1 in 10

By: Nicola Ashbrook

Chemotherapy is not an option, they say, not really. It’s an option in that it exists, but it’s not an option for her, for now. It’ll hurt her more than it’ll help her, they mean. 

She’s too poorly, they mean. 

It’s too late, they mean.


There can’t only be one option though? Surely? Treatments have come on so much, or so people say. Maybe there’s something else?

Maybe, they say, maybe. But. I don’t like the sound of the but. I’d prefer this without the but.

The tumour would have to be the right type, they say, genetically. One in ten tumours are right. Or maybe one in twenty, they add, as a murmured afterthought. 

It’s an outside chance they mean. Prepare yourselves, they mean. 

It probably isn’t going to happen, they mean.


Someone has to be the one in the ten though, people say, we’ll pray it’s her. 

And I know they’re saying it because they don’t know what else to say and because they so want to help and because they so hope she could be the one, but I don’t think prayers can genetically modify cells. I wish they could. Thank you, I say, thinking how the genes in the cells are already there, being whatever genes they already are and the answer to whether there really is another option is already answered, inside of her.

We have to be positive though, people say, she could be the one in the ten. And I worry they mean we can change what she is, which number she is, what cells she has, through the power of our minds.

Surely my lack of believing a prayer can modify a cell won’t affect her options, will it? 

Will it?

Dear God

Nicola Ashbrook was a little late discovering her passion for writing, having her children and a career in the NHS first. She is now addicted to flash fiction, with pieces published in various online and print anthologies, including with Emerge, Capsule Stories, Nightingale & Sparrow, Bath, Reflex, and Storgy. She is currently querying her first novel. Found tweeting @NicolaAWrites and blogging at www.nicolalostinnarration.weebly.com