CHARLIE COULD BE ANYONE
Kind Of Like Life
J.D. felt goose bumps crawl up his arms. He wasn’t sure if it was the damp basement or the hospital smell. He
was sure that the only reason he had come here was to stop his wife’s nagging. She always wanted to talk about
it. He did not.
J.D. stopped just outside the door. A full-sized, middle-aged man dressed in a running suit was talking. “Wow,
can you believe this weather?” He said to a petite young woman wearing dark glasses. “Just last week it was
sunny and warm. Now, it’s a monsoon.”
“Kind of like life, I guess,” the woman softly replied.
Thunder crashed outside. J.D.’s fingers dug into his curly hair. “What am I getting myself into?” he wondered.
Cancer had brought chaos into his life — again. This time it was his brother, and he wasn’t sure “sharing” with a
group of strangers was going to help. J.D. thought about retreating into the storm, but the facilitator in the front
of the room had already made eye contact.
“Excuse me. Excuse me,” she called out.
Drawn by her gentle disposition, J.D. was caught.
“Can everyone please find a seat so we can start?” She was tall and slender, with a touch of gray. “My name is
Sarah Logan,” she said. “Welcome to our cancer support group. I will be your facilitator.” Her eyes warmed the
room. “I’d like to start by having each of you briefly introduce yourselves.”
“I’ll start,” said the man in the running suit, leaning on the back legs of his chair, his arms resting across his
stomach. “My name is Scott Marshall. My best friend has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was
researching cancer on the Internet and found this support group. Did you know there are over two hundred
types of cancer? Ladies have a one-in-three chance of getting it,” Returning his chair to all fours, he pointed
across the table at J.D. “And us men have a one-in-two chance.”
“Thank you, Scott,” said Sarah scanning the room. “Who would like to go next?”
A hand shot up, almost knocking over a nearby cup of coffee. Out from under a ten-gallon hat came a thick,
Texas drawl, “My name is Casey Porter. My wife has breast cancer — again — after being in remission for three
years.” He pushed his shoulders back like a rodeo star on a championship ride. “I know that everything is going
to be okay. We have our ups and downs, but we’re going to make it.”
“Thank you, Casey,” said Sarah. “It must mean a lot for your wife to have such support.”
A soft southern dialect spoke next, “My name is Georgia Christensen. My mama has thyroid cancer.” The chair’s
legs strained as she twisted her voluptuous curves. “Mama always said we have to trust in God. I feel like He
inspired me to find this meeting.”
“Thank you, Georgia.” Sarah’s eyes settled on the woman in the dark glasses, “Would you like to share with us
After a long pause there came a whisper, “My name is Maria Garcia. My daughter has Leukemia.” Maria’s
head lowered as her words dissolved into tears. “She’s only eight!” Georgia reached over to pat her trembling
shoulders. “To tell you the truth,” Maria continued, “I came here tonight because I didn’t know where else to turn.
There’s just so much … I’m afraid I won’t be able to handle it.”
“It’s not uncommon for you to feel this way,” Sarah replied. “Some days you may feel sad, some days angry,
but there will also be some good days.” She reassured, “Remember, each day is a new day.”
All eyes in the room turned to J.D. “I guess that leaves me,” he said, clearing his throat. “My name is James
Dean Matthews, friends call me J.D. I’m not sure I fit in here after hearing all of your stories. My brother was
diagnosed with testicular cancer. I really didn’t feel like coming, but my wife insisted there could be no harm in
attending one meeting.”
“Well, I’m glad you decided to join us, J.D. I hope you will find tonight beneficial,” said Sarah. “Let me start by
saying that I too have been where you are today — facing the uncertainty of cancer. When my husband was first
diagnosed with stomach cancer, I was terrified and overwhelmed with a feeling of helplessness.”
J.D. sighed and stared blankly, if they only knew.
“The treatment and side effects were explained, but I wasn’t sure how I could help.” Taking a deep breath,
Sarah continued, “I wasn’t prepared for what our personal relationship would go through. Besides feeling
confused, terrified, overwhelmed and occasionally guilt-ridden, I was uncomfortable with the whole situation. I
wasn’t sure what he wanted to talk about and what he didn’t, when I should jump in and help and when I shouldn’
“Yeah, I know those feelings,” said Georgia.
“Here was someone I loved,” Sarah continued, “he was going through so much — and I wanted desperately to
help — but I just didn’t know how.”
“What did you do?” asked Scott.
“A friend sent me a book. When I read it, I realized that as awful as the situation was, I had an opportunity to
enrich our relationship.” Sarah paused and sipped her coffee. “I could relate to the characters in the story. And
as I changed my perspective, many of my overwhelming emotions subsided. This empowered me to help.” She
reached for the book. “I would like to share this with you tonight.”
“Is this a story about a husband whose wife has cancer?” asked Casey.
“Not exactly,” explained Sarah. “It’s a tale about five mice, all siblings, who discover that their brother Charlie
“Mice?” questioned J.D. under his breath.
Scott straightened in his chair, pulled out his pen and sat waiting. “What should we do?”
“Thank you for reminding me, Scott. Everyone, please take a journal and a pen.” Sarah gestured to the center
of the table. “As you hear the tale, write down thoughts that impress you, based on your situation,” She said. “No
one is going to read your entries—they are for you to keep.”
J.D. tapped his pen impatiently.
“Sit back and relax.” Sarah opened the book, “I am certain you will leave this meeting with a fresh outlook,
knowing your time here was well spent.”
Georgia gave Maria’s hand a reassuring squeeze as Sarah began to read, “Once not so long ago...”