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Petechial rashes, ecchymoses...
Jia's eyes widened in horror as she recalled that these two are among the presentations of some hematologic disorders like leukemia.
Petechial rashes are tiny purple, red, or brown spots on the skin and ecchymoses is a medical term for common bruise.
She tried to recall the latest behaviors of Jim. She then remembered that he easily got tired lately to which she thought was probably because of the demands of work. The additional workload due to the advent of Hailey's Cancer Therapy which may have drained and exhausted him was not something that would raise her suspicion. Even she, herself, had many times slumped into the bed after working hours.
The sudden shift of business responsibility which was turned over to them due to his father's illness, had also drained him down. But this again, would not lead her to suspect that something was wrong with him.
She never heard him complained about bone pain and fever except for the weight loss and his paleness.
Weight loss and paleness... right! These could be one of the signs and symptoms of cancer. But because of Jim's added responsibilities and his innate porcelain - like skin, it did not raise much concern on her part, other than her constant reminder for him to slow down.
With sudden fear engulfing her, she hurried to look for his sling bag and rummaged into its contents. Inside a secret pocket was a bottle of Hailey's Pills. Then, there was another bottle labeled with Imatinib mesylate... With racing heartbeats, she found another small packs of capsules labeled with... hydroxyurea!
Hydroxyurea... Imatinib mesylate...
She stood up and grabbed her phone and swiped directly on Google's search engine...
"Hydroxyurea is used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia, ovarian cancer, and certain types of skin cancer...."
"Imatinib mesylate is a medication used to treat certain types of cancer suchas acute lymphoblastic leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia..."
All of a sudden, Jia could not breath easily. With her heart beating loudly and painfully, she stood shaking and crying silently by Jim's side. She was almost tempted to shook him up and slap him! How could he hide something as critical as this!
She went to the closet and picked up a set of pajama. She pulled his leg one after the other as she helped him slip into the pants. And there were not only two, three patches... but many!
She ran out of the room as fast as she could and went down to the shore. And there she wailed bitterly, and her wailing into the night was swallowed whole by the infinite vastness of the sea.
When finally she calmed down, she searched into the internet the type of leukemia that Jim may had and its prognosis. She learned that Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) accounts for 20% of adults.
Currently, patients with CML have a median survival of 5 or more years and with the breakthroughs of new medications, it has doubled recently.
Jia clung on to the hope of that rate of survival but her question was when was Jim diagnosed?
She thought hard about this and Hailey's Pill came into her mind. She was instantly relieved but sanked back when she thought about the product shortage. And the fact that the treatment would become ineffective if stopped prior to the completion of the treatment course.
Thinking about Koko's advocacy to address the fatal claws of cancer, she wondered if Jim was one of the enrollees of therapy and if Koko knew about it. She must talk to him, as soon as possible.
Later in the morning, Jia decided to keep her suspicions to herself. She went about her usual routines while masking her pain inside. While she was preparing their routine morning smoothies, she saw Jim picking up a call. She ran to eavesdrop him but she only caught the last line.
"Okay, John, will be there. " Jim said calmly.
John...Aijohn.. So, he was meeting Koko today.
Jia continued to pretend and she observed that there was no anxiety or something suspicious in his demeanor. He was still the peculiar husband who showered her with sweetness and caring acts.
After the breakfast with the whole family, Jim finished ahead and stood at the back of Jia's seat as he hugged her from behind.
" Sweetheart, I'll be meeting Dr. Aijohn today." Jim said, in his most intimate way.
Jia covered his hands which were locked on her chest with her own.
"I'll go with you. " She replied, holding back the urge to yell and kick the chairs and table to vent out her pain and anger why he was keeping it to himself.
"No, love. Ate Casey is here. "
"Ate Casey won't mind. " She said as she cast a look at her.
Casey felt something odd in the way Jia talked that she immediately replied without thinking.
"Yes, dear. I won't mind at all. "
Jia kept silent for a while but then she decided to play a cat -and - mouse game with him.
"Okay, dear. Be back right away!"
Jim's eyes sparked with relief that he immediately tilted her head up and kissed her in front of everyone!
Anthon stood by the glass window inside his room. He was waiting for Anna to come down. Today, they would be leaving Dubai together. They even agreed to spend their vacation in some tourist's destinations in the country.
Anthon sighed as she thought about her. He was still far from loving her but he was comfortable with her around. He even took her to different attractions of Dubai, including the famous and dreamed places like Burj Khalifa and in Atlantis, The Palm.
He did not notice when Anna came in. She just stood quietly behind him for a while before she held his upper arm.