Does this scene seem realistic?

It's about a kid learning his best friend has cancer. I have a family member who is sick but I wasn't there the moment the news was broke, so I don't think I'll ever understand what it truly feels like to hear such a terrible thing. The characters are around thirteen years of age.

Hesitating, I leave the room. I’ve never been so torn between wanting and not wanting to hear something. When I step out Ethan’s mom is crying and being held by the ever-cold Coach Ryles. Is it just me, or do even his eyes waver?

They don’t have to say anything because I know whatever news Ethan’s receiving back there is far from good. How am I supposed to feel, I wonder. Certainly nothing cheerful, but everything that has happened in the last twenty four hours has left me numb and confused. I feel nothing until the nurse talks to me alone.

“Listen, I’m going to say this blunt and straight forward because there’s not really another way to put it. When the DNA of blood cells, particularly white, become damaged in some way, they grow and divide chaotically.”

Bad cells. Cancer? Death? These are the thoughts that race through my mind. She pauses to see if I’m still okay and listening. I’m far from okay but force myself to meet her eyes. I’m shuttering.

“Normal blood cells die after some time and are replaced with new ones, produced in the bone marrow. These abnormal cells however are hard to kill and occupy a lot of space in the blood stream. The more room these bad cells take, the more healthy cells die off. This causes the person to become sick. This is…a type of cancer called leukemia…it means white blood. This is what your friend has.”

How am I supposed to feel? Why am I not feeling an unimaginable jolt of pain from these cold, cruel words? Why am I still breathing and the world still voyaging through space? I’m not crying. I don’t believe this is happening. I have to ask her again to make sure I’m not dreaming.

“He has leukemia,” she repeats. I make her say it another five times.


The word hangs in the air.

It never comes down.


@ Etta - this is just a snippet. The friend was actually with Ethan when everything went down.

4 Answers

  • Etta
    Lv 4
    7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    13 years old is a tough time so everyone finds things like this kind of news tough. I have to say that out of all the scene I think the most dynamic and catching part of it all are the last four lines. They really work. I think that the technicalities about what leukemia is are really good but they aren't fitting in the right place. The comfort and support and distress being noticed at the beginning of the scene are good but somehow don't ring through the right way.

    Most often this is the kind of news that a family would recieve alone from the physician. In some cases now physicians believe that 13 is old enough to hear the news first then to deal with the parents and the 13 year old after. That seldom happens. It would certainly be very unusual to have one's friend hear the news at the same time. It might work better for you to have the kid experience an accident in athletics involving the coach and need to go to hospital because of bleeding or some sort of injury that would require some bloodwork. The mom could then come to the school breaking the news to the coach that he would not be returning to school. 'you' could see and/or overhear the conversation and distress and then ask the school nurse or an adult in health care what leukemia actually is and use that part afterwards. I would go - 1) hit with the last lines, 2) describe seeing the interaction between mom and coach 3) explanation of leukemia 4) get back to a clincher - what will/can I do? what is this going to mean? etc?

    Just my view.

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  • 7 years ago

    Yes that is good. That was pretty much my reaction when my parents told me that my Nan had incurable cancer - asked them to repeat it, and then kind of went numb.

    But I noticed you used "shuttering" - did you mean "stuttering"?

    EDIT: My Nan was diagnosed in 1999 when I was 7 - I didn't think a monologue. In truth, when I was told I was playing a game of some sort, and I just blanked whatever my dad said... I was that numb. I knew that it was bad, I knew she might not survive, and I was scared. I didn't think "why" too much, or imagine cancer as a battlefield. I just knew she probably would die. I actually spent my childhood after she died hating the NHS for misdiagnosing her and for being unable to help her.

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  • 7 years ago

    I think children like asking questions, so don't make it a monologue... let the main character ask questions like 'why?' Also kids have great imiaginations so maybe your character can try and compare cancer to a battle field. Also maybe there can be a flash back to a time your character first heard the word cancer, and how it makes her/him feel now that the friend has it. Good luck!

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  • 7 years ago

    Yes :)

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