Not Cancer?

Not Cancer?

A Story by Lyghea

“16 year old girl. There were signs of fever, headache, and fatigue before collapsing. B.P. is 80/40. Pulse is stable, but slow. We need to get her into ICU stat!”

Piper was in grave danger, unbeknownst to doctors and family. As she was placed into ICU, doctors talked to Piper’s parents: Joann and Damek. The doctors discussed such recent illnesses of the symptoms she’s experienced over quite some time.

“We can cure her for cancer. These are basic symptoms for early stages of many cancers, and if just treat her for it overall, then she’ll be able to go home in a couple of days.”

“Alright,” Damek acknowledged. The nurse handed Damek the forms. Damek quickly signed them as Joann watched nervously.

“How affective are the meds?” Joann wanted to make sure Piper was getting the best possible care.

“3% chance they don’t work. Usually the 3 percentile falls between young children of the toddler years and elders, such as eighty and above. In other words, Mrs. Wyler, you have nothing to worry about.” Joann took a deep breath and searched for a seat by Piper.

“Mommy! Mommy!” Nolen shouted running down the hall.

“Oh my God, Nolen! Shut up and slow down,” Nova yelled, clearly expressing her thoughts.

“Come here, baby. Let’s not bother Piper.” Joann took the small child into her lap. Nolen looked curiously across the room and looked at Piper.

“What’s wrong with sissy?”

“Sissy is sick.”

“Is she going to die,” Nolen asked with tears beginning in his eyes.

“No, no, no. The doctors over there,” Joann started, pointing to a group of doctors holding a yellow folder containing Piper’s medical information, “are going to fix sissy right up with special, magic, medicines.”

Nolen cocked his head to the side, as if he was still curious and pondering over hundreds of questions, but deciding to keep his mouth shut.

“17 year old boy. He has signs of a fever, headache, and fatigue. Collapsed about 10 prior to. B.P. is 80/40. Pulse is weak but stable. ICU room 113!” A nurse shouted as a boy was being rolled into the same room as Piper. The only thing that separated Piper and the boy was a curtain.

“What does she even have,” Nova asked without the slightest of worry in her tone.

“Cancer. They’ll cure it and she’ll be home in a few days. Are you going to stay for a while?” Joann asked with small hope that she would.

“Maybe for a bit. If I get bored, I’m leaving,” Nova sassed. Damek and Nolen waved a silent good-bye and left for the night. Joann and Nova stayed, talking about the general medicines doctors would end up giving Nova.


“Joann Wyler?” Joann picked her head up. “The treatment for the cure,” the doctor started, clearly dishearten. Joann looked up with tears rolling down the left side of her face. “It doesn’t seem to be working. Erythema and Pruritus seem to have formed. We aren’t exactly sure what this is.” Joann’s heart dropped. “All we know is it’s potentially life-threatening. We’re doing everything we can to find out what it is.” Joanna left out a few mumbled sobs, and then walked outside.

“Mom?” Nova called as Joann passed her. Joann didn’t answer. Nova looked at the doctor’s face. “Fix her,” Nova angrily spoke to the doctor as tears of fear and misunderstanding feelings rolled down her red-blotched face. Moments later, Joann came back in.

“Mom?” Nova and Joann looked directly at Piper. “What’s,” Piper was interrupted by a wheezing cough, “wrong with me?”

“Doctors are trying to find out. Stay strong.” Joann softly spoke. Piper sat up. Her eyes adjusted to the room’s brightness. Piper began scanning the room and found the boy also prompted up, looking back at her. Joann followed Piper’s stare, noticing the boy, and then pushed Nova out of the room as she excused herself as well.

“Tristan.” The boy waved, smiling.


“Not cancer?” Piper shook her head. “Me either. I was cured of that s**t 3 years ago. Been there, done that!” Tristan jokingly commented. Piper let out a small laugh. “So then whatcha got?” Piper shrugged her shoulders.

“You two have the exact same case,” a doctor announced as he walked into Piper and Tristan’s ICU room.

“How bad is it?” Piper asked perturbingly.

“It is life threatening, but we aren’t sure what exactly either of you have. So for now, you two will be spending lots of time and same procedures at each other,” the doctor tried to give a smile, but it didn’t work. Tristan looked at Piper in disquiet. He threw his legs over the edge of the bed and placed his feet on the ground. The doctor smiled and gave a slight nod to Tristan before leaving.

“What are you doing?” Piper sounded confused. Tristan ignored the question and went over to Piper’s bed and sat on the end.

“I want to know you. If we’re going to be here for a while, then I want to know a bit about you first.” Tristan smiled brightly at Piper. Piper smiled back and gestured for Tristan to start first. “I was cured of cancer 3 years ago, I live with my mom and my younger brother Gage. They’re both out of state and know I can handle this. My aunt is here with me to sign papers and whatnot. I’m also 17. And ummm… yep. That’s it.”

“My mom and dad are here with my younger siblings Nova and Nolen. I’ve never done anything bad besides not do homework and yeah. I’m 16, suppose to be turning 17 in like a week or two.” Piper smiled confidently. Tristan smiled. The doctor walked back in with a clipboard made of metal and a plain pen.

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask both of you questions. If you want to answer separately, that’s fine. This is patient confidentiality so it won’t be shared with your parents unless necessary.” The doctor finished with a straight face looking between Piper and Tristan for some kind of objection. When no objections were made, he continued. “Ever done drugs or smoke? Drink?”

“When I was 10 my dad forced me to shoot heroine. Haven’t done any of that or smoking since.” Tristan felt awkward, knowing Piper would look at him. Indeed Piper did, with a rather peculiar look. The doctor looked at Piper and she shook her head.

“Any sex?” The doctor asked clearly not comfortable with both Tristan and Piper answering.

“Raped.” Piper answered as quiet as possible. Tristan gasped, and then shook his head. The doctor looked at them.

“That’s all. Thank you.” The doctor then left without another word spoken


“I need some help in here,” a nurse shouted as both Tristan and Piper had seizures. Doctors rushed in helping them. “Look, sores.” The nurse soon discovered.

“Call CDC and get these kids into quarantine! Whatever disease is causing this is contagious.” The nurses suited up and rolled them down into quarantine.

Once Piper and Tristan were stable in the quarantine room, a doctor found Joann and Tristan’s aunt. “Hello. I’m Dr. Panete. I need to know if your kids have recently been to Africa or Asia or even South America.” Both guardians shook their heads. “Never? Are you positive.” Once again, both parents nodded their heads. “Alright, thank you,” Dr. Panete finished. Dr. Panete wasn’t sure what was happening. It could easily be a few different cancers, skin being the most common, but there is also other disease it could be by perchance.

“What do you think we have?” Piper asked. Tristan shrugged his shoulders. Both of their eyes were crusted with blood. “I don’t want to die,” Piper cried. Tristan got out of his bed and ran over to Piper and hugged her.

“I won’t let you die. I’ll make sure you live. You have so much to live for.” Tristan’s comforting words turned the sob-filled hug into a compassionate hug. Tristan slipped under Piper’s covers and held her.

When Piper’s sobs were under control, she finally asked the one question that’s been lingering in her head for hours. “Why did your dad force you to take heroine?” Tristan stopped breathing for a moment. The silence grew bigger and bigger.

Finally he answered, “he thought a drug dealer gave him something else and he didn’t want it to kill him. So he made me shoot it and so I did. I didn’t know better. What about you and you’re story about what happened to you?” Piper’s eyes grew with tears again.

“It’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have let him.” Piper violently shook her head back and forth as if doing so would release her memory of being raped ever happen.

“It’s his fault. What did he do?” Tristan was smooth into getting Piper to tell her story.

“My sister invited a boy over 4 years ago. He was 18, the older brother of one of her friends. Nova didn’t know he had a thing for me. He asked to see Nova’s room and my room. I thought he was an innocent guy, so I showed him. When we got to my room, he locked the door and it just happened. I tried to prevent it, but,” Piper stopped looking into Tristan’s eyes.

“I get it. I’m sorry. It shouldn’t have ever happened to you,” Tristan said with commiseration. “So, how about your siblings?” Tristan clearly wanted to move away from such a touchy topic.

“Don’t get me started. Nova is this annoying little piece of crap. She thinks she’s above annoying because she’s 13. Nolen is like 6. He’s adorable, but can be annoying at times. I love them both, but until Nova starts acting more mature and gets over herself, I’d pick Nolen over her.” Piper laughed at such coincidence that she was once just like Nova.

“My brother is awesome. He’s 8, and the smartest little guy I know. He’s tough. He and my mom went out of state for some business trip my mom had. I was just going to stay home and go to school and all the usual stuff I’d do until I collapsed at school. My mom can get a little out of hand, but my brother and I are the closest people I know.” Piper smiled at Tristan.

“Piper?” Damek was at the window with Nolen, Nova, and Joann.

“Hey dad,” Piper responded. “Hey Nolan,” she said in little kid voice.

“Is sissy okay?” Nolan asked.

“Sissy is fine. Don’t worry. I’ll be out soon and then we can all go for some ice cream,” she emphasized ‘ice cream’. Nolen nodded his head yes as Damek laughed and slowly nodded his head. Dr. Panete passed the Wyler’s as he suited up to talk to us.

“We’ve tested for everything. We know what you have, just not how to treat it… Or if we even can.” Tristan grabbed Piper’s hand and squeezed. Piper held her breath. “You have small pox; a disease that killed many African Americans hundreds of years ago. There hasn’t been a reported case of this in about 100 years. We’re contacting every specialist we can think of, but this can kill and if we don’t find a way to treat or cure you, then…” Dr. Panete stopped. Tristan was shocked and Piper started to silently cry.

“How long would we have?” Piper’s voice shook as she tried speaking.

“A couple days. No more than a week,” Dr. Panete stopped, clearly heartbroken himself.


The doctors allowed Piper and Tristan’s family to suit up and visit their kids, more or less to say a more physical goodbye. Piper assured Nolen she was going to be okay, as Tristan did to Gage. Nova could see straight through the lies Piper told Nolen, just by the look in her eyes.

“Liar,” Nova whispered just before leaving. Piper’s partial smile faded to a frown. The room seemed darker and emptier once Piper and Tristan’s families left.

“Don’t worry. She’s just upset and confused. Once they cure you or treat you or whatever, then this whole thing will be forgotten.” Tristan’s comforting words didn’t seem to help Piper’s deplorable mood.

Things got worse and worse for both of the teenagers as they experienced more and more symptoms of small pox. Furthermore, no doctors knew how to deal with such an old disease. Dr.’s know it’s treatable, but it’s not yet curable. The disease was so old that no foundation was made up to raise money to find a cure. And now two young beings’ lives hang on the last bit of life they have left.

Days later, Piper knew she had no hope. She was smaller and weaker than Tristan. “Tristan,” Piper started, trying to moisten her dried, crackled, bleeding lips. Anytime she blinked, red crust seemed to fall then rebuild on her lower eyelid. She looked sicker than sick. “Thank you. I don’t know how I’d make it this far without you. You’re a best friend. The best one anyone could ask for,” Piper finished with a cough at the end. Her breathing was like a slight wheeze.

“You’re not done yet, Piper. Stay strong. They’ll come and save you. Just hold on. If you’re my best friend right now, then I need you to hold on,” Tristan was eager to keep Piper alive long enough for the antibiotics. Tristan had a little bit of blood-crusted eyes, and his lips weren’t as cracked as Piper’s.

“I’ll try. But either way, I love you like my own brother.” A tear fell from Piper’s eye. Tristan reached his hand over and grabbed Piper’s, squeezing. Moments later, Dr. Panete walked into the room; a silver clipboard with a red and white pen was in his right hand. His left hand contained two yellow folders, both with Tristan and Piper’s names on it.

“We found a treatment. As soon as it arrives, we will administer it to you. Both of you need to hold on for just a little while longer. It shouldn’t be more than an hour before it’s here.” Dr. Panete sounded hopeful and relieved at the fact he finally found a way to possibly save both Piper and Tristan.


Forty-five minutes later the antibiotics arrived. Nurses suited up and walked into the room where Tristan was nearing death and Piper was barely alive.

“See, Piper. You’re going to make it.” Tristan had tears of joy along with laughter escaping his body at every moment possible. “Piper?” Piper didn’t answer. She opened her eyes.

“Thank you, Tristan,” she hardly whispered. She closed her eyes for the last time.

“No! Piper, no,” Tristan soon ‘happy tears’ turned into sorrowful tears. He let out little sobs that were once laughter. Tristan grabbed her hand and squeezed. “You were my best friend, and a strong woman. Piper, may you rest in peace.” One more tear fell from Tristan’s eye as he got up and kissed her forehead.

“Why isn’t sissy awake?” Nolen asked in the most innocent voice any child could.

“Sissy won’t be awake for a very long time, Nolen. Sissy got too sick. But sissy loved you,” Joann explained. Nolen stood in shock, not fully understanding the concept. Nova screamed in confusion and anger towards such an unfair fate her loving sister has met.

“I loved you, Piper. In every way I could, I did,” Nova whispered, crouched with her back against the wall. Her hands were folded as if she was praying; her head was between her legs. Tristan looked at the broken family. He didn’t understand, either, how something to someone so great could’ve happened. It’s cruel that most of the unfair things happen to the best people.

“Why did she die?” Gage soon asked Tristan.

“Because life’s unfair little bro. Life’s unfair.” Tristan wrapped his little brother in his arms, seizing what could always be the last moment with him.

© 2014 Lyghea

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Added on June 5, 2014
Last Updated on June 5, 2014



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