Short Story Contest Entry: No Guarantees
The story I am about to share with you is based on real events. Real events that deal with pain, sorrow, inspiration, and happiness. Please keep in mind that I am not a writer and honestly, I do not have the patience or skills to be one. I am normally on the reserved side and a very private person. I will try to convey this story to the best of my abilities, but no matter how hard I try, I know I will not due it justice.
It was the summer of 2007 and my son Will was five years old. Will was a very active boy, as most boys are at that age, and it was a hot Michigan summer that year if I remember correctly. The first time we noticed anything wrong with Will was when we went for a family walk through the nature trail near our home. It was warm out and Will’s face was extremely red, and he seemed very lethargic. Being lethargic or tired was not normal for him. Later that night the redness from his face didn’t disappear even after sitting in the AC for a few hours. Just before bedtime he developed a low-grade fever.
The next morning when Will woke up, he was still running a fever. We decided we better take him to see his pediatrician. His normal pediatrician was on vacation, so we saw his partner. There are always bugs and what not going around so we didn’t think much of it and neither did the Dr. We were sent away with a prescription for antibiotics and the comments, “It is probably just a bug that is going around”.
After a few days Will’s fever was gone, he was back to his old self, and life was back to normal. It was perfect timing because that week we were heading up north to spend time with family. The week after that was his cousins sixth birthday, who is 11 days older than him. Will was extremely worried about being sick for up north and for his best Braiden’s birthday, so he was a happy camper when he felt better.
The family trip was going well, and all the cousins were getting along great. That is until two days after being up north, Will came down with another low-grade fever. As parents, we were baffled to why he had another fever since we were certain to give him all his antibiotics. Again, his face got red and he became very lethargic. The following morning, we got up fairly early, loaded up the luggage and our kids, and headed for home. My wife called the doctors office to see if our regular pediatrician was back from vacation. Luckily, he was and told us to come in as soon as we got back into town.
I would say it was around 1pm in the afternoon before we made it back to town and to the doctor’s office. Dr. Dev, or Dr. Dave as Will liked to call him, had been Will’s doctor since he was a baby. We told Dr. Dev that we were in the previous week and saw the other Dr. who stated that it was probably a bug. He stated that it is not uncommon for children to get hit with different virus’s that are going around weeks apart but wanted us to go get his blood drawn and get some chest x-rays at the hospital just to be safe.
We headed to the hospital around 2pm and were out of there around 3:30pm. I am not the most patient person, so I was extremely happy when we left the hospital and headed back home. We were only home long enough to drop off the luggage when we got home from our trip up north. All I wanted to do was sit back and relax for the rest of the afternoon, which is exactly what I did while the kids ran around. Will was still running a fever but did not seem as lethargic as he was earlier in the day.
I remember sitting in the family room watching television when the landline telephone rang around 4:40pm. My wife Tracey answered the phone and said, “Hello? Hello Dr. Dev”. Dr. Dev, who was a soft-spoken man, simple asked if it was alright if he stopped by our house, to which Tracey stated “yes”. His office was only a few miles from our house, so I jumped up and started picking up the house a little bit because it was a tad bit messy. Suddenly, the once clear blue sky turned gray and dark. The winds started to howl as lightning danced across the sky out our back window. The storm came on so quickly that we did not have time to prepare for it. I remember looking through the sliding glass door at the back of the house as all hell broke loose. It was a front row seat to one heck of a storm.
The storm rolled on through as quickly as it had rolled in. When it was over, the kids trampoline was upside down on top of the fence roughly 100 feet from where it used to sit. A large tree had been slit and fell between the fence and swing set on the other side of the yard. The worst part was the fact that we had lost electricity. A few minutes after the storm had passed, we hear a knock on the door. Will came out of the bedroom and asked who was knocking on the door. We told him that it was Dr. Dev and to go back to his room and play, to which he complied. We invited Dr, Dev in and he sat down at the kitchen table and asked us to do the same. He stated that the lab found blast cells in Will’s blood work. I had no clue what that meant, but my wife spoke up and said, “is it Leukemia”? Dr. Dev told us that he believed it was and he was going to refer us to a specialist in Detroit. All I remember was thinking to myself, “What the hell is Leukemia”? My wife on the other hand, knew exactly what it was because she had already been on the internet researching low-grade fevers in children which brought up websites about leukemia. The last thing I ever thought I was going to hear that day or in my lifetime was, “Your son has cancer”.
There were a few moments of silence after Dr. Dev gave us the news. I piped up and asked him when we needed to go there, and he stated first thing in the morning. As my wife began to cry, Will walked into the room and asked why momma was crying. You want to talk about a loss for words. I had no idea what to say to him. What do you say to a 5-year-old who has a birthday in 11 days that he has cancer? Trying to process what we had just learned, we simply told Will that he must go to the hospital in the morning to get looked at. He was so young and naive that there was no way he would be able to comprehend what was going on.
The next morning, after maybe a few hours of sleep, we packed up the kids and headed to St. John’s hospital in Detroit Michigan. The hospital was only about an hour away, so it was not that long of a drive. We were in the waiting room for no more than a few minutes before we were rushed back to a conference room where 2 oncologists were waiting for us. The lead oncologist introduced himself and his colleague and invited us to take a seat. I can still picture the next moment so vividly in my mind. The lead oncologist named Dr. Sawaf looked at us with the sincerest eyes I have ever seen on someone and said, “first of all, I want you to know that William is going to be OK”. To this day, I am not certain if that was something he should have stated to us or not. There is no way be could be certain that Will was going to be OK. However, at the time, I think it was definitely something my wife and I needed to hear.
Will’s new doctors explained as much as they could over the next few hours. It was a lot to take in and I was feeling emotionally drained. The official diagnoses was T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. T-Cell ALL as it became known in our family, had a cure rate of about 70%. After the meeting, we were sent over the pediatric floor where Will was admitted immediately. The first stop on this roller coaster of ride was to get a mediport catheter put into his chest so they can access it to give him his chemo. This would require will to be put under and operated on. They did not waste any time doing this either. The procedure was the very next day.
At first Will thought it was fun to be able to stay in the hospital. He was receiving lots of attention and gifts from friends and family. After about 4 days however, he was ready to go home and be a normal kid again. I remember him looking at me and asking me why he can’t just go home. There is now worse feeling than not having the ability to help or protect your child. It is the most painful and frustrating feeling in the world.
First admittance after Diagnosis
From the day he was diagnosed, to the day of his final treatment, it was a four-and-a-half-year span. Some of the procedure Will had gone through during this time includes spinal taps, blood transfusions, cranial radiation, chemotherapy, taken multiple pills, and had endless hospital stays. I would be negligent if I did not state that he was robbed of a good part of his childhood. But none of that was even the worst part of it. The worst part is when your child is so skinny from not eating due to the chemo causing sever mouth sores and thrush. The worst part is when your child has zero immune system from the chemo treatments and cannot fight off a common cold. I know, because this is what happened to Will.
Just another day in the life of a cancer patient
It is not a well know fact that it usually is not the cancer that kills someone, it is usually due to an infection. Cancer patients have no immune system and cannot fight off a common cold. Not having an immune system was something we were forced to accept because he did not have one on and off for roughly 4 years.
Enter year 3 and the moment when I was no longer certain that my little boy was going to OK. It was early in the morning and Will wanted to go see his Grandma. I was more than happy to do so because she was usually able to get Will to eat something. For the past few days he had not eaten much. Will was sitting at my mother’s kitchen table and he looked pathetic. He had dark circles under his eyes, no hair, and would barley talk. That is when my mother and I noticed some white spots in his mouth. He opened his mouth for us and it was apparent he had thrush as well as multiple sore that resembled canker sores. It was no wonder he wouldn’t eat or drink anything. The problem was, he knew what would happen if he told us about the mouth sores and thrush. It meant he would be heading back to the hospital for at least a week’s stay. So, we jumped in the car and headed home to pick up his bag. We always kept a bag full of clothes and supplies ready for occasions like this because it happened so much.
Once admitted to the hospital, they quickly hooked Will up to an IV and started pumping fluids and antibiotics into him. Around day three we saw very little improvement. One morning we woke up and Will was having a hard time breathing. We told the resident Dr. that there was something wrong with Will and he came in and looked at him. He stated that he seems fine but would order a chest x-ray just to be sure. When dealing with cancer patients, everything is always done STAT. Hours went by and the DR. never came back in and no on came to take will to get an x-ray. Finally, we asked the nurse to page the DR. and someone finally came and got will. They wheeled him down to another floor to get a chest x-ray. Once done, we headed back to his room and played the waiting game.
About a half hour after getting the x-ray taken, the resident Dr. came back in and said they were moving Will to the pediatric ICU because he had developed a pneumonia. My wife and I were beyond ****** because by the time they realized this, it had been almost a full day. We knew very early on that something was wrong, and the resident did not listen to us. Needless to say, we packed up all of our stuff and headed to an isolation room in the ICU. This is where we would stay for several days.
On about day 4, Will’s oncologist stopped in to talk to us. Will had been on heavy antibiotics which they hoped would help clear out the pneumonia. Unfortunately, the antibiotics had very little effect on it up to that point and Will was having a hard time breathing. Will’s oncologist and a specialist recommended that they do a lung biopsy, but it would be very risky because he had no immune system and would be at risk for further infection. The goal was to pinpoint the strand of infection and use the proper medicine to combat it. My wife and I met with the surgeon who was to perform the operation that morning. The Dr. took one look at us and he knew we were not comfortable with Will having this procedure. I remember his exact words; “If you are not 100% comfortable with this, you need to tell your oncologist. I do not like operating on children if it is not necessary”. My wife and I knew right then what are answer was and we called Will’s oncologist and asked to meet with him. The oncologist told us that we had two choices. We could proceed with the operation and hope they can determine what they can use to fight the infection faster or we could wait and see if the antibiotics he was on started to work. He was honest with us and stated that either choice is a risk. He told us to think about it for a few minutes and he would come back and get our answer.
I remember sitting in the isolation room looking at Will. He was on the hospital bed in his underwear. I remember thinking how he looked like a little old man. He had very little hair, was very skinny, and was missing a few front teeth where his baby teeth had fallen out. It was quite a burden knowing we had to make a decision that could either help or hurt our son. Eventually the Dr. came back in and needed to know what we wanted to do. My wife spoke right up and said, “as his mother, I just do not feel right about putting him through surgery and we would like to wait and see if the antibiotics he is currently on helps”. The oncologist sated OK and that is exactly what we did.
In the ICU with a pneumonia
I am not a vocal person when it comes to religion. What someone believes or does not believe is none of my business. I know what I believe in and that is all that matters to me. Since the day Will was diagnosed, there is not a single night where I have not prayed. With the decision to not have the lung biopsy done, there was a lot more praying going on. The first few days after deciding not to go through with the surgery were nerve racking. I remember second guessing our decision because on day 2 after our decision, Will was still not getting any better. But as quickly as the storm that had blown in the day the Dr. called and asked to come over to our house, will started to get better. We noticed an improvement in his breathing and he started to eat and drink again. By the end of the week, Will was moved back to peds and a normal room. A week after that he was released from the hospital altogether and we were headed back home. Looking back on the whole situation, we were certain we were making the right decision, but there was always that little bit of doubt in the back of your mind. You just truly do not know what is going to happen.
During the last year and a half of his treatment, we tried to get back to a normal life as much as possible. The hospital stays got less frequent. The mouth sores became less severe. It seemed the roller coaster of a ride was starting to come to and end. Friday November 26. 2011 was Will’s last chemo treatment. After that date he no longer had to take pills, have cranial radiation, or receive chemotherapy. He still has to get frequent checkups and will for a long time to come. There is always the chance of it coming back. There is also the chance that he may develop a different form of cancer or have heart problems. How messed up is that? The cure for one form of cancer can actually cause someone to develop a different form of cancer. On July 23, 2018 Will will be a happy and healthy 17-year-old young man.
Will 2011 - Almost 11 years post diagnosis
So, by this point in the story, I am sure you are wondering what the heck this has to do with XRP. Well let me start by saying that I heard of Bitcoin years ago and I am ashamed to say that even though I love technology, I paid no attention to it. That is until my son Will approached me in November of 2017 and said he wanted to buy some Litecoin. At that point I had heard of Bitcoin but not Litecoin. Again, I really had no interest in Bitcoin or Litecoin. Will and my father are very close, and my dad is big into the stock market and investing. So, knowing this, I told Will to go talk to his Gramps about it. I figured it would be good for both of them. Plus, Gramp’s has way more money to invest than I do.
The next day Will headed over to my parent’s house after school. He came home about 9PM and I asked where he had been. He told me that he was at Gramp’s house and they bought some Litecoin and Bitcoin. I gave off a little chuckle and said “cool”. He went upstairs, and I continued to watch whatever it was I was watching.
Later that week during a slow time at work I texted Will and asked how his Litecoin was doing. He said he bought in at $98 and it was already worth more. He then texted me and said he wanted to buy some Ripple. He told me that one of his friends was talking about it and he told Will it is a good investment. All of this got me thinking. These kids are in 10th grade and are talking about investing their money in something called Litecoin and Ripple. I had to know more about this stuff, so I fired up the PC and headed to Google.
Almost everyday for the first few weeks of November I did nothing but read about blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Talk about fascinating stuff! I was hooked from the start. The first thing I researched was Litecoin and Bitcoin. I was actually more interest in Litecoin. But then I started researching Ripple. It did not take me long to figure out that Ripple is actually a private company and XRP is a digital asset. I was blown away by the information I found about Ripple and XRP. I discovered XRPchat and that is where I got the bulk of my knowledge and information. I knew within the first two weeks after Will invested in Litecoin that I wanted to buy XRP.
When I decided to buy XRP it was at about $.20. I am not going to lie, buying XRP was not an easy task. By the time I figured out how to actually do it and activate my wallet, XRP had jumped all the way up from $.20 to $.70. I was kind of ******, but I was still happy I was able to buy some. From all the research I had done, I felt certain that if any digital asset was going to makes waves, it was XRP. When I told Will I bought XRP he was shocked that I did but thought it was “cool”.
A few weeks after my initial purchase of about $500 in XRP, Will and I had stopped by my parent’s house for a visit. My Dad and Will started talking about Litecoin and Bitcoin. Apparently Will had mentioned Ripple to my Dad when Will first talked to him about buying Litecoin. I overheard my dad telling Will that he really likes what he read about Ripple and wants to buy some of that too. I piped up and told him that it isn’t actually Ripple and that it is called XRP. Then I told him that I already bought some and his eyes lit up. I found that humorous because here is a very conservation, old school, 65-year-old man who I would not have guessed would invest in such a thing. I explained to him the process of buying XRP and he told me that it sounds way to complicated. So, to make things easier, he gave me some money and I bought it for him.
At one point I owned Litecoin and XRP. I eventually dumped all of my LTC and bought more XRP. Noe, my father, Will, and I all have money invested in XRP. Though I am more into doing research and keeping up on the latest news via Twitter and XRPchat than my father and Will, we always have great conversations about what is going on with it. Every once in awhile I will get a text from my dad or Will about XRP or Ripple. I often need to explain why the article is nothing more than FUD, but I really enjoying doing so. I have learned a lot since last November from the likes of David Schwartz, Dr. T, Hodor, and Tiffany Hayden on Twitter as well as many members on XRPChat. There are many more great XRP contributors, but way too many to list. The XRP community is large and Strong. I am proud to be part of it.
No one knows what is going to happen in life. There are no guarantees. My wife and I often talk about that day we made the choice to go against the lung biopsy for Will that the Dr.’s recommended. Though we will never truly know, things might be very different for us today, had we gone through with the surgery. Will may have lost his battle with cancer, and I would have only heard of Bitcoin and not had a clue what XRP is.
I feel the same way about investing in XRP. Being invested in the crypto marker is a lot like being on a roller coaster. It has it ups and downs and sometimes you may have your doubts. There are no guarantees that XRP will change the world. However, I have made my decision to buy XRP and I do believe in my heart it is the right decision. Back in 2007, only time would tell if my son was going to win his battle against cancer. This holds true for XRP as well. Unlike with my son Will, this time I am more than happy to wait and see what happens. I am blessed that my son kicked cancers ass and hopefully I will be blessed that my same son got me invested in the most amazing technology and digital asset in the world.
The Fam – 2018