Ron narrates: on April 1, 1999, Ron is having lunch with Regan, who has just returned from New York City after discovering that she does not care for the art-dealing world. That same morning, Deborah is at her doctor’s office for her yearly physical. While Ron and Regan are eating, Deborah calls, sounding worried, and tells Ron that the doctor felt a growth in her stomach. Ron goes to the hospital, where he and Deborah see x-rays of Deborah’s liver—it is covered in dark spots. The doctor schedules a radiology appointment for the next morning.
The entrance of Deborah’s cancer into the story breaks the exultant tone that has been building, disrupting transformation. This is the first of several times that Denver, like Deborah, will exhibit a similarly prophetic capacity. The fact that Ron makes no attempt to explain or interpret such a miracles—he simply observes it—invites the reader to take a similar approach, despite whatever skepticism they may have.
The next morning, Ron and Deborah are surprised to see twenty of their friends gathered in the waiting room, praying. Deborah goes in for the surgery. Ron waits anxiously. An hour later, when a nurse wheels her out, their fears of cancer are confirmed.
Deborah’s cancer raises the the timeless question of why God allows bad things to happen to good people. Deborah is easily the most righteous and loving figure in the story, and yet the worst fate befalls her. This sets the stage Ron’s struggle with God, despite his growing faith.