an Actual Cancer Patient

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: August 04, 2018

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Submitted: August 04, 2018

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Definition of cancer - a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body.

In 2018 an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States

&

an estimated 609,640 people will die from “the disease”

 

The number of new cancer cases per year, worldwide, is expected to rise to 23.6 million by 2030.

(https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics)

when I was a child I remember Aunt Pondora taking Shandora & I to see her friend

Linda Who Has Cancer

and I remember the secret anticipation

the creeping dread, like watching The Twilight Zone

and trying to predict what strange and frightful

oddity

they would focus on this episode

Linda Who Has Cancer

must present with something marvelous to behold

some impressive pallor

a gross deformity

Linda worked in Social Services

at a desk

with everyone else

she wore a bouffant hairdo with a little flip of bangs

a skirt and blazer

blue eyeshadow and pink lipstick

still, I was one of two kids at school who knew

an ACTUAL CANCER PATIENT

maybe I was radioactive now

*

when I was a new teenager Kris Who Was Popular

missed the last week of 8th grade

that summer she said hello to me at the mall

and opened her arms for a hug I would have died for two months before

before she lost her hair

and all of the color in her face

still, I hugged her

with careful arms and a smile that felt as false as it must have looked

her mother

tears burning

eyes flaming

bundled her into the SUV

I cried

inconsolable

popularity was not invincibility

*

when I was a young mother

Aunt Joy Who Could Never Have Children

was betrayed by her ovaries yet again

in and out and in and out

of hospitals

and her own bed

years dragged on

treatments that killed her

body

mind

soul

until what was left seemed grateful to go

*

when he was 17

Zane Who Should Have Outlived Us All

came to me

scared

embarrassed little brother

my ball sack

my . . . testicles

they’re not right

abdomen hot to the touch

a red welt

an arrow guiding the eye to that traitorous scrotum

surgery

stitches

fear and anguish

radiation

infertility

mortality

at seventeen

long, painful, paranoid recovery

not trustworthy

his eyes always speaking

his unease

his awareness

his mortality

until

death

at 21

*

July to March

marching with the inevitability of the sun across the summer sky

diagnosis

acute

myeloid

leukemia

genetic aberration 11q23

6% survival rate at 5 years

Megan Rose Who Was Strong as a Horse

my beautiful baby girl

cancer warrior

23 at diagnosis

induction chemo

trying so hard to live a young life

induction chemo again

building love in spite of pain

full body radiation

bone marrow transplant

“recovery”

pneumonia

dead at 23

*

The World’s Best Mother-In-Law

who kept the return and metastases

a secret

for far too long

to keep me safe from more pain?

and suffered as quietly as she could

until she couldn’t

and died of breast cancer of the liver

in her home

as she wished

at long last

*

Me, Myself & I

who spent the last 3o days

plotting my demise

cursing cancer

devising every means of evading

chemo

radiation

death

 

only to be told

ALL BIOPSY RESULTS ARE NEGATIVE

 

so I will set aside my battle plans

but not too far aside

 

Once upon a time I was one of two kids in school

who knew

an Actual Cancer Patient

 


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