Recordings of Gianna’s Family, Part Nine – Gianna

best fiction on cancer

Short Story

October 14, 2014. 5:16 PM. Gianna’s room.

So that’s what I have to look forward to.

Alright. I’m done.

5:16 PM. End Recording.

5:30 PM. Gianna’s room.


Yup. Yup, yup, yup.

End Recording.

5:45. Gianna’s room.

I might show this video to someone. I might not. My mind’s been wavering on it the past thirty minutes, but I just need to get something out there. Before all of this happens, before we do this whole thing over and over again. [sighs] Jesus.


I don’t know whether I’m a success story or a tragedy. Lower-middle-class kid from North Jersey. Signs her soul away, but it’s to practice medicine. Beautiful family. Dead husband. Dead mother. Lots of friends. Helps kids. Well… I like helping kids. There’s that.

I just wanna talk about a few things, set the record straight.

Thing with cancer is, some people- not all, but, you know- they assume your life goes on hold. You quit your job, you go into treatment, you join support groups, your family goes through the emotional roller coaster. Worst case scenario, you die. Now, that happens for some people, but not Roger, and probably not me. My husband worked 9-5 until the last 3 months of the sickness. I’m probably gonna be the same.

He once told me I get off on working. I think he’s right. And in a way, that’s a good thing, because I’m gonna have to pay off our medical bills with extra shifts. The kids’ll help, but they can’t get a $200,000 salary, so it’s mostly me. Then there’s the fact that I’m going to get weaker over time. At some point, I’m going to feel like I’m going to give birth to a giant tumor. And that’s just me, the kids still have to go to school, Stacy still has to- well, she’ll have to help out around the house more, which I know some of the kids won’t like. It’s just a hard life piled onto your normal one. And if it’s anything like Roger, they’re going to come to me for emotional support. And I’m the one dying. Well… I should’t say that. We don’t know how bad it is yet. Just that it’s bad.



I feel old. I’m not old. Forty-nine isn’t old, this isn’t a Hollywood movie. I pulled out a few gray hairs yesterday. I would have been fine if it was just one, but no. It’s gray hairs, plural.

I remember the morning Roger was diagnosed. We had an appointment around 3, and I remember wanting to schedule it earlier because it was a Saturday and we can pick up some stuff on the way home. And he was making pancakes for everyone, because it’s the only thing he knows how to make, and Vinny, of all people, he’s mad because his pancake is too small, and he made such a big deal out of it. So we all made fun of him. Well- oh my god, that sounds awful- not in an evil way. He went along with it, just started acting like the king of the breakfast table. We all got a kick out of it.

All we did was argue when he had cancer. Every week, we’d get in a fight about something. He was wonderful with the kids, though. Took each of them out when he was able. He was a saint to them. I called him out on it, and we had a long fight. It turned into a discussion, and we both sort of realized he wanted to leave a good impression on the kids. Make the last year with him one of the best. And he wanted me to miss him less when he was gone. Make the transition easier. It didn’t work.


Alright, so… if my kids see this video. Nance, Ari, Vinny. Stacy. You’re like my fourth kid, let’s be honest. I don’t know when, but sometime down the road you’re gonna see this video. I’m gonna be bald. Probably look like a bird. Watching this might be a sad reminder, but… I’m still me. No matter what I look like.

I just want you to know I love you. I say that every day, but I’ll put it on record. I don’t feel- [sighs]. I feel like I spend too much time being a rock, and not enough time being a mother. Or not a mother, that’s the same thing. Just a normal person. Nancy, you once said the way I treat other people is night and day compared to how I treat my kids. I agree. I was raised on the mentality that you’re a parent first and a friend second. That’s true. And you all turned out amazing. I just hope we all get to see that other side of me. We just have to get old enough first.


I wish everything could be alright with this family for once. I wish I didn’t have to drag you all down into the mud. I see death every day. Not at work, or anything. I’m just reminded of Roger. Mom. I look at you kids, and I just wonder what’s going to happen when you’re my age and you start to feel a lump somewhere.

And I say this all the time, but again- on the record. Respect yourself. Protect yourself. Don’t just assume you’re automatically gonna get cancer and binge out on everything imaginable until you’re 40. Live fast, die young is a dumb mentality, and it only seems good right now. To this day, I’m glad I’m out of my 20’s. And if, god forbid, something happens to you, you fight. Even if there’s a one percent chance you’ll win. If you just resign yourself to things, the chance is zero. Don’t take the zero over the one. You’re not weak. You’re a Sorrentino. We’re better than that.

End Recording.

next chapter (final): Recordings of Gianna’s Family, Part Ten – Nancy

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

all chapters: Recordings of Gianna’s Family


photograph by Simon Hettinga Verschure

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Christian DeAngelis

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

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