poem for K & in memory of M

I am reblogging this today because I just got news that it will be included in an anthology in Great Britain, which will be raising funds for cancer research. This will mark the first time that my poetry will be in print outside of my local area, which is a huge milestone for me. I am also pleased to be able to take part in such a worthy charitable cause.

Top of JC's Mind

For K and M

The last time I saw you -
     layers of winter clothing
     not quite obscuring
     a bloated belly
     on your thin frame -
you felt full
eating a single egg.

I tried not to panic -
     remembering the last friend
     with a similar story
     that became a stage three
     ovarian cancer patient -
soon enough to win a couple of battles
but not the war.

You had new doctors
with your new ACA insurance -
     some blood tests done
     office visits coming
     maybe some digestive problem?
     gall bladder? -
diagnosis pending.

Yesterday, the news -
     abdominal tumor
     entwined with multiple organs
     origin uncertain -
oncologist acquired.

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I can’t even…

This has been a terrible week for national and international news. It is overwhelming.

News I got today from a sick friend just added more.

Near the end of February, I had written a poem about her cancer diagnosis. While I had been getting news about her, I had not spoken to her until she called me this morning. She has been very, very ill. Simultaneous chemotherapy and radiation reduced her to 85 pounds and she nearly died from internal bleeding.

What is so overwhelming is that I found out that her cancer is one that should have been able to be diagnosed early with routine medical screening, but it wasn’t caught because she has had periods without medical insurance and others on Medicaid. It’s not the Medicaid itself, because she has very good doctors treating her now through the Medicaid system, but through whatever combination of difficulty finding doctors who would accept Medicaid and periods with no insurance at all and labwork expenses and lack of continuity of care and whatever else, what should have been found in a pre-cancerous phase has advanced so far that successful treatment may not be possible.

Right now, she is in a period of trying to regain strength. There may be further radiation or surgery if she can get strong enough. There is no way to know.

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