Hailey's Cancer

May 4, 2009
By , Yuma, AZ
Hailey Carter was very adventurous. She surfed, skateboarded, ran track, and even rock climbed all in her spare time. Even more impressive, she did all this while maintaining a 3.8 grade average, taking dancing lessons, and being one of the most popular girls in her school. She loved music and lived in Seattle, Washington.

Hailey woke one morning to a stabbing pain in her stomach. The pain went straight through her abdomen to her spine. She gasped and sat up in her bed, breathless. Then, just as suddenly as the pain had appeared, it was gone. This pain had arrived sporadically for the past few months, but Hailey had just disregarded it as a horrible stomachache. Maybe it’s time to see a doctor, she thought.

Hailey cautiously got up from her bed and sauntered over to her bathroom. She looked into her mirror, already knowing what she would see. There, staring back at her was a girl who was about five feet, two and a half inches tall, with chestnut hair and wide, chocolate brown eyes. If you looked close enough, you could even notice the golden flecks in her eyes. Her face was flushed from her sudden awakening and her hair was a mess.

She glanced at her clock, and realizing that she was going to be late, quickly got ready for school. As she hurried down the stairs, she heard her mother call her from the kitchen.

“Hailey, can you come here please?” she rolled her eyes, now positive that she was going to be late, but obediently ran to the kitchen. Just as she entered the room, the spontaneous pain reappeared. This time it was so severe that she instantly fell to the ground, clutching her stomach.

“Hailey!” her mother cried, sprinting to her side. “What is it?” With as much strength as she could muster, Hailey moaned incoherently and then the world around her went black.

Hailey regained consciousness in the emergency room of the local hospital. She looked around groggily, her vision clouded with small, gray dots. She felt a warm hand on her shoulder and was almost sure it was her mother. She began to fall back asleep when a male voice called her name. Steady hands guided her into a large, pristine room. Slowly her vision came back to her and she was looking into her doctor’s eyes. He wanted her to step onto the scale. She followed his directions and after he readjusted the scale, he let out a low whistle.

“What is it?” Hailey asked.

“You’ve lost twelve pounds,” he said slowly. She sat back down and her mother began to talk to the doctor. He pressed his fingers suddenly to her abdomen and it made her jump.

“Does that hurt?” he asked sincerely, looking a little too serious.

“A little bit,” she answered just as serious. The doctor studied his notes for a minute and then told her mother that he wanted her to take some tests. Hailey and her mother agreed and they hastily went to another hall in the hospital. Hailey stepped into a pure white room complete with a large machine. She was going to have to take a CAT scan.

After the test was over, Hailey’s doctor wanted her to take some more tests. The tests she had to take involved her checking into the hospital. A tight ball of nervousness curled in her stomach.

“Mom,” Hailey said as they were escorted to her room in the hospital, “What is this about?”

“The doctor thinks that there is something in you that shouldn’t be there.”

“Like what?” Hailey retorted.

“Like a tumor,” her mother said sadly.

“A tumor,” Hailey repeated dully, not surprised. She had known that something was wrong all along. Throughout the rest of the day, Hailey went through test after horrible test. At the end of the day, she was exhausted.

Hailey sat in the hospital bed the next morning anxious to do something. She had been immobile for almost a full twenty-four hours and she was not used to being so still. Hailey heard heavy feet shuffle and a door open quietly and then close just as quietly. She opened her eyes to find her room empty. She saw through the window in her wall that her mother was talking to a doctor. The doctor looked sad, almost apologetic. Her mother looked both anxious and scared.

“Is there nothing you can do?” her mother begged as she began to cry. At that moment, Hailey knew that she had cancer.

A few minutes later her mother walked in with the same doctor. He began to talk about pancreatic cancer. He explained what it was and how it had developed. Suddenly Hailey burst with the question she was so anxious to ask.

“Am I going to die?” she asked and the doctor paused before answering her question.

“Well,” he said slowly, “Because the cancer is in stage four, yes you are going to die.” He looked both relieved and sorry.

“All the treatment would do for you is give you a few more weeks here.”

“I want the treatment,” Hailey said simply. The doctor nodded and left the room. Hailey’s mother came to sit next to her and they cried together in silence.

Hailey was treated with chemotherapy and given pain medication to help her live longer. For the next two weeks her days were filled with cheerful gifts and tragic goodbyes. Friends and family came from everywhere to see her. She cried day after day until her eyes were dry. One morning in November Hailey looked at her calendar. She had less than a week left according to her doctors. A few minutes later her doctor walked in. He said that they wanted to get another CAT scan.
“It’s just procedure,” he said. Hailey nodded and was led slowly to the room containing the large, intimidating machine. It scanned her one last time and she became comfortable surrounded by the buzz of the machinery. Later, in Hailey’s hospital room the doctor gave her the results of the CAT scan.

“The tumor is still there, larger than ever. I’m very sorry,” he said before Hailey closed her eyes and fell into a troubled sleep.

The next week on Tuesday Hailey woke to a startling conclusion. She was going to die that day. She was certain of it. The truth of the statement coursed through her body like an electric current. She had no idea how she knew this, but she did. Apparently the doctors knew it too. They wore grave expressions as they gave her pain medication and helped her more than usual. The only one who seemed to be oblivious to this epiphany was her mother. She looked as if it were any other day in the hospital.

Throughout the day, Hailey felt her strength dwindling. Around five-thirty in the evening was when it began. Her vision clouded and stayed that way for a minute before it returned. Hailey reported it to her doctor and he whispered something to her mother. Phone calls were made and in an hour and a half familiar faces surrounded her.

This is how I want to die, surrounded by the people I love, Hailey thought. Soon her vision began to fade and her mother grasped her hand tightly. A cool breeze consumed her body before she went numb. She closed her eyes and a wave of warmth washed through her as she said her last word. “Goodbye,” she said before she let go of life and was surrounded by darkness for one last time.





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