Little Things ~~ by Kate McGinn

Little Things ~~ by Kate McGinn

Diseases can leave their mark on the human body in unique ways at times, but they can also mimic other medical conditions making a differential diagnosis more difficult to obtain especially in the early stages. Cancer is one of these diseases. In nursing school, I was instructed on the “Seven Warning Signs of Cancer”.

  1. A sore that doesn’t heal
  2. A persistent cough or hoarseness
  3. A change in bowel or bladder habits
  4. Unusual bleeding or discharge
  5. Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere
  6. Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
  7. Changes in your skin such as an obvious change in a mole or wart

The warning signs were drilled into my fellow nursing students and me, and I hate to tell you that I’ve ignored a symptom or two in the past. This list is very basic and many times these changes can be attributed to another cause, but only your physician can tell you for sure if you have something to worry about or not.

October was the month for mammograms and dutiful nurse that I am, I posted on Facebook reminding my friends to get their mammograms while ignoring to schedule one of my own. I had good intentions but I let life’s everyday minutiae get in the way.  In December, I received a Christmas card from an old friend.  She wrote that a daughter had been diagnosed with breast cancer that year and two months later, my friend had the same diagnosis as her daughter. The news blew me away, and I said a prayer that their treatments would prove successful.

The next day I stepped out of the shower and although I don’t usually look at myself naked in a mirror (at 58 years of age it isn’t something I relish seeing), on this day I noted something that gave me pause.

Remember the list above is very general and doesn’t list all of the manifestations of these signals. Number five above doesn’t address one of the other changes that can occur in a breast — an inverted nipple. This is the first time I’d ever seen this happen to either of my breasts. I made a call to the hospital that same day and scheduled my overdue mammogram.

The day after Christmas, I had a mammogram. I’m thrilled to say it was normal. Thank goodness, because my story could have had a hugely different ending. Little things can signal the beginnings of diseases that can change your life and the lives of your family.

You know your own body better than anyone. If you notice something, even if it seems too small or insignificant to matter, ask your physician or speak to a nurse about it.  Please do not panic if you do have one of the warning signs, only a physician and medical testing can give you a diagnosis. That being said, I will give you two examples that show the importance of seeking knowledgeable professionals about changes that concern you.

My husband’s family has a history of skin cancer. They spent a lot of time outside playing golf, camping, and swimming. Not too many people in the 1960’s-1970’s used sunscreen as frequently as they do today and my husband was one of the people who didn’t. I check him for any changes to moles on his body periodically and refer him to his doctor when I see something I’m concerned over. On one occasion, I noted white patches on his upper ears. They turned out to be pre-cancerous and were removed.

I have a college friend who had an irritated rash which would sometimes bleed in a very sensitive area of her body. I did not look at it, but asked her questions concerning it — when she noticed it, did it ever heal, had she brought it to her medical provider’s attention? She told me it was a constant irritation over several months.  Because of its location, she asked someone that she felt comfortable with when she decided to speak about her concerns. Number one on the list is a sore that doesn’t heal. My friend took my advice and talked to her provider. She was treated for cancer to the area. I thank God every day she felt comfortable enough to speak out and that I was able to convince her to seek help.

The little things can make a difference between life and death.


OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.

Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers and in the One Million Project Fiction Anthology. Her Clare Thibodeaux Series, which include the suspense books — EXODUS, WINTER’S ICY CARESS, and NEVER SHOW YOUR HAND, is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01KUKTYFQ

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1473258097&sr=1-2-ent

https://www.katemcginn.com/


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

Scars by K.V. Wilson

Scars by K.V. Wilson

Abby’s dark bangs scattered as she glanced over her shoulder, scanning the market for the source of the voice.

“Is this yours?” it persisted. An elderly man emerged from the crowd. In one hand, he cradled a shiny cerulean item.

“Oh, ye—” Abby’s voice broke as she glimpsed the state of her mother’s gift.

“My wife saw it fall from your bag. I didn’t think I could catch you—you’re so fast!” he panted, clutching at his side with his free hand.

Abby had eyes only for the bowl. It had split into three—no, four!—pieces.

Tears collected at the corners of her eyes and she reached up a sleeve to blot them away.

The bowl was blue and mottled like a robin’s egg. When Abby had first glimpsed the vessel, she knew she had to have it. She had saved up the lunch money her father had given her—every day that month—to finally purchase the little vessel for her mother’s birthday. Her mother was still in the hospital and had been for months. Abby hoped the bowl would cheer her up.

“Are you alright, child?”

She shook her head. “Thank you, but it’s nothing now.”

The elderly man squatted in front of her. She recognized his features, she realized: cropped dark hair, kindly eyes and small, ovular glasses. He was usually the one at the tiny shop offering the sesame balls and other treats.

Her mother – who was half-Japanese – adored the sweet desserts. She used to bring them home for Abby and her father—rewards for a long day at work and, in Abby’s case, middle school.

The man smiled kindly. “You’re one of Hina’s daughters.” It wasn’t a question.

Abby nodded. “It was for her. The bowl,” she choked out.

“I have something to show you. I think you’ll like it.”

Abby gazed up at the elderly man. A sparkle twinkled in his eye, causing her curiosity to pique. “I really don’t have money,” she admitted, “or else I would’ve bought all your desserts like mom used to.”

The elderly man chuckled. “It’s been a while since we’ve spoken, your mother and me.”

“She’s…in hospital.” Abby stared at the ground as she followed the old vendor. She didn’t know why she was following him. Perhaps it was because she had nothing else to do now that she had to come home empty-handed on her mother’s birthday. Perhaps it was because she wanted to know what the elderly man wanted to show her. She hoped he had good intentions. The summer street market was bustling with customers and tourists, however; if she had to, she would cry out.

“Your father told me a few months ago. I am sorry, Abby. I wish her a safe recovery.”

“Thanks,” she mumbled, too quietly for him to hear.

“You’ll have to wait here for a few minutes. My wife isn’t as spry as she used to be.” He chuckled again.

Abby glanced at him in confusion but he was already disappearing into the shop. She turned and smiled as she watched the lanterns bobbing in the breeze.

After a few minutes, the man’s wife emerged from the back of the shop, a small bottle of what looked like paint in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. She passed it to her husband as he came up beside her.

“May I?” the elderly gentleman asked, indicating the shards of blue porcelain.

Abby’s brows furrowed but she nodded. The man popped the lid of the paint bottle and dipped the brush in. He coated one edge of the broken bowl with an ample coat of paint and then pressed it onto its companion. He repeated this with the other portions.

“Kintsugi, they call it, Abby.”

He held up the completed bowl. Webs of intercrossed golden paint held together the pieces of porcelain.

“An old Japanese tradition. The art of precious scars.”

“I have something, too,” the vendor’s wife added, and before Abby could reply, she’d disappeared into the shop again.

The gentleman excused himself to help a customer. Abby used this time to examine the bowl. It was still beautiful, she realized, despite the fact that it was broken. The gold lacing was rather pretty.

And then the man was back at Abby’s side, gently testing the paint with his thumb. “It needs a bit longer to dry, but you must have to go soon.”

“Yeah.”

“You’ll need this, too. Put it in when the paint’s dry.” The elderly woman smiled, handing Abby a paper bag. “Tell Hina happy birthday from us.”

Abby beamed. “I will,” she said, peering inside. To her delight, the bag contained four sesame balls. “But I don’t have anything to give—”

“There’s no need. And look,” the old woman said gently, pointing at a vase in the window of the shop. From its mouth sprouted a couple of white lily buds, their stems intertwined.

As she took a step closer, Abby realized the vase was decorated with the same lines of golden paint, delicately applied so as to prolong the vessel’s life.

The gentleman said softly, “People are like this vase and bowl. They are delicate, but they are strong. Your mother will recover, especially when she has you and your father by her side.”

Abby left with the porcelain bowl and the paper bag. She couldn’t help but compare her family to the repaired bowl. By remaining together, they could conquer anything.


OMP Admin Note:  K.V. Wilson is a fantasy author obsessedkvwilson with mythology and culture. Born in Alberta, she currently lives in British Columbia, Canada, where she spends her spare time playing the piano, hiking, songwriting, and reading and writing stories. She is honoured to be a part of the One Million Project as an author and editor.

 

Website: http://www.kvwilsonauthor.ca/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spirits.kvwilson/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16644289.K_V_Wilson
Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/kv_wilson

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/K.V.-Wilson/e/B06XVZ3VPK/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Home from Home?? ~~ by Christine Larsen

Home from Home?? ~~ by Christine Larsen

The first raindrops hadn’t registered in her ears or mind; so light and far between were they. Little more than a soft breeze drove them… at first.

Rachel peered out the window – even opened it slightly, hopeful of a welcome freshness. A cleansing, she thought. God knows how much we need that. And she imagined luxuriating in a hot shower instead of that hated yet strangely welcome ‘basin bath’. OK for Josh, with his typical young boy aversion to soap or anything that smelled clean! But not Penny. At this age, she’d take a contrary stance to Josh on anything and everything… and to most other boys as well.

The surrounding gloom dragged Rachel’s heart and soul down, deepened by the earliest light of day remaining hidden behind a vast, solid-looking wall of clouds. A quick glance at her old, trusty watch confirmed daylight was near. She smiled. You never let me down old friend.

A deafening clap of thunder drove all else from mind as the gentle thrumming abruptly changed tempo. Impossible to tell whether huge raindrops or hailstones were battering the bitumen stretching emptily away. Rachel’s mental meanderings washed away as cleanly as layers of dust from her family car.

I’ve always loved hearing rain on a roof, she thought. Always. But  I never thought we’d be hearing it quite like this.

 Her sadness and despair deepened. He’d threatened to take everything many times but she found herself refusing to accept a Liam so cruel, a break so brutal. This was not the man she’d married; the life they’d planned to build and share.

“And the children?” she’d asked, and heard her voice wearing an unfamiliar cloak of desperation. Surely parental love would sway him? But this stranger with Liam’s face refused to acknowledge feelings, reasoning, logic. Nothing moved him. He simply didn’t care.  His rejection was just as final for these children he’d fathered.

“They’ll be fine,” he continued as if having an everyday chat about shopping, or taking Josh to football practice, Penny to ballet class. “You’ll see to that. You always do.” Now his voice held an unexpected venom, as he grabbed her chin and shook it threateningly. An unpleasant, coppery taste filled her mouth, nearly quenching that newly found determination. You won’t hit me again… not now, not EVER again.

“You’re so bloody good at EVERYTHING, right?” But she wasn’t.  Especially when she discovered all their important documents bore only his name. Everything except clothing. Hers and their children’s.  Only a fraction of their possessions could come along to their gypsy-like existence – sleeping in the car, night after endless night as they waited… and waited for that  ‘emergency’ housing. Hmmph… some emergency! Tears of anger threatened the iron reserve of her public face. Alone whilst Penny and Josh slept through restlessness and an odd moan breaking through, she could drop her guard.

Abruptly, beads of sweat pearled Rachel’s lip as a shadow loomed outside the fogged up windows. Previously she’d left back windows open only inches to avoid giveaway signs of occupancy within their darkened car; a forlorn hope to not alert security guards. Last time, they were kind enough, but it was their job to move squatters on – even in the middle of a lonely night.

Now, Rachel dared not wipe the smallest peephole for fear of what she might discover only inches away. Elbows pressing into her sides, she tried making her body even smaller in a desperate attempt at concealment. Her grip tightened on the knife beneath her pillow, never slackening even when that shadow melted away. Had he really gone?  A major distrust of men now haunted her.

At last, Rachel’s eyes were forced into a kind of lockdown, after tearing up once too often from strained staring at elusive shapes that were mostly her imaginings. Her rest was never complete, always grabbed in fits and starts until the next foreign sound set off her personal alarm. Like little Josh’s beloved teddy bear, she figured –

‘Someone’s got to keep their eyes open all the time.’


OMP Admin Note:  Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire IMG_7208to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, Author

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

 

“What Comes Around” ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

“What Comes Around” ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

Some decades back, I was offered a research fellowship, funded by a precursor to Cancer Research UK.  Sadly, although it was a hugely tempting invitation, my personal circumstances meant that I turned it down. Maybe if I’d taken it, I might have made some ground-breaking contribution to cancer research.  More likely, I would have made a tiny contribution, all part of the satisfaction of helping to piece together a larger puzzle. None of that happened, but on the other hand, had I taken it I wouldn’t have met my partner, so no regrets.

As it turns out, whilst I declined my chance, one of my relatives joined a clinical trial around about the same time. It’s a story which has only come to light in the last few years, and perhaps only now because my ageing relative has survived cancer twice, and that second occurrence presented some peculiar circumstances.

Family, supposedly, is where they have to take you in.  By my definition, family is where I have the strangest conversations, and think it perfectly normal. A few years back, I received a phone call at oh-god o’clock on a Saturday morning – a friend called to let me know that my ageing relative hadn’t felt well the previous evening, took a taxi to hospital, and had been diagnosed with appendicitis.  Strictly speaking, the first diagnosis was cancer – something about a blob like that on an x-ray in a patient that old must surely be cancer, and the other symptoms didn’t quite fit with appendicitis.

So I phoned and  had a conversation which went something like:

“Hi, so how’s the appendicitis?”

Apparently, this is not entirely normal, but it’s the way things work in my family.

The answer was, “Fine, fine, but my sense of taste is off and I can only eat the vegetarian option.” By definition, that’s pretty much the end of the world. Then I got the natural counter-question. “So, how are your heart tests?”

“Oh, fine, just one more to go.” (Which came out as all clear!)

And finally, the kicker:

“That’s good.  Did you ever see the pathologist’s report on your mother? She could have died of a heart attack at any moment.  By the way, they found pre-cancerous cells when they took my appendix out.”

Really, that sort of conversation is normal in my family.

So, from surgery on a seriously inflamed appendix, my ageing relative was also diagnosed with an almost-cancer and put on a course of chemotherapy. A few years on, and those pre-cancerous cells have recurred occasionally and been knocked back down with yet more oral chemotherapy. Equally importantly, they are monitored regularly with a simple blood test.

Now, it emerges, said relative also had cancer twenty-five years previously – a benign tumour that could be removed with some minor surgery.  However, instead of getting treatment immediately, my relative joined a clinical trial – the tumour was benign and easy to monitor, therefore perfect for assessing drugs to shrink tumours. After eighteen months, the now-shrunk tumour was finally removed, and my family had made a small contribution to the development of cancer treatments.  Twenty-five years later, other small developments have come together to stop pesky pre-cancerous cells in their tracks and watch for any recurrence with simple blood tests.

It’s easy to focus on the horrendous impact of cancer, both on the sufferer and on their family, whilst forgetting the positives, the advances in treatment and the patients who volunteer to be a part of that process. All of those major break-throughs and revolutionary treatments are built from countless tiny steps and small contributions.

Thus far, I am part of the fifty percent of my immediate family not diagnosed with some form of cancer. Should that day come, and a physician says ‘we have this experimental treatment…’ I  hope I have the courage to sign up and make my own small contribution.


OMP Admin Note:  Mark Huntley-James writes science fiction and fantasy on a small farm in Cornwall, where he lives with his partner and a menagerie of cats, poultry and sheep.

He has two urban fantasy novels out on Kindle – “Hell Of A Deal” (http://relinks.me/B01N94VXBC ) and “The Road To Hell” (relinks.me/B07BJLKFSS  ) – and is working on a third.

He can be found online at his blog (writeedge.blogspot.com), his website (https://sites.google.com/site/markhuntleyjames/), and occasionally on that new-fangled social media.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

The Vigil ~~ by Kate McGinn

The Vigil ~~ by Kate McGinn

It didn’t begin with the inevitable phone call, but months before, after a visit to a physician. We all knew at some point this time would come, but somehow when the doctor’s predicted timeline was surpassed, we began to push the thought into those deep, dark recesses of our brain. Never quite forgotten, but not in the forefront of our daily ponderings.

Then, last week on a Thursday morning, it came followed by the mindless packing of clothing into a suitcase (without caring if anything matched), calling our sons, stopping the mail and the newspaper, and watering the plants. Hours of driving were filled with the quiet of reflection, grief, and disbelief. Each action seemed to be only possible because of our bodies’ repetition over the years of those same maneuvers.

Pressing a button and waiting impassively for the voice on the intercom to allow us entry into the facility. A deep breath is taken to steel my emotions and then I’m ready to walk down the hall to begin the vigil.

Soft-voiced greetings and tight hugs accompanied by silent tears as each family member and friend is welcomed. Hours, and then, days filled with endless cups of coffee, prayers, thank-you’s to staff members and visiting friends, and sleepless nights wondering if tonight the call will come announcing a change in condition.

Family members show the physical signs from the toll the vigil has taken on them with the presence of dark circles under their eyes and the weariness apparent in their every movement and expression. Even their smiles are muted by fatigue and the dam of unleashed sorrow.

On a Sunday morning at 3:24 am, the cell phone’s ringtone causes our muscles to tense up ready to spring into action. The silence is heavy with anguish as mechanically and efficiently we pull our clothes on, brush our teeth and walk out the door knowing, but dreading…

The vigil’s conclusion brought peace to a wonderful man who had lived a full and productive life and died surrounded by family in his final hours. And for his family, its end gave us a chance to say good-bye and to show our love for a father, grandfather, and friend.  The suffering of our loved one had come to an end.

Rest in peace, Papa John.