One Last Chance

Submitted into Contest #136 in response to: Write about a character giving something one last shot.... view prompt

33 comments

Fiction Sad Drama

“You need anything Mr. Abbott?” the nurse asked as she completed pumping nausea medicine and steroids into the bag that the chemo would drip from.

“Michael,” Michael said with a warm smile as he retrieved a novel from his knapsack and placed it onto his lap.

“Michael, I’m Mary,” the nurse corrected herself. “What book are you reading?” she asked, looking down at the novel that appeared on her patient’s lap.

Michael glanced down at the novel and ran his hand along the front carefully, admiring the cover. “My granddaughter wrote this; can you believe it?” he asked with a sparkle in his eye. “Only twenty-six years old and she’s already published a best-selling novel.” He held up the novel to Mary, displaying the cover. “Have you read it? It’s called One Last Chance. I think it’s a romance. Or maybe it’s suspense. I’m not really sure. I’ll read anything that girl writes.”

Mary smiled sympathetically and shook her head. “I haven’t read it, but it looks intriguing. I’ll have to check it out at the library,” she said. She fiddled with a few more things on Michael’s IV and then stepped in front of him. “I’ll be back in thirty minutes to check on you to see how you’re doing. Sound good?”

Michael nodded and scanned the large room at the other patients, all hooked up to their IVs, doing various things to keep themselves occupied. There were nine of them total today; he had counted when he arrived earlier. The chairs they were sitting on resembled chaise lounges. He hadn’t sat on a chair this nice since Peggy and he went to the Bahamas years ago. The room seemed bigger than his last time he’d had chemo a few years back; the hospital must have been renovated recently. Or was he at St. John’s Hospital the last time? He couldn’t keep track anymore. This was his fourth battle with cancer in twenty-five years. It kept coming back and he kept beating it; it was a part of his life now as much as his arthritis and balding head were a part of his life. Except now that he was eighty-two years old, he didn’t know how much fight he had left in him. If he were honest with himself, he wouldn’t have gone through with chemo at all, but his granddaughter, Lucy the novelist, had insisted.

“You can’t just not treat it Pop Pop,” Lucy had said over the phone two weeks ago when the doctor had called to give him the news. “The doctor said it’s stage 3, there’s still hope.”

It seemed like each time Michael got cancer, it was a new stage. Stage 1 Localized Bladder. Stage 2 Localized Colorectal. Stage 2 Regional Prostate. Stage 3 Regional Pancreatic. How many more stages could he get? Was there an award for most types of Cancer in the most parts of a human’s body? If there was, Michael certainly would be awarded it.

“I’m no expert, Lu,” he had told her, “But I don’t think there is any coming back from Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer. Especially for someone my age.”

“That’s what they thought about your prostate cancer and look what happened? You beat it! If anyone can beat it, you can Pops,” Lucy had told him in an optimistic voice. “Please, do it for me?” she had asked. Of course, Michael would do it for her. He’d do anything for his Lu even if it meant spending the last few months of his life in misery. Because really, what else did he have to do with his time anyways if not make his granddaughter happy?

Lucy’s grandmother, Peggy, the love of Michael’s life, died ten years ago from a heart attack. The damn woman never smoked, never ate anything fried, and rarely drank and she died of a God-dang heart attack. Just goes to show you, God takes who he takes when he wants them. Michael sometimes wondered if God forgot about him. Every time he got Cancer, he thought, this is it. But nope. Here he was, still alive.

“Lollipop?” a woman sitting across from Michael asked as she reached into her purse and held out a bright red candy wrapper. The woman looked to be in her mid-forties and had on a sweatshirt that said Nevertheless She Persisted in bold letters.

“Sure, thanks,” Michael replied. Although he wasn’t a huge fan of any candy besides chocolate, he had learned at an early age never to turn down something someone offers you. He could give the lollipop to the little boy who comes to church every Sunday when he saw him. Realizing she was attached to an IV and couldn’t get up to give Michael the candy, the woman motioned her hand in a swinging gesture and tossed the lollipop onto Michael’s lap. “Nice throw,” Michael complimented her as he took the candy from his lap and placed it into his knapsack.

“Thank you,” she said as she unwrapped a lollipop for herself and stuck it into her mouth. “I’m Eva.”

“Michael,” he said back.

“First session?” Eva asked looking up at him. “Haven’t seen you in here before.”

“Well, yes and no,” he said shifting in his seat. “First session this time around.” He didn’t want to go into more details. He didn’t want to worry her with his past failures if she was new to the process. Everyone needed a little hope. “You?” he asked trying to change the subject towards her.

“This is my third session,” she said, taking the lollipop out of her mouth. “Stage four breast cancer.”

Michael winced at the number but tried to keep his face calm. At least when he had cancer when he was in his forties, it was only stage 2. But this poor woman had stage 4. She probably wouldn’t live to be the lucky age of eighty-six like he had. He tried to think of something to say to avoid the stage 4 elephant in the room. “How’s it going for you?” he asked, “Getting adjusted?”

“After the first session, I didn’t feel bad. I went back to get a shot to boost my white cell count, so that I wouldn’t get ill. That night, its effects kicked in: My bones felt like they were on fire. I was told to take allergy medication. It didn’t work, but ibuprofen did. This time around, I feel the chemo working. It doesn’t hurt; it just feels weird — like something crawling in my skin. I sort of feel like I have the flu, but without the nausea.”

Michael didn’t want to tell her that the nausea was coming soon. “You have anyone to help you at home?” he asked looking at the vacant seat next to her. She and Michael were the only two patients without a friend or family member sitting next to them to keep them company.

“My partner, Shelby, but she’s at home with our four-year-old son now. Hence, why I have kid’s lollipops in my purse,” she chuckled. “You?” she asked looking at the empty seat next to Michael. Michael looked at the empty seat next to him, almost forgetting what her question was.

“Me?” he asked, still thinking about the woman’s four-year-old at home, about to lose his mother to cancer.

“Yes, you have anyone to help at home?” she asked pointing towards the vacant chair.

“No…well…yes…” he stumbled on his words. “I’m in a retirement community so I have the nurses and staff there to help me. They’ll drive me to and from appointments and if I need extra help when I start getting sick, I can hire more help.”

“No family?” she asked with a frown on her face.

“Yes, I have a son and granddaughter, but they live in Cincinnati so only come to visit me for Christmas when they can. Everyone is so busy now and days,” he said as he rubbed the spine of the novel and held it up for the woman to see. “My granddaughter, Lucy, wrote this novel. Have you read it?” he asked with anticipation. Eva squinted her eyes to try to make out the title.

“One Last Chance,” she read the words to herself, “No I can’t say I have, but Mazel Tov to her. What an accomplishment!”

Michael smiled and looked down at the novel. “Yes, it really is, isn’t it?” he boasted. “She’s my sun and moon. I’d do anything for her.”

“How sweet,” Eva said, dabbing a tear from her eyes. “She is lucky to have a grandfather who loves her so much.”

“I’m the lucky one,” Michael said as he stared down at the novel and opened to page 1. Lucy might not be in the seat next to him, but she was with him while he read her words. He’d do this chemo for her until his last day on earth. 

March 08, 2022 19:00

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33 comments

L.M. Lydon
14:20 Mar 15, 2022

Your POV character is so likeable! Michael has such a sweet relationship with his granddaughter and he seems like such a kind man.

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Kathleen Fine
23:01 May 22, 2022

Thanks LM!

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Michele Duess
19:34 Mar 12, 2022

I liked the stage four elephant comment. How even in a cancer center it's hard to talk about death. Hopefully both will beat their cancer and go on with their lives.

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Kathleen Fine
13:14 Mar 13, 2022

Thank you Michele!

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Diane Hunter
00:49 Mar 09, 2022

So many deal with this scenario and maybe this time Michael will be cancer free and around to celebrate the new book of his grand daughter. Hard topic to present in a positive light....Yet I felt hopeful!!

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Kathleen Fine
17:14 Mar 12, 2022

Thanks Diane!

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21:50 Mar 24, 2022

I love this story so much! It's absolutely amazing!

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Kathleen Fine
14:43 Mar 25, 2022

Thank you Isabel!

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Michał Przywara
02:45 Mar 16, 2022

This is a really neat story! It's a very short episode of Michael's life, but it gives us a big look into his character. It's bittersweet, but not exactly sad, at least not for Michael. He spends his time in remembrance and gratitude, and it gives us the impression he's lived a rewarding and satisfying life. All he has left now is to give of himself.

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Kathleen Fine
23:01 May 22, 2022

Thank you Michal!

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Craig Westmore
01:43 Mar 16, 2022

Another wonderful story, Kathleen! I was completely engrossed by the story all the way to the end.

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Kathleen Fine
23:01 May 22, 2022

Thank you Craig!

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Hailey Gaar
19:14 Mar 15, 2022

Beautifully written! The story flows so well and I thought the way you ended was perfect!

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Kathleen Fine
23:01 May 22, 2022

Thank you Hailey!

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Colin Strivelli
18:16 Mar 15, 2022

Well done! This is a very grounded and truthful sort of story. It's an interesting take on the prompt, and I applaud that. All of this, really just pulls the reader into a bittersweet story that is incredibly relatable I think to most people. And despite the bleakness of the subject matter, you managed to keep a prety light tone the whole time, especially with the ending giving it all a sort of optimistic, if not hopeful feel. All in all, good job!

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Kathleen Fine
23:01 May 22, 2022

Thanks Colin!

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Maggie Gibbs
23:51 Mar 13, 2022

Kathleen this was so well done. I love how empathetic Michael was… thinking all about other people instead of the gravity of his situation. What a sweet man. Great sorry! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

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Kathleen Fine
23:01 May 22, 2022

Thanks Maggie!

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J.W. Mack
11:31 Mar 13, 2022

Well done. I love the inclusion of the book title. I especially liked the humanity we see in Michael and Eva - how they worry about each other’s loved ones and each other’s situation.

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Kathleen Fine
13:11 Mar 13, 2022

Thank you J.W!

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Sharon Hancock
03:04 Mar 13, 2022

Awe such a wonderful sweet story. My daughters have a great relationship with my dad, so this is extra sweet. I like how the name of the book goes with the prompt. I enjoyed it a lot!😻

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Kathleen Fine
13:11 Mar 13, 2022

Thanks Sharon and that is so special that your daughter and father have a great relationship. They are both lucky!

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Felice Noelle
02:35 Mar 13, 2022

Kathleen: This was a story that seemed very accurate and authentic. I sat three days a week once a month for six months in a chemo room and can attest to the fact that they are very special places with very special people. I was given 6 months to live, then six to eight years after successful chemo, and here I am still standing twenty years later. Hope springs eternal...! The most touching time was when I looked across the room and saw a young pregnant woman and one time even a child of about eight. One of the most inspirational things...

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Kathleen Fine
13:14 Mar 13, 2022

Maureen thanks for sharing your story - what an inspiration! You beat cancer even when the doctors said you had six months to live! And I love that story about the teen- you are the one who should be writing this-not me!

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Felice Noelle
14:36 Mar 13, 2022

Kathleen: I think stories are just stories until an inspired talent such as yourself puts them into special words that make them touch the heart and resonate. Without the gifted writing even a great story is just a factual retelling of events. I appreciate the way you retold these events. You don't need to own the story or to have lived it to be able to pass it on and share it so beautifully. Good work. Maureen

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Bradon L
23:22 Mar 12, 2022

I really enjoyed this. It was a sad story that still managed to have a positive vibe to it! Excellent job

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Kathleen Fine
13:14 Mar 13, 2022

Thanks Bradon!

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❀Leo Fall❀
18:48 Mar 12, 2022

This is so close to home. I love how you wrote about this subject.

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Kathleen Fine
13:14 Mar 13, 2022

Thank you Leo!

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Marisa Vargas
10:55 Mar 12, 2022

Love it! Wha a delightful way to deal with a heavy subject!

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Kathleen Fine
17:15 Mar 12, 2022

Thank you Marisa!

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Aspen Hall
01:36 Mar 10, 2022

Wow, this story hit close to home for me. My dad died of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I feel like your story was very realistic of what someone with a late-stage cancer would think about doing treatment. He knew it was a losing battle, but did it because his family wanted it.

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Kathleen Fine
17:15 Mar 12, 2022

Aspen, I am so sorry for your loss! It must have been so difficult for you and your family! Thank you for the feedback!

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