Dr. M.

( Advanced Level )

Every day Dr. M. tells her patients not to give up. “Continue to fight the fight. Life is worth living. I am not giving up on you so why should you?” She never thought she would have to listen to her own words.

Dr. Megan McQueen heads her oncology department at the local public hospital. On a monthly basis, she sees patients battling some form of cancer. Not every case has a happy result but she fights the battle with them.

As for most doctors, their lives from the minute they wake up to the moment they put their head back on the pillow at night, revolve around patient care. Hopefully, making the right decisions with the best interest of their patients in mind.

Megan never had time for herself nor dating, so she never married. She always thought these were things in her future. The future never came. Instead, she immersed herself deeper into her work.

This was Dr. Megan’s life for the past eleven years. She had many skipped dinners. She had many sleepless nights. All for the love of her career.

She noticed a lump in her left breast about six months ago while taking a shower. She felt some tenderness but she shrugged it off to an injury at work. She felt she must have bumped into something.

As a general rule, breast cancer lumps are hard and painless. Usually, not symmetrical in shape. She didn’t give it a second thought.

Months went by. Her mind is always occupied by her patients. Constant struggles daily. Monitoring each patient’s treatments and their progress. Adjust medications if needed. Winning battles and losing some.

She always dreamt of being a doctor when she was young. When she became a doctor she hadn’t realized that you practically had to give up the idea of a normal life to care for patients. She didn’t mind, though. She loved what she did.

One day at work she noticed her left arm was a little painful when moving, especially when raising the arm higher than her waist. It was more of a discomfort than pain but it caught her attention.

She had a lunch break coming up soon and she would go see one of her coworkers about her arm. She thought it may be an issue with her neck or her shoulder. She never gave a second thought about the lump she had discovered months prior, in her left breast.

She met her coworker, Ben, in his office and told him about her arm bothering her. She told him she would need full use of this arm if she was to treat her patients.

Ben listened to her complaint and he asked about her medical history. The lump was not mentioned. She obviously forgot about it.

Since doctors cannot treat themselves or their family members, Ben was her choice. The two worked together for the past seven years and they got along well. He, too, was married to his work. Never had time to date or get married.

After a few minutes, he suggested to her to get a simple series of x-rays as a baseline. If nothing showed on the x-rays he would order additional procedures. Further investigation would be warranted at that time.

She took the slip of paper with orders for an x-ray of the chest, left shoulder, and neck area to the x-ray department to have the x-ray done on her lunch break. She never really ate lunch, half of the time, while she was at work.

The procedures were completed and she returned to Ben’s office where he sat eating a sandwich for lunch. He offered her half but she declined. She knew the results of her x-rays would go to him directly and since she was the staff they would be read rather quickly.

They sat having small talk while Ben finished his lunch. They talked about what they would love to do if they had time off from work. Each trying to outdo the other with what they felt was the ideal day off, a day of pampering.

The phone rang and Ben answered. “Yes, I see. I will be down in a moment.” Ben hung up the phone and told Megan, ” I have to talk to someone about a patient of mine. I will be back in a few minutes. Just sit here and relax for a change.”

As he was leaving the room Megan put her feet up on his desk and leaned back. Ben walked out. He thought to himself, “I hope what the radiologist sees on Megan’s x-ray is a mistake. Possibly a flaw or shadowing on the x-rays.

Megan always felt at ease when she was around Ben. His suggestion to relax was stretched a bit when she put her feet up on his desk. Actually, she found it very relaxing and closed her eyes.

Ben met with the radiologist and reviewed the findings. There was definitely something there on her x-rays. Something that seems to involve her lymph node in her left armpit and something showing on a rib bone.

Ben left the radiologist’s office and headed back to his own. He didn’t want to alarm Megan but she needed to realize that further testing was needed and she could not delay anything. It could make the difference between life and death. Not only was she a valued co-worker but a dear friend.

He arrived back at his office to find Megan in the same position he left her in. He smiled and looked at her with admiration. She truly cared about each of her patients and would work nonstop to help them.

He decided to approach the findings to her in a matter-of-fact way. He couldn’t let the fact she was a co-worker or even a friend interfere with what he was about to tell her. He cleared his voice. She opened her eyes.

“Okay. I just reviewed your x-rays with the radiologist. That was the phone call I received. Megan, something is showing on them. It could be nothing or it can be something. “

He explained what he saw. “Tell me, when was your last mammogram? Have you noticed anything or found anything different with your left breast?”

She sat up in the chair. “Yes, about six months ago, while showering, I found a lump. It was a little tender to the touch but I didn’t think twice about it. You know, I can be clumsy at work so I figured I may just have hit it on something while taking care of a patient.”

Ben thought about the time frame that had passed and what he saw. ” Today, not later, I am ordering a bilateral breast ultrasound and bloodwork. Get these done. We may have to have a biopsy later on but for now, this is what I want you to do now. I will cover your patients until these are done.”

Megan couldn’t believe what she heard. These were usually words she would tell her patients. Now, she found herself in their position, as a patient.

Megan had taken the rest of the afternoon off from work to have the testing done. This is what Ben had wanted. She knew her patient’s care would be covered and in good hands.

Time seemed to stand still as Megan waited for all the results to come in. Here, after eleven years dedicating herself to her practice and her patients, she found herself feeling hopeless.

Is this how her patients felt? Waiting for news. Waiting for results. Waiting to hear that it could be cancer.

Megan retreated to her office waiting for any news from Ben. She knew it could take a bit for the results to come into his hands. Until then she sat in her office and reflected on her life.

Should she have tried making more time for herself? Should she have taken better care of herself? She loved what she did. Doctors never think about themselves becoming a patient.

The results came in and Megan was called into Ben’s office. Her heart was pounding as she reached his office and sat down. The same chair she had sat on earlier to relax.

“All indicators point to breast cancer, Megan. There isn’t any nice way to say this. I didn’t want to have to say these words to you. Tomorrow morning at 0600 you are scheduled for a ct guided biopsy to confirm this diagnosis.”

“If it is cancer we will fight this together. You will not be alone in this. I think it will be better for you to submit for extended time off from your work. Concentrate on yourself for a change. It will help in your recovery.”

Megan sat there absorbing Ben’s words. For years she had said these exact words to her patients. Now she was the one who had to listen.

The biopsy confirmed Ben’s thoughts. He took it upon himself to make all arrangements for treatment. He knew Megan might delay treatment until she had time to talk with all of her patients. Enough time had passed already.

Megan chose something not expected by any of her colleagues. She didn’t want to be treated differently. She asked to have her treatments alongside others. She felt she could inspire those having their own chemotherapy treatments.

Megan listened to Ben’s every instruction. She ate better. She made sure she would get plenty of sleep and most of all stayed positive.

Chemotherapy was going as well as expected. Megan didn’t have any side effects until seven weeks in. She noticed she was losing her hair little by little so instead of waiting for it all to fall out, strand by strand, she decided to shave it all off.

Her nausea was kept at bay with medication. She did have to force herself to eat when she hadn’t felt like it. She promised Ben she would fight the fight.

Surprisingly Dr. M had made many new friends during her treatments. Each new friend had their own stories. Each had a reason to live.

Being in therapy together has become a great support system, not only for Megan but for the others. When one was having a bad day the others were there to encourage and lift their mood.

Megan had something a little more special. She had Ben. He was there with her at her treatments when his schedule would allow. Some days she was embarrassed when she wasn’t at her best. He would tell her, “I think you’re beautiful no matter what you think. I am the doctor and I know everything!” This would always make her smile.

The sixth-month treatment marker was coming close. Ben would reevaluate her situation before this. She, too, was anxious to know if all of this she went through would be worth it. She knew inside she was still a woman but her outside didn’t look so feminine.

She wanted to look in the mirror, once again, and see her blonde hair and not see a bald head. She wanted to walk and not have people look at her with sympathy.

The day before her last treatment Ben had scheduled her for a bilateral mammogram and bloodwork. The results would let both, Megan and himself, know if more treatments were needed.

The day finally arrived. Her last treatment if all the results came back with excellent results. Megan was amazed that she had the strength to endure six months of treatment. With Ben and the other patients encouraging her it was easier than she thought.

Megan was busy talking to another to notice Ben had stepped into the treatment room. He walked up to her with papers in hand. She felt someone close and looked up. He had a huge smile on his face.

We did it. I have your results in my hand. No signs of cancer.” Megan broke down and cried. She was relieved. “This doesn’t mean you are out of the woods, Missy. You will have regular checkups and mammograms every six months for a few years.”

Megan looked at her newly acquired friends. The friends who sat by her during her treatments and while having their own at the same time. She saw their happiness for her. “I will still be here for you. Every one of you,” as she glanced around the room. “You helped me get through the toughest time in my life and I will help you do the same.

Written by: Angel

*October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month*

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oncology – noun: study of cancer

immersed – verb: involvement in a particular activity

tenderness – noun: sensitive to pain

symmetrical – adjective: similar sides or equally proportioned

adjusting – verb: alter or move (something) in order to achieve the desired result

discomfort – noun: slight pain, uncomfortable

warranted – verb: justify

procedures – noun: medical evaluation using investigative measures

declined – verb: refuse

small talk – noun: conversation about unimportant matters

outdo – verb: more successful 

pampering – verb: spoil or indulge

flaw – noun: a mark, fault, or other imperfection

lymph node – noun: small structure that is part of the body’s immune system

alarm – verb: to feel frightened

admiration – noun: respect and approval

matter-of-fact – adjective: unemotional and practical

interfere – verb: prevent an activity from continuing or being carried out

radiologist – noun: medical doctor that specialize in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases using medical imaging procedures such as X-rays etc.

clumsy – adjective: awkward in movement or in handling things

ultrasound – noun: sound or other vibrations having an ultrasonic frequency, particularly as used in medical imaging

retreated – verb: withdraw to a quiet or secluded place

indicators – noun: fact that indicates the state or level of something

biopsy – noun: an examination of tissue removed from a body 

absorbing – adjective: intensely interesting

colleagues – noun: a person who works in a profession or business with you

chemotherapy – noun: the treatment of disease by the use of chemical substances especially cancer

at bay – idiom: to control

reevaluate – verb: evaluate again or differently

feminine – adjective: qualities or an appearance associated with women

sympathy – noun: feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune

endure – verb: suffer

acquired – verb: obtain 

Question ( s ):

Have you known anyone who was diagnosed with cancer?

Do you usually have annual visits at your doctor’s to have a complete check up?

Memories Fade

( Intermediate Level )

June, at 62 years old, found herself forgetting things. Some days were better than others. She explained to her doctor, “It is like I am looking out a window with raindrops obscuring my vision. Sometimes, I am able to make out what is beyond the raindrops. Some days, I remember everything, and somedays I find it difficult to remember words.”

He had told her, “This may be the early sign of dementia and we will keep an eye on this for now. If you feel the situation is getting worse we can start you on medicine to reduce the symptoms. You must understand, June, there isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s.

Those words he spoke echoed in her mind on the way home. She had decided not to tell her husband, Stan, or her daughter, Alice. She was afraid they would treat her as if she was sickly and frail. This she couldn’t accept.

June had always been fiercely independent and this is why Stan had fallen in love with her. They had met in college and he was smitten by her incredible mind. They were usually on opposing sides in debate class. She always had strong opinions and a way of being so convincing. She always won the debates.

In the next few months, since she heard those terrible words from her doctor, repeat in her mind, June decided to read as much as she could regarding Alzheimer’s or dementia. One thing, most articles stated, was to keep your mind as active as possible.

Reading, crossword puzzles, and writing were helpful. Puzzles never interested her but reading she loved to do. She hadn’t read in quite a while. Both she and Stan had an active lifestyle. Going for walks, going to museums, and even going on short getaways just to fish.

She knew she wanted to keep up this active lifestyle with Stan as long as she could. He was her everything as she was his. After thirty – two years of marriage, you never saw one without the other.

After thinking about everything she read and what her doctor had told her she had decided to start writing in a journal. Maybe in the future, she would have to utilize it to remember who she is.

She had stopped at a store, one day when she was out with Stan. She found a lovely writing pad that was bound with lavender fabric. It was decorated with lace and small white and pink silk flowers. Inside were plenty of pages to write. She smiled and thought this was perfect to write down her memories before they faded away into darkness.

It had taken her several days to decide what she wanted to write inside. Were the written words going to be for her eyes only or did she want to write to her husband and her daughter? She decided on the latter.

She would take the advantage to begin writing in her new journal in the evenings while Stan and her would watch television together. He would usually fall asleep on the sofa. Then she could put her private thoughts into words.

She titled her journal Memories Fade and dedicated it to her husband and daughter. She shared with them when she was told by her doctor that she was showing early signs of dementia and why she wanted to hide this from them.

She began to write,” I wanted to write my thoughts to both of you before it was too late. Too late to express the love I have for you. Too late to let you know how proud, I am, Stan, to be your wife, and too late to tell you, Alice, how much admiration I have for you. You remind me of myself when I was younger. Strong and determined. I am the luckiest woman to have you, both, in my life.”

The day I was told by the doctor I was showing signs of early dementia I chose to keep this to myself. I didn’t want you to treat me differently. I wanted to be normal. As normal as I was before I had walked into the doctor’s office thirty minutes earlier”

“I know, sometime in the future, I will not be able to hide this disease from you but that will be another bridge to cross when it happens. Until then, I will enjoy you every day and every moment and every second as long as I can remember who you are.”

June would always tuck her journal into the top drawer of the desk towards the back in hopes no one would find it. Each night she would write a little then tuck it away safely until the next time.

As time passed her writing became less frequent. Some evenings she just stared at the television, as her husband snored on the sofa. Her forgetfulness was more evident now. Stan would ask her about it and she would shrug it off as she was having an off day.

One afternoon, Alice had called and her dad told her about his concern with her mom. “She has not been herself lately. She is forgetting things. She had put on the tea kettle on the stove to make us tea and she forgot about it.”

I was outside working in the garden and heard the whistle of the tea kettle. I waited a few moments but the whistling continued. I walked inside to see your mom sitting in her favorite chair watching the television that was not even on.” His voice was trembling now as he continued.

“She didn’t hear the whistle of the tea kettle and I asked her if she heard the kettle. She blankly looked at me then went back to watching the television.

I think something serious is wrong with your mom. This is so unlike her. She has been a little forgetful lately but she always told me she was having a bad day.”

Alice was shaken by this news. She told her dad she was unable to get away from work for another week or two but she would come as soon as she was free. In the meantime, she instructed him to call the doctor and get an appointment as soon as he could for her.

Stan had called the doctors and made an appointment for the following week. This was the earliest opening the doctor’s office had. He called his daughter back, that evening, to tell her he made an appointment for a week from Thursday.

Alice replied, “Great. I will be in on Wednesday. After I talked with you I talked to my boss and he said to tie up loose ends here and go be with you and mom. I can take a few days off then I can work online for as long as I need to stay with you.”

Stan was relieved Alice was coming. She was better at getting answers. She had a wonderful relationship with her mom. If June was to tell anyone anything she would tell Alice.

Wednesday evening arrived and Alice didn’t want her dad to pick her up from the airport. Plus it would be a little late and dad wasn’t the best when it came to night driving. She took a taxi, instead.

On her ride from the airport, Alice thought it seemed as if she was gone for a long time but she actually had visited mom and dad last year about this time. It is difficult for her to get away during the holiday season. She usually had many year – end reports to work on.

Instead, they always celebrated Christmas in July. She smiled when she thought of this. Her mom had always felt she was special. She and Stan would celebrate the holiday, again, when it was the actual holiday. She would say,” I am so lucky! I get twice as many presents this way!

Even though Alice had an apartment in the city, her parent’s home was considered her home. She would say, “I am coming home, mom. See you soon!“, when she had vacation time.

Alice arrived and was greeted by her dad at the door. He stood blocking the door for a moment to prepare her for what she was to see. “You need to prepare yourself when you see mom. She may or may not remember you. I told her you were coming and she kept asking who? Who’s coming?”

Stan stepped out of the way and Alice entered saying, “Mom, I am home!” She walked around the corner and into the living room. Any other time June would rush to give her a big hug and smother her with kisses but this time she didn’t.

Instead, Alice saw her mom staring at the television. She didn’t even look up when she heard her voice. Alice took a quick look at her dad and walked over to her mom.

She knelt down in front of her mom. “Mom, It’s Alice. I am home.” Still no reaction. Alice looked into her mom’s eyes and saw emptiness. She didn’t see the twinkle that mom used to have in her eyes.

As the evening progressed Alice tried so hard to get her mom to respond. She even tried to incite an argument. She knew her mom was at her best when there was a debate in the air. Still nothing.

The evening grew tired and the three would have an early doctor’s appointment the next day. Alice offered to help mom get ready for bed. She helped her mom to the bedroom and placed a night gown on the bed.

Her mom changed into her nightgown and sat on the end of the bed. She looked up at her daughter and said, “ I remember. I remember who you are. I remember your name. It’s Alice. I know I have something special for you. I just have to think where I put it.

The tears began to well up in Alice’s eyes. All night she fought to have her mom answer. her. To have the mom she left only one year ago. To have the mom who would sheepishly give her opinion on a topic, especially boyfriends, without coming out and saying it.

As she tucked her mom into bed and told her she loved her, June grabbed her hand and said the word, “desk” to her. Then she rolled over and pulled the covers over her shoulder.

Alice stood for a moment and watched her mom. What had she meant by desk? She walked quietly out to the living room where her dad was. He had fallen asleep on the sofa.

She sat in mom’s favorite chair. The night was overwhelming for her. When her dad had said, “Something wasn’t quite right with mom,” she hadn’t expected this.

She replayed the evening in her head over and over again. Then her thoughts drifted to their vacations and the July holidays of the past. Then she remembered the word desk, again. What had her mom meant by this?

She put a blanket over her dad. She didn’t want to wake him. She then grabbed her suitcase and headed to her old bedroom. She, too, needed to get some sleep before the doctor’s appointment.

As she clicked on the light, that word her mom spoke entered her mind, again. “Desk“. Was her mom trying to tell her to look for something on or in her desk? She turned around, turned off the bedroom light, and headed to her mom’s desk.

She rifled through everything on the desk and couldn’t find anything. She opened each drawer and flipped its contents onto the floor. Not seeing anything that stood out she repeated this with every drawer.

In the last drawer, she finally found what she thought her mom wanted her to see. It was a writing pad that was bound with lavender fabric. It was decorated with lace and small white and pink silk flowers. She sat on the floor and began to read.

The first page had the words “Memories Fade“, and below this was a dedication to her and dad.” I wanted to write my thoughts to both of you before it was too late. Too late to express the love I have for you……”

As Alice turned each page and read, she could feel her mom’s struggle with her memory. As the journal continued her spelling and thoughts were not as clear. She saw this disease had taken a small chunk of her mom each day. Page by page.

She woke up the next morning with the contents of each drawer beside her. She had fallen asleep reading her mom’s journal.

She sat up to see her dad sitting in mom’s chair with the journal bound with lavender fabric and decorated with lace with small white and pink silk flowers in his hands. A tear rolled down his cheek.

Now everything made sense to him but at the same time, it didn’t. “How could this happen to my June, my wife, my life and, she does not want to tell me?”, he thought.

Written by: Angel

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obscuring – verb: keep from being seen

dementia – noun: general term for the impaired ability to remember or think

Alzheimer – noun: type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior

sickly – adjective: poor health

fiercely – adverb: aggressive manner

smitten – verb: attracted to someone

debate class – noun: a discussion group involving opposing viewpoints

lifestyle – noun: the way in which a person lives

getaways – noun , plural: a vacation

utilize – verb: make practical and effective 

advantage – noun: favorable position

admiration – noun: respect or approval

a bridge to cross – idiom: not worry about a future problem

forgetfulness – noun: loss of memory

evident – adjective: obvious

blankly – adverb: lack of interest or engagement

loose ends – noun, plural: a detail that is not yet settled 

smother – verb: a lot of something

emptiness – uncountable noun: an unhappy or frightening feeling 

twinkle – noun: a sparkle in a person’s eyes

incite – verb: encourage or stir up 

grew tired – verb / urban dictionary: started to get tired

well up – verb: strong emotions

sheepishly – adverb: embarrassed manner

overwhelming – adjective: strong in emotions

rifled – adjective: to search through something quickly and carelessly 

struggle – verb: forceful effort


What do you know about this disease?

Have you had anyone is your family who had suffered with dementia?


( Intermediate Level )

As many twins often do, Susie and Sally grew up enjoying each other’s company. They explored and discovered the world around them, inseparable.

Mothers, always, enjoy dressing their identical twins the same. This would usually confuse others, but somehow, parents always knew who was who.

In Susie’s and Sally’s case it was rather easy. Sally is outspoken and would take risks. Sometimes doing something that her parents would not approve of.

As for Susie, she is the shy one. When it came to developing early skills, her sister was first. Sally was the first to roll over, take her first steps, and say her first words.

This concerned their parents. The doctors, always, reassured them this was normal, and comparing the girls is not a good strategy. “Both Suzie and Sally are perfectly normal, healthy little girls, and will do things at their own time,” they would tell her.

Regardless of what the doctors said, the differences between the girls concerned their mom. She would constantly say to Susie, “Why can’t you be like your sister?” Susie never really understood what her mom meant by this.

As the girls grew older and started school, the differences between the girls grew more obvious. Sally excelled at everything, whereas Suzie struggled. Suzie, eventually, would catch on. It would just take her a little longer.

The close, inseparable, relationship between the sisters faded. Suzie had always felt she was in Sally’s shadow. She never felt she was good enough.

Suzie never understood why she wasn’t like Sally. Her parents always praised Sally. She had all the friends at school and learning was easy for her.

Suzie withdrew, more and more, into her own little world she created. Where she didn’t have to listen to the criticisms from her family. She knew she was smart. Things just took her a little longer to learn.

Suzie’s teacher had noticed the change in her. She was not as focused in school as she once had been. She asked her to stay after class to see if she could find out the reason why this change has happened.

The class was over and Suzie sat quietly at her desk. She had no idea why her teacher had asked her to stay after class. She couldn’t be in trouble, or so she hoped. Her teacher approached her desk and sat down next to her at a desk beside her.

“Suzie, I asked you to stay after class, not because you are in trouble. I have noticed a change in you. You are much quieter and do not participate like you used to. Is there something I can do to help? Is someone bothering you?”

Suzie looked up at her teacher and began to speak, with sadness in her eyes, “I am not like my sister. Everything is so easy for her. She gets good grades and has lots of friends. I am not like her but I wish I was.”

Suzie’s teacher sat for a moment, trying to find the right words to say. She looked into Suzie’s face, as she spoke. She knew this was a huge burden for Suzie.

“Suzie, we are created differently. You look identical to your sister but you are unique in your own way. We learn in different ways. Your sister finds it easy to learn from books. You, on the other hand, need visual cues to learn. You need images, graphs, illustrations, and colors. I noticed this when you became my student. You are a visual learner. You are just as smart as your sister. Always remember this. Just say these words to me or any future teachers – show me . We will understand.”

Suzie smiled and hugged her teacher. She left the classroom and headed home. Her sister had, already, headed towards home. She had heard Suzie had to stay after class to talk with her teacher.

As Suzie walked home, by herself, she continued to smile. Her teacher made her feel good about herself. She was happy her teacher had asked her to stay after class and she wasn’t in trouble.

Now, she knows she is not different and she is smart. She is just as smart as others, including her sister. She just has a unique way of learning. She began to run the rest of the way home wanting to tell her mom what her teacher had said. “Show me.” The two little words that will change everything for her.

Written by: Angel

“I, too, am visual learner, like Suzie. I had the privilege, in high school, to have teachers who used visuals aids in their everyday teaching styles. Now, as an ESL teacher, I use visual aids, in my teaching style. From facial expressions, to running around the classroom, to drawing stick figures on the whiteboard. A huge thank you to all the teachers, in the world ,who make a difference in a student’s life” – Angel

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inseparable – adjective: always together

identical – adjective: similar or exactly alike in appearance

outspoken adjective: direct and open opinion

reassured – verb: remove doubts or fears 

excelled – verb : exceptionally good 

catch on -phrasal verb: understand what or how

praised -verb: individuals respect or gratitude

withdrew -verb: leave a place or situation

criticism – noun: disapproval of someone or something

focused- verb: pay particular attention 

approached– verb: come near

participate -verb: take part in an action

created – verb: bring (something) into existence

unique – adjective: one of a kind

Question( s ):

Did you every have a teacher, like Suzie’s, to care and encourage you?

Did you have a unique way to help you study? (example: visuals, songs or word association)


( Intermediate Level )

Each day fades into the next for Benjamin. He lives on the streets and calls the sidewalk his bed. People pass him every day and do not give him a second look as if he is a bad person.

If only they knew him in his past. People would not be so easy to judge him. He keeps his eyes lowered and minds his own business. Trying to survive day to day.

Benjamin, once, was a very successful businessman. He had worked in the downtown business district in New York. Now, he shares the streets with so many other homeless people.

He had a loving wife, Anne, and a beautiful eight year old daughter, Katie, until that tragic day six years ago. A day he wished he could rewind and do it all over again.

He remembers that day as if it was yesterday. He woke up late and had a early business meeting. He was rushing around getting dressed when his wife called up the stairs and said , “Breakfast is ready.”

He immediately yelled back, “No time. I have a meeting and I am running late.” He ran downstairs and grabbed his suitcase.

He looked at his wife who was holding a cup of coffee for him. He shook his head and said, “I will get coffee at the office.” He smiled at his daughter and rushed out the door.

His daughter looked at his wife, with a sad face, and said, “Daddy didn’t say I love you to me.” Anne quickly responded, ” He forgot me, too, but daddy is running late for a special meeting. I know he loves you and he would want you to have a good day at school.”

Katie smiled and continued eating her breakfast. Anne gathered Katie’s homework and stuffed it into Anne’s backpack. ” Come on kiddo, finish up so you can be ready when the bus comes. We don’t want you to be like daddy and run late.

Anne ran upstairs to get her shoes from the bedroom. She would always walk her daughter to the bus stop. Katie quickly followed her up the stairs. She wanted mom to put her hair up in a ponytail.

In the rush of the morning, Anne had forgot to turn off the burner on the stove and take the skillet off the burner. She had made bacon and eggs for breakfast. The pan was too hot to move and she simply forgot to turn off the burner. Her husband had come downstairs just at the moment she had finished cooking the bacon.

As Anne was brushing Katie’s hair up into a ponytail , she looked at her watch and said, “The bus will be here in less than five minutes.

These were Anne’s last words. The hot grease, from the skillet, had started a fire and an explosion soon followed. In a matter of a few moments the house was engulfed in flames.

This was the day that Benjamin’s life had changed completely. He was given word that his wife and daughter had perished in the fire. He lost everything. His life spiraled downward to a bottomless pit of sorrow.

If only he took a few minutes more to sit down and have a few bites of breakfast with his wife and daughter. He may have realized the burner was left on. He took full blame for their deaths. He shouldn’t had been in such a hurry that morning.

He was unable to concentrate at work. His company was sympathetic for a long time following that day but they had to eventually let him go. He had lived at a hotel since the fire but without work and no money he had to find other means to sleep.

In deep state of depression he couldn’t find work. It felt as if he stopped living when he lost his wife and little girl. This is how Benjamin ended up homeless. This was his story.

The people who walked passed him on a daily basis didn’t know his story. If they could, they would avoid him completely. They would cross the street to reach the other side, in order not to have contact with him.

In some ways Benjamin felt he deserved this. Other times, he felt he shouldn’t be judged so quickly. This is human nature, he guessed. You assume before you know the story.

One late autumn evening, he had found a spot to settle down for the night. He tried to give himself a little variety where he would sleep each night. He usually found an area out of the way of heavy pedestrian traffic but close enough to people where he felt safe.

Sometimes people would drop off a few non-perishable food packages or bring him a sandwich and a hot cup of coffee. Whatever he received he was ever so grateful for. He still had his dignity about him. He never wanted to beg. He felt others needed before him and he didn’t deserve.

Benjamin was drifting off to sleep when he felt as if someone was watching him. He looked up and seen a small framed woman around thirty years old standing over him. She said, ” So mister, you want to tell me your name?” .

There was a street light behind her and as he looked up. It was difficult to make out her face. He said. “Benjamin ma’am.” She bent down and said, “Well Benjamin, my name is Annabel but you can call me Ann.” She reached her hand out for a handshake.

Benjamin just stared up at her. He had not heard that name in a long, long time. His mind drifted back to memories of the past until she began to talk again. “I believe everyone deserves a second chance and I am needing workers for my printing factory.”

I am not asking for free labor, you will be paid. Nor am I asking for hard labor. I need a few good hires to supervise the machines, as they print, and keep watch of the place at night. Are you interested?”

Without thinking, Benjamin’s answer was, “Yes, ma’am.” He had sat up by now and saw Ann’s face. She had a warm smile and beautiful chocolate – colored eyes. Just like his Anne.

“Alright then Mister Benjamin. I will be back tomorrow early in the morning. You will not need to worry about anything. You will have simple accommodations at the factory where you can sleep and cook. Nothing fancy but you will stay warm. Once you get on your feet you can make other arrangements to where you want to sleep.”

She turned and glanced back at him before she walked away, “See you tomorrow at seven in the morning. We can discuss all the details on our way to the factory.” She had turned the corner and disappeared.

Benjamin sat there just staring down the street where she had disappeared. He thought to himself, “Out of all the places I decided to hunker down for the night, he had picked this particular spot. What were the odds? Maybe this was the break he was needing. Maybe, this Miss Annabel was sent by Anne to turn his life around.”

Written by: Angel

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fades – verb: disappear

judge – verb: opinion or conclusion

district – noun: area of a city

rewind – verb: back to the beginning

ponytail – noun: a hairstyle

engulfed -verb: sweep over something, surround or cover

perished – verb: sudden death

spiraled – verb: continuous and dramatic increase

sorrow – noun: a feeling of deep distress caused by loss

sympathetic – adjective: feeling sympathy

assume – verb: without proof

variety – noun: state of being different 

pedestrian – noun: person or people walking along a road or street 

grateful – adjective: showing an appreciation of kindness

dignity – noun: worthy of honor or respect

hiresnoun: one who is hired

supervise – verb: observe or watch

accommodations – noun: temporary lodgings

on your feet – phrasal verb: well enough

glanced – verb: quick look

hunker down – phrasal verb: stay in one place

particular – adjective: special


Are you quick to judge people by first impressions?

Are there many homeless in your city?

Do you believe people deserve a second chance?


( Intermediate Level )

Jeff was a troubled youth, who lived with his father and a younger brother in the small town of Dubois near the Wind River. Life as a young teen, was difficult being a son of a rancher. At age 16, he had a tremendous amount of responsibilities.

His mom had passed, a year and a half ago, after a long battle with breast cancer. Beau, his dad, was doing the best he could raising two boys, alone. He had lost his high school sweetheart and now faced life, with their sons, without her.

His brother, Samuel, was still too young to help with the cattle, in fear he may get hurt. His father didn’t want to suffer another loss. Samuel, instead, remained close to the homestead tending to the smaller animals.

With the burden of a two thousand acre ranch and six hundred head of cattle to tend to daily was a lot for Jeff and Beau to do alone. They could not afford to have hired hands. The medical expenses that occurred during his wife’s illness and the funeral had wiped out everything they had saved.

Jeff would attend school when he could. Often, his father needed his help so Jeff would stay home to help him. His teachers never understood why Beau would allow this. After all, they would tell him, “Education is important.”

Beau’s response was always the same, “Look, it is just me and my two boys. I cannot lose my ranch. My ranch will be theirs, one day. It is all I can give them, as my father passed it down to me. So, if Jeff misses a few days of school here and there, what harm does it cause?

The teachers were empathetic of Beau’s plight but it was their responsibility to report this habitual absenteeism to the head of education. From there the truancy officer would follow up with the local courts.

Under the pressure of the education and juvenile court system, Beau, reluctantly, agreed that Jeff would not miss any more school for the rest of the year.

As the school year continued, Jeff’s attitude towards school and his classmates became hostile. All Jeff could think about was his father, his brother, and the ranch.

He knew his father spent many extra hours tending to the ranch, alone. Working himself to where he couldn’t move anymore and would fall asleep early. He barely ate dinner or spent time with the boys.

The worry on his father’s face was evident. All Jeff knew was he didn’t want to lose his father too. He didn’t want his father to succumb to an illness as his mother had. Then it would just be Samuel and himself.

Jeff was falling behind in – class assignments and never turned in any homework. He didn’t want to be bothered. He would wake up early to help his dad for a few hours, before school and do the same when he got home from school. The school was the furthest from his mind.

Beau took the opportunity to speak with his eldest son, on a late afternoon, after school. They were herding the cattle to a different grazing area. “Son, I have decided to sell off all but fifty head of cattle and sell off all but 3 horses. I think as long as you are in school, I need to make things more manageable. We will take a huge loss since the cattle prices are down but I cannot think of a better option.”

Jeff thought, after he heard his father’s words, his grandfather sacrificed for his father and now he will sacrifice for his brother and himself. This ranch is his family’s legacy. A legacy that would be his and his brother’s one day.

His father continued, ” I’ve talked to old man Blake in the next valley. He said he could offer fifty dollars per head for bulls and twenty – five dollars per head for any steers, heifers, and calves. He said he had plenty of horses but was willing to pay forty dollars per head for our horses. As much as I hate to take such a loss, I agreed. He will come this weekend with his men and herd the bunch to his land. Unfortunately, mom’s horse, Abigail, is part of the deal. We don’t need an extra mouth to feed if the horse is not being used.”

Jeff couldn’t believe what his father had just said about his mom’s horse. Abigail was her pride and joy. She was the last thing they had of their mom’s memory. He didn’t want her to be sold.

Jeff’s anger at his father whelmed. How dare he think it would be okay to sell Abigail. He kicked his horse and rode off in a canter towards the field where Abigail had been turned out. The tears were streaming down his face.

He saw Abigail out in the field and began to whistle. She raised her head and looked. His mom had taught her to come to a whistle which his father always thought was silly. “She is not a dog “, he would tell her.

Abigail let out a whinny and galloped towards Jeff. He jumped off his horse and threw his arms around Abigail’s neck. He buried his face in the sorrel– colored neck and began to cry uncontrollably. He hadn’t cried since his mother’s death. His grandfather used to tell him when he was much younger, “Real cowboys don’t cry.”

Abigail stood there quietly as if she knew Jeff needed her. She stood completely still while Jeff let out the tears of sadness he had bottled up for almost two years now.

The sun was setting by the time Jeff contained his tears. He gave Abigail a forehead – to -nose nuzzle and said, “Let us go home girl”. He threw his leg up and over the saddle of his horse and grabbed the reins. He gave a short whistle and Abigail trotted behind Jeff and his horse, towards home.

Beau was standing outside waiting for Jeff to return home. He had finished moving the cattle and headed towards home when Jeff took off on his horse.

Beau was relieved when he saw Jeff crest the hill to the north and saw Abigail gingerly following. “What was his son up to?“, he thought.

Jeff, on his steed, and Abigail came to a halt at the porch steps where Beau was standing. Jeff looked into his father’s eyes. He was gathering the right words to say to him.

” Poppa, I know momma is gone and nothing will ever bring her back. Abigail is the only thing we have left of hers. Having Abigail, somehow in my mind, makes me feel as if she is still here with us. I am not willing to have her sold to old man Blake’s ranch. We can always get more cattle, in the future, but not another Abigail. Let my horse go and I will use Abigail to do my work on the ranch.”

Beau stared out into the distance after hearing his son’s words. Jeff sat, anxiously, in the saddle unsure what his father would say. Jeff’s horse was a great cutting horse whereas Abigail was never trained in cowboying. His mom had pampered her and she was more of an oversized dog.

Beau cleared his throat and began to speak quietly and calmly to his son,” When your mom was sick I promised her I would do my best to raise you boys the best that I could. I told her I wasn’t perfect and I would make mistakes. I would make sure you had a roof over your head and food in your stomach. As for all that the rest of life would bring I would take it day by day.”

He continued to stare into his son’s eyes and, ” I guess this is a time that I’ve made a huge mistake. I hadn’t realized how important Abigail was to you. I will let old man Blake know he will have one less horse to take. I am sure he will understand once I explain to him.”

Jeff, immediately, relaxed in the saddle and looked at Abigail who was standing, ever so patiently, by his side. He quickly gave her a brush on the neck. He then looked up at his father and gave a slight nod and a tip of his hat. This is the first time Jeff had spoken his mind to his father. He was on his way to becoming a man.

As Jeff and his horse headed to the barn with Abigail close behind, he thought to himself, his mother would be very proud of him. There are some things, in life, more important than money and sometimes we need to sacrifice to keep the things we love and cherish, including memories, close to us.

Written by: Angel

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tremendous – adjective:  great amount

homestead – noun: the home or land occupied by a family

hired hands – noun, plural: a person hired to do short-term manual work

empathetic – adjective: ability to understand 

plight – noun: unfortunate situation

habitual – adjective: done or doing constantly 

absenteeism – noun, plural: required to be present at a place or event but is not

truancy – noun: the action of staying away from school without good reason

juvenile – adjective:  young people

hostile – adjective: unfriendly or aggressive

succumb – verb: the effect of a disease or injury

herding – verb: practice of caring for livestock over a large area.

sacrificed – verb: give up something important or valued

legacy – noun: an amount of money or property left to someone in a will

steers – noun, plural: castrated male calf

heifers – noun, plural: a young female cow that has not borne a calf

pride and joy – idiom:  someone or something that makes someone very proud and happy

whelmed – verb: engulf

canter – verb: to ride a horse at a speed between a trot and a gallop

whinny – noun: highpitched neigh or sound a horse makes

galloped – verb: ride a horse at full speed

sorrel – adjective: reddish color coat or fur

trotted – verb: a pace faster than a walk

to crest – verb: to reach the top of a mountain or hill

gingerly – adverb: with extreme care regarding movement

steed – noun: a horse being ridden 

cowboying – verb: work as a cowboy or horse on a ranch

pampered – verb: to treat with extreme or excessive care

cherish – verb: hold something dear or close


Do you feel crying is a sign of weakness?

Have you kept something (item) to hold onto a memory?


( Intermediate Level )

At eight years old, Chara knew she wanted to become a dancer. She had seen a dancing competition show on television and was, immediately, mesmerized.

Whenever she heard music, her body would move. She would move around the room interpreting each chord.

She told her mother that, one day, she would be famous. Her mother would frown and tell her that she needed to get such a silly notion out of her head. “You know your father would never permit this.”

Chara was hoping to graduate from high school and move to America where she could study dance at the Juilliard School in the upper west side of New York.

Was this a dream or could she really make this happen? She was determined to make it happen. Her mom’s words never dampened her spirit.

As the years passed, Chara’s natural talents were obvious. At age sixteen, she had become more confident in her abilities.

Still, not having any formal training, she would perform for the young girls in her village. Always receiving huge smiles and an ovation after each performance.

Chara had always timed her performances while her dad was at work. He felt her dancing was silly. He had told her she was to marry a nice boy, soon, and to give up this idea of hers.

One late afternoon, while Chara was helping her mother prepare dinner, she heard a group of younger girls outside chanting ,“Chara! Come out ,come out and dance!”.

She looked at her mom, her mom smiled and nodded. This was Chara’s cue that it would be ok.

Chara ran to her bedroom, grabbed her radio and then ran outside. To her surprise not only a group of young girls were standing by her door but, what seemed to be, the whole village. Mothers and fathers and grandparents!

It was an intimidating scene for her. She had never performed for such a large gathering. She took a deep breath, turned and set the radio on the ground. She turned it on and listened to the music.

She took a quick glance back and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath and let her body interpret the music. She moved gracefully around her front yard. Her body tells a story to the music.

Chara could hear the crowd, as she danced, and their sounds of appreciation. Only opening her eyes periodically. She let her mind be free, with the music.

She had not realized, as the song ended, that the crowd had become silent. As she finished, she opened her eyes to find her father standing in front of her. He looked down at her and just stared.

He had gotten home much earlier than expected. He saw the crowd standing in front of his house and pushed his way through to find out what was happening.

At that distinct moment, Chara felt a shiver of fright. Her father had told her to give up this silly idea of hers. He had his own ideas for her future.

Was he going to be upset? Was he going to make a scene?

The crowd stood there in complete silence as father and daughter stared at one another. The group of girls had no idea of tension in the air and began to clap and squeal in utter happiness.

Chara’s father stood, very silent, gazing into his daughter’s eyes. Then, she noticed a small tear run down his cheek.

At that moment, he said,” My Chara, my quiet one. You have shown me I was wrong. I just witnessed something I refused to see before. My little girl had grown up to be a graceful young woman. You danced so beautifully!”

At that moment, Chara wrapped her arms around her dad as he kissed her on the forehead. She held her father tight, she thought she may never become famous, as she once dreamt, but she would be in her father’s eyes.

Written by: Angel

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mesmerized: hold the attention of someone 

interpreting: explain the meaning of word(s) or regarding actions

frown: facial expression showing unhappiness

notion:  impulse or desire

dampened: less strong 

determined: not changing one’s idea or thoughts

ovation: applause by clapping

chanting: say or shout in a singing tone

cue: a signal

intimidating:  threatening effect.

glance: brief look.

appreciation: recognition

shiver: tremble

tension: emotional upset

utter: complete

gazing: look with intent


When you were young, had you a dream to become someone famous?

Is it important to stop something you love to do when family feels it is not important for your future?


( Intermediate level )

Jenny grew up in a small town in Iowa. She had lived with her grandparents from the age of four. Now, at 15 years old, Jenny wondered about her future. She dreamt of her future. Was she ever to get out of this little town?

The odds were against her. Her grandparents lived a modest farming life. As most farmers, they struggled from year to year. Barely making enough to pay the bills and having enough left, to tide them over, until the next planting season.

Her mother, Amy, was a struggling young and unwed teenager herself, when Jenny was born. Living in a small conservative community, she was met with much disapproval.

After Jenny was born, Amy left her small town to get a fresh start. Leaving the disappointment of her parents and community behind her. She knew her daughter would be just fine in her parents’ care.

One day, she hoped to return to reunite with Jenny. Hoping she understood why she had to leave her with her grandparents.

As for Jenny, she had her own struggles. Going to school took great effort. For most of her middle school and now in her high school years, Jenny was bullied.

Her grandparents did the best they could in raising her, but the extras they could not afford. They bought her clothes from the second hand store, in the center of town, or relied on donations from families, when their children had outgrown them.

Wearing second hand clothes never really bothered Jenny until she was made fun of one day in class in fifth grade. One of her classmates laughed and pointed at her saying that the dress used to be hers. She had recognized the stain on the collar and proceeded to say how that stain happened.

From that day forward, Jenny was the target for her classmates. Taking every chance they could to point out what she was wearing and whose clothes they might have belonged to.

Jenny would keep to herself, both at school and at home. She would spend hours in her small bedroom, just dreaming. Wishing things could be different.

Every Sunday, Jenny would help her grandfather with his daily farming chores. She helped tend to the animals, mend fencing and even helped in the fields.

She spent many hours with him and listened to his stories. Some were true and some, she knew, he made up just to see her reaction.

He asked her, one day, why she was spending so much time, alone and not out with friends. She, reluctantly, told him why. Jenny knew her grandparents worked very hard and were proud of what they have. She did not want to hurt his feelings but she told her story.

Her grandfather stood quiet for, what seemed to be forever, then looked down at her, smiled and said, “My dear Jenny, when people are unhappy ,with their own lives, they lash out at others. You showed a reaction, by visibly getting upset. This is what they look for. Somehow, they feel better about themselves when they make another miserable. Next time, try not to show them how upset or embarrassed you are. They will soon become bored and find the next person to intimidate.”

Jenny hugged her grandfather for understanding. He, always, knew the right words to say.

That evening, Jenny thought about her grandfather’s words. Wondering if it would make a difference. She knew how mean her classmates could be.

Summer vacation is coming soon. Another month to go and school would be out for three months. Jenny knew this last month would be long. She had to study for her finals and face her classmates.

Jenny realized this was the process of growing up. Finding yourself. Realizing what matters in life. She was not going to let others damper her dreams.

Since she had grown up around animals, she wanted to be a veterinarian. She needed to achieve the best grades she could.

With her grandparents not having a lot of money, she needed to get a scholarship to a university. This was her dream and she wanted to make it come true. No one would take away from her.

One thing she knew, be happy for what you have and not what you don’t have. Why should the opinions of others matter? Why do we need acceptance, from people, to be happy?

Jenny had loving grandparents, a warm, cozy home, and food to eat. It doesn’t matter what others think as long as you are happy and loved.

Written by: Angel

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wonder: curious

dream: images, thoughts

modest: one’s abilities, achievements, limited or small

conservative:  traditional values

disapproval: unfavorable opinion

struggle: restraint

effort: attempt

bully: a person who harms or intimidates those who are vulnerable

second-hand: already been owned or used

target: aim of an attack

chores: a routine task or job

reluctant: hesitant

miserable: unhappy or uncomfortable

embarrassed: shame

intimidate: to make someone feel timid or fearful using words or actions

damper: influencing in a negative way

disappointment: sadness over an action

Question ( s ):

Have you ever been bullied or bullied another?

Do you think bullying is a real concern?

What advise would you give someone if they told you they were being bullied?

Sarah’s Story

( Intermediate level )

As Sarah lay in her bed, in the dark of night, listening to the clock on the wall she wondered why she was such a failure. Her heart was in the right place, just her choices were not always the best.

She had one failed marriage and, now, is unhappy with her current husband. You see, he was a wonderful man, in the beginning. Always there for her. Sharing the same interests and doing things together.

As the years went by, his drinking became incessive. Starting early in the morning until he passed out at the end of the day. This was, usually, around four or five in the evening . Sarah usually tried to avoid him during the day so the arguments wouldn’t begin.

She thought many times that she was the cause of his drinking. He used to tell her so. He never laid his hands on her but the emotional abuse was real.

Her friends would ask her why she was with such a man. They would tell her she deserved better. She knew if she left him he would surely die. He would drink himself to death. This is why she felt she had to stay.

Many times she would try to talk with him, regarding his drinking. He would just nod his head and tune out. Agreeing with her just to shut her up.

Now, as she lay listening to the clock she felt she could not continue on. Can she make it on her own? Can she move on without guilt? Her days were consumed with misery . Her work was suffering. Something had to change with her situation and it was only her who could make this change.

She saved as much money as she could in the course of the following months. It took about nine months and she, finally, felt she had enough to get away and have a new start.

Sarah kept swaying with her decision, until the very last minute. Should she go or should she stay? She knew if she stayed nothing would change.

While her husband lay passed out on the sofa, Sarah quietly packed one simple suitcase with the barest of necessities to get her by. She quietly took off her wedding ring and laid it on the table.

She chose not to say good-bye but to leave. No arguments or drama. She took one last look at him on the sofa and walked out the door, closing it as softly as she could.

Sarah has not looked back since that day and has made a secluded life for herself. She is content and now has to heal from years of emotional abuse.

She now can lay in bed at night, listening to the clock and her thoughts can wander to what new and exciting things tomorrow will bring.

Written by: Angel

It is never too late to turn the page and start the next chapter in your life.

If you appreciate what I do:


Follow me on:

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Vocabulary :

Incessive: intense , a lot

arguments: opposite views, usually in heated discussion

emotional abuse: a way to control another person by using emotions to criticize, embarrass, shame, blame, or otherwise manipulate another person.

guilt: feeling of doing something wrong

consumed: used up

misery: feeling discomfort of mind or body

decision: making a choice, deciding something

secluded: private, quiet


If you were Sarah, what would you have done differently?