Don was resistant to share his diagnosis with his family. Loving them as much as he did, he didn’t want to weigh them down with worries about him, or worse yet, scaring them. So he kept his diagnosis secret, quietly taking his oral dose therapy. He actually got away with it for a few months, telling his loved ones that he had a bit of a sour stomach to explain the occasional bouts of nausea he was having. Life went on pretty normally, at least so he thought, but those around him began to recognize that something was weighing on him. Sometimes he grew snappish as he reacted to the low doses of Dexamethasone, and while he claimed that premature baldness ran in the family, his seemed to be thinning awfully quickly. Then again, only Don’s aged mother suffered hair loss, his father had a thick and flowing white mane. Still, those close to him wrote it off to his work, which they assumed quite demanding. Yet, he still made time for family and friends. The family enjoyed informal get-togethers with friends, who’d come for dinner and perhaps watch a movie in the comfortable living room. The family also enjoyed certain series, with television shows like CSI and Law and Order favorites. For the most part, Don’s symptoms remained light and time passed like it did for most families.
Marilyn and Fred were longtime friends. Fred was in college with Don, and the two spent a fair amount of time together. Even so, Fred didn’t want to saddle his friend with worry, and kept him in the dark as well. After one evening with Don and his wife, Jessica, Fred got talking with his wife on the way home from supper with his friend.
“You know, Honey, I think there’s something wrong here.” he said.
“What do you mean, Sweetheart?”
“I can’t put my finger on it, but I just have this feeling…” He dropped it, but over time he and his wife Marilyn got to discussing their fried Don more and more often. A few weeks later they returned to Don and Jessica’s for dinner and some TV, but right off there was some awkwardness. Don was a bit on edge. In an appointment that day, his doctor had given him a terrible prognosis. Don tried hard to remain composed and not spoil the evening. But things had been a bit awkward, and Don had been a bit moody. But he tried to be pleasant through dinner, and keep it up as they moved into the living room to watch one of their favorite programs.
“Jessica,” he said grimly, “what are you doing to Don?”
Jessica, taken aback, asked “Whatever are you talking about?”
“Don’t try to play innocent.” snapped Marilyn.
“You’re poisoning him slowly, aren’t you? You’ve met someone else and you’re trying to get rid of Don. Admit it!” Fred growled.
“You’re having an affair?” Fred fairly whined to his wife.
“Honey, no. Of course not!” Turning, “Fred, whatever are you talking about. I adore Don.”
“Dont’ give us that,” said Jessica. “We can see the effects. Headaches, nausea, a change in personality. It’s just like the episode where the wife slowly kills her husband to get his money.”
“Yeah, or the one where the wife slow poisoned her husband to be with another man. There’s lot’s of episodes like that on BOTH CSI an Law and Order. That’s where you got your idea from, isn’t it!” sad Fred, pointing angrily at Jessica. She burst into tears.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I love my Don. I wouldn’t trade him for the world! How can you say this? I thought we were such good friends!”
“Wait, wait, everybody!” pleaded Fred. “You don’t understand!”
“Don’t stand up for her, Don. Not after what’s she’s done.” counseled Fred. “Why…”
“No, stop!” barked Don. “I’m taking cancer treatments. I’ve been taking low dose chemotherapy for a few months now. Jessica isn’t trying to poison me.”
“What?” screeched Jessica.
“My God!” exclaimed Fred.
“Oh, my!” cried Marilyn.”
“Oh, Don! How could you?” asked Jessica, tears in her eyes. “I though we shared everything. I thought we were partners.”
“Jesus, Don. You’ve been lying to me? Your best friend?”
“You poor baby,” said Marilyn, moving to embrace her husband. To Don, “This is disgusting!”
“No, wait, I…” stammered Don.
“Shut up, Don!” snapped Jessica. “Not another word. Oh my God, I feel so betrayed.” Fred and Marily moved to comfort her. They embraced, leaving Don alone and excluded.
“I… I’m sorry, I…”
“Oh, can it. Some best friend you are. I think you better leave!” said an indignant Fred.
“This is my house, you…”
“Out!” snapped Jessica.
“Out!” growled Marilyn.
“But…” stammered Don. But no one was hearing it. Fred stood and grabbed Don by the collar, guided him to the door, and opened it and ejected Don in one quick action.
“Should we stay with you in your time of trouble?” ask Marilyn, gently.
“We’re here for you.” agreed Fred.
“Thank you both.” wept Jessica.