Preview – A Short Story About Hope
The voices of the people in the next room were louder than usual, and that is saying something in the area I live in. People come to the local coffee shop mostly to socialize and it always seems like they are used to shouting across a field of corn in order to be heard instead of talking across a small table.
But this morning their voices were even louder, tinged with anger…and fear.
It’s understandable. I sat in the backroom of the coffee shop, working on the sequel to Schism and my mind kept wandering to all the bad news we’ve heard over the last month. No matter if we listen to the radio, read the newspaper or watch television, there has been a barrage of stories about violence in the middle east, disease in Africa and anger in the United States. Because of Wattpad, I now have friends in each of these areas and I worry for their safety and well-being.
There has been so much bad news lately that it’s been sinking in, pulling my mood down into worry and fear. You probably have felt the same feeling…like you are being pulled deeper down into a hole that won’t let you climb out.
But I want to tell you a quick story.
Twenty-three years ago I had cancer. First, there was a lump on the side of my neck that kept growing, then another lump below it, and finally two. I wore turtlenecks and dress shirts with high collars to hide it. I would lean sideways in class to cover it all with my hand and I did not want to go to the doctor. But, my parents saw the lumps one day and made me go in.
First, there was a CT scan, which showed a solid mass in my neck, then a needle aspiration that turned up “suspicious” cells. Within a week my neck had been opened up for a full biopsy and I waited for the results in the recovery room. My family was around me, very worried about what we would hear.
The surgeon came in and gave us the news. I had Hodgkins Lymphoma. My parents and siblings were distraught, but I wasn’t. I had done my research.
The most important thing that I had uncovered in that busy week was that if I had received that diagnosis in the 1950s, 60s, 70s or even 80s, it probably would have been a death sentence. But a lot of progress had been made in treating Hodgkins and things looked good. Very good. I had every reason to be hopeful about what would happen.
Now, don’t get me wrong…the next six months were…not fun. I was cut open again. With my abdomen pulled apart, they pulled out my spleen and lymph nodes and replaced them with little metal clips. It makes for some cool looking x-rays, trust me. And then, there were the radiation treatments. Imagine the worst sunburn you’ve ever had not only hitting your skin, but your muscles and the connective tissues in your back, neck and shoulders. There were days and weeks when the pain and exhaustion made it almost impossible to get out of bed.
But, I made it. And through it all, I was able to keep my chin up because I knew that medical research and progress had turned Hodgkins into something that was often treatable. I’m here, writing in the coffee shop today because of that progress.
Now for the big part of the story…remember that research I did in the week before I was diagnosed? I’ve continued it. I had a hunch that medicine wasn’t the only area where we’ve made progress, and that hunch was absolutely correct.
The simple truth is that the world is a much better place than it was 70 years ago. It is a phenomenally better place than it was 1000 or 2000 years ago.
I’m so glad that so many of you have loved my book Schsim, but I actually don’t write only fiction. I also write nonfiction, particularly about how the world is changing and I’d like to share with you a preview of my upcoming book Reasons For Hope. My wish is that it helps lift you out of that pit that the news media throws us all into. We all need that help.
I’ll be posting these previews on Wattpad. Click here for the link.