Read the following passage, which contains some underlined or numbered words or phrases. Each of the answer choices contains alternatives for the underlines; choose the one that fits best grammatically or stylistically. If you think the original is the best answer, choose Choice ‘A’, or NO CHANGE.
Questions about specific parts of the passage or about the passage as a whole are identified by numbers only, not underlines. These will be associated with specific questions.
When my mother and I and my sisters moved to the United States from Viet Nam, I was only four years old. She enrolled
me in a preschool right away, and I started to learn English. By the time I was eight years old, I was the only member of
my family (2) that was speaking good English, and so I became translator to my family. When we went to the grocery
store, I translated the labels of the unfamiliar foods, when there was a teacher conference, my teacher spoke to me and
I translated to my mother, when we had a dispute with the manager of our apartment, I had to tell her what was wrong
and try to get it fixed. Usually, whoever was talking to us spoke only to me, while my mother would smile proudly at her
bright little girl and wait for the translation. Being the only member of the family fluent in English made me proud, but
was also a terrible burden. Each time I was confronted with a family issue, I strained to understand, and sometimes
later looked up unfamiliar words in the dictionary to resolve whatever problem we had.
When my mother began feeling tired, and had headaches and a fever that wouldn’t go away, we went to the emergency
room. After waiting for hours in the waiting room, the exam room was where we were ushered. I had to tell the
admitting nurse all of my mother’s symptoms. They took all my mother’s vital signs and took a blood sample, and told us
they’d call when they had any results. After several days, they phoned and called us and asked us to come in for a
consultation with a doctor.
I’m not sure why, as the doctor talked to me during the consultation, he spoke quietly and had a small smile on his face.
Maybe he was embarrassed to have to talk to a child about her mother’s medical condition, maybe he was just being
kind, not wanting to frighten me, but when he said the word “leukemia,” my heart rose up into my throat and I only held
back my tears with a great amount of effort. The medical term “leukemia,” that was unfamiliar to my mother, meant
“cancer,” a word she would have understood. I glanced back at my mother, who was still nodding and smiling at her
bright young daughter, waiting to find out what the nice doctor had to say.
The doctor continued speaking, but I only heard disconnected words, some of them that I only understood later after
looking them up; lymphocytes, anemia, tyrosine inhibitor, chemotherapy. There was a buzzing whine in my head, and
I felt angry that I would have to give my mother this awful news, then guilty for my anger as my mother smiled and
nodded hopefully. I asked the doctor what treatments he would suggest, and if he thought she would live. The doctor
reassured me that they had a very good treatment protocols, and that my mother had an excellent chance of
recovery. Finally, after I had all the information I thought I needed, I turned back to my mother and said the only thing
I could think to say.
“You have cancer,” I translated.
Created for Albert.io. September 2014
By the time I was eight years old, I was the only member of my family (2) that was speaking good English, and so I became translator to my family.