a nurse came in and started asking questions about Jay’s recent history, and she verified her medication list and allergies. “The doctor will be in shortly.”
“Can you tell me anything yet?”
“Right now she is resting, but Jay is running a fever which indicates that an infection has taken hold. We’re working on hydration and getting her cooled down. Blood work has been drawn and sent to the lab for rapid analysis to determine what we’re fighting. In the meantime, a broad-spectrum antibiotic will most likely be given soon.”
“Thank you. Can she hear me?””
The nurse smiled, “Yes, she isn’t unconscious, just worn out. You can talk to her or just keep her company.”
As the nurse left the room, Bailey reached for Jay’s hand, so pale on the stark white sheets of the hospital gurney. She smoothed back the wisps of hair from Jay’s face as she tried to will strength into her lover.
“Please fight this Jay, please get better,” she whispered. Bailey lost track of time, and she sat there holding Jay’s hand and pleading with the Goddess for the medical staff to fix Jay.
The curtain parted, and an average sized man in his late twenties walked in wearing a lab coat and carrying Jay’s chart. A nurse in scrubs was with him, and proceeded to retake Jay’s vital signs for him. The man introduced himself, with a slight Pakistani accent, as one of the attending physicians and asked Bailey if she wanted to remain as he examined Jay.
She nodded firmly, “I’m not leaving her.”
He nodded and set the chart aside, washed his hands and snapped on a pair of examination gloves. The doctor did a quick physical exam, listened to the nurse’s report on vitals signs, and read through the lab report that had just come back.
He glanced over at Bailey and asked, “Your relationship to the patient? I need to know before I can discuss my findings.”
“I’m her lover, we live together, and I’m her primary care giver,” Bailey answered, her tone practically daring him to refuse her information. Instead, he nodded, and motioned to the chair next to the bed as he pulled up a stool to sit on.
“Here’s what I found. Jay has at least one infection going on and her blood levels are seriously lower than the normal ranges. Her resistance to infection is almost zero, her red blood cells are excessively low as well, and she is severely dehydrated. You did the right thing by getting her in here.”
Bailey swallowed hard, her gaze drifting to Jay before asking, “You can fix this right? You’ll give her some medication and fluid and she’ll be okay, right?”
The doctor ran a hand over his face before responding. “I’m not going to lie to you, this is serious stuff. We’re going to admit her to a special part of ICU, where the room will have a type of air system that pushes out all the air and pumps in sterile air. It is an isolation room with positive pressure. There will also be precautions in place that must be followed. You and all visitors, including staff, will have to wear gloves, masks, and gowns.”
Bailey noticed that as he spoke, the nurse had come back and put a surgical type mask on Jay.
The doctor explained, “That is for her protection until we can get her upstairs. Her body is without any reserves to fight off infection and her counts are so low that we have to rebuild them. I’m going to order some packed red blood cells and platelets to be infused into her, as well as additional fluids. We’ve already started antibiotics and we’ll keep giving her more of those. Do you have questions?”
Bailey was too numb to ask anything else, she just thanked him and went back to hold Jay’s hand. The nurse made her wash her hands, and put on gloves before she would allow Bailey near Jay again. Bailey simply sat next to Jay, willing her to fight back and beat this latest challenge.
“There she is. I see her!” Riley pulled Sharon behind her as she sped through the halls of the hospital, looking for the ICU waiting room and Bailey. Laura and Steve were on the same elevator car and followed on Riley’s heels. She rushed over to the smaller woman and enveloped her in a big hug.
“What’s going on Bail? How is she?” Riley’s eyes rested on her with compassion, recognizing that the smaller woman was terrified. Bailey filled them in on everything she knew, and then repeated it as Jay’s parents arrived, with her own parents in tow.
“They won’t let me in to see her yet. They needed to get all of her treatments started, and they made me wait out here for now. She did wake up a bit before we left the emergency room, but she was really out of it.”
Laura reached over, gave her daughter’s lover a hug, and then kissed her forehead. “Thank you Bailey, you may have saved her life by getting her here so quickly.”
Everyone sat and waited. Bailey’s parents arrived and she found herself bookended by each mothers with Riley standing behind her keeping a hand on her shoulder to steady her. No one spoke until an ICU nurse came in the room. She asked Bailey if she was allowed to speak frankly in front of everyone waiting. She assured her that it was fine. She introduced the nurse to everyone, and explained that this was Jay’s family and friends. When the nurse realized that Jay’s parents were there, she looked confused about to whom to address, and Jay’s father caught the look immediately.
“I know we’re technically next of kin, but Bailey has every right to make decisions and receive all information, we’ll sign a form if we have to so that it is understood clearly.”
The nurse thanked him and arranged for Jay’s parents to sign a power of attorney form waiving confidentiality and allowing Bailey full rights in decisions and information. Bailey eyes began to tear up when she saw how Jay’s family stuck up for them. The nurse filled them in on Jay’s condition, and the procedures in place for visitation.
“There can be no more than two at a time in the room, but I’ll look the other way when it comes to Bailey. I won’t count her as one of the two,” explained the nurse.
“Thank you, I don’t want to leave her alone.” Bailey tried to keep the tremor out of her voice and was grateful for the support of her mother standing beside her.
The nurse replied, “I feel that having a spouse in the room eases the patient’s fear and enables the patient to heal faster. Plus, it keeps the spouse calmer.”
Everyone thanked her, and Jay’s parents followed Bailey and the nurse to the area outside of Jay’s room to get ready to go visit.
Everyone had to scrub at the sink, put on a disposable yellow gown, a surgical style mask, and gloves. Only then, could they go through the special door that kept the air from the hospital from entering Jay’s room. Bailey went right over to Jay, grasping her hand and whispering to her lover that she was with her again.
“Jay, your mom and dad are here too, my folks are in the waiting room, with Rye and Sharon. Come on sweetie, wake up and show me those big brown eyes.”
Jay moaned a little, and finally, her eyes fluttered open. Her eyes glittered with fever and her skin was pale. A big bag of reddish fluid hung on one IV pole and Bailey decided that it was the packed red blood cells the doctor had mentioned.
Laura and Steve leaned into view and spoke softly to Jay, letting her know they loved her, and that they were counting on her to fight this, and get better. Jay’s eyes darted around the room, slightly unfocused and she didn’t respond to anything they said. When Bailey removed her hand from Jay’s, to allow Laura better access, Jay reached out and grabbed Bailey’s hand back with her own.
A smile played across Laura’s face as she spoke to Bailey, “Even now she knows better than to let you go again.”
Bailey remained focused on Jay, but nodded slowly. “I’m here baby, I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. Just rest and get better.” Jay’s eyes fluttered closed again but her hand remained tightly wrapped around Bailey’s.
The next day found Bailey still in her seat next to Jay. The nurses had let her stay in the room overnight. Jay’s breathing was getting worse, and she didn’t look any better. Yesterday, they had found two more infections after the infectious disease specialist had ordered cultures taken from several areas. Jay’s neck wound was infected, her intestinal tract had an infection, and there was another one that they hadn’t located.
Bailey used the call button to get a nurse in about Jay’s breathing and he decided to put her on oxygen. He monitored her oxygen levels and determined that the levels were coming up, and left the room again. Riley surprised Bailey by coming in a little later and taking up watch on the other side of the bed. They didn’t really talk, they just sat and watched Jay as she struggled to breath, and they both prayed for her to get better.
The room’s telephone rang, causing both women to jump, before Bailey reached for it. Jay’s mother was on the phone asking for an update, after which she told Bailey she’d be in soon and asked if she could bring anything for her. Bailey responded in the negative and rang off. Riley was aching for both of her friends, but she had no idea how to help. She walked over to Bailey and gave her a hug from behind, offering what support she could.
Sharon hung up the telephone at her desk and wanted to pull her hair out. Riley had just called with an update about Jay. She was on oxygen and she hadn’t woken up in a while. Riley sounded terrified and if she was that afraid, Sharon could only imagine how Bailey must feel. With a groan she stretched, and then stood behind her desk to stare out the window. Sharon decided that she would at least do something to help, even if she was stuck in her office for the day. She called her assistant in and explained what she wanted done. He took notes and promised to get it done right away. He left her office, and Sharon sat back down and started going through the loans, thankful that she had gotten the staff of Experienced Lenders up and running before all hell had broken loose. At least she had field help while Bailey and Jay went through this crisis.
A nurse stuck her head in Jay’s room and asked Bailey and Riley to come with her for a moment. They were puzzled, but they followed her back to the ICU waiting room. Sharon’s assistant was there with bags of food from a deli. He set them down on a small table, and greeted Bailey with a sympathetic smile.
“How are you holding up?” he asked gently. She shrugged, still not sure why he was there. “Sharon asked me to make sure you two ate. I brought some stuff from the deli that you usually order from, and there’s some drinks in that other bag.” Bailey felt her eyes well up as she realized that Sharon had helped them again, and she was overwhelmed by both her, and her assistant’s unexpected help.
“Thanks John, and please thank her for me as well. That was kind and generous of you both.”
He ducked his head and replied that it had been no bother at all, and told her to call if she needed anything else. He made sure she had his cell number before he left.
Riley came up next to her and suggested they take advantage and eat before going back in the room. Bailey agreed, they sat down and they tore into the food. Bailey hadn’t realized how hungry she was until she was eating. After they finished, Riley offered to clean up so Bailey could get back in the room. Bailey thanked her and rushed back to Jay’s room. Riley sat another moment, grateful for Sharon’s kindness, and decided to thank her in person later. She pushed herself out of the chair and started gathering the trash.
Laura and Steve came into Jay’s room midday on Wednesday, to find Jay looking worse and Bailey in tears. They went over and gave her a hug, and got an update. It had been a rough night for Jay. Her blood counts were still in the basement and her breathing had gotten worse. In addition, her fever hadn’t broken yet and she was hardly ever awake. When Jay was awake, she was very unaware of the goings on around her, but she did seem to realize that Bailey was there with her. Now, Bailey refused to leave at all. Laura tried to get her to go with her for some food, and Bailey refused, until Steve promised to sit with Jay until they returned.
As they sat in the cafeteria Bailey picked at her salad listlessly, and Laura watched her with worry in her eyes.
“Bailey, you can’t keep doing this to yourself. Jay is my daughter, and I love her more than my own life, but you can’t destroy yourself. There is nothing to be gained by you getting sick now also. When is the last time you slept?” Laura pinned her with her gaze, and Bailey had no choice but to answer.
“I slept some last night and this morning. They brought that reclining chair in for me, so I was fine. I just can’t leave her. What if she needs me and I’m not there? She doesn’t really know what’s going on right now, but she knows me and seems comforted that I’m there for her.”
Laura understood, but she didn’t want this younger woman to destroy her own health. Bailey was like a second daughter to her, and the thought of them both being ill caused Laura physical pain. For now though, she decided to let it rest as long as Bailey made a promise.
“Promise me that you will remember to eat now and then and get some rest. Jay will need you healthy and strong for her, when she is well enough to be awake more often. She will never forgive either of us if she wakes up and finds out that something happened to you.”
“I promise, but I need to get back to her now, please.”
The two women walked back to the ICU without any further talk.
That evening Jay awoke and sat up suddenly. She looked around in a panic and realized she was hooked up to all sorts of things, but she felt like she couldn’t breathe.
Bailey went to her quickly, “What’s wrong baby? What can I do?”
She leaned over and hit the call bell rapidly, as she tried to figure out what was wrong. Jay was breathing fast and shallow and her skin was clammy. Bailey realized that her lover was having more problems breathing. She raised the head of the bed so that it kept Jay almost fully upright, and grabbed the oxygen mask from the head of her bed. She put in on Jay and turned the knob until she heard the hiss of it flowing. Bailey hit the call bell again and kept a close eye on Jay. Within minutes of the mask going on, her color improved a bit and she had calmed down.
Finally, a nurse arrived and asked impatiently what they needed. Bailey hadn’t seen her before and wasn’t impressed. She explained what had happened, and asked that Jay’s doctor be contacted.
“I’m not going to wake up the doctor when the patient appears to be stable.”
Bailey fought hard to control her temper and not raise her voice. “She is on a mask now, one that I had to put on her because you didn’t answer your call bell. How is that stable? If you don’t get a doctor up here, I will, and trust me, you do not want to have me go find a doctor!”
“Fine, I will page someone but I’m going to make sure to tell them you insisted that I wake up the on-call person.”
She turned on her heal and marched out.
Bailey held jay’s hand again and asked the Goddess for strength to see them both through this crisis. Within five minutes, a woman entered the ICU room. Bailey stood up but did not let go of Jay’s hand.
“What happened? I was simply told that you insisted I be woken up. By the way, it is fine that you did. Even if there is nothing wrong, I would rather be safe than sorry.”
Bailey told the resident about Jay sitting upright and gasping for air and her subsequent actions.
The resident was a young woman wearing dark blue scrubs, her dark hair pulled back in a clip, and her white lab coat had things stuffed into every pocket. She quickly assessed Jay’s breathing, mental status, and oxygen saturation before she spoke again. “You did the right thing, both as far as putting on her mask and calling for me. I’m going to order a portable chest X-ray be done now. I think we found her missing infection. It looks like she has a small case of pneumonia brewing.”
“How can she handle anything else? She looks so fragile and pale already.”
“Like I said, you did the right things. Being upright is certainly helping, as is the oxygen. As soon as I get the results from the x-ray, I’ll come back and brief you. Is there anything else I can do for now?”
“Yes,” as Bailey glared at the nurse behind the doctor. “Can you se that this nurse is removed from caring for my partner? I’d like a different nurse please, this one refused to believe me that Jay needed help.”
The doctor looked at the nurse, “Certainly, consider it done and I will speak to her, as well as her supervisor at once. Sloppy care is not something we tolerate here.”
With that, the doctor and nurse left the room and Bailey held Jay’s hand as she sat near her. Her lover was sleeping a little more peacefully now, and her breathing seemed a lot better. She agreed to leave the room during the x-ray, but returned right away. She decided against calling anyone, it was late, and she didn’t want to worry their families since things were handled. Riley was coming in the morning, that would be soon enough to let people know about the pneumonia.
“Bail?” One word, croaked out from a dry mouth and throat, and it was the sweetest sound Bailey had ever heard.
She smiled down at Jay and whispered to her, “I’m here baby, I’m here. You’ve been pretty sick sweetie, but you’re getting better now.”
She fed her a few ice chips to get Jay’s mouth moistened and rang the bell to let the nurse know she was awake.
“What time is it?” asked Jay slowly.
“It’s about four in the afternoon, on Thursday.”
Jay looked surprised, the last thing she knew it was the Saturday after her last radiation appointment. She didn’t really remember much since then.
“What happened? Why don’t I remember?”
Jay appeared more than a little anxious, so Bailey worked to soothe her quickly. She sat next to her on the edge of the bed and pulled her closer, letting one hand rub small circles in the small of her back.
“I had to call an ambulance on Sunday. You collapsed, and I couldn’t get you to wake up. You were throwing up and having diarrhea and we couldn’t get it to stop. It turns out that you’ve had very low blood counts and three infections. They put in a lot of red blood cells, platelets, and fluid, plus a lot of antibiotics to get you feeling better.”
Jay leaned into Bailey, still astonished that she didn’t remember much of anything of the past several days. “Was Dad here? I think I remember him talking to me, but I don’t know what he said. Rye was here too right?”
Bailey nodded and gave Jay a gentle kiss on her cheek. “Your folks were here a lot, and your Dad sat with you when your Mom took me to get something to eat downstairs. Riley has been here a lot, and Sharon has been coming by when she gets off from work. She even sent over food a few times so that Riley and I could eat without leaving the floor.”
Jay was getting tired again, and the nurse had come in, so Bailey moved away and let the nurse check her over. Bailey encouraged Jay to lean back and get more rest. Once Jay dropped off again, Bailey started making phone calls to let everyone know that the worst was over. The fever had broken, the counts were coming up, and Jay was a lot more aware. Bailey wept softly when she hung up the phone. She was so damned grateful that Jay was coming back to her. She just kept staring at her lover in wonder. She had been so afraid for so long it seemed, and now she was coming back.
“I won’t do it! I’m done! No more, no way, no how!”
Jay was not shouting but she was getting loud, and very firm, as she announced that she was done with chemo treatments.
“Dude, you still have two more rounds. You can’t quit now.”
Riley was adamant about this point. She was at the condo hanging out with Jay while she rested, and Bailey went back to work. She had been in the hospital for ten days, and home for five more days. No one wanted to leave her alone yet, since she was still weak, so Riley had offered to hang out during the days.
“I can stop treatment whenever I damn well please! I’m not letting them put more of that poison in me! They almost killed me! The cancer must have died by now, and I’m not letting them get near me again with that crap!”
Riley didn’t want Jay getting too worked up so she decided to try a new approach. “Okay dude, how about this? We do some research and figure it out. We talk to your docs and Bailey about whatever we find. If everyone can come to a consensus, I’ll back you a hundred percent. If it looks like chemo is the best way to be sure, I will fight you to keep going.”
Jay smiled since she knew she could win this one. Recently she had joined an online support group for people with Merkel Cell Carcinoma, or MCC as they referred to it online. It was a Google group run by, and for, survivors and their caregivers. People from all over the world used the group to trade information and treatments, trying to give everyone the support and options for the best chance of survival.
Jay logged on to her laptop and pulled up the group’s website. Through the links page, she brought up a few research articles by Dr. Paul Nghiem, a prominent researcher and care provider, for MCC patients. He monitored this Google group and several of his patients were members who had nothing but praise for this man. His research seemed to indicate that surgery and intense radiation treatment to the localized site, was the best chance of fighting a reoccurrence of this aggressive disease.
“Here, read these and tell me if you think they make sense.” Jay pushed the laptop across the coffee table to Riley and leaned back while her friend read the reports.
Riley’s eyebrows rose as she read, and Jay heard her click to another website to look something else up. Finally, after about an hour and a half, Riley leaned back and blew out a big breath.
“So, still think I have to do chemo?”
Riley didn’t know what to think, but the points brought up did make some sense to her. The problem was, there wasn’t a lot of research since the cancer was so rare, and there was even less research dealing with someone of Jay’s age.
“I don’t know Jay. I just don’t know what to think about it. All I know is that none of us wants to risk your life. What if this stuff is wrong? What if the chemo could prevent it from spreading and you don’t finish the treatment?”
Jay acknowledged the legitimate fears her friend expressed. “Yeah but what if it kills me? I can’t go back Rye, I’m afraid.” Jay said that last part very softly, as if it pained her to admit to her fear.
“Hey, it’s okay Jay,” Riley moved to sit closer to her friend, and hoped she could find some words to comfort her now. “We’re all afraid, but you and Bailey have the most reason of all to be scared. I just want to make sure you do this for the right reasons. If you stop treatment, you have to be sure it’s because you think it’s the right move, not because you are afraid of getting sick from it again.”
Jay knew she was right but she also did think the research made some good points. “I’ll print it out and take it to the cancer center with me next week, and let them look it over. I also promise to listen to them, and to Bailey. However, if I decide to stop treatment after that, will you support me?”
Riley gave her a hug and held her for an extra minute. “I’ll always have your back, no matter what Jay. You never have to ask again, I’m always going to be here, and support you. I just want you to beat this thing and I don’t care how it happens.”
Jay was grateful yet again for having found such a good friend in Riley. One thing she had learned was what a true friend Riley was, always there during the toughest times. She also took comfort knowing that if anything did happen to her, Rye would make sure Bailey was fine.
Continued in Part 19
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