Beating the Odds

Jennifer and Jasper Henbridge are twins. Both are diagnosed with "Black Vein Disease" when they are just six years old, they are told that the disease will give them only a few years to live. Both children beat the odds and fight through until reaching aged eighteen. Jennifer's dreams of becoming a vet are shattered and Jasper is forced to pull out of the navy. The twins beat the odds once, but can they do it the next time the doctor says that they have months to live?

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4. Bad News

Two Years Later

"Happy Birthday Jasper! Your friends will be here soon so that you can head off to Alien Planet."

"Oooh yay! Thanks mummy!"

"That's okay Jasper, daddy is going with you and mummy is going with Jen and her friends to Fantasy Land."

The conversation between Sarah Henbridge and her six year old son, Jasper, drifted up to Jennifer who was sat on her bed. She looked around her room, everything was in place. It was a pink and white themed room, with pale pink walls, dark pink carpet and white ceiling. Her white skirting boards were patterned with pink roses. Her cabin bed had a white bedspread with pink roses, her lampshades were pink with white roses and all her teddies were squashed onto a pink sofa patterned with white roses. It was a six year olds dream bedroom, and the child to whom it belonged was sat cross-legged on her bed. Sarah came upstairs, searching for this child and found her looking extremely sad amongst all the pink. Jen was hanging her head and rubbing her stomach as she made small mumbling sounds.

"Jen? What's the matter, sweetheart? Why are your veins so dark?" Sarah looked at her daughter in concern and went to join her on her bed.

"I feel really ill mummy. My stomach is aching, my head hurts and I can feel the blood struggling through my veins. I don't want to go to Fantasy Land today." Just as she had finished her sentence, she sprang up off the bed and dashed into her adjoining en-suite.

Sarah listened to the sounds of her child throwing up and said, "honey, do you want to go to the doctors?"

"No! No! I don't need the doctor! I'll be fine!" She shouted in between her vomiting.

"Sure, sure." Sarah said, not believing her daughter at all. "Jen, I'm going to phone up the mums of all your friends to cancel the outing today."

"No! I'm okay, I can go now." Jen pleaded, coming out of the bathroom.

"Jennifer Sophie-Anne Henbridge. You are ill, and you are not going to Fantasy Land today. You can stay in your bed and get better. We can always rearrange it for another day." Sarah demanded before she marched downstairs to tell her husband.

********

"Daddy..."

"Yes Jasper, what is it? No you can't have another ice-cream before you ask, one is quite enough for today." Nick said to his son, who had interrupted the game of alien attack to come ask him something.

"I wasn't going to say that. I was just coming to tell you that I feel ill." When Nick studied his son's face, he did notice that he looked very pale and had very dark veins.

"Not you too, Jasp. Go on have a little play and we'll see how you feel later. Just go gently and don't run around too much." He was not a doctor, he was a vet. He could sort out animal illnesses, but not children's. Jasper went back to join his friends and a short while later, he threw up all over the court.

*******

"Mr and Mrs Henbridge? I have the results for you."

At last! Nick had sent all the little boys home and taken Jasper back, so that he could pick up Sarah and Jennifer from home. They had driven to the local doctors, seen one of the nurses who called for a proper doctor who told them that they would need to go to the nearest hospital with an emergency appointment. The so called 'emergency' appointment cost them a half hour drive and then a half hour wait in the waiting room with the two children frequently dashing to the bathroom. The doctors ran a series of tests on Jen and Jasper before sending them to a little side room to wait for the results. They had just been sitting in this room playing eye-spy for the last twenty minutes before the doctor called. It had been a very long day, and it was not even over.

"Thank goodness, the children are starting to get a bit faint." Sarah told doctor Sam Worthing.

"I am so sorry about the wait, it has taken us a while to identify the disease," trying to sound sympathetic, after the wait that they had just experienced, wasn't working.

"Huh?" Nick looked up at the doctor in shock. "Did you say, disease?"

"Yes, unfortunantly I did. It is an extremely rare disease normally found in young children like these two, although you can contract it at any age. It is called Black Vein Disease, and we are not sure of what causes it yet; it may be genetic or bacterial. Although we do know that it is not contagious, so anyone who comes in contact with the child, most likely, will not get it." The doctor explained.

"How will they be affected by it? Why do both of them have it? Will they die? Is there a cure?" Sarah frantically fired questions at the doctor, who had taken a seat from the corner to speak to them properly.

"Black Vein Disease is a very strange disease. Children begin to experience symptoms in the beginning like: black veins which can lead to vomiting, aches, pains, weakness, dizziness, migraines, fevers, etcetera. These symptoms then begin to disappear and people think that it's just a passing illness, when in fact, the disease is still lurking beneath. Ready to strike out again, and strike again it will, often at this point, causing the victim to become paralyzed." He paused to let this information sink in before moving on. "We aren't sure yet why both your twins have the illness-"

"Have we done it? Have we given it to them through our genes?" Sarah interrupted.

"It's a possibility, but maybe not. I can't tell you whether the children will die from this disease or not. I have to tell you that seventy percent of children die of this disease before they reach eighteen. But there is a thirty percent that do live a long and fulfilling life, we are working in our labs to try and reverse those statistics. There is no set cure for this illness, as it attacks different parts of the body."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Sarah was asking all the questions, whilst Nick watched his ill children play with Lego on the floor.

"It means, that if, say their version of the disease attacked the veins in their legs, they can live. But if it attacks any veins leading to the heart, then I'm sorry but there is no chance of survival. I am sorry Mr and Mrs Henbridge, but this disease is chance only."

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