Living With Cancer

Living With Cancer elegy

Photo by sjorford


Alex’s last trip was to California.
He wanted to see the Redwood Forest
one last time.
He loved that he couldn’t see their tops,
and when he tried to wrap his arms around their trunks,
his arms stretched out wide like a crucifix.
When Jesus knew He was going to die, was He scared too?

We were in sixth grade when he got diagnosed with a rare type of bone cancer.
My mom pulled me close and told me to be good to him;
he had a long road ahead.
How was I supposed to know my road would be even longer?

No one warned me that I should expect to start crying when I’m on a date at the movies
because a St. Jude’s Hospital advertisement comes on.
I was unprepared for the struggle of keeping my emotions in check on the day he would have turned twenty-two, three years after his death.
I didn’t know to expect to have to pull my car over because Vaughan William’s “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” would come on NPR- that was the piece he wanted performed at his memorial concert.
Why should I feel so bad? He was the one with cancer.

Even though I’ve never been diagnosed,
I’m aware of its unrelenting hold on me.
It invades my thoughts.
My mind has no defense against it.

My body is tumor free,
but I’m still living with cancer.

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