Disclaimer: I don't own Third Watch, or the characters thereof. This is just for fun.
For NYPD Officer Faith Yokas and her husband Fred, the past weeks had been fraught with uncertainty and fear, ever since Faith had been diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine check-up.
Now they stood in a sterile hospital room deep within the walls of Angel of Mercy Hospital, waiting for Faith to be taken into surgery. The married couple were hardly on the same page about what was happening, while Faith was trying her best to prepare herself for the worst case scenario, the stark reality that depending on what the surgeon may find when he cuts her open, she might lose her life; Fred was floundering, and in how he acted, he denied his wife the support she so desperately needed.
The surgeon, Dr Grayson had seemed confident before the operation that it would be a simple lumpectomy. The scans showed only two moderately sized lumps in Faith's right breast, it was not until Dr Grayson started the surgery did it become apparent that the cancer was more advanced, more aggressive than previously thought.
It was not an easy decision, but ultimately Dr Grayson knew that it was the choice that gave his patient the best chance of living to see her kids grow up; he abandoned the lumpectomy procedure, converting to a modified radical mastectomy.
After the operation, Faith was taken to the surgical recovery room, where the nursing staff cared for her as the anaesthetic wore off.
Fred was allowed in to sit by Faith's side in the recovery room after he had spoken to the surgeon; the news that his wife's cancer was more advanced, and as such Dr Grayson had needed to perform the mastectomy, had hit Fred hard. Fred had dismissed his wife's fears of exactly this outcome, and now when she woke up, he knew that he had to be the one to tell her that she had lost her right breast, and was facing chemotherapy and possibly radiation.
Meanwhile on the streets, oblivious to the situation that his partner was currently living through, Officer Maurice 'Bosco' Boscorelli was complaining bitterly to fellow officers, and medics that he had been assigned a very nervous, rookie partner while Faith was on 'vacation'.
To everyone who didn't truly know her, Faith seemed to cope reasonably well given the situation. Just five days after the operation, Faith was allowed to go home; she had been planning to return to work the following week, but now that seemed unlikely.
Fred's parents had taken the kids to stay with them while Faith recuperated. Faith was resting on the couch, as Fred called his parents to ask if the kids could stay with them another couple of weeks; Fred thought that his wife wasn't listening, he had gotten just past hello, and it seemed as good of a time as any to ask the favour of his parents, "So Mom listen, Faith's operation didn't go so well. ... No, no, Mom she's alive. ... No, the cancer was more advanced than they thought; they had to take the whole breast, and we've got an appointment with an oncologist tomorrow. ... It's okay, we'll be okay. But listen Mom, I really need to focus on Faith right now, she's in no shape to do anything, can you and Dad keep the kids at your place for a few more days? ... Thank you. ... I don't know Mom, they want to do chemo, maybe radiation... I don't know if she'll beat it, it's bad. We'll maybe know more after seeing this doctor tomorrow. ... Yeah, I'll let you know how everything goes, tell Em and Charlie that I'll come see them on Saturday, and please just tell them that we love them. ... Thanks Mom, yeah, I'll talk to you tomorrow night. ... Bye."
The next morning Faith got dressed, for the first time since her surgery incidentally; she threw on a pair of slacks and a cream coloured blouse. She was alright, going through the motions, until she caught a glance of herself in the mirror, Faith could barely contain the sea of emotions that suddenly flooded her.
Where before Faith had filled the lightweight blouse perfectly, she now felt lopsided, imperfect; for the first time since puberty Faith felt ugly. The tears started to fall, and that is how her husband found her just a few minutes later.
"Faith, you nearly-" Fred stopped, seeing his wife's distress, "What's wrong?" He asked compassionately, wrapping his arms gently around her.
Faith was sobbing, "It's gone Fred ...it's gone."
"It's okay, Faith. We'll sort it out, you've got that prosthetic that the hospital gave you, do you want to put that on maybe? Make yourself feel a bit more normal?"
Faith cried for close to an hour, before Fred finally managed to calm her down; soon after they were sitting opposite the oncologist, Dr Knight in his office.
Laid out in front of them were numerous booklets and printouts describing various aspects of the planned treatment.
"Faith, thank you for coming in today; I understand that Dr Grayson has referred you to me to discuss the post operative treatment options for you."
"Yeah, that's about right. This is my husband, Fred," Faith said; now back behind her usual facade.
Dr Knight extended his hand to Fred, "Good to meet you." He then got back onto topic, "I'm afraid that we have limited time today, so I'll just run through what Dr Grayson and I have discussed, and then if you have any questions please feel free to ask."
"Sounds fine," Faith replied before Fred had a chance to complain.
"Firstly I will just go over the pathology report from the analysis of the tissue that Dr Grayson removed, and your most recent scans. The tumour was an invasive breast cancer, which we already knew from the biopsy, but the pathology also revealed some things that we did not know. The cancer is much more aggressive than we initially thought, which is not good, but there was no evidence that it had spread to your lymph nodes or anywhere else in your body, that's a good sign."
"But it's still bad, isn't it?"
"Yes, but not as bad as it could be. The cancer you have is a high grade, stage two cancer. It isn't what we might have hoped for, but it can be very successfully treated with a course of chemotherapy, and in my professional opinion you stand a good chance of recovering fully."
"What sort of chemo are you going to do?"
"The regimen that I think will be most effective in your case is a combination of three chemotherapeutic drugs, fluorouracil, epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide. We'll use a carefully coordinated regimen which consists of between four and six cycles of treatment where we will give you these drugs, and then give you three weeks for your body to recover from the chemotherapy."
"Is it going to make me sick?"
"Honestly, yes it most likely will. The potential side effects of this regimen include a lowered resistance to infection, bruising and bleeding more easily than usual, mouth sores and ulcers, anaemia, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, you will lose your hair completely unfortunately, you may also find that your periods become irregular, they may stop entirely."
Faith heard this, and still she seemed to take it in her stride. "Whatever it takes, I just want this gone."
Not realizing his patient's inner turmoil, Dr Knight took Faith's words at face value, "That's a very good attitude to take, you'll do alright." After pausing, the oncologist continued to explain the treatment, "I will arrange for you to start chemotherapy on Monday at the chemotherapy unit downstairs, they will call to confirm the time. I would also like you to consider having a minor procedure to place a central line in your chest. Now, a central line is very much similar to an IV, like what you would have had in your arm before, except that a central line is placed directly into one of the major veins that lead to your heart. We often choose to place central lines for patients undergoing chemotherapy, because over time the veins in your arms can become sclerosed, hardened, it makes even a routine blood draw quite painful. Is the central line something that you would consider?"
Faith started treatment the following Monday, the regimen that Dr Knight had prescribed meant that she only needed to have chemotherapy one day out of twenty-one, but that didn't mean that the treatment was easy on her. Far from it.
The day that Faith started chemotherapy was the day that she was supposed to return to work, she forgot it completely, until nearly nine o'clock that night. Faith had been throwing up almost constantly since they'd gotten back from the hospital, only now was the nausea starting to subside, she was lying in Fred's arms as they watched a movie, when the thought struck her, "Oh damn it!"
Fred looked at his wife, puzzled, "Faith? What's wrong?"
"Can you get me the phone? I've got to make a call."
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