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Authors: Nicole Heck

A Saint for Life

BOOK: A Saint for Life
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N I C O L E    H E C K


A Saint For Life

















No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any form without permission. Purchase only authorized editions.





This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, business and incidents are used fictitiously. 



Copyright © 2016 Nicole Heck

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1518630693

ISBN-13: 978-1518630699




This book is dedicated to my dear friend Jen Luft. I hold my friendship with you close to my heart. Your strength through your battle inspires me. Stay strong and never give up.





In loving memory of my grandmother, Margaret Lanci,

and my friend, Alex Held.







Writing my first novel was a goal I never thought I would accomplish at such a young age. It was a dream I couldn’t foresee in my near future. This book wasn’t just a two year journey, it started from the very first day I decided I wanted to be an author and along the way  there have been so many people who have helped me get to this point.  

First, I couldn’t have done this without the support from my family. From day one as a young writer, they have been nothing but encouraging and positive about my dream to publish a book, especially my parents. I want to express my sincere gratitude toward my Mom, Dad, brother, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Thank you for believing in me, in my work, and supporting my dream. I am so blessed to have such a loving family.

Thank you to my wonderful and talented editor Anna at Polished Arrow Editing. Thank you for taking a chance on me as an author and having the patience to work with me. Your comments and advice helped me get through writer’s block and overall improved my book as a whole. I could not have done this without you.

              I owe a huge thank you to my best friend Kayla. From spending long days at Starbucks with me while I wrote, reading through chapters, and giving me opinions, being understanding and helpful when I suffered from writer’s block, and listening to my new ideas, I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for being with me through every step of this process.

              To Kristen, Kelsey, John, Katharina, Megan, Dillon, and Katherine; I am so privileged to be able to call all of you my closest friends. Whether you have been in my life for just a year, or eight years, each and every one of you have been amazing friends to me. Thank you for being so supportive, inspiring, or- just being there for me when I needed someone.

              During part of this journey, I worked for a gym in Raleigh, North Carolina. I soon realized that I was meant to cross paths with some of my co-workers for a reason. When I struggled to write, they kept me going. The support and encouragement they passed on to me was overwhelming at times.  To Logan, Ricky, Taylor, Ana, and Natalia, thank you for being so accepting of my dream and for believing in me.

              To Stu and the Pack family, thank you for believing in me and for instilling confidence in me that I could go after my dreams without failure.  You were both there for me when I decided to make choices that would take me down a different road in life. Without your help, I would never have been able to make it as far as I have. I was scared and you helped me to believe in myself and guided me to make decisions that was right for my future.

              To the Spagnola family, Josh Gardiner, Josh Nethaway, Ronnie Bernick, and the rest of the Mohawks family; thank you for being there for me when I needed it the most, for being great friends, and for supporting me in various ways along my journey.

              To the Held family; I can’t express deeply enough how grateful I am to have people like you in my life. Your support for my goals and dreams means more to me than I can describe.  Alex was the first person I told about the idea for this book. His words of encouragement helped me get started. He left footprints on my heart. I will be forever grateful to have had him in my life.

              To Mrs. Bartyzel, Mrs. Carmichael, and Professor Cotler; thank you for supporting my passion for writing, for believing in my writing, and for helping me to become a better writer. If it wasn’t for the support from teachers like you, I would have given up at some point along the way. You helped me to believe that I was capable of turning my words into something meaningful.

              Last but certainly not the least, to the entire Development and Athletics staff at Siena. Without your guidance, support, or inspiration, none of this would be possible. I come to work each day grateful to work for and with some of the most amazing people. Not everyone is this lucky to love their job. I am so blessed to have been given the opportunity I have and I will forever be indebted to all of you for the support you’ve given me.

              Thank you to everyone who chooses to pick up my book and read it.  
My wish for you is that you'll take one step forward toward a dream you've always wanted to achieve, that'll while looking at my book you'll believe in yourself again, that you'll believe in the goodness of the world, that there's love and beauty in everything that surrounds you, and lastly that you won't let anyone or any of life's setbacks, set you back.













“How much longer do we have to wait? I’m hungry,” Gabe asked.

I checked my watch. I was hungry too, but since the doctors were keeping us waiting, I’m not sure I’m going to have time to get breakfast before class.

“I don’t know. I thought they would have checked in on us by now. I’ll tell you what: because I’m such a good sister, I’ll drive to Dunkin’ Donuts, and if and only if there’s no line, you can get a bagel before—”

Two knocks on the door interrupted my sentence. Dr. Sheehan walked in along with an unfamiliar face. Gabe tapped me on the shoulder and smiled. There wasn’t a bit of worry on his face. He was more optimistic than me about this appointment.

“Maybe I can go to the next Siena game?” he whispered.

“Maybe!” I tried to remain positive. Going to a Siena game is all he’s wanted to do.

“So, Gabe,” Dr. Sheehan spoke up but swallowed and seemed to choke on her words. “How are you feeling today?”

“I was really tired yesterday, but I’m not today!” He sat there kicking his legs against the table and smiling cheerfully.

“Good. I’m so happy to hear that!” She turned to the unfamiliar face we had yet to be introduced to. “This is my new intern. Gabe, is it okay if he does our usual routine testing on you while I chat with Zoe in my office?”

“Sure thing!”

I couldn’t seem to find the floor as I stood up and almost fell. She needed to talk to me by myself, which could only mean one thing—bad news.

Dr. Sheehan could barely look me in the eyes. In fact, I could see the tears starting to fall behind her glasses before she even spoke, and when she did, her words made my heart ache.

“I’m so sorry, Zoe. We’re trying everything we can. I was really optimistic that this time…that this time…” She held her hands to her face. “I’m sorry. Gabe is one of my favorite patients, and I just love you guys. I hate to see him suffering. I wish I could have told you today that the cancer was gone, but the cancer cells are growing even more rapidly than they were before.”

“I understand. It’s not your fault. What do we do now?”

“There’s another clinical trial I would like him to try. That way it comes at no cost to you.”

“What results have you seen from this trial? Do you think it will work?”

“I’m fairly optimistic. He has a chance. We’ve given the treatments to only a few children, and for most, there was a significant decrease in the cancer cells in their body. It’s very safe treatment. Although there’s a risk as there is with everything but we haven’t lost a patient yet.”

“Let’s do it. And what about a bone marrow transplant? Is there any more hope in finding a donor?”

“Gabe is on the list.”

“So I just have to keep praying we’ll find a match?” I sighed.

“We’re going to do everything we can.”

As Gabe and I walked out of the hospital, he reached for my hand.

“Zoe, it’s going to be okay. I’m fine. Don’t worry! I’m just sick, but I’ll get better. You heard Dr. Sheehan. She knows I can beat this.”

If only I had as much confidence as he did. I bent down to give him a hug. “That’s right. You will beat this! I love you, kiddo.”

“I love you too.”

The drive home was silent. I felt hopeless. Looking in the rearview mirror, I glanced at Gabe, who had fallen asleep within minutes of driving away from the hospital. I wish there was more I could do for him.




I used the saliva on my cold fingers to wipe away the black mascara that smeared underneath my red and puffy eyes. After I dropped Gabe off at home, it became hard for me to stop crying.

Watching everyone pass by, I headed toward Siena Hall and considered skipping class. I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone today, but I had no choice.

I reached for my new Starbucks cup and took a sip of my horribly strong French vanilla coffee. The consistency could never turn out right for me. Taking a deep breath, I exited my warm car into the crisp air.

“It’s going to be okay. I don’t look like a hot mess. I won’t see anyone important. It could be worse,” I said aloud.

The chapel bells rang. I looked down at my watch only to realize that I was now late for class. So much for making it on time. I sighed.

Looking around at my surroundings, I didn't notice anyone other than a few stragglers like myself. I looked into the side mirror of my car, brushed back a few stray hairs, and wiped away the tears that were left in the corner of my eye. Quickly applying a coat of mascara over my wet eyelashes, I finally began the trek across the parking lot covered in melting snow.

I slowed down my pace as soon as I approached the building. Rushing didn't seem necessary anymore considering I would already be marked late. A few more minutes wouldn't make a difference. I felt my phone vibrating in my purse that was tucked away under my shoulders up against my ribs. Sliding one strap off of my shoulder, I reached in for my phone. I had several notifications. I didn’t even realize that it had gone off. My mind was in a fog ever since the words I dreaded hearing rolled off of Dr. Sheehan’s tongue.

The thought of losing the only family that was still in my life horrified me. The cancer cells are growing even faster, and if this trial doesn’t work, what will? Will Gabe beat this? I found it harder to breathe as my anxiety heightened. I sat down on the closest bench along the sidewalk and let my short breaths appear before me as I exhaled and rubbed my hands together, increasing the friction to give off some heat. I could barely see. My heart rate had skyrocketed. I laid my head down into the palms of my hands, closed my eyes, and took deeper breaths to try and talk myself out of it. I took a water bottle out of my purse and slowly drank it until finally my anxiety subsided.

I continued to walk along the path. The melting snow on either side of the pavement reminded me of when my father would take me to get ice cream every Sunday afternoon. After church we'd come home, change our clothes, pack our bikes in the car, and head over to the bike path. The two of us would ride to a small magical place in the middle of nowhere.

I envisioned sunflowers filling up the quad along with tall weeds and vegetables. Over my left shoulder, the dining hall, in my mind, became a small brick building where people were lining up with their families at the order window. My dad and I would take our helmets off and place them on our favorite picnic table. Somehow it was always unoccupied. I would sit there patiently waiting for him to bring back my ice cream—hot fudge covering the entire scoop of cookies and cream ice cream, a little bit of whipped cream on top, and my favorite part, the cookie crumbs sprinkled all over. My dad, Anderson Gingras, was a plain guy, much different from myself. A scoop of vanilla on a waffle cone was always his choice.

After we finished, he would have to wipe off the leftover fudge that remained on my chin. “Saving some for the ride?” he would say, causing us to laugh for a few minutes. The rays from the sun would begin to beam down on us, and the smiles had become permanent fixtures on our faces. It was the perfect picture.

I missed him so much, even more so on days like today. A film of tears was starting to cover my eyes again when I knocked into somebody. My cup and phone dropped out of my hand, landing on the wet pavement before me.

“I am so sorry. I wasn't paying attention to where I was going. I'm out of it. I'm sorry!” the young guy said while picking up my phone.

I looked him in the eye. I knew him. I didn't know him personally, but I knew all too well who he was.

Without saying a word, I grabbed my phone and walked away hurriedly. I didn’t want him to see me crying or embarrass myself any more than I already had. For the very first time, I hope that in that mere moment he didn’t know who I was.

BOOK: A Saint for Life
8.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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