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'Smell the Rain,' and Make Yourself Smile Despite Cancer


A poem about cancer written by a man who subsequently died of the disease explores the idea of finding the small joys in life despite the pain of cancer and treatment.

This poem was submitted by Mary Johnson, Eric's mother-in-law.

Eric wrote this poem on June 24, 2021, while in treatment for cancer. He died on July 14, 2021.

Smell the Rain

Started a new job that day

I’ve had a few jobs over my days.

I’ve always been loyal.

A few I changed, some through corporate BS.

This one was different than all others.

No real job description.

It didn’t mention the pain.

It didn’t mention the tears.

It didn’t mention the fears.

But I’m loyal.

A lot of fine print that wasn’t written.

A lot of hiding the pain it brings with the fears, tears, anger, etc.

But always put up the smile for the customer.

I’ve learned a lot from this new job.

I’ve learned compassion.

I’ve learned empathy.

I’ve learned what inner turmoil is as well.

I’ve learned also how to love.

I’ve learned also how to keep learning.

I’ve tried to make amends for my past and learned some you can, some you can’t, but trying is part of the job.

I’ve learned to accept sympathy. Don’t want it, but it’s part of the learning.

I’ve felt like a burden too many times.

I’ve tried to lift it just as many.

It’s part of the job, and I’m loyal.

It’s brought a lot of s---, as I said of pain, physical and emotional drain, confusion, etc.

I’ve had scan after scan.

I’ve had infusion after infusion.

Been through months of failed clinical trials to help me prosper at my new job.

I have new scars from extra holes.

I have had more blood draws that I can count.

We’ve logged more miles than I want to count.

But I’m loyal.

That’s my new job.

I can start fresh most of the time with the blank schedule (other than scans, infusions, etc.)

Last week I feel I failed. I had to watch the rain from the 20th floor all week from the hospital. But hopefully, others were able to sit on the back porch and were able to smell the rain.

That’s part of my new job. I hope it can be my longest employment of all. So either it's two weeks, two months or five years or more, please help me as part of my project.

Enjoy the little things.

Do the little things.

Make someone smile.

Make yourself smile.

With or without me, do not grieve, but sit on the back porch at night, remember the good days while (you guessed it), you smell the rain.

Hopefully I’m sitting right there for quite some time.

I plan to fight at this new job.

Because I am loyal.

So as I said, even if it rains tonight,

I’ll be on my porch. You can be on yours.

You will remember reading this.

You may even have a single tear.

You will probably softly say “that S.O.B.”

And that’s fine……because about a second or two after that you will crack a smile,

Because I’m also very good at my job!

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

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