QUOTE

"WHAT WE THINK IS MORE IMPORTANT IN LIFE, IS JUST AN EXCUSE FOR NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH FOR WHAT IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF US... "
by: DONNA M. ZADUNAJSKY



FAMILY SECRETS - Book 1

Part I
Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world…
It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
Nor the most intelligent that survives.
It is the one that is the most adaptable to change…
Charles Darwin


One

Was life fair? Not in the least. Not when you worked your ass off for everything you’ve ever dreamed of and poof, in an instant, with one sentence…it was gone!
Life doesn’t always work out the way we want. No matter what you’ve done or how you’ve done it, something without a doubt gets in the way. You could spend days, weeks, months, even years working for the things you want out of life, only for it to be taken from you as if your dreams and schemes never existed. As if you had never tried at all…
It’s funny how life seems to work out the opposite of what we want. Why bother to dream at all if they never come to fruition? But, if we don’t have our dreams and goals to motivate and guide us, where would we be in this world? Lost, stumbling aimlessly, and not driven by desire, blood, sweat, and tears!
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Life isn’t fair,” so why are we so defeated when things don’t turn out our way? When everything seems to fall apart? Shouldn’t we just keep trying? “If you fall down, get back up, dust yourself off, and try again.”
But what if…just to be fair in this unfair world…what if we weren’t meant to have those dreams at all? What if they were only to teach us something we didn’t see in ourselves? What if there was something better than our dreams waiting for us on the path of life?


Two

Ever since Alexis Finley had been a young girl, she’d dreamed of becoming an astronaut. She’d wanted to explore the universe—do something meaningful with her life. She was mere inches from making her dreams come true. The grueling hours she’d spent at work; she’d practically lived there. All for this one unexpected moment in her life that destroyed everything. It was so unfair!
Time seemed to stand still in her heart. The seconds ticked away as she sat in the expensive brown leather chair, staring speechless at the woman in front of her. Suddenly, life as she’d known it came to a screeching halt!
It didn’t matter how many times she blinked, she was still sitting in the same chair in front of the same doctor she had known for years. They’d taken a class together in college, for heaven sakes.
Alexis tried to let the words spoken to her sink in, but it just wasn’t registering completely. She prayed a silent prayer deep inside herself that perhaps she had heard it all wrong. By chance, the test results were someone else’s, not hers. Doctors were known to make mistakes, sometimes picking up the wrong report or reading the wrong patient’s file. Had the lab made an error? That happened sometimes, too, a false positive. So why couldn’t this one time be just that?
Alexis would get a second opinion, that’s what she’d do! She’d say, “Thank you,” and get up and walk out the door. Yet, she couldn’t move, her body numb and her mind in denial from what the doctor had just said.
“Alexis, we have to start treatment immediately. It’s extremely important before your condition gets worse. Time and early discovery is your ally, but we won’t know about that until after the biopsy,” said Dr. Sarah Ramsey.
“Are you sure it’s breast cancer?” Alexis asked anxiously. Her mind was whirling. This made no sense at all! She’d been checking herself off-and-on for years, and she’d never found a single lump, not even suspected one. Had she examined herself wrong? Maybe she didn’t realize something might have been a lump; maybe she’d thought it was something else, but never cancer!  
Alexis had turned forty just last month, and now she’d have to have a mammogram every year for the rest of her life. “My life,” her mind repeated. How much time did she really have left? Panic was starting to set in.
“Yes, Alexis, I’m sure. I’ve checked your mammogram films and the ultrasound several times. I’m sorry, but the density of the images shows you definitely have breast cancer. There’s no mistake,” Sarah Ramsey stated firmly, yet warmly.
“I guess…” Alexis’s throat tightened and she swallowed. “This being my first mammogram and the additional ultrasound was just…just an initial precaution, ya’ know? ‘Cause it was my first…” she stammered. “I thought you wanted to see me about the results in-person as a courtesy and a baseline test for the future? It didn’t occur to me that anything was wrong.” The room was suddenly too warm, much too warm for her liking. Sweat rolled down the back of her neck, wetting the collar of her blouse. She twisted her long, wavy, brunette hair and clipped it into place on the back of her head, hoping it would cool her down.
“I wish I was wrong, Alexis, I truly do, but I’m afraid the results show you have cancer. I’ll call Dr. Brownski, an Oncology Surgeon at the Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando, to schedule a lumpectomy and a biopsy. He’s one of the best, Alexis. We’ll go from there,” Sarah Ramsey offered with an encouraging smile.
“Is there any other alternative?”
“I’m not sure what you’re asking, Alexis,” Dr. Ramsey frowned. “Until we have the biopsy—
“Is there an option for a full double mastectomy?” Alexis interrupted. She watched as the doctor’s right eyebrow shot up. She had caught her off-guard, maybe even surprising her.
“Well, I wouldn’t suggest a mastectomy until after we have the results of the biopsy from the lumpectomy. I’m not even sure why you’d consider such evasive, extensive surgery without knowing what we’re up against. Most women don’t want their breasts removed because it takes away from their need to feel like a woman. As you know, a double mastectomy is done to remove both breasts. What I have seen from the images, the cancer is confined in the right breast. Most doctors won't consider a double mastectomy unless there is substantial evidence to do so. It’s also a very dangerous surgery with a long recuperation, therapy, and reconstruction.
“You know I work for NASA, right?” Alexis blurted out.
Dr. Ramsey nodded, placing a lock of her reddish brown hair behind her right ear. Her intelligent green eyes searched Alexis’s face as she waited for her to state her point, which the doctor couldn’t quite grasp at that moment.
“Well, NASA has been considering me for the next space shuttle launch. If they knew about the cancer, there would be no way in hell they’d let me go!”
“I see,” Sarah said, as she shifted in her chair.
“Do you?” Alexis’s voice rose, which caught the doctor extremely off-guard. “Because I have worked my ass off for this opportunity!” The anger stage was taking over much sooner than expected, but Dr. Sarah Ramsey had seen it all before.
“I can’t just sit and watch it pass me by!” Alexis shouted. She didn’t know where the anger came from. It wasn’t like her to jump down someone’s throat for no apparent reason. Although there was a reason, wasn’t there? Her dream was coming to a dead end. Thrown in the trash to be recycled. Never to be lived.
Dr. Ramsey cleared her throat. “Alexis, I know it’s a great deal to take in, but this is your health we’re talking about. I can’t lie to NASA or keep your records confidential from them in this type of instance. Besides, NASA will have their own doctors check you out before any such mission. There could even be legal repercussions for both of us by hiding this diagnosis. I understand being an astronaut is an incredible opportunity for you, but your health is more important than flying to outer space.”
Alexis grabbed her purse from beside the chair and stood up. She didn’t want to sit here any longer and listen to this doctor tell her she couldn’t live her dreams.
“Alexis, wait! Where are you going? We need to discuss, albeit prematurely, your options and schedule the lumpectomy!”
“I need some air.” Alexis turned and opened the door, then slammed it shut behind her. She knew she was being selfish, and that her health was important, but so was everything else she’d worked so hard to accomplish. Or maybe she was just in denial about the whole thing. She was only forty years old and had her whole life in front of her. Why did this have to happen to her? Why and how did she end up with cancer? She worked out and ate the right foods. All her physical exams had come back excellent until this one. So, why her, why now?


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