Authors: Ana Corman
Copyright © 2010 Ana Corman
All rights reserved.
E-Book ISBN: 978-1-61550-971-3
REAST CANCER HAS TOUCHED SO MANY LIVES
. It’s an experience that has terrified, challenged, strengthened, galvanized, and united us. So many women have stood strong and proven we will not be defeated. I dedicate this book to all breast-cancer survivors and their loved ones who walked that difficult road together. Triumphantly.
My mother is a breast-cancer survivor, and her experience sparked the creation of this book. Mom, I love you and celebrate your life.
This story was created with the undying support and encouragement of my partner, Catherine. Your unconditional love feeds my imagination and fuels my desire to write. I cherish the intricately woven life I share with you. You fulfill me and make me complete. The Celtic knot symbolizes eternity—the eternity I plan to share with you. I love you with all my heart.
A Celtic Knot
would not be what it is without the guidance, creative input, and patient teaching of my editor, Lydia Bird. You challenged me and opened my mind to so many possibilities, allowing the story to take its final shape. You’ve made me a better writer. I thank you for that gift.
Also by Ana Corman
ATHERINE CAREFULLY BROUGHT THE HOT MUG
of latte to her lips before gently blowing away the steam. She held the mug in both hands and leaned her hip against the customer-service counter. She looked up to the second level of the bookstore and saw several dozen customers browsing the well-stocked aisles. Her eyes followed the child gripping tightly to her mother’s hand with her Dora doll safely tucked under her other arm. They slowly descended the wide staircase and headed for the checkout counter, then joined the four other people in line as the little girl looked back at Catherine and smiled. Catherine winked at her.
A heavy book hit the floor with a dull thud and Catherine looked across the bookstore to the coffee shop. Two collegeage students scrambled to collect their scattered papers and textbook. The lunch-hour crowds were slowly clearing out of the coffee shop, but half the tables were still full of patrons. Crystal and Summer worked fluidly and swiftly behind the counter serving the customers with their usual bubbly charm.
This year would be their tenth anniversary, and Catherine couldn’t believe they’d been open that long. Cocoa Cream was her vision. She’d always dreamed of a combination coffee shop and new-and-used bookstore. Its success spoke clearly in the steady stream of regulars who came in for a cup of specialty coffee or tea and to browse the rows of bookshelves.
Catherine took a sip of her latte before setting her mug down on the counter. She frowned as the St. Patrick’s Day banner across the front of the customer-service desk bounced once then twice. She moved her coffee mug aside and looked over the edge. A clawless paw gripped the edge of the decoration as a pair of deep sea green eyes looked up at her. “Maya, cut that out. You’re going to ruin the decoration. Now get up here right now.”
Cocoa Cream’s resident snow white Persian leapt gracefully onto the countertop and rubbed herself against Catherine’s belly. “You’re such a little imp. Now behave yourself, before I introduce you to the coffee grinder.” Maya dropped down onto her belly with her front paws curled under her chest like a royal kitty as Catherine massaged her face and neck. She heard a loud crash of several books and a long hushed curse from the mystery section. “Are you all right, Laura?”
A tall, slender woman poked her auburn head around the antique timepiece that proudly stood guard between the horror and mystery books. “I’m fine. I didn’t need that toe anyway.”
“Do you need a hand?”
“No. I’ll be done in a minute. Don’t you have to get going to that doctor’s appointment?”
Catherine glanced at the grandfather clock. “Pretty soon. Mom’s appointment’s at two. She’s in the back room organizing the new shipment of romance books. She’ll come get me when she’s ready. It’s probably a good way for her to burn off some nervous energy.”
Laura grabbed an armful of books and made her way to the customer-service desk. Catherine took the books from her and eased them onto the countertop. “We do have carts you can use to haul these books around, you know. You’re liable to give yourself a hernia, and then that lawyer husband of yours will sue me for every last penny I have.”
Laura’s laughter filled the air. “If my pregnancies didn’t give me a hernia, nothing will. Besides, Kevin loves you as much as he loves me. Your piggy bank is safe from him.”
“There you both are.”
Catherine turned as her mother approach. Dana O’Grady had just turned fifty-five and looked at least ten years younger. Her dark flowing hair and creamy Irish complexion were flawless. She exuded boundless energy and a fighting Irish spirit that awed and inspired Catherine.
Catherine noticed the frown creasing her mother’s forehead. “What’s wrong, Mom?”
Dana gently rubbed Maya’s chin. “I just got off the phone with Ruth. Her mother fell and broke her hip this morning. She’s flying out to Phoenix to be with her. We’ll be seen by her partner Dr. Carrington this afternoon.”
“How awful. I hope she’ll be all right.”
“Me, too. I’m worried about both of them. I told her to call and let us know what’s happening.”
Catherine laid her hand on her mother’s shoulder. “These appointments are stressful enough for you when we see Dr. Ratcliff. Why don’t we change your appointment till she gets back? We don’t know this Dr. Carrington, and he doesn’t know your history.”
“The he is a she, Dr. Olivia Carrington, and I do know her. I’ve met with several of her patients in the Comfort Program. I really like her.”
Catherine was proud of the work her mother did with other cancer patients, but it wasn’t something they talked about often.
“Anyway, there’s no way I’m prolonging this appointment for another day. All Dr. Carrington has to do is tell us the results of my mammogram. Hopefully it’ll all be good and we can run out of that office and not return for another year.”
Catherine saw that determined look in her mother’s light blue eyes and knew the subject was settled. “All right. I’ll grab my purse if you’re ready to go.”
Dana inhaled deeply. “I hate this feeling.”
Catherine reached for her mother’s hand and held it gently. “I know you do, Mom.”
Dana squeezed her hand and forced a smiled. “Let’s go get this over with.”
Laura stepped around the counter and hugged Dana close. “Good luck. I’m praying for you. I’ll call you later to hear the good results.”
Dana kissed her cheek. “I appreciate your prayers, Laura. Thank you.”
Catherine took Maya’s furry little face in her hands and touched her nose to the beautiful squished face. “Be a good guard kitty and keep the store safe from mean people and dangerous lesbians.”
HE CLICK CLICKING OF THE PEN shattered
the quiet of the examination room. Dana peered over her
Better Homes and Gardens
at her daughter sitting in a chair a few feet away. Catherine’s legs were crossed and her right leg was swinging to the clicking rhythm of the pen. She was holding a pamphlet on breast-cancer research and Dana knew she was not absorbing a word. This cold room had the same nerve-shattering affect on both of them as it had five years ago.
The clicking continued as Dana placed the magazine down on the examination table beside her. She wrapped the flimsy, scratchy hospital gown tighter around her. “Catherine, please stop.”
Catherine glanced up surprised, then looked at the pen and tucked it in the inside pocket of her jacket. “Sorry, Mom.”
“I don’t know which one of us is more nervous, me or you.”
Catherine tossed the brochure on the counter and stood up. “I hate this place. I just hate that you have to come back here year after year for your checkups only to be reminded of what you went through.”
Dana slipped her hand into her daughter’s. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Mom.”
Both women turned as they heard hushed voices outside the door. A sharp, loud knock sounded before the door opened and two men and two women in lab coats with stethoscopes draped around their necks entered the room. A middle-aged man with slicked-back hair, a long greasy ponytail, and a receding hairline stood before Dana.
“Mrs. O’Grady, I’m Dr. Snyder. I’m the new resident in the surgical oncology service. As you heard, Dr. Ratcliff felt she needed to tend to a family situation. Behind me are three medical students who will be observing my techniques. We’re on a very tight schedule today, so I’d like to begin.”
Dana hugged the gown tight across her chest. She looked over his shoulder at the scrubbed young faces of the bewildered medical students. Catherine stood ramrod stiff at her side.
Dr. Snyder sighed heavily as he thumbed through her file. He licked his thumb and flipped through several more pages without even looking up at her. He slapped the file closed and tucked it under his arm. He turned his back on Dana and Catherine and faced the medical students.
“Mrs. O’Grady is a fifty-five-year-old patient of Dr. Ratcliff’s. She was diagnosed five years ago with infiltrating ductal carcinoma of the right breast. This type of breast cancer is found in seventy percent of the women diagnosed with breast cancer. The cancer cells originate in the ducts and start invading the surrounding fatty tissue. The prognosis depends on how fast the cancer is growing, if it has spread to any organs and which ones, and the response to treatment. Mrs. O’Grady had a lumpectomy and radiation therapy and is currently on Tamoxifen. If there are no questions, I would like to proceed to the examination of the breast.”
Dr. Snyder dropped the file onto the counter beside Dana and looked at her with beady eyes. “Mrs. O’Grady, will you take off your gown?”
Dana wrapped the gown tighter across her chest. “I’ll do no such thing. Where’s Dr. Carrington? She’s the one we expected to see today.”
Catherine stepped in front of her mother, forcing Dr. Snyder to take a stumbling step backward. “Who the hell do you think you are? In five years we’ve never been seen by anyone but Dr. Ratcliff, and we’re not about to tolerate this kind of treatment. As for your precious tight schedule, we’ve been patiently sitting in this freezing-cold room for forty-five minutes—if you think your time is any more valuable than ours, you’re sadly mistaken.”