The Time I First Learned About My Mom's Breast Cancer


As the son of a breast cancer survivor, here is a poem recalling the time she first told me about her cancer.

Image of a doctor cupping their hands around a red heart.

No Onions Needed to Cry

The day after you shared the news

with me, we stood at the kitchen

island, side by side, hip to hip,

dicing tomatoes, mincing garlic.

As much as hope, we needed

routine. I needed you. It was hard

not to dwell on the what-ifs.

it was hard to focus on my slices.

It helped to close my eyes, imagine

the knife as a scalpel, each cut

a layer of tumor. Each stained

with tears, one with blood. Careful!

you cried, then held my finger

under the faucet, ran it beneath

cool water, applied a Marvel

Avengers Band-Aid. Thanks

to your gentle fingers, my skin

healed itself. So, too, the skin

across your breast. And you. And us.

As the son of a breast cancer survivor, I wrote this poem as a recollection of memory. The day my mother informed me of her cancer diagnosis, I was still a child and did not know everything the “word” cancer suggested, but I got my first sense of my mother’s own mortality and the possibility of a future without her. Yet, as she and I continued cutting up vegetables that evening, I realized that even amid illness, healing also and necessarily becomes available.

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

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.

Related Videos
Image of Kristen Dahlgren at Extraordinary Healer.
Image of a woman with short blonde hair wearing a white blazer.
Image of a woman with black hair.
Image of a woman with brown shoulder-length hair in front of a gray background that says CURE.
Sue Friedman in an interview with CURE
Catrina Crutcher in an interview with CURE