Recordings of Gianna’s Family, Part Eight – Everyone Except Gianna

fiction stories about cancer
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Short Story

August 1st, 2015. Stacy’s Trailer.

This is Stacy’s diary. It’s the first of August. You know the drill.

So, um… things aren’t good. Right?


I had another panic attack. It’s my second one in six months. I’m watching Masterchef Junior and I think about today, and… [sighs]. Every time I think this can’t get worse, I feel smaller and smaller. Like I could get squashed.

I don’t know why she’s getting surgery, honestly. She keeps talking about… I don’t know. Half of what she says goes over my head. It’s like I’m 25 again and she’s going on about kids’ pancreas.

I asked her how she was feeling about surgery last night, and she didn’t answer. She just shrugged, which she said was her answer, but I know my sister, and if she doesn’t have anything to say to something, there’s a problem. I tried to talk to her about Nancy, but she’s just…

I don’t know, I’m the only one with a problem with it. Gi says it’s her choice, Vinny does too, Ari doesn’t give a shit, but I do. You don’t take a year off from school. You tell yourself you’re gonna take a year off, and then you just don’t go to school. I told her to at least switch majors. Do something with money in it, but… she says she has it figured out. What does she have figured out? She’s 22. She could be sitting in the office 5 years from now and wonder where she went with her life.

It’s like a cycle in this family. One of us always goes nowhere. Ok, well, just me. And Nancy. Still.

I was thinking about college when I had the panic attack, I think. Yeah. Yeah, that’s what- …jesus.

Of course. I was stupid enough to think college was never for me. I’m not gonna talk like that, I know that’s not… I just wish I stayed, that’s all. But then if I wish I stayed, Gianna wouldn’t be a doctor, so I feel like an asshole, but I shouldn’t. It’s bullshit.

I don’t know.

I always remember Gi coming home with a bunch of medical books one day. From the library. It was snowing and raining, so it was cold and wet. I always thought she was just gonna give up, she had no money. She had mom’s inheritance, and that was it. She had no idea what debt was and then she went to college. I’m starting to see what Nancy’s talking about.

I don’t know what she was expecting when pre-med ended. Thirty-thousand in the hole. Nowhere to go. And I just asked myself “what was I doing while my sister was in med school and getting a husband?” And it was nothing. I did nothing. I had a nest egg that did jack shit, that was it.


It never bothers me. That’s the weird thing, I always thought it would, but… she was my investment. I don’t wanna talk about her as a thing, but she was. Mom would be proud. I spent my money right, for once.

Then she gets cancer in her pelvis and her husband dies. It’s bullshit. She doesn’t deserve that. No one does.

I’d switch places with her, but that’d condemn her to a life in a dentist’s lobby. Give her someone else’s life. Someone who grows old with her family and doesn’t get shafted by life every three years.


And I still have 3 hours before her surgery starts. God, I’m gonna go crazy.

End Recording.

August 1st, 2015. Break room.

V: Um… the surgery’s lasting too long. They were supposed to be out an hour ago, they’re still in there. I’m just making this because I don’t really have anything else to do right now. Um…

I think this might be it. You know, I’ve thought about Mom dying over and over, and I always imagined myself breaking down, or something, and… I just don’t know how to feel. I don’t really feel like anything, honestly.

That’s depressing. I kinda felt this way when Darcy broke things off, but-

N: They don’t know how long they’re gonna be.

V: Did they actually say that?

N: No. They said thirty minutes. …Yeah.

…Are you making a video?

V: Um… yeah. You can stay if you want. I just need something to do.

N: Anything you wanna talk about?

V: …I guess not. It’s just the same stuff I was saying last night. You doing alright?

N: Nope. Don’t plan to be. Aunt Stacy’s bringing Santangelo’s, though, so…

V: She is?

N: Yeah. She texted all of us.

V: I haven’t been looking at my phone. That’s cool, though. Beats Cafeteria food. Their fries are alright, though.


N: Well, just… I don’t wanna say anything, but… if anything bad happens today, I’m gonna relate my favorite pizza to it. Always.

V: If anything bad happens today, it’ll probably make you feel better.

N: …Maybe. I, um- Ari! …Where are you going?

A: I was going to the cafeteria.

N: Well Pizza’s coming. Sit with us.

A: Why?

[Vinny laughs] N: Because there’s pizza, and sibling bonding. Sit.

[scoffs, chair pulls up]

N: Thank you. Who are you texting?

A: This girl.

V: Does she have a name?

A: Nope.

..Are you making a recording?

V: I was.

A: Why?

N: It helps.

V: Actually,  it’s because I’m a drooling nerd, Ari.

A: You wish. There’s a kid in my class who plays starcraft every weekend. That’s nerdy.

N: You talk to your friends like that?

A: No.

N: Vinny, does she talk to her friends like that?

V: You’d have to ask her friends.

A: I don’t. I’m not a sociopath.

N: [scoffs] Ari…

No, you’re not. You know you’re not. Stop it. Alright?

A: Ok. No big deal.

N: No big deal, she says.

V: She’s milking it, you know.

N: Of course she is.


N: The Pizza’s Santangelo’s, by the way. Meat Lover’s.

A: I saw. I have a phone. Group texts.

next chapter: Recordings of Gianna’s Family, Part Nine – Gianna

previous chapter: Recordings of Gianna’s Family, Part Seven – Gianna

all chapters: Recordings of Gianna’s Family


photograph by Ryan McGuire

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Christian DeAngelis

Renegade extraordinaire. Only by nights, though. And only on Tuesdays.

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