'Scorch,' A Poem About Cancer

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"There is a ferocious fire that makes me restless," writes a two-time cancer survivor in a poem about her experiences with breast cancer.

I am a two-time cancer survivor. In 2000, I had cancer in my left breast, and in 2015, I had cancer in my right breast. Not only was there a burning pain from the radiation on the inside, but there was an agony in my heart and soul. However, there was always a hope for survival. And I did indeed survive. I was able to watch my daughter and son grow up, get married and bless me with three grandsons and two granddaughters. I was able to teach creative writing at a high school for many years and now I teach memoir writing to senior adults. I am submitting my poems because I feel it is important for not only breast cancer survivors, but also for anyone that might need hope if and when they ever have to go through this journey. I was never prepared for half of what I went through, but I got through it and I always will. This is me and this could be you.


There is a ferocious fire that makes me restless.

It is a fire within my fingers that spreads throughout my hands.

It is a fire within my eyes that burns across my face.

It is a flame that is leaping across this clean piece of paper

To consume my soul and spirit.

And I must admit that I am a bit afraid.

There is a ferocious fire that stares at me from a distance.

It connotes my desire to burn and destroy all at once,

And my desire to heal and create all at once

As it whips confusion and hope, cold and hot all together

In a tremendous mound of ashes.

It burns a hole in my stomach.

And I must admit that I am a bit afraid.

There is this ferocious fire in a disguise against the night sky

But you can see it during the day as it wraps itself around me.

Its mask is broken as it is entering my scalp, consumes my hair,

And teases my sunburnt arms and legs.

It seduces my mouth and smolders the tiny sinews in my ears.

It punctures my heart.

And I must admit that I am a bit afraid.

However, I am thankful for this crimson blaze,

For this fire is my life, my hope, my everything.

As it whips across this never-ending battlefield,

Sometimes it cools and, at this point,

It is devastating and glorious all at once

For it is blue and it is red and it is me,

And I must admit that I am a bit afraid.

Peculiarly at this moment, there is a colorless stillness

And only at this moment, I am a bit at peace.

This poem was originally submitted for the CURE® 2021 Poetry Contest.

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