Life Blood: Cora's Choice Book 1 (Chapter One, page 1 of 6)

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"No response," I repeated, staring numbly at the upside-down chart on the doctor's desk. "None."

"I am sorry," Dr. Robeson said. "There is really no point in keeping you on the alemtuzumab any longer."

"But you said that it's the only thing that could help," I protested. "It has to work."

"Cora, I have your latest lab results right here." She tapped the open folder. "Your lymphocytes are continuing to climb. Right now, the only thing the alemtuzumab is doing is decreasing your quality of life."

I could see my name at the top of the chart: Cora Ann Shaw. There I was, summed up in black and white. My height-a little less than average. My date of birth. My weight, which had fallen from I'd-like-to-lose-10-pounds to terrifying double digits. And, of course, my diagnosis: T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia.

Cancer. To me, it had meant pink ribbons, surgical scars, and middle-aged women without hair. I hadn't even heard of T-cell leukemia then. I hadn't realized how the cancer could steal all my strength, burn through my fat and then consume even my muscle to feed itself as I wasted away.

"There must be other things to try," I pushed. "Some other chemotherapy."

"I'm very sorry," the oncologist said again. "The older therapies were ineffective. That's why their use has been discontinued. They simply don't prolong life-in fact, on average, they shortened it. Alemtuzumab was our only realistic shot."

I should get a second opinion, I thought. Except Dr. Robeson was my second opinion. I'm at Johns Hopkins, for godssake, I thought bleakly. Where else can I go?

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