Living With a 'Carpe Diem' Mentality in the Face of Cancer

A woman who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2012 explains how she prevents cancer from taking over her life in her poem, 'Carpe Diem.'

Getting cancer made me so much aware of the fleeting joys around us that must be appreciated in the moment or they will pass us by while we have our faces in my phones. I live intentionally, filling my days with fun adventures as if I won a shopping spree and I need to fill my cart with wonderful experiences. I tell people that cancer may get me someday, but it doesn't get me today. I live more fully and enjoy life much more than I did before I got cancer.

I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2012 and told by one oncologist that I likely had one and a half years to live. I got another opinion! Starting at UAMS doing total therapy four, I started down an adventure where I experienced the highs and lows of a cancer diagnosis, but whenever I am physically able, I fully enjoy life.

I caught my cancer early, so I don't have any physical limitations, so I am extremely active. Even though they are running out of therapies for me, I am determined to live fully, so I just bought a small condo at Smith Mountain Lake, where I can paddle and hike, swim or just enjoy the stars.

When I saw the poetry contest I decided to enter, as I like to write little poems and sometimes give them as gifts (poems about a person's wonderful traits).

Carpe Diem

"OH NO!" I said, it cannot be!
I've always been so careful, see?
I ate my veggies, watched my weight;
Cancer cannot become my fate.

But so it is, and I know my foe,
You want a fight? I'll go toe to toe,
I'll try each chemo, get in every trial,
And cheerfully submit as they fill another vial.

But I will not let you drag me down.
I'll seek out joy, no need to frown.
I'll marvel at a cardinal's song.
Enjoy my grandkids all day long.

I'll hike the forests, green and cool,
And swim in lakes or at the pool.
I'll gaze up at the stars and night.
I'll focus on living and not the fight.

Chemo will just be a part
Of a life that is full with a joyous heart.
I will live each moment fully engaged,
Paying attention and not in a daze.

Cancer may take my life someday,
But I will not let it ruin today.

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

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