Patient Stories and Inspiration
We have gathered below some of the poems, essays and kind words shared with us by our cancer survivors. Many of these writings were done in our various cancer survivor writing workshops.
We have no long-term lease,
We’re month to month.
We never know if or when
It will come back,
So let’s do and be
What we want to be.
Let’s try our best to thrive.
Let’s live the life we held in dreams,
A gift it is to know, for
No one have a lease.
We all live from day to day,
So let’s hope and pray and love and sing
And live as if blessed,
- Brigid Wonder
Cancer is like rain on a hillside. When it is like a mist the ground can handle it and there is no erosion. When it becomes a light rainfall it may cause gentle erosion that repairs itself with the return of the growing season.
As the rainfall increases, erosion becomes deeper and despair elevates. What is the best way to rebuild the hillside? Can we avoid a landslide? That’s when the “experts” appear. All have a suggestion. New retaining wall. Plants with deep roots to hold the soil. Drains inserted at strategic places.
The decision is yours.
When the right “expert” is found, breathe a sigh of relief and hope that when the rains return the hillside will hold.
Cancer is unseen tears singeing your cheeks,
tears turning to ice and shattering as they
hit the ground.
Healing is perfumed tears blossoming
into orchids as they fall.
What is True?
This breath constitutes the truth I know.
This breath, this one, right now.
I an inhaling; I reach fullness; I hold; then it escapes in a great determined rush.
I must have it.
I must let it go.
The cycle cycles.
Life lives in me.
After cancer, a brush with death, life becomes precious and vibrant. I see beauty I missed before. Die? Lose my body? The end of my life? Not yet. I get to start over! A new day. I am not wasting time. We get a short time to live our lives. Live in the moment. Let go of the past. Forgive. Clear the clutter and get on with living. Cancer gave me the nudge to live each day fully.
The teacher sends an email
I drive to the writing group
Someone brings bear claws and fresh fruit
The teacher lights a candle
A semicircle of writers smile
Each takes a deep breath
Opens a spiral notebook
Words tumble out of plastic pens
Over granite rocks and fallen trees
The torrent of raindrops become
A downpour of ideas
Splashing on dry parchment
Invisible ink dries and disappears from view
The teacher offers a hot Kenmore iron
I heat the ink revealing invisible words
The brave writer
Reads a raw story cooked to perfection
I feel a deep sense of gratitude
After my Mom had bilateral mastectomies, she was never fitted for prostheses. No one was doing breast reconstruction in 1966. What she did get was a couple of large bras that had a “hidden” pocket in which she could insert the whitish-yellow foam rubber mounds she called her falsies. They did not look like breasts, even under clothes. Maybe they were too light to simulate the fluid bulk that silicon can now provide.
I remember her coming home from Mass on Sundays, reaching inside her blouse to tug the falsies out, and flinging them across the room. After breast cancer, she was usually so humorless, but it seemed like she got a kick out of casting off the appendages she was still expected to have. The falsies would then go in a bureau drawer, along with the offending bra, and she would put on a cotton undershirt over her flat, scarred torso.
Ever since my breast cancer treatment in 2005-2006, I have chosen soft
cotton undershirts as well.
angle animated pens
laughter and heartache revealed
my cancer in other words.
Body, Mind, Spirit
I wanted more self-acceptance of my aging body, so at my fiftieth birthday
party, my guests and I played "Pin the Wrinkle on the Super Model." Two
months later, I was diagnosed with cancer, and that diagnosis assisted
greatly: now when I discover a new wrinkle, I think, hallelujah! May I
have many, many more!
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Markstein Cancer Education and Prevention Services is a department of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. Cancer donations and gifts are deductible on federal tax returns subject to the limits allowed by the Internal Revenue Service (see IRS Code 170).