Surprises

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and at the urging of one of the smartest writer-ladies I know–{*cough* Last name rhymes with Pan–First name rhymes with Oozin’.}  I’m going to share a few words today about surprises… (ps- and I’m gonna TRY to pay more attention to my poor, abandoned blog.. sorry, old chap)

Surprises—by definition—are events which catch you unaware and off guard. When we hear the word, it normally conjures pleasant or downright joyful occasions.  Those which end in memories you carry throughout your life. A birthday celebration. An unexpected new life. A miracle you’d given up hoping for.

But when I thought back to the most significant surprise in my recent life, I kept returning to the day I learned my forty-year-old little sister had breast cancer.

The unendurable part of this surprise was that she didn’t know…And I couldn’t tell her.

I work in Radiology, you see, and when she called me about some concerns the physician at another facility had about her very first mammogram, I scoffed.

“That other hospital is always over-diagnosing mammos,” I told her. “Bring yours over here and let our doctors take a look, I know it’s nothing.”

Of course it was nothing. My sister was barely forty. She had three little girls, and her life was in that whirlwind stage of cheerleading practices and soccer games. Besides, our entire extended family—all eleven of us—were leaving the next day for a long-anticipated trip to Disneyworld. The happiest place on earth. So, nothing could possibly be wrong. Not really, really wrong.

Two hours after I dropped off the disc, the radiologist, who was a friend of mine, called me. When he asked me to sit down, an uneasy stir began in the center of my gut.

“I hate so much to have to tell you,” he said, “but this is definitely cancer. Even without a biopsy, I can tell that for certain.”

Now…here was a surprise. And now I had a decision to make. Did I hold that surprise inside my chest–and ruin my vacation and mine alone? Or did I spring the surprise—and ruin everyone else’s?

Naturally I didn’t tell. How could I?

It wasn’t until we were packing to come home that I finally let her in on the big surprise. And though I thought I’d kept it hidden pretty well…my sister is no dummy. She saw it lurking in my eyes the whole time.

I was NOT surprised—by the way—by my sister’s courage, strength and unbelievable ability to keep her sense of humor during that long, grueling year. But we did have one more huge surprise waiting for us at the end of it. The news that my sister is now cancer-free. IT was a surprise of the most joyful variety. And one, my friends, that I’ll hold in my heart until the day I die.

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This post is my contribution to my writing group’s new weekly topic challenge. Author Susan Spann, author of the forthcoming ninja detective novel CLAWS OF THE CAT (Thomas Dunne, 2013), will propose a topic on her blog each Monday and we each of us will respond. Marci Jefferson (author of THE DUCHESS OF RICHMOND, St. Martins, 2014) posted her response on Susan’s blog. Amanda Orr, working on a novel set in New Orleans, “the poor man’s Paris,” posts about a surprise 9-months-in-the-makingand its effects on her writing. Julianne Douglas posted her response–A December Surprise– and is currently working on her delectable novel of 16th century France.

Feel free to join in and post your link in the comments below!

About Janet

I'm one of those girls who love books so much, I couldn't stand it till I wrote one of my own. I'm dreaming of the day when someone a LOT smarter than me will invent a time machine. I have a wonderful hubby and two amazing boys, who--over the years--have ruined me forever for sappy chick-flicks. Now, I'm all about the fantasy-action. Thor...mmm... And GoT rocks! I am repped by the phenomenal Mollie Glick of Foundry Lit.
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9 Responses to Surprises

  1. Marci Jefferson says:

    Oh wow, this brought tears to my eyes, Janet! Amazing story with a perfect ending.

  2. Susan Spann says:

    What an amazing story. I’m so glad it ended well. You had the kind of surprise I wouldn’t wish on anyone – but fortunately, with an ending that everyone would hope for. I can’t imagine how hard it was for you not to tell her all that time. You have more strength than I do, for sure!

  3. Pingback: Surprise! It’s a New Blog Game! | Spann of Time

  4. Jennifer says:

    Wow!!!now THIS is a REAL surprise!! Thanks for that sissy!!! I am not courageous!! I just hide it well!!! I love you more than you know!!

  5. LJ Cohen says:

    Oh, I’m so glad your sister is well! What a terrible time that must have been for all of you.

  6. Thank you all so much, guys!
    And Sissy- you truly ARE the bravest person I know!

  7. Nena says:

    Janet was with Jennifer for each appointment and for all the surgeries. It has been a year since the first one, Happy Birthday. Love both of my girls so much.

  8. Heather Webb says:

    The screen is blurry from the tears in my eyes. Beautiful story, J.

    Not all surprises are good ones, but I have no doubt you swallowed the news and confronted the battle like warriors!!!! I’m so so happy your sister is well! Another surprise, but a perfect one.
    xo

  9. Vicki says:

    This wonderful tribute is one more indication of your talent in the field of writing. The love between sisters shines through. As the sister of a sister that once came near death, I fully appreciate the fearful love you must have carried with you on that trip. But your sister knows you too. She is a smart cookie, and a very courageous lady. She is well loved by her family and her friends and an inspiration to us all.

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