“Can we go home soon, Daddy?”
Joy thought to herself that he’d said that the last time she’d asked him. It seemed like they had been there for a long time now, and she wanted to leave. Besides, she felt a little better today and didn’t understand why she couldn’t go to school. She hated missing school!
Alissa looked at Dale. She was becoming increasingly apprehensive. She’d had a meeting at work earlier that morning and then joined Dale and Joy at the doctor’s office. They had planned for her to take Joy home and then Dale was going to work. She’d been there with them waiting for over half an hour now.
Finally, Joy’s doctor, Carrie came out to get them herself. Dale didn’t like the expression on the doctor’s face.
Noah and Sharlee signed the contracts. After a bit more negotiating between their representatives and Harley, both parties were satisfied with the terms. Noah and Sharlee were in their agent’s office going over final details.
“There’s one more thing. My clothes are starting to feel tight, and it won’t be long before I have to start wearing maternity clothing. So if they want to get some pictures before I start showing, I think they’d better come this week.”
Their agent contacted Gene, and their first session for pictures and filming their first commercial was scheduled for later in the week. Gene was glad that they were so eager to begin the campaign. Sharlee didn’t feel exactly eager. Noah wasn’t either. He was actually dreading it. Putting himself on display in this way was completely out of his comfort zone.
However, he was looking forward to earning money again so that they would not be as dependent on Dale. Dale and Alissa had refused his offer of paying them any money. They had actually been offended. Even so there were things that Sharlee would be needing soon. She’d need maternity clothing, and they’d need to start preparing for the baby. He wanted to pay for those things. He felt that it was his responsibility and not Dale and Alissa’s. The sooner money started coming in the better.
Dale was very upset himself, but he kept calm for Joy’s sake. He was used to being the doctor telling the parents of an ill child the bad news, but he’d hoped fervently that he’d never be the parent receiving the bad news.
“She’s okay. We’ll see her at home later.” He took Joy home.
Alissa stopped her car and pulled over. She cried brokenheartedly for a few minutes. Then she forced herself to stop crying. She’d had to fight for what she wanted her entire life. She wouldn’t stop fighting now. Joy was going to be well again! Alissa refused to give up, and she wouldn’t let Joy give up either.
She remembered what Noah had told her about believing that he wasn’t meant to be happy. She believed that you had to make your own happiness. She was happy with her husband, her children, her family and her career. She’d worked hard and experienced a lot of hard times to reach this point in her life.
Now she was even about to become a grandmother! She smiled just thinking about it. She had a son-in-law who loved her daughter just as much as Dale loved her. It was what she wanted for all of her children. She was not about to let three words take all of that happiness away. Three gut wrenching words. “Joy has leukemia.” Alissa refused to allow leukemia to be Joy’s death sentence. She pulled back onto the road and headed home.
When Alissa arrived, Joy was playing a video game, and Dale was in his office. He had his face resting in his hands when she entered. She walked over and sat in his lap. They hugged each other tightly for a few moments, drawing strength from one another.
“I’ve already contacted the best specialist in children’s leukemia in the country. He’s assembling a treatment team for Joy. The sooner her treatment begins the better her prognosis. I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you, Alissa. Her leukemia has developed quickly, and it isn’t an easily treated case. Dr. Hodgekins is going to review her file with the other team members today and then develop a treatment protocol. He said that he will call me back tomorrow morning.”
“Dale are you saying that there is no hope that she will recover?”
“Oh no, Honey! That’s not what I’m saying at all! Of course there is hope! She’s getting the best doctors that I know to treat her. I’m just saying that it won’t be easy for her or for us.”
“When do you want to tell her?”
“I think that we need to let it really sink in ourselves, and then tell her after we’ve spoken with her doctors to find out the treatment plan.”
While Sharlee was being dressed and made up, Noah’s first part of the advertising campaign began. They were taking posed pictures for magazines, catalogs and billboards. Noah felt very stiff and was clearly very uncomfortable. The photographer was becoming frustrated.
What Fritz was doing looked idiotic to Noah. Gene saw that Noah and the photographer Randy were rubbing each other the wrong way. He made a mental note to assign a different photographer to work with Noah from now on, but they’d have to make it work for today. He had a sudden idea that he thought might help!
Noah was feeling irritated with Randy and was about ready to deck him. He was quickly realizing that he was not going to be able to do this job. He wasn’t some damn model and that prick of a photographer could shove it!
Randy was telling Noah to do some other inane pose when Noah looked up and saw Sharlee standing with Gene. She smiled at him encouragingly. Noah’s eyes widened at her outfit! She looked so hot! She was thinking the same thing about him. Her presence made him feel instantly more relaxed and resolved to make this work. Randy saw the change in him and signaled Fritz to begin again.
Gene shouted, “Okay, everybody take ten!”
“It’s going. Come and sit down.” He led her over to a chair.
Gene had Noah’s chopper taken over to the staged area. Then he spoke quietly with Randy and Fritz telling them how he wanted the rest of Noah’s shoot to proceed. When they resumed the photo session, the atmosphere had changed. Noah knew it was because of his sunshiny wife. She made people smile. This time Fritz was demonstrating poses that were more natural for Noah and the pictures and clothing changes went smoothly.
Then it was Sharlee’s turn. Randy was more patient with her, and she found it much easier than Noah to do the poses. They did a set with her standing and then a set with her sitting. Sharlee was thankful that they gave her so many rest breaks that she didn’t even have to ask for one.
After that, they took pictures of Noah and Sharlee together. Gene was happy that their strong chemistry was still intact and came across in the pictures. He was quite pleased at the end of their session.
The following day they intended to shoot the first commercial. It would include a hint that Sharlee was pregnant. He smiled in satisfaction. Everything was right on schedule and going according to his plan. He knew that Terry would be just as pleased. He might even get a bonus after the campaign went public. There was no question that it would be successful for Harley.
Because of her pregnancy conditions, Sharlee couldn’t actually ride on a motorcycle, and so special effects were used to give the appearance that she was riding with Noah. They remained in one spot whenever she joined him on the motorcycle. Gene had a fake street set up just to use for the commercial. They didn’t have to make many retakes for the filming which made the director very pleased. When the Harley crew left town, they knew that Noah and Sharlee would be a big hit with the public.
(Link to more pictures of the campaign: Noah and Sharlee’s Campaign Pictures. )
Dale and Alissa sat down with Joy outside on the patio. Dale explained to her in an age appropriate way that she was seriously ill. He emphasized to her that they were going to do everything that they could to make sure that she was well again. He told her some of the side effects of her treatment and how long it might take for her to recover her health.
“I might lose my hair?”
“Oh no, I wouldn’t want a wig! I think having no hair might be cool!”
Dale and Alissa looked at each other and smiled. Their Joy was going to be okay. She had a few more questions, but one was more important to her than the rest.
Shawn said, “She’s gonna beat it. There’s no way my little Sis is gonna die.”
Then they told Sharlee and Noah. When Alissa saw the devastated expression in Sharlee’s eyes, she once again could not hold back her tears. She and Dale had already met with the counselors for caregivers and been instructed to cry if they felt like it. It was important not to hold those emotions inside. Seeing them cry would show Joy that it was okay to cry if she wanted to cry.
Alissa hugged Sharlee, and they cried together. Afterwards the entire family was resolved that they would help Joy fight this disease and overcome it! They tried to keep their routines as normal as possible.
I hope that the storyline of Joy having leukemia doesn’t offend anyone. I’ve had a family member who had cancer and a friend who had leukemia. So I know how heart wrenching and difficult this type of a disease is on a family and friends in real life.
However, I don’t intend for Joy’s treatment or the progression of her disease to follow a real life time table. So things may happen sooner than they they really would and may vary from real life circumstances. I just thought it would be good to let you know what to expect. Thanks for sticking with the story! 🙂
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