ePub The Irish Rose ePub

by Joe Hill

Chapter One


"Malignant . . . "

"I'm sorry, Mrs. O'Malley," the doctor said. His acid-stinging words scarred her ears and heart.

Tara heard his voice, the nurse on the phone, the whisperings of patients . . . soliciting for her attention like clamoring voices from a literary agent's slush pile. Is my life over? She thought. Not if I can help it. And I can help it!

Blood rushed to her head. Her face flushed with fear. A nightmare . . . sitting opposite Dr. Stein. Her body froze in a fixed position, her hands tightening round the arms of the chair rest. Her hair shampooed and set the day before, settled closer to her head. Stroking her forehead, she felt faint. Her back and legs felt weak. A stressful spell came over her. Her heart pounded in her head, her ears, her fingers; it beat so fast she had difficulty breathing. She shot the doctor a look, but tears clouded her vision. She heard the word "malignant" and nothing else. A baseball-size lump in her throat made her cough.

His hand on hers restored the realism of the moment. Lump . . . malignant. To herself, she repeated what he said: "I'm sorry, Mrs. O'Malley." She felt cold. Strange, in this stressful situation, she should remember when she and John had attended the ballet last season. In a draft, she said, "I feel cold."

Once again, she needed her husband to hold and warm her to share her stress. Her worst fears had surfaced. Cancer! How could it happen? How, at fifty-four, could I have cancer. It wasn't in the family. Death might be my partner. No, I will not die! I will not permit it. Harold Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People flashed to mind. She knewGod would help. But according to Kushner, God did not interfere with the natural order of things, which meant God would perform no miracle on her left breast. She felt isolated. Desolate. Deserted. Discontinued. She needed God. God might reject my prayers; he might not halt the natural development of cancer cells multiplying in my lymph nodes. Her thoughts pitched at her like a dentist's drill without medication, unnerving every tooth in her mouth. She hurt all over. Once on top, now at the bottom. How can I climb up?

"Mrs. O'Malley . . .Mrs. O'Malley . . ." Dr. Stein voice startled her.

The oncologist spoke through partially opened lips. "Your primary physician is correct. Your tumor is cancerous."

Instead of saying, "It can't be. There's no cancer in the family." She stammered, "What?" She tried to smile. But her cheeks hurt like the leathery skin of an octogenarian in God-awful health. An outcropping of cancerous cells growing in my body like an extraterrestrial embryo.

"Nice to know you are in competent hands, if I can use the word nice in this sad situation."

Sad isn't the word for it, she reasoned. More like a death sentence. A swelling of emotions filled her lungs. She coughed. She coughed again. She, a mother of four with a touch of gentleness, as soft as a summer breeze, had cancer. Cancer! Impossible.

"Relax, Tara. Here, take this water."

You must be wrong, doctor. "Thank you," she said, taking the glass. "It's a wonder my husband didn't feel the tumor."


"He always has his hands on my breasts, especially in bed."

The oncologist smiled. "Men are interested in other things."

"My husband's a fine man. I love him and couldn't have a better husband and father to our four children. We're more than good together. We're one." We're one and now he may be on his own. "Well, I kid him he has a one track mind. Every time I look around he has one or both hands on me," said she.

Laughing, he said, "It's a wonder you didn't have more children."

She teared up. She told herself to be brave. With her inner strength she cleared her eyes. My children . . . I may never see them married nor hold my grandchildren! Now more than ever, she'd have to be a leader for her children's good. To lead through fear is not to lead; she must be brave and courageous and lead courageously. To do so would help her family through difficult days ahead. After all, everyone has difficulties from time to time.

"I'm sorry," he replied. "You have much to offer the world and people."

"I already do as an administrator of a personal care home as well as owning my own facility," she answered.

"I know," the doctor noted.

She felt the need for a hug. "I love my residents. I love my job. I love my husband. I love my children. I love life. I don't want to die," she said. Courage mounted in her like mercury sizzling in a thermometer in a sauna. No wind blew outside. The world seemed calm. Before riding her sail, she'd first have to paddle her own boat in the days ahead.

She went on, "I want to live, but I might die. Some people are 65 but act like 25. Others are 25 and act like 65. I'm young in age and heart."

He tried to restore her confidence. "Wait and see what the surgeon says after examining your lymph nodes."

"Who's the surgeon?" she questioned.

"He is one of the best. He's chief of staff at the Cancer Institute. Dr. David Wiseman. He's about your age."

"And he will live."

"Don't be negative now, Tara."

"Negative is not part of my vocabulary. Determination is." She recalled St. Francis de Sales saying, "It is in giving we receive." She believed she'd have to give more to life and to her family than ever before in order to win a longer life. How? She didn't know.

"That's the spirit! Remember, you're not dead."

She smiled. "And I won't be."

"Of course, you won't. In cases like this, you need to be strong-willed."

"And I am."

"Your husband is supportive, I take it?"

"Always was and always will be." She had not asked the size of the tumor. "How big is the tumor?"

"Anything is too large," said he with understanding.

"Is it large?" she persisted.

Dodging a direct answer, he replied, "It is a fair size. Dr. Wiseman may recommend a radical mastectomy or possibly a lumpectomy if he feels it safe. How will John feel about this?"

Her glasses moist with her tears reminded her of the tide at Ocean City, the site of many good family vacations. "Probably tell me he loves me and he'll want what is best for me."

"Not all men would say so."

"You don't know John. He loves me and I love him - unconditionally." She felt like an old book, its pages ripped out and stripped of its title and ready to be food for the worms. She felt the need to risk all. She wondered, if she would ever win this battle with cancer.

"Look up there," he said, pointing to the nickel-steel sky. "Pretend it's dark and there's a star up there." She nodded approvingly. "Pretend the star is coming down . . . down . . . and here it is. "Do you know the name of that star?" She shook her head. "Its name is Tara."

"Thank you," she smiled as he held her hand. "Well, here is Dr. Wiseman's phone number. Give him a call. And do it today." Leaving the office, Tara noticed the sky clear and steel blue while an inky cloud of blackness hung over her life as if she were Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz fighting against the witch of Oz. Like Dorothy, I'll win this fight, God willing. She looked straight ahead into the bright sky, using imagery; she imagined the blue sky represented the Blessed Mother, beckoning her to fight for life. For a moment she froze at the car door listening to the whirl of cars. Her Grand Marquis stood shimmering and shining in the morning sunlight. She vowed not to dream of the person she might like to be, for that would waste the strong-willed person she was. She didn't want to be anyone else. She wanted to be herself. She didn't cause cancer. She couldn't control cancer. But she'd do her best to fight it.

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Book Title
Book Author
PublisherB. Jain Publishers Ltd
Release date 02.02.2007
Pages count358
eBook formatHardcover, (torrent)En
File size2.8 Mb
Book rating3.67 (3 votes)
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