I was a bit delayed in getting to this, but here is the ‘choose your own adventure’ type of series. It starts out based upon a real story and at least one of the choices will also be based upon a real story, but there will obviously be fiction included at some point because the character can’t follow through with both choices.
Charlie was aware that the man in front of him was speaking even though the words that he was saying were being drowned out by his own thoughts. He noticed he wasn’t listening and added it to the list of jumbled thoughts racing through his mind.
What is a zero five-year survival rate? Just how small is a small intestine? How is it that I can’t even hear him when I know that he is talking? Did I lose my hearing? Wow, the human mind is a complex thing to be able to hear a horn in the parking lot while completely blocking out another man’s voice in front of me. Hey, I guess that means I’m not deaf. That reminds me, I need to have the oil changed in the car. That has been a great car. Should I stop him and let him know that he has the wrong file? I wonder if this guy realizes that he is going bald? If he doesn’t, I don’t want to be the one to tell him. What horrible news to tell a guy.
He noticed that the other man wasn’t speaking any longer and that there was a look of concern on his face. “Doc, I think that you have the wrong file there. I came in because my stomach hurts and I want to know what to do about it.”
“No, Charlie. I wish that I did have the wrong file but I don’t. This is your file and you have cancer, not a stomach ache. Do you understand?” asked the doctor.
“I understand what you are saying, but I’m telling you, I just came in because my stomach hurts a bit. It can’t be cancer,” Charlie insisted.
“I realize that everything I said is a lot to take in but you will get a chance to learn more about your disease tomorrow when you come back to discuss treatment options. My staff will schedule it when we go out and they will have some pamphlets for you to read over. The pamphlets will provide information about possible treatment options. Unfortunately, the type of cancer you have is very rare and I don’t have a pamphlet to give you specifically about it.”
Cancer? I have cancer? “Did you know that you have a huge bald spot on the top of your head?”
The doctor gave a confused look for a moment and then just walked out of the room. I guess he knows about it now, Charlie thought to himself. Suddenly he wished that he had been listening earlier, but there was no way to go back in time and listen. Time, he thought, has just taken on a different meaning.
The next few days pass in a blur as treatment options are decided and began. Charlie looks at the tattoos on his stomach that tell the technician where to aim the radiation. Not the sort of tattoos most 20 year-olds get, he thinks to himself.
The treatment is to buy him time. It was explained that it would buy weeks or months but that it was unheard of for someone to live longer than 5 years with the type of cancer he has.
Do you think Charlie should:
a) Accept the prognosis and make the best of the short time he has left or
b) Accept the diagnosis but reject the prognosis—doing so will split the time he has left between enjoying all of life he can and researching alternative ways to beat the cancer.
The choice most frequently made in the comments below by 10.13.09, will be the section of story that is posted first. Don’t worry, both will eventually be written about, but one at a time is the only way I could think to make a ‘choose your own adventure’ work with a blog.