HOPE by Katie Wernecke
by Katie Wernecke
Cancer is not kind, it does not care, who it hurts, but it can never, ever take my spirit, my hope, or my courage away from me.
Hope Clarkson was getting ready for her first day at Carlson High School in Memphis, Tennessee when her mother happened to walk in on her. Her mother noticed a huge lump on her chest.
“Are you okay?” asked her mother.
“I’m fine, why?” asked Hope.
“Because there is a huge mass poking out of your chest that’s why,” said her mother worryingly.
So after this big long conversation about when Hope first noticed, if it hurts, and a lot of why didn’t you tell me, her mother rushed Hope to the nearest hospital she knew of, St. Jude’s Hospital. When they finally arrived at the Emergency section of the hospital, she checked in, and one of the nurses weighed, measured, and took her blood pressure. After the nurse was done, she told them to have a seat in the waiting room and a doctor would see her as soon as possible. After about forty-nine minutes of waiting they were finally called in. There they placed her in a room and asked about another fifty questions about why she was here, if she had any pain else where, and when did she first notice it. Hope answered some of the questions, but her mother did most of the talking.
“Who is the doctor that will be taking care of my daughter today?” asked her mother curiously.
The doctor’s name is Mrs. Shelly Young. She is the best doctor for this kind of thing.” said the assisting nurse, Leslie.
“Here she is now,” said Leslie.
“Thank you, Leslie,” said Dr. Young, “I can take it from here now.”
After a quick read through of the report Leslie had written up, Dr. Young determined that Hope needed several blood tests, an x-ray, a CT scan, and a PET scan to determine just what Hope had. Dr. Young was pretty sure she knew what it was, but she just wasn’t 100% sure.
“Have you eaten at all today Hope?” asked Dr. Young
“No, Dr.,” said Hope.
“Good,” said Dr. Young. “Then we can go ahead and run all the tests that we need to run in order to determine just exactly what is going on in your body. Are you up for it?”
“I guess,” said Hope, not really knowing what to expect.
So after getting stuck in the arm two times. One was to draw blood and the other was for the PET scan. They asked her to drink this really nasty liquid. It had a banana flavor, but it still tasted nasty to her. After finishing it, they took her to get an x-ray of the chest, which was really simple to do. Then they took her to get her CT scan. This took about fifteen minutes. Finally after all that was done, she went to get her PET scan. This was the most critical scan she had to take because this would determine whether it was cancerous or not.
“The test results have just come back, and I am afraid that we are going to have to admit you to the hospital because we are going to have to start chemotherapy right away. Now I know that you are probably scared right now, Hope, but there are several people to talk to if you have any questions. Anyway, I am going to be your doctor while you stay at the hospital, but when you leave and come back for weekly checkups, Dr. Rime will be your doctor,” explained Dr. Young.
“So what exactly does my daughter have and how bad is it?” questioned her mother.
“Well, let’s just say that she has four tumors. Each are almost the size of a baseball, and each one is located in different places. The one that we know of already is pressing against her heart and right lung, the second one is resting on her back bone, the third one is at the bottom of her left lung, and the last and final one is under her right ribs. I have just one question. Has she ever complained of being in pain?” asked Dr. Young.
“NO!” exclaimed her mother.
“She doesn’t really have long to live. Give or take I only give her about three to four months to live without treatments, but there is something we can do for her if you want,” said Dr. Young
“What can you do for her?” asked Hope’s mother hopefully.
“We can give her chemotherapy and followed by radiation afterwards,” said Dr. Young.
“Okay then. Let’s give it a try,” said Hope’s mother.
“Well, then I guess I’ll see you in room 309 on the second floor later on today to see how she is doing and to explain how this is going to work,” said Dr. Young.
Hope and her mother walked reluctantly to the elevator. Hope was so full of questions that she couldn’t wait to ask her mom. Her mom only shrugged when she asked. Her mother was so afraid to tell Hope about what Dr. Young told her and she really didn’t know how or what to say to Hope. Finally, they came to the second floor and walked to room 309. Shortly after getting settled into the room, a nurse walks in and says that she will be Hope’s nurse for the night and that her name is Heather. Heather then hooked an IV pole with this huge red bag attached.
“What is in that huge bag?” asked Hope.
“That is your chemotherapy that will run for two days,” explained Heather.
Dr. Young came later to room to explain to Hope about what was going to happen. She told her that the chemotherapy was going to make her lose her hair and that when she feels nauseated to just tell the nurse and she can give you benedryl for it. She also explained that Hope was going to be in the hospital for three days. Then will get to go home for three weeks, but she had to come back once a week during those three weeks for blood tests and a follow up chemo. The follow up chemo only takes thirty minutes to give and it could make you feel drowsy.
Hope was finally released from the hospital on the third day of her stay there. She couldn’t wait to go home. So, she quickly packed up her things and headed to elevator. Once in the car her mother said they had to make a quick stop before heading home.
“Why?” asked Hope.
“Because,” said her mother.
Hope wanted to ask again, but she knew not to press her mother anymore because she was still upset from the news about her cancer. It took her mom about 20 minutes to get where she was headed to.
“Hope, I thought that you could use a new cell phone. You can get any one you want,” said her mother.
“Really?” said Hope.
“Really,” said her mother.
“Thank you!” said Hope excitedly.
Hope rushed inside the store and started looking around the store for the perfect cell phone. Hope couldn’t decided which phone she wanted, but finally she decided that she wanted a light pink flip phone. She also picked out a case and a headset to go with it. When they where finally back in the car she gave her mother a hug.
“I thought that would cheer you up,” said her mother.
“Well, thanks. I really like it mom,” said Hope.
“I’m glad,” said her mother.
They finally arrived home around 3:45 p.m. Hope’s dad was there to greet them when they walked in door.
“What kind of cell phone did you get?” asked her dad.
Hope showed her dad the new phone, the case, and the head set she just got a few minutes ago. Hope couldn’t wait to tell her friends about her new phone. So once she was done showing her dad the phone she called her friends. She talked for hours and hours. Finally, her dad told her she needed to get ready for bed because she had to get up in the morning.
The day finally came when Hope had to go back for her check up. She had no idea where to go once they were at the hospital but lucky her mother did. They had to go down two halls to get there. They checked in at the nurses’ station and then they where called back to meet with Dr. Rime. They walked into Dr. Rime’s office and took a seat in one of the chairs.
“Hi,” said Hope’s mother.
“Hope could you give us a minute?” said Dr. Rime.
“Sure, no problem,” said Hope.
“I’m afraid I have some really bad news,” said Dr. Rime.
“What do you mean?” said Hope’s mother, who was getting really worried.
“I don’t know how to put this, but sometimes things are overlooked or not seen right away on some blood tests and on scans. In Hope’s case something very important was not seen until later. Her blood tests just came back today and her tumor makers are sky rocketing and so they went back over her scans, but they still didn’t see anything different. So, they took the CT scan and the PET scan and over lapped them. That’s when they saw it. There is another huge mass under her heart and a small one in her brain,” explained Dr. Rime.
“So what’s going to happen to my daughter,” said Hope’s mother really worried.
“Well I hate to say it, but she is going to die. I would give her only three to four weeks to live,” said Dr. Rime regretfully.
“So what do I do?” said her mother.
“Well, I suggest you take her home and explain to her what I just told you and let her do whatever she wants to do before she dies for she is going to need something to cheer her up. If she goes into depression it only make it worse,” said Dr. Rime.
“I just have one more question,” said Hope’s mother.
“What is it?” asked Dr. Rime.
“How come she doesn’t have any pain?” asked Hope’s mother.
“The tumor that is in her brain, is pressing on a nerve that allows her to feel pain,” said Dr. Rime.
“Thanks for everything,” said Hope’s mother.
After leaving Dr. Rime’s office she went to find where Hope went. She found her in the teen room near the nurses’ station.
“Honey, we are going home now,” said Hope’s mother.
“What did Dr. Rime say?” asked Hope.
“I’ll tell you when we get home,” said Hope’s mother.
It was a long and quite ride home. Hope want to press her mother for answers, but something was telling her not to. Hope knew something was wrong because she was supposed to get her blood drawn, and she was never seen by the doctor like she was supposed to. So Hope started to write down something in her notebook that she felt was necessary. Hope fell asleep when she finished writing in her notebook. She wasn’t feeling really good. They arrived home after thirty minutes of driving. Hope’s mother tried to wake up Hope, but Hope wouldn’t wake up no matter what she did. Her mother worryingly called 911. The ambulance arrived in about five minutes and Hope was taken to the nearest hospital. Hope never woke up while in the ambulance. The hospital emergency team on call that night rushed Hope out of the ambulance and into the hospital. Hope was pronounced dead at midnight. Hope’s mother and father couldn’t believe what had happened. They just lost their only daughter. They drove home that night. While Hope’s father was driving, her mother noticed her notebook lying on the floor. Curiously, Hope’s mother thumbed through the pages. She stopped cold when she saw the letter that Hope had written when Hope and her mother were driving home from the hospital that night. She began to read.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I wanted to let you know that I love you very much. When mom wouldn’t tell me what the doctor had said, I started to wonder and then it hit me. I didn’t have my blood drawn and I was never seen by the doctor like I was supposed to, so I figured what she said must have been really bad and mom also looked so worried and sad. There was one other thing too. I wasn’t feeling really good at the hospital, but I thought that was due to the chemotherapy that I received a week ago. Thinking about all these things lead me to believe that I was dying. What I seen at the hospital was the most devastating thing I have ever seen. So, if I am dying then I want you to know that the kids need something to make them feel better and to help them get their minds off of the chemo. I want you get hundreds of teddy bears and give them away, for everybody could use a teddy bear to talk to and to hug. I love you all very much and don’t worry about me for now I’m in a far better place by now.
Know that I will always be with you,
Hope’s mother was crying by the end of the letter and was wishing that she told Hope about what Dr. Rime had said.
The next day her father made the funeral arrangements and then they went down to the hospital and talked to the nurse about taking a hundred and fifty kids that had cancer down to Build-A-Bear. Hope’s father and the nurse set up a date and time with Build-A-Bear.
Hope’s father made Hope’s wish come true and a hundred and fifty lucky kids got to build a bear. Every year, Hope’s father would take another hundred and fifty kids to Build-A-Bear. He felt he owed it to Hope, and he always loved to see the kids that were once unhappy a minute ago where now smiling. Just knowing that he was giving these kids hope gave him closure. He continued to do this for 20 years.
Hope was buried three days after her death, but her memory would be carried on. The hospital dedicated a room to her. They called it, Hope’s Teddy Bear Room. For it was full of teddy bears of all sizes. Anybody that was a patient and a sibling to the patient, were allowed to take any teddy bear they wanted.