Edited by Planetes
“It’s Stage III stomach cancer.” After the gastroscopy, the doctor gave the diagnosis.
I looked blankly at the doctor, momentarily reactionless. It took me a pause before I found my voice again. “Stomach cancer? … Could it be a misdiagnosis?”
Only when I finished the question did I realise that questioning the doctor’s diagnosis directly was a very rude action.
Fortunately, the doctor was not angry. He only looked up at me, and explained a little more in depth. “The patient is now coughing blood, and this is due to the cancer cells spreading and rupturing the capillaries in the stomach, causing hemorrhaging. This is one of the most obvious signs of stomach cancer in its middle-late stage.”
In a daze, I listened, and when I heard the word spread I hurriedly asked, “How can we treat this…”
“The preliminary investigation has shown that the spread of the cancer cells is not very serious yet. I’ll recommend surgery.”
I sighed in relief internally. If a surgery could be done, that meant that there was still hope. Swallowing, I looked at the doctor as I asked cautiously, “May I ask roughly how much would the surgery cost?”
The doctor was filling up the report, and he replied without even looking up. “The surgery fees, as well as the chemotherapy cost which will depend on the type of medication you’re using, would cost about 50 to 100 thousand when you’re in the hospital. After that, there’s still a need to check if the patient would still require chemotherapy after the surgery depending on their condition, and together with the cost of the medication…”
The doctor finally looked up, gazing at me apologetically. “I’m unable to give you a proper estimate.”
My mind was entirely blank.
Fifty to a hundred thousand, and that still did not include any expenses after the surgery.
The issue was, if I totaled up the entire sum of my savings, it was not even forty thousand. There was no way I could pay even the most conservative estimate.
The doctor saw how troubled I was, and frowned as he advised me. “The family needs to make a decision as soon as possible. The earlier the surgery is done, the better it is for the patient. Don’t drag it out.”
“I know now, thank you, Doctor.”
Returning to the ward, my mom had been inserted with an IV drip, and she was asleep. Auntie Li saw that I was back, and hurried over to me. “How is it? What did the doctor say?”
“It’s stomach cancer.” I knew that this matter could not be hidden from Auntie Li. There would be many things that I would rely on her to help out with in the future.
“How could it…” Auntie Li’s eyes reddened in an instant. People of their age, when they heard that it was cancer, they would probably all feel that things were hopeless.
“It’s fine, the doctor says that a surgery can be done. Once the surgery succeeds, she’ll be fine.” I forced a smile out, quietly comforting her.
“But that requires a lot of money…” Auntie Li spoke gloomily.
“I’ll think of something. Auntie Li, you should go back and rest first.” It had been an entire night of busying about. Auntie Li was no longer young, and I was a little worried.
“Alright. I go back and pack some clothes for Ah Xiu. I’m afraid she’ll be staying here for quite some time,” Auntie Li again sighed. She left me a few reminders before leaving the ward.
Slowly, I sat down by the bed, looking at my mother’s sleeping face. I studied her tightly knitted brows, recalling how she curled on the ground, holding her stomach, and my heart hurt. Reaching out, I neatened the hair that had fallen onto her cheeks, and I secretly made up my mind. No matter what methods I had to employ, I must get the money for the surgery.
In the afternoon, Auntie Li came back to the hospital with some clothes, and she had even prepared porridge for my mother. My mother happened to wake up at that time too. Upon opening her eyes and discovering that she was in the hospital, she was terrified. Tightly clutching onto me, she seemed as though she was about to cry. I held her hands, patiently explaining to her that she was sick, and so needed to stay in the hospital to be treated. Only like this would her stomach not hurt anymore. Auntie Li too quickly came over with the porridge, wanting to feed her. However, my mother turned her head away with a frown.
I took the bowl from Auntie Li, and scooped up a little bit of porridge with the spoon. Blowing on it, and I held it out to her, speaking quietly, “Ma, eat a little, alright? We’ll just have a little.”
She looked at me doubtfully, but in the end, she still opened her mouth and swallowed it down.
Her eyes, when looking at me, were full of trust and reliance. My eyes stung. Quickly turning away and concealing my emotions behind a cough, I forced my tears back down.
After requesting Auntie Li to help take care of my mother, I hurried down to the supermarket and looked for my manager. Explaining my situation, I asked if I could receive my wages in advance. The manager shook his head, rejecting me. “Xiao Mu, I know you have difficulties. However, our supermarket has never had such regulations… Think about it, if I were to agree to your request, what would I do in the future when everyone comes up and ask me for the same thing?”
I was disappointed, but I could also understand the manager’s position.
Applying for a day’s leave with the manager, I walked out of the supermarket.
On the streets, I watched people on their way. A sense of feeling lost came over me, how was I going to get the money now?
I had already quit the work at the hotel, and my things had been robbed. All the phone numbers of my ex-colleagues and clients were lost, and also, I had no friends whom I could seek help from in a situation like this.
In my head, I thought about ways that could allow me to quickly earn money.
Selling my blood?
Even if I were to sell all my blood, I would not be able to get fifty thousand.
I laughed wryly inside my head. Who would pay for me, someone who looked so ordinary and plain? Even if there was, how much could I even get in my current state?
An idea flashed past my head. I stood where I was, hesitating. In the end, I still found an Internet cafe nearby, and sat down in a quiet, remote corner.
Switching the computer on, I reached out, paused, took in a breath and typed “kidney sale” in the search bar.
Hitting enter, pages of results appeared in front of me. Some were news about the police cracking cases, and some were people like me seeking information. Below, however, was opposition.
【This is illegal in our country.】
【Losing a kidney would affect your body greatly, you might regret it for the rest of your life.】
【Please consider it carefully.】
Each and every emotionless words sunk into my brain. I almost wanted to close the site and leave. However, a few images appeared in my head: my mother peeling eggs for me with her head bowed, how she looked like when she handed me the yellow cloth bag, her appearance when she sat by the rubbish bin waiting for me…
Finally, was how she curled up on the ground holding onto her stomach.
Expressionlessly, I closed those pages full of opposition and warning, continuing seeking the information I wanted on other sites. Finally, a few phone numbers were dug out, and I saved them all in my phone. Clearing the search history, I switched the computer off then left the Internet cafe.
Finding a quiet spot in the garden with no one around, I started dialing those numbers one by one. The first two numbers no longer existed, and when I called the third one, the phone rang for a very long time, before someone finally answered.
“Hello.” Silence fell after this response.
“Hello, I’ll like to sell a kidney.”
The conversation lasted for nearly an hour. The other party was very cautious, and held suspicions over my identity. They asked many questions, before agreeing to help connect me to the right people. After hanging up, I sat down in a pavilion, waiting for the call. Gazing at the luxuriant tree in front of me, as well as the occasional passerby walking past with a smile, I felt completely lost.
After about half an hour, the other party called back. Probably because I was young, and guaranteed that I was not ill or had any disease, there was soon people requesting for the report of my full body checkup. If there were no issues, they were willing to give me a hundred thousand for my kidney.
“A hundred thousand? Can it be a little higher?”
“Aiyoh, little fellow, a hundred thousand is already a lot. It’s very risky for us to do this, and if not for your age, you wouldn’t even be able to get this amount! By the way, there’s really too few people your age selling kidneys…” The person started chattering away.
My grip around my phone tightened, and I smiled wryly. If not for the fact that we had no other choices, who would be willing to sell their own organs?
【You might regret it for the rest of your life】
That sentence I read on the internet suddenly popped into my head.
For the rest of my life…
It was fine. Using my health in exchange for my mother’s life…
It was worth it.