Milestone Moments

CURE, Breast Cancer Special Issue, Volume 1, Issue 1

In a new book of poetry, Kari Wergeland describes key recollections and insights from her journey with breast cancer.

KARI WERGELAND'S new book is available at and Amazon. - WERGELAND PHOTO BY IAN CUMMINGS

SO BEGINS KARI WERGELAND’S account of her recent illness and treatment, titled “Breast Cancer: A Poem in Five Acts.”

In her book, published this year by Finishing Line Press, Wergeland recounts her journey in just 32 pages, divided into five sections: Diagnosis, Surgery, Chemo, Radiation and Follow-up.

She shares recollections about the treatments she received, side effects she experienced, insights she had and steps she took to sustain her body and spirit, whittling the cancer experience down to a small collection of vivid milestone moments. Signs of life going on around her in San Diego County and in her dreams, and what they might symbolize — spiders, snakes, lizards — follow her through her story.

“I wasn’t writing the chapbook for therapeutic reasons; I decided early on it would be a serious piece of writing,” Wergeland recalls. “However, as I played with this work in progress, I had a number of aha moments on the spot.

More than once, the poem allowed me to understand something I hadn’t fully delineated in my conscious thinking: ‘Yes, this is how I’m really feeling!’ I found these insights interesting — and comforting.”

“A Poem in Five Acts” is an easy yet unique and insightful read for those living with breast cancer, who will find many relatable details within the pages. The tone is realistic but ultimately hopeful, revealing how Wergeland quietly perseveres through each stage of treatment despite fear and discomfort. Although the book can be read quickly, those moved by Wergeland’s insights are likely to pick it up again and again.