Chapter One: The Blood Test
“This is not how I would like to spend my weekend.” That’s exactly how my best friend,
Isabel Cheston was feeling. Sitting in the doctor’s office one Saturday morning. She actually wasn’t really sitting. She was pacing the large white room while freaking out about her blood test. I could see why — she was getting four vials of blood drawn! Her hands were sweaty and clammy from her worrying. Her short brown hair tangled and knotted from her pulling.
“You’ll be fine, I promise” I said. “They just want to make sure your blood is healthy.”
“That really makes me feel better, Kosette!” Isabel snapped.
Surprised by her icy tone I paused. “At least I’m coming with you on a Saturday. Give me that much!” When Isabel didn’t respond I added, “Your mom is taking a long time parking the car.”
She glanced at me, but before she could respond the doctor opened the door. “Isabel, you may come on back.”
Isabel looked back at me and mouthed “Thank you.” She turned toward the doctor. “Can my friend come back with me?”
The doctor hesitated and looked like she was about to say yes. Then she thought better of it and said to Isabel “How about your friend stays in the waiting room, and you can see her when you come out. You’ll be done in no time and besides, your mom is coming up. See there she is!”
Isabel slowly nodded, her face crumpling up like she was about to cry.
Suddenly, Isabel’s mom hurried in. “I’m sorry I’m late Dr. Blakeman. The parking lot — it’s insanely full!”
“It always is” he agreed. “Isabel, can we come back now that your mom is here?”
Isabel nodded. The doctor took Isabel’s bony shoulders and guided her to the back rooms. Her mom following behind.
“You will do great!” I called. “I will be here when you are done!” I sat back down and sighed. I grabbed a Sports Illustrated magazine but my eyes weren’t reading the words. I couldn’t focus. Isabel’s blood was fine, wasn’t it?
A week later I was with Isabel in her backyard. The Florida air playing with our hair. Isabel had emerged from the back of the doctor office last Sunday acting fine. My worries had left… somewhat.
I still couldn’t shake the last few months out of my head. All the times Isabel had seemed okay, but then suddenly not okay.
One time that really worried me was when we were at Daytona Beach together. We were boogie boarding as we always did when we went to the beach. She suddenly looked up and said
“I’m tired, I need a break.”
“What about a few more waves? Then we can take a break and recharge.”
Usually Isabel was as active as me, preferring soccer and basketball to reading and writing. So I was pretty surprised when she strongly replied “No my knees are really hurting. I NEED to stop.”
“Fine” I agreed. “We can hit the ground running this afternoon. Sorry you are not feeling well.”
And now we were here. Sitting outside her house braiding each other’s hair. This was also a break from yet another fun activity, soccer.
And yeah, Isabel had been the one to ask for it.
Suddenly her mom ran outside and hurried over to Isabel. I expected her to yell that Isabel and I had left the ball in the street. Despite there being barely any cars on the road. She just looked at the ball without really seeing it.
“Isabel come with me.” Isabel stopped braiding my long brown hair and followed her mom back into the house. She turned around and shrugged as if saying she didn’t know what was going on.
I automatically followed Isabel. Her mom turned and said to me “It would be best if you could just stay here, alright? I need to talk to Isabel about a few things.”
I nodded but of course, being the nosy nine-year-old girl that I was. I had to know what was wrong. As soon as Isabel and her mom disappeared into the house I silently crept to the sliding glass door to listen.
“How?!” Isabel’s response was high-pitched. She always got like that when she didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t either. My heart pounded so hard I thought both of them would hear it. I wanted to stop listening. I couldn’t tear myself from the door. I heard Isabel’s mom reply. Her voice sounded muffled, as if I was underwater. I tried desperately to piece together what I was hearing and only grasped this: Isabel’s blood test from last week came out positive for some type of cancer. She needed the right blood. She needed to go to the hospital to get the wrong blood removed from her system.
I slid the door open a crack. I could now hear clearly.
“Isabel it’s called leukemia” Isabel’s mom said slowly.
“What’s that?” Isabel asked. “I don’t understand!”
“Imagine you put gas into a car” Isabel’s mom explained.
“The gas does not react well in the car. It’s the wrong gas. The car becomes sick. The car has to go to the automotive shop to get the right gas put into it. Then the car becomes healed. You have to do the same.”
The doctors will put the right blood into your body. And you’ll get better.”
“When do we leave?” Isabel’s voice cracked like it was on the verge of breaking. When her mom didn’t respond Isabel asked again. “When? When?!”
My heart felt like it would break out of its cage. I anxiously raked my hands down my hair. My fingers running along each strand.
“That’s the thing, Isabel, we have to start treatment quickly,” her mom responded after a long pause. “We leave for the hospital tomorrow.”