Things I Never Told You(7)

By: Beth Vogt

“I . . . I haven’t told Geoff anything yet.” Jillian twisted the material of her pants between her fingers.

Dr. Sartwell’s eyebrows rose over the rim of her glasses. “Why not?”

“Because there’s nothing to tell. Not really.”

“Jillian, we do know that you have cancer—”

“You said we caught it early. We’ll confirm that it’s not that serious and then I’ll tell Geoff. No sense in worrying him.”

“You might want to take someone with you when you have your initial appointment with Dr. Williamson.” Dr. Sartwell’s calm voice soothed Jillian’s frayed emotions. “It helps to have someone else there to hear everything that’s said. Maybe even take notes and help you process all the information. And if Dr. Williamson recommends a lumpectomy—”

“Dr. Sartwell, I can only focus on realities, no ifs or maybes. And I realize you might handle this differently if you were the patient, but for now, I prefer to keep this to myself. I don’t want to have to worry about everyone else’s reactions. Does that make sense?”

“Yes. But at some point, your family and your fiancé need to know—”

“I understand.” Jillian straightened her shoulders. “I just need to decide when to tell them.”

There was time to make that decision later. For now, she’d finish this appointment. And maybe some of Dr. Sartwell’s calm assurance would transfer over to her so that she could get through everything without breaking down.

Should she take someone with her when she met with Dr. Williamson—or shouldn’t she?

Jillian flipped Dr. Sartwell’s business card over, reading the information her family practice doctor had scrawled on the back, as if she’d find the answer to her question hidden within the surgeon’s name and office phone number.

She was an adult. She’d been going to doctors’ appointments by herself for years. She’d take careful notes just in case she didn’t remember everything Dr. Williamson said. Because yes, she’d have to tell Geoff and her family. And then she’d have to answer all their questions.

She turned the card over again. If she did ask someone to go with her, who would it be?

Geoff? No, she wouldn’t ask him. He was swamped with helping a company recover from a malicious malware attack that took down their computer system. The man didn’t need something else to worry about. And maybe she was old-fashioned, but being her fiancé didn’t mean he had to sit in on a discussion with a breast surgeon.

Harper? As much as she might want to confide in her best friend, she couldn’t. Geoff would be hurt that Harper had known something before he did.

Her mother? Definitely not. Just asking her mother to come to a doctor’s appointment would prompt questions she didn’t want to answer like “Why?” and “What kind of appointment?” Besides, most thirty-two-year-old women didn’t ask their mothers to take them to the doctor.

And there was no asking her father, either. He was good for watching Broncos games with, for grilling her steak just the way she liked it, and for still tweaking a strand of her dark-blonde hair and calling her “Jilly.” But she couldn’t tell him that she had cancer and ask him not to tell her mother.

Johanna? No, not if she wanted to retain some control of this situation. If she asked, Johanna would throw on her big sister cape, do extensive research, and come prepared with all sorts of questions. Then Johanna would do all the talking as if she were the one facing cancer, relegating Jillian to the role of spectator.

Payton? Jillian closed her eyes, unable to stop the quick huff of laughter. The thought was an off-key bit of comic relief in the midst of too much seriousness. Her relationship with Payton was distant at best, the last decade choked with so many things unsaid. And now she was going to call her sister, pull her into her confidence, and ask her to come to a medical appointment?


Her cell phone rang from within the depths of her purse—what Geoff called a “suitcase”—and Jillian dug past her wallet, keys, change purse, and various tubes of ChapStick and packs of gum before rescuing it.


“Am I speaking to the future Mrs. Hennessey?”

Geoff’s question caused her to giggle, scattering her internal debate. “Why, yes, you are. And who is this?”

“This is Mr. Hennessey, your future husband. I’m also the guy who missed having lunch with you today.”

“I doubt that. You’ve been so busy lately, we haven’t had time for lunch dates.” Jillian pulled a cold can of soda from the fridge. “Besides, won’t I be seeing you in less than an hour? With deep-dish pizza?”