Joe paused in the hallway as he shut the door to
his son’s room. He should have pushed harder
earlier, asked the right questions. He thought.
Ben has briefed him about his misery and grief
concerning the death of his mother.
He walked slowly to the living room. Hannah was
on the couch and she looked up when he
“How’s he doing?”
“Don’t give yourself a hard time,” she said
quietly. “You’re a great dad, JOe. One of the best.
But you are not a mind reader.
“You didn’t know him before the accident. I
should have seen it was something more than
“Tell me, how is a grieving kid supposed to act?
Blaming yourself isn’t going to get anyone
anywhere or do Ben any favours, by the way.”
“I love you, Hannah,” he whispered.
She went very still.
“somehting wrong?” he asked.
“No. You just keep taking me by surprise, that’s
She wanted to say it…..but still couldn’t .
“You mean it’s a surprise to you that I’m crazy
“Yes. NO. You know what I mean. I’ve been
biding my time, trying to find the right
opportunity, the right moment, and you just
threw it out there…..”
She stared at him for a moment. Then she took a
deep breath, her eyes very serious as she looked
into his, “I love you, JOe. Happy now?”
He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her
She smiled and lay her head back on his chest.
“I’m just going to close my eyes for a few
minutes. Do not let me fall asleep. Because I
can’t stay the night yet. Not until Ben is
absolutely okay with all of this.”
He smiled to himself. Right now he had Hannah
in his arms,even if for a few hours. It was enough
to be going on with. “I won’t. I know.” he said.
Six weeks later after Ben’s big blowup.
was just around the corner. Hannah convinced
her mother to help her go shopping for Ben,
Ruby and Joe. She had tasked Ben and Ruby to
write down a list for her. And Ruby insisted that
she is over dolls but Hannah knew better. She
smiled as she remembered Ben’s earnestness as
he handed over his list to her. He’d been seeing a
counselor for about a month and the change in
him was nothing short of miraculous. It was
though a huge burden has been lifted from his
shoulder — which, of course, it had. Best of all
was when he looked at her, or laughed at her
jokes, or came over to help her around the
“Hannah , over here. Come and look at this one.”
Hannah looked up and saw her mother in the
women’s department, a flashy red bra and pantie
set dangling from one hand.
“Mom, we’re not shopping for me, or you, for
that matter,” she said.
“It’s so beautiful, Hannah,” her mother called
again. “At least come and look at it. If I had your
figure I’d buy it in a snap.”
She collected it and checked the price tag. “Jeez
Mom, No way am I paying so much for so little.”
“I’ll buy it for you. My chritmas present to you.”
her mother gave Hannah a wink.
Hannah was a little embrassed about how much
she was looking forward to Christmas day. They
were going to have a big sit-down dinner with
her mother, Joe, the kids and his mother.
Between them, she and her mom and JOe’s mom
were going to cook the meal. It was going to be a
real family day, her first christmas with JOe.
She fumbled with the bra straps until they were
comfortable. She laughed a little when she saw
how s*xy** the bra looked when it was on.
“Oh, Hannah. Isn’t it wonderful. Joe will love it.
Not another word. I’m buying it,” her mother
Hannah shrugged. She reached behind her to
undo the clasp and felt a stab of pain near her
“Ow!” she pulled the bra off.
“Give it to me and I’ll take it to the register,” her
Hannah frowned as she felt something small and
firm beneath her fingers.
“What’s wrong?” her mother asked.
Hannah met her mother’s eyes in the mirror.
“There’s a lump.”
The smile faded from her mother’s eyes. “Are you
“Yes. It’s probably nothing.
“Let me feel. I have more experience with this
than you. My b0s0ms are twenty five years older
Hannah sighed and turned. “Can you feel it.?
Her mother was frowning now, “When did you
check your b0s0ms last?”
“I don’t know. Five months ago? Six?”
“I want you to get this checked out, Hannah”
“Fine. I”ll go see Dr. Nelson.”
Her mother pulled out her cell phone. “I’ll see if
she can fit you in tomorrow.”
Hannah listened as her mother spoke to the
receptionist at the medical centre, making an
“Happy not?” she asked when her mother ended
“Not yet. But I will be.”
The next day, Hannah greeted her doctor with a
smile. She explained about finding the lump.”I
feel silly even mentioning this,” she said.
“Why don’t you step behind the screen and take
your bra and top off and we’ll take a look.”
Hannah lay down and Dr. Nelson stepped toward
the examination table.
“sorry if my hands are cold,” she said before
laying her hands on Hannah’s b0s0m.
“Okay, it’s definetely a lump. But do you feel any
Pain when I press it.?
“No, not at all. That’s good, right?”
Dr. Nelson smiled. In most cases it’s not painful
in younger women.
Hannah frowned. “So is it good or bad that I
have no pain?”
“i suspect it’s neither here nor there. I’m just
going to check your lymph nodes.”
Hannah lay still as Dr. Nelson checked her armpit
and neck, then examined her left b0s0m.
“Well, Hannah, I’m going to send you for an
ultrasound. There’s not doubt that this lump is
new and therefore worthy of investigation.”
“Okay. When should i book the test?”
“I’ll ask my receptionist to arrange one for you
with a radiologist we know.
Hannah dressed in a daze, her cold hands
fumbling with the catch on her bra. She’d
expected to be reassured and sent home, not
sent off for tests. She waited in the reception
area for the receptionist to get off the phone with
“They can see you tomorrow morning. How is
“That should be fine.” Hannah said.
She went back to work and spent the evening
watching DVDs with Ruby and Ben. She hustled
the kids to bed at eight thirty, aware they had
school the next day. Ben wanted to read for a
little while and she left him to it, figuring he’d
probably pass out with his book in his hand and
she could go in twenty minutes and turn the
Joe came home late. Tired and smelling of beer
and cigarette smoke. It seemed pointless to tell
him what happened at the medical centre.So
instead she went home to stare at the ceiling
and count the hours till morning.
The radiologist was a friendly older woman who
patiently expalined the ultrasound procedure for
Hannah before asking her to UnCloth and lie on a
table with her arm behind her head. Cool gel was
smoothed over Hannah’s skin and the ultrasound
wand pressed against her b0s0m.
“There is an unusual mass” the radiologist said
Hannah had to swallow before she could speak
again. “Is it cancer?”
“I’m afraid I can’t tell you that just by looking.
We need to take a biopsy. But we can do that
Hannah nodded dumbly.
The radiologist started to assemble a tray with
needles and other medical tools, she used the
ultrasound to target the lump in Hannah’s b0s0m
and then drew some cells out of it using a fine
needle and smeare it onto a glass plate.
“These go off to the lab not. You should have the
results within forty-eight hours.”
More waiting. Hannah tried to smile but
failed.She dressed slowly and rode to the garage.
For the rest of the day she threw herself into her
work, trying to drive fear and uncertainty away
through sheer willpower.
She was inspecting a Range Rover the following
morning day when her phone vibrated in her
pocket. She closed her eyes when she heard the
Doctor’s voice. There was no reason for her
doctor to call her before her scheduled
appointment tomorrow afternoon unless there
was bad news.
“Hannah, I’d like you to come in today if
possible.” Dr. Nelson said. Her voice was calm
A great fear filled up inside Hannah. “Yes. I think
so. I need to talk to my boss.”
Hannah ended the call. She felt dizzy. Her
stomach was light; it was hard to breathe.
She had cancer. That was the only reason Dr.
Nelson could possibly want her to come in so
She took permission and her boss gave her the
afternoon off. She rode to the clinic.
“As you’ve probably guessed, your tests have
come back positive Hannah. It’s the most
common form of b0s0m cancer. Basically, it
means the cancer started in one of your milk
ducts and has spread into the surrounding
“Am I going to die?”
“You’re young, the lump is small. You have every
chance of surviving.” Dr. Nelson said.
Hannah stared at her. She’d been looking for a
one word response — NO. she hadn’t gotten it.
“Hannah, is there someone I can call for you?
Maybe someone who can come and give you a
Joe’s face filled her mind and her eyes flooded
with tears. “I’ll be fine. I just need to get my
“Are you sure?:”
“I’m referring you to an excellent surgeon.
works at the Faith Care Hospital in the city. He’s
very highly regarded.”
By the time she left the doctor’s office she had
an appointment to see a surgeon on MOnday of
the following week.
Joe paused in the hallway as he shut the door to