Poetic Therapy for Cancer

Everybody hates cancer. But it seems there are always ways of embracing even playfully things that people really hate or are scared of. The following poem does. Hope you will enjoy it.


Eileen has breast cancer.
The lump was removed last year.
It was chemotherapy and radiation
for the next six months.

Eileen lost weight.
Her skin burned.
She vomited every day.
Her hair fell out –
First wisps, then tufts,
then clumps.

Her daughter couldn’t stand it –
She was only thirteen –
Seeing her mother
out out her hair.
“I don’t care!”
Yelled her daughter,
“I don’t care!”

“Want to pull?” Said Eileen.
“Want to pull out some hair?”

At first she couldn’t do it,
But her mother cupped her face with her hands.
“I need you baby. Help me. Take a pull.”

So the daughter grabbed a strand,
and it came out easy.
So she grabbed another
and another
then a clump
and out it came.

Then they put on music
and danced
and grabbed hair.
They played Chaplin
and burlesque.
Hitler had a funny moustache.
They put sideburns on Jews.
Eileen became a billy-goat.
They bayed at the moon.
When Eileen became bald,
they laughed, then they wept.

Then the daughter
pasted patches in her armpits
and a tuft between her legs.
“Look Mom.
I’m a woman now!”
She said.

Up and down
the women jumped and screamed
until they were exhausted
and Eileen’s scalp turned red.

Then they laughed
and hugged
and went to bed.


From: Finding the Words to Say It: The Healing Power of Poetry


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