Monday, December 23, 2013

Dawn Rochelle #2: I Want to Live

By Lurlene McDaniel. Published 1987.

We open on Dawn’s fourteenth birthday. She’s been in remission for almost a year, but worries about her cancer cloud her thoughts all the time. She still misses her friend Sandy. A “friend” Rhonda comes over, but she really just wants info on Dawn’s older brother, Rob, and says annoying things about cancer camp.

Rob comes home that weekend for Dawn’s birthday, and they act a little too close to me. Snuggling and shit. It’s getting a little too Flowers in the Attic for me. He says he wants to go to her next checkup with her later in the week.

At said appointment, Dawn has to have a spinal tap, which doesn’t sound very pleasant. She is also still receiving chemo, as maintenance. Dawn gets embarrassed by throwing up in front of Rob on the way home, but he’s cool about it.

Rob’s girlfriend Darcy comes to visit. She gives Dawn a little glass teddy bear for her collection. Dawn’s a little jealous of her, and thinks she’s a bit too perfect. During a special dinner, Rob announces they’re engaged, and plan to get married that summer. They ask Dawn to be a bridesmaid, but she says she’ll think about it. She’s not sure Darcy really means it.

Nothing has really happened with her crush, Jake, and now he’s going to be moving. On the last day of school, he creepily asks to touch Dawn’s hair. She lets him. It’s a bit weird.

Dawn returns to camp, and meets up with her friend from last year, Mike. The two of them start planning for another prank on Dr. Ben. On the first night, they have the bonfire, and Dawn adds both hers and Sandy’s ashes.

On skit night, where Mike’s cabin wins by performing in drag, Dawn and Mike enact their prank for the year, covering Dr. Ben in eggs and flour.

Back home, Dawn is tired, and isn’t sure she’s up to helping with all the wedding planning. Then they get a call from her doctor, asking the to come in.

Her doctor gives the family the news that Dawn has relapsed. Their best bet is a bone marrow transplant. Rob is the closest match. He’s ready to give her as much as she needs. There are risks, because they’ll have to suppress her immune system first,. It may not even work, there’s a fifty-fifty chance of survival.

That night at dinner, Darcy is there with the wedding invitations. She wants to know if the operation will be after the wedding. Later, Dawn hears Rob and Darcy arguing. Darcy wants her wedding to be perfect, but Rob’s more concerned about Dawn. Dawn feels her cancer is now ruining Rob’s life, too.

Dawn checks into the hospital, and is given a private room and nurse, named Katie. The first thing she has to do is have her own bone marrow harvested, in case she rejects Rob’s. Then she goes into isolation for a week while she’s given the immune suppressants. She learns she’ll lose her hair again, and gets upset.

On the day of the transplant, Dawn and her mom wait while Rob’s bone marrow is harvested. When it’s done, the doctors hook it up to Dawn. It will take five hours.

A few days after the transplant, Dawn spikes a fever and becomes delirious, and fa
lls into a coma. She’s fighting a couple of different infections.

We learn Rob has called off his wedding to Darcy. She was being a real bitch about being around all the sickness. Good riddance, Darcy. Rob instead is getting to be friendly with Katie.

Dawn comes out of her coma, and appears to be improving. They talk of letting her go home soon, but then she has another fever. This time, Dawn flat lines, and they try jump-starting her. Rob calls her name, begging her to come back. It works.

Once she’s better, Dawn starts looking forward to the future for the first time in a long time.

o   For her birthday, Dawn receives a pink boombox and a pink sweatsuit. Delightfully 80’s.

o   When the family goes in to see the doctor, he thanks them for coming in. “We assume it’s about Dawn,” Dawn’s father says. Well, no shit.

o   The bone marrow looks like a bag full of red jello.


  1. chemo "maitenence" a thing??

  2. Yes, how dare you care about your sister's life-threatening illness, Rob! How very dare you!