Whats left of me, p.1
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       Whats Left of Me, p.1

          part  #1 of  Whats Left of Me Series  by  Amanda Maxlyn / Young Adult / Romance & Love
Whats Left of Me


Prologue

Have you ever wished for another life? A second chance? Or just a glimpse into the future? I have. Often. If only I had paid attention to the signs that were right in front of me. If only…

I don’t believe in holding onto regrets or taking things for granted. What is handed to me is not always welcome, but I’ve learned to deal with it one day at a time. I’ve learned that in order to build strength, there has to be a struggle. Living is my struggle. It may seem so simple, but for me it’s far from easy.

“Aundrea … are you listening to me?”

My fingers stop spinning the thumb ring that sits perfectly on my left hand. Blinking, I meet Dr. Olson’s golden eyes.

She lets out a small sigh.

“Aundrea, I think it’s time we look into other options. There hasn’t been a significant enough change in your lab results with these drugs for me to say we should continue with this plan. I’m sorry. ”

Other options. It’s been the same two words since my Hodgkin’s came back two years ago.

“What other options are left?” my dad asks, taking the words right out of my mouth.

“I want to get Aundrea in a trial study at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. With these two high doses of chemo drugs followed by an autologous bone marrow transplant we’ve seen patients have a higher than average success rate. I know the oncologist in charge of the study. ”

She pauses, focusing her attention back on me. “I think you are the ideal candidate. The drugs are intense, but I believe it’s worth looking into, and we can use your own cells for the transplant. ”

My mom clears her throat. “When are you thinking of doing all this?”

“The end of the summer. Aundrea’s white counts need to be a little higher to get the best results for the stem cells that are needed. The cells will be frozen and stored until they’re needed for the transplant. ”

“We’ll do it,” my parents say simultaneously.

They always seem to do this. Make decisions about my treatment without consulting me first.

“How long?” I ask.

“Four rounds. You’ll go in every two weeks; then, about four weeks after your last treatment, if your blood counts are high enough, the transplant can be done. There is a facility called Hope Lodge that provides patients and family members with accommodations while going through treatment. I can get the contact information for you if you’d like. ”

“Thank you, but that won’t be necessary. Our other daughter lives in Rochester,” my dad says, looking over at my mom who is nodding her head.

Dr. Olson looks between my parents, then back at me. “Aundrea, what do you think of all this?”

What do I think?

“There’s no way to do this here? I mean … I have friends here. My life is here. ”

“Aundrea, honey,” my mom says softly, taking my hand in hers. “This won’t be permanent. Just a few months. Your friends will be here when you get back. Besides, you’ll get to be with Genna and Jason, and we’ll come visit on the weekends. ”

“I’d rather not go to Rochester. ” Pulling my hand away, I look back at Dr. Olson who is sitting behind her big black desk. “Isn’t there any way I can do the bone marrow transplant here?” I plead.

“Unfortunately, this study, with these drugs, is only being done in Rochester. If you choose not to do the trial, we can look into other options, such as different chemo options, while we put your name on a bone marrow transplant list. However, that can take many months. I honestly believe this is the best option for you—especially after everything you’ve already been through. ”

There are times I already feel trapped in this life I live by not being able to do the things I want, and now I’m being forced to pick up my life and move to a brand new city, locked away from society and my friends. I want what’s best for my health, but it feels as if no one seems to care about the things that matter the most to me, despite how many times I try to tell them.

Cancer.

It can break you. Or it can make you stronger. I choose stronger.

I choose survival.

Chapter One

Three months later.

“Are you done?” I murmur through clenched teeth as Jean, my best friend, continues to line my lips in an attempt to make my thin mouth look fuller, yet natural. Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with voluptuous lips like Angelina Jolie.

“Hold still. I will be if you stop fidgeting and trying to peek. ” She takes the handheld mirror away from me. She brushes my lips one more time with blood red lipstick, and finishes the look off by applying my favorite twenty-four hour lip gloss.

“Okay, done!” she exclaims almost too loudly.

I look up through the fake eyelashes that she applied earlier as she backs away, smiling. Finally, she allows me to look. I notice my eyes first. I’ve always been told I have sweet, angelic eyes. Tonight they’re outlined in dark black liquid liner with smoky eye shadow that has just the slightest hint of purple. Surprisingly, the dark eyes don’t clash with the red lips. She brushed on a few shades of golden bronzer to accent my high cheekbones and add color to my pale complexion. It makes my skin looks smooth, hiding any blemish that may have been present. As I glance over the top of the mirror, I’m not sure if I should smile or freak out. This look says one thing only: Come fuck me.

“I know what you’re thinking. ”

You have no idea. “Yeah?”

“Yes. You’re thinking it might be a little too much. ”

Oh, she’s quite good.

“But trust me, you look hot, Aundrea. All the guys will be lined up to buy you drinks tonight!” Smiling at me devilishly, she adds, “And you know we like boys who buy us drinks. ” Jean takes one last look at me before turning on her high heels and walking back into my room.

I get up from the vanity bench and follow her into my bedroom. “Where are you going?”

Ignoring me, she makes her way into my closet, flipping through my small selection of clothes. “You can’t wear what you have on. ”

Looking down at my jeans and off-the-shoulder orange top, I ask, “What’s wrong with what I have on?”

“You need something sexy. ”

“Sexy? I don’t do sexy. ”

She pulls out a few shirts, holding them up to me. Shaking her head, she starts digging through the suitcase she brought with her for the night. She has enough clothes to dress every female in her dorm. The woman loves clothes, and clothes love her.

Jean is going to school to become a fashion designer at the University of Minnesota and I just moved in with my sister, Genna, and her husband, so this is the first time I’ve seen her in two weeks.

I watch as she pulls out a black piece of cloth. Turning to face me, she throws it my way, hitting me square in the face as I try to act fast to catch it. “Put that on. I think I saw some red pumps in your closet that will go perfectly with it. ”

I hold up the small piece of fabric with wide eyes, stretching it. Is this supposed to be a shirt or a dress? Maybe it’s a skirt? I can’t tell.

As if she can read my thoughts, she answers, “It’s a dress. ”

“You have got to be kidding me. What size is this? This won’t even cover my ass!”

Jean is a size four. I’m a size six on a good day. For some ungodly reason, she always thinks I can “squeeze” into her clothes.

“Dre! Stop over-thinking everything. You look great, and this dress, paired with your red shoes, will look even better!”

I cannot believe she talked me into going dancing tonight. Of all the things we could do while she visits me, she chooses that.

“I thought we’d go dancing. Jump around, listen to you scream out the wrong lyrics to the song … who knows, maybe you’ll even get a guy to buy you a drink with those fancy dance moves!” she’d said.

“Jean, seriously, this dress looks as if it was made for a ninth grader. It’s not going to fit me!” Somehow, whenever I let her dress me up, I end up looking like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, minus the red hair.

She snatches it from my hands, holding it out in front of her and stretching it more. “Relax, one of my sisters loaned it to me. ” Sisters? She’s the only girl out of four children. I still have a hard time hearing her refer to the women in her sorority as her sisters. “See? It’s spandex. It’ll fit. Go. Put. It. On. ” She throws it back at me, hitting me in the face for the second time. It’s strapless and simple with a little lace embroidered up the right side.

Letting out a sigh of defeat, I respond, a little annoyed. “Just because it stretches”—I stretch the dress in the air like she did—“doesn’t mean it will fit me the same as you. You do realize I have seven inches on you?”

Standing at five foot nine, I’m the tallest of my friends. It doesn’t help that my best friend and sister are both five-two, so when I stand next to them, especially if I’m wearing heels, I look like a giraffe.

“So? It will be a little short. You’ll fit right in!” She puts her hands on my shoulders and gives me a slight push toward the bathroom. “Stop being over-dramatic. You have a great ass, Aundrea. If you happen to show a little cheek, you’ll be doing everyone a favor. Trust me. Now hurry! I told Shannon we’d be there at nine and it’s quarter to, so chop chop!” She spanks me on the ass when she says the last part.

Groaning in defeat, I stomp into the bathroom to put on the shortest black dress I will ever wear in this lifetime. And, let it be known, it will be the last.

Speaking through the closed door, I ask, “We’re meeting Shannon?”

“Yeah! Hope that’s okay. I thought it might be fun to make it a girls’ night. She wants to see you too. ”

Shannon works for my brother in law, Jason. He owns his own Veterinary Clinic here in Rochester. She’s one of the three vet techs in the small clinic. I’ve known her for a while, but we’re not close. Jean and I came to visit Genna for a weekend earlier this summer and the four of us went out a couple times. We got along well, but she clicked with Jean right away.

“Sure. That should be fun. ”

I walk out of the bathroom and Jean’s face instantly brightens. “Aundrea, you look so good! Freaking hot! If someone doesn’t try to pick you up tonight, I will … but you need a strapless bra. You can’t go out with your straps hanging out like that. ”

“I figured I’d tuck them in. I don’t think I brought any strapless bras from home. Besides, I don’t think I’d find one in those boxes even if I did. ”

“I have a few. ”

“Yeah, like those will fit me! I’ll be busting out all over the place. ”

“Even better. ”

I roll my eyes at her back.

Jean tosses me a black strapless bra. Instead of going back into the bathroom, I turn around and face the wall to lower the dress to my waist. Unsnapping my bra, I drop it to the floor while glancing down at her 32-B cup. This is supposed to cover my 34-C cup? This will never work.

Just as I’m pulling the dress back up, I hear a shocked gasp.
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