I have a new novella that released on Oct. 29th, and it's titled “Late Night with Andres.” It combines action, romance and humor (Lord help us all) and has a very special purpose. Omnific Publishing, all the staff that worked on the project, and I are donating all the proceeds to the fight against breast cancer. Although breast cancer is a huge bitch, it's my hope that at some point in our lifetimes we will see a cure for all types of cancer.
Everyone can tell you a story about how cancer has touched his or her lives. Every single person you know. It’s staggering. To think of all these loved ones fighting cancer makes us all sad and angry.
There was a little boy a long time ago now, and his name is Alex. He was my husband’s older brother. While my mother-in-law was heavily pregnant with my husband, she was on a bedside vigil with her four-year-old. I knew it was a sad story. Before I had children of my own, I thought a child at four was pretty much like a baby. How well could they have known their child? I was so naive. When my son was placed in my arms after his birth, my-in-laws were first in my mind. I'd die for this child and I'd known him only seconds.
On my son’s fourth birthday I found myself sitting in my bedroom crying so hard. Because this was four. And I knew everything my child loved. My ears perked for any noises he made. His distress or happiness was my own. The thought of taking my kid for an extended car ride was a chore. I couldn’t get my mind around the parenting it would take to have him sit still for a chemotherapy needle. My in-laws' courage astounded me. Their loss made me ache.
After I had my daughter, I contracted meningitis. Thankfully, I was the only one affected, the kids were fine. In the ER the doctors had to administer a spinal tap. I willingly submitted, knowing they had to find out if it was bacterial. (It wasn’t --it was viral, still a bitch but not as terrifying as the other.) It was quite horrible—the test. I don’t know if I can explain the feeling, but I knew and felt like they were invading the center of my body. It was rough. While I was recovering my mother-in-law told me Alex had quite a few spinal taps during his treatment. He was four.
I couldn’t even respond. He had a few. Brave little boy. Tough job to be his parents. Possibly the toughest I’ve ever heard of. I hated it for Alex. I hated it for them. Fuck cancer.
And then when my son was ten-years-old he had a lump behind his ear. An unexplained lump. My brain tapped out. I did everything we had to, first our doctor. Then a specialist, who shook her head. Our next stop was George Washington hospital the very next day because no one wanted to waste any time.
There was the night, comforting him, putting the kids to bed. Hugging my husband while we were both terrified. You don’t sleep on a night like that. You think and you pray and you make deals with God. Anything. You will promise him anything. And I did. Over and over. I would do whatever it takes for this child. I'd gladly, gladly take his lump as my own. But that’s not how it works. I was petrified because I know I’m not as strong as my mother-in-law. I couldn’t do it. The whole thing. His ear is so close to his brain.
That was a long night. We bought a GPS and programmed it. The freaking thing took us straight through the D.C-- no side roads. We could have hit the Washington Monument with an empty soda bottle --the road was so close. We navigated all around until we were dumped at the hospital. I still don’t remember how we found the Otolaryngology Department, but we did.
We smooshed into the super small office, all of us. The doctor happened to be the very best in his field, we found that out later. His exam was extensive. All the time my husband and I cracking jokes to make my son laugh. The doctor wrote the prescription for the biopsy right there, giving me directions to the Oncology wing. Before I knew it my husband was with my daughter and I was holding my son’s hand walking him to the cancer ward. Again, just making him laugh. He’s such a smart little bugger, he knew what Oncology meant. In the hallway he asked, “Mom, do I have cancer?”
You have to be a mom then, right? This was about him. This was his body. As much as I wanted them to stick a needle in my neck instead of his, it couldn’t be that way.
“We don’t know right now, sweetheart. But if you do we are going to fight it and I'll be here the whole time.” I hugged him.
I’d like to say that was a strong, proud mom moment but I wasn’t home. That was my mother-in-law’s words coming out of my mouth. I swear she let me borrow her strength. I actually know it because just writing it here I’ve gone through a box of tissues, crying my face off.
The cancer pediatric specialist also happened to be the best in her field. We found that out later as well. She had been walking out the door and turned around to do my son’s biopsy. She was so very gentle and encouraging. I never wrote her a thank you note for that. I should have. Amazingly, they had the results within minutes. They were fairly certain it was not cancer. The fluid removed would be analyzed, but she sent me on my way with a hug and reassurance that whatever it was, it wasn’t cancer.
That relief starts inside you and ends up as tears on your face. I’m thankful for many things in my life, but passing that test is one that I will never forget. My son's lump was determined to be a malfunction in a tube to his ear. It subsided on its own while monitored for over a year in D.C. We were lucky.
It doesn’t get more important than this. Cancer is a serial killer that has touched us all. When I approached Omnific Publishing with the option to produce a novella for charity they were incredible. The entire staff was involved, the other authors supported it. Because what’s better than giving? Nothing we’ve found yet for sure.
So 100% of the proceeds for Late Night with Andres will be donated to Save the Tatas for cancer research. It’s not enough, but it's a start. Please consider buying the book or donating to your favorite cancer research charity.