Metastatic Breast Cancer: ‘It’s What You Can’t See That’s Killing Me’

A woman with metastatic breast cancer writes a poem about the dark reality of the disease that hides below the surface.

Over these past couple of months, I have seen an unusual number of deaths and disease progression in my support groups and amongst my metastatic circle. One day they seem vibrant, and their disease appears to be controlled, then the next day I hear the news another one has been taken by cancer.

They are leaving behind young children, husbands, wives, friends and family. I don’t know why it seems to come in waves where the bad news just keeps coming. What I do know is this disease is for the most part invisible and it’s all about what you can’t see ...

What You Can’t See

“But you don’t look sick,” they say,

As we try to keep the cancer at bay.

It’s what you can’t see

That’s killing me.


“You still have your hair."

“You have not lost your flair.”

It’s what you can’t see

That’s killing me.


Looks are deceiving.

So many are grieving.

It’s what you can’t see

That’s killing me.


From the many bottles of pills

To the never-ending stacks of bills.

It’s what you can’t see

That’s killing me.


The meds take their toll,

Although more days is their goal.

It’s what you can’t see

That’s killing me.


On the outside looking in

Life seems to be a win.

It’s what you can’t see

That’s killing me.


The surgical scars of my past

Likely won’t be the last.

It’s what you can’t see

That’s killing me.


Not knowing if my cancer has spread

Fills me with a fearful dread.

It’s what you can’t see

That’s killing me.


The joints that ache

With every pill I take.

It’s what you can’t see

That’s killing me.


The daily anxiety

And my silent plea.

It’s what you can’t see

That’s killing me.


In my fingers and toes,

Numbness comes and goes.

It’s what you can’t see

That’s killing me.


For now I am doing well,

Yet only time will tell.

It’s what you can’t see

That’s killing me.


It may be hard to conceive

And you may refuse to believe.

It’s what you can’t see

That’s killing me.


So many, so soon,

The emotional ruin.

I know anyone could get hit by a bus,

But it’s the cancer that’s killing us.


In memory of Grace and Jennifer and the countless others whose presence is deeply missed.

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