A Poem on Breast Cancer Remission

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After being diagnosed with breast cancer, I turned to writing as a form of healing.

Remission

It was a flawless summer day

when shivering, in a flimsy paper gown,

I tried to focus as a somber physician,

pointing at a white spot on a gray X-ray,

stated in no uncertain terms

that it didn’t look good.

No, she didn’t think this lump would

kill me. Probabilities were in my favor,

although there were no guarantees.

She said more, but I couldn’t absorb:

Lightning struck, dividing my life into

a before and an after, and the incision hurt.

So, I held onto probabilities that assured,

while my body became a combat zone,

with parts missing in action and scars —

inscribed memorials to all that was lost.

I prayed too, just in case, and maybe

my plea helped, or maybe mere luck.

I won that battle! The small messy mass

(a ray detected him hiding...)

was forced out: his days were numbered!

And although I can’t foretell what’ll be,

I’ve been counting blessings since, better at

not knowing, set to revel in the unforeseen.

Like right now — a red cardinal alighted

on my windowsill and is staring at me,

pondering whether to stay or take flight.

We lock eyes and I, grateful, embrace

the vibrancy of its fiery red. Yes:

Fully embrace. Without knowing what’s next.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer twice. I turned to writing, mainly poetry. The process of turning a personal trauma into poetic forms was healing. It helped me move beyond. Post-traumatic stress eventually turned into post-traumatic growth. As a psychologist, I have also encountered cancer often in the treatment room – guiding patients as they navigate the loss-laden territory of cancer and continue to find meaning in their journey, in spite of the diagnosis.

This post was written and submitted by Dr, Nurit Israeli. The article reflects the views of Israeli and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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