Chapter 1 The surprise
Tapping her fingers impatiently on the polished mahogany desk with her legs churning out of nervousness, Mackenzie wondered what her fate would be. Would she be lucky this time?
She noticed the clock across the office tick. It’s noon.
Shortly after, the door opened. A man in a lab coat entered with a report in his right hand. Mackenzie stood up with a curious yet worried gaze as she looked up at the doctor with a glazy expression.
The doctor nodded in acknowledgment, "I have received your report, Mrs. Axford."
"H-how is it?"
The doctor adjusted his glasses shrewdly with his left hand before proceeding into the room.
"Am I pregnant?"
"Why don't we have a seat and talk more about that, Mrs. Axford?" The doctor suggested calmly.
Now aware of her anxiety, she nodded while trying to control her pounding heart and overactive mind. "Yes, doctor."
They settled down in their appointed seats, Doctor Paul sitting in his chair and Mackenzie sitting across the desk in the chair assigned for patients or visitors.
"So what have you found out, doctor? Am I pregnant?" Mackenzie's hands went to the desk as she leaned forward, looking at the doctor desperately. That was the best she could do to stay calm.
After losing her child the previous year, her husband had been drifting away from her. It was obvious! He no longer looked at her like he used to. If she hadn't told him that she was trying for another child, he would stop coming to bed with her completely!
But these recent days, she found a ray of hope.
A throbbing headache and feeling of nausea? Lightheadedness? Many would hate having these symptoms. But for her, it was everything! Mackenzie's hands unconsciously rested on her belly.
That was her hope to get back the attention and love of her husband. Just the confirmation of her pregnancy from the doctor after all the symptoms she's had the past couple of weeks. Her relationship with her husband would go back to how it was.
"I am sorry to inform you that you have tested negative for a pregnancy, Mrs. Afford."
Her only hope was dashed, just like that. "What?!" Mackenzie threw her hands over the desk rigidly as she stood to her feet, looking at the doctor with her eyes glistening with tears. “No way!"
Doctor Paul remained calm. He had been the Axford family's doctor for years. Although Mackenzie was a recent member of the family, he understood that getting pregnant was pertinent to having a place in her husband's life.
"I even had some pregnancy symptoms!" Mackenzie interjected.
Doctor Paul looked at Mackenzie sympathetically as she continued to ramble. "I had a splitting headache. I felt lightheaded and weak whenever I did not eat on time!" She announced still in disbelief.
"About that Mrs. Axford…" The doctor looked at Mackenzie attentively before saying, "You might want to sit down for this."
Mackenzie plowed down on the chair distraught and depressed by the doctor’s serious expression.
"The body scan indicated that you are not pregnant, Mrs. Axford. But we found something else—"
"—Enough of the suspense, Doctor Paul. If you have anything to say. please say it!" Mackenzie was usually kind and deliberate about her actions. She is presently frustrated. Doctor Paul kept mentioning that she was not pregnant despite telling him that she had all those symptoms. If she wasn't pregnant, then what was it?!
"You've been confirmed to have Meningioma." The doctor pushed the report lying in front of him towards Mackenzie.
"W-what?" She shuddered, feeling her stomach tighten.
"That must have been the reason for your headaches."
"What's a Meningioma?" Mackenzie did not know what it was, even though she knew it sounded like something she should dread.
"A meningioma is a tumor…"
Mackenzie's stomach dropped.
"Yes. It is a kind of tumor that forms on membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord inside the skull."
Mackenzie swallowed, her heart, breaking, and throat closing up. How could she have such a horrible diagnosis? Just this morning, her mother-in-law had looked at her with such hopeful eyes. Her husband too… had looked at her a bit differently.
How could she go back home and tell them that she wasn't only 'not pregnant’ but that she had a tumor as well? It was beyond shameful to her. It made her scared. She did not want to die after all her struggles to live a good life started paying off.
Memories of her life back in the fields where she lived with her father in North Dakota consumed her and they made her want to cry.
Her poor father.
She had not done anything for him yet. How could she have this deadly disease? How could she die and leave her poor father alone in this world? Would he even survive the heartbreak of losing his only daughter? He had gone through so much to raise her alone after her mother left the world when she was only a baby.
"Mrs. Axford, are you listening?"
Mackenzie was snapped out of her thoughts on hearing the doctor's voice. "Oh, yes." She said quickly.
"Then why don't we continue—"
"—No, I have something to do so why don't we continue this conversation another time?" Mackenzie said, grabbing her report and her handbag which was slung on the chair.
She was scared.
And she didn't want to hear a thing that would crush her soul any further. Most importantly, she didn't want to hear her death date. She was certain her mind would collapse if she heard that.
"Mrs. Axford, I understand that this result may be frightening for you. But with the right treatments, you can overcome it. Please come with your husband the next time you come for a consultation. That way, we can talk in-depth about your health and the best way to treat it as soon as possible."
That was as far as Mackenzie was willing to listen to before she walked out the door, hot tears rolling down her cheeks.