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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Risk (05/17/12)

TITLE: The Risk Connection
By Laura Manley


As the aroma of onions sautéing filled the air, Nadine settled into her favorite overstuffed chair. She picked up a magazine and aimlessly flipped through the pages, cognizant of her obligation in the kitchen.

Just as an article caught her eye, the front door opened. Nadine immediately put her magazine down and greeted her husband. He always brought a smile to her face.

“So, how did things go?” asked Nadine, never expecting to hear what Bill was about to say.

Bill and Nadine had moved to the Seattle area just eight months prior. Besides finding a home and jobs, they had been looking for a new doctor. Today, Bill had seen the doctor for the first time and from what Bill had to say, it was none too soon.

“He found a mass!”

Everything around Nadine seemed to shut down; almost became non-existent as she tried to grasp what her husband of nearly twenty-four years had just said.

Confusion, disbelief and fear penetrated her soul. Questions flew, answers less attainable…they had been plunged into something that although obviously had a beginning, what would the ultimate end be. The dreaded cancer word was thrown out with caution for fear just the thought would make it true.

Both Bill and Nadine slept fitfully that first night. When Bill stopped his fight with the blankets, Nadine slipped carefully out of bed. She had to find out more about what they were facing. The on button clicked readying the desktop computer to help her investigate. After hours of research, Nadine finally sought solace in the quiet of the early morning with the Lord.

Dear Heavenly Father: I don’t know why this disease has knocked on the door of our lives, but I ask that You be with us every step of the way, giving us guidance to know the path You would have us take. I’m overwhelmed as I know my husband is, Father, but help us to keep our focus on You and what You would have us do. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen

Because of the seriousness of the situation, Bill was scheduled the very next day with a surgeon who would be removing the mass in his colon. The day dragged like a turtle crossing the freeway until finally, they met with the surgeon.

The diagnosis was definite: colon cancer. Their heads spun like two tops, both wanting to put a halt to the never-ending spinning. They knew the road would not be an easy one.

Bill squeezed the hand of Nadine as they listened to the surgeon explain that Bill’s colon might have to be shortened by several inches. If the mass was bigger than they anticipated, he would end up with a colostomy. Bill cringed at the thought of wearing a bag on his rounded stomach for the rest of his life, but he knew he really had no choice!

Surgery day arrived and as Bill lay in the prep room of the sterile-looking white hospital room, he confided in Nadine. His words were simple, and to the point, “I’m scared!”

Nadine bent over and kissed the man she loved more than life itself and said, “I know, Bill. I’ve been praying ever since we got the news. I know God will be with us every step of the way. Now…let Him begin His work.” Bill smiled; He loved his Nadine and knew she was right.

Nadine’s patience was waning as she sat in the Waiting Room with their four grown children. Just as she accepted her plight, Bill’s weary-looking doctor approached her. Nadine jumped to her feet.

She sat back down and listened intently as the surgeon explained that ten inches of Bill’s colon was removed. She knew what that meant, but silently sent praise to her Heavenly Father that he was alive.

“There’s one other thing that you both need to know, Mrs. Layman, which concerns your children.”

Nadine’s heart beat faster than the hooves of a racehorse at the starting gate of an all-important race. The doctor continued. “In light of Bill’s cancer, your children are at high risk of developing cancer one day. They will need testing once they reach forty and should follow a testing schedule throughout their lives.”

An inappropriate smile formed on Nadine’s face. She heard the doctor’s words, yet God’s words resonated more clearly…I will never leave you nor forsake you. Peace enveloped Nadine. She didn’t like the path they faced, but knew they wouldn’t walk it alone.

Author's note: This is based on a true story.

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This article has been read 344 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 05/24/12
Thank you for sharing this personal story. I admire the way you went to God for the answers and strength. My prayers and love go out to you both.

God bless you all~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/25/12
You did an outstanding job on this one. You drew me in immediately and had me on the edge of my seat until the last word.

Be careful of switching POV. At the beginning we were able to peek into the wife's head with the phrase --cognizant of her obligation in the kitchen. Then later we get to see that the husband is thinking -- Bill cringed at the thought of wearing a bag on his rounded stomach for the rest of his life, but he knew he really had no choice. You just need to describe the other MC's feelings like how you would see it without peeking into his mind.

The fact that this is a true story makes it even better. I really liked that you wrote the prayer out. Many people may not know how to pray and you showed an excellent example. I think you did an outstanding job with this one.
Leah Nichols 05/29/12
The trouble with writing ultra-short entries is the limit on how much you can say in 750 words. The best way to strengthen your writing for the challenge is to focus in on one single moment in time, with a possible leap into another moment. Narratives are tricky because we often want to write more than we have room for. Try to narrow in on one scene - perhaps a discussion on the treatment options, and their risks and benefits. Focus on the difficulty of the decision, and the emotions of each as they weigh the options. It's okay to show both POV's if you stay outside the characters.

You have an important story to tell and it reads easily. Great entry. Keep writing!
PamFord Davis 05/29/12
This story held my attention from start-to-stop! Two words in particular grabbed me- "I'm scared." It reminded me of the passage where Peter walked on water, viewed the winds, and cried out to Jesus to save him.
Keep up the good work.

Wing His Words!
lynn gipson 05/30/12
Thank you so much for this..as a colon cancer survivor and ostomy patiet I know everything your husband went through, but isnt it a miracle we can survive this way? God Bless and Keep you both always and this was excellent writing!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/31/12
Congratulations for placing 14th in level one!