Bittersweet best describes the experience of being a cancer survivor. Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, you can't escape getting burned on the transformative journey. The people that know this best are my fellow cancer survivors.
Let me introduce you to my friend Mary Carpenter. She's beaten breast cancer three times and has the double mastectomy scars to prove it. She expresses herself through her writing and poetry which she posts as notes on Facebook. I got tagged in her latest note and when I read this I knew I needed to share both her words and her artwork, with her permission, here on my blog.
I found that her words resonated with me and mirrored my own experience. But these themes of changes, growth, strength and resolve I think are universal to the struggle with any illness ... and to life in general.
I have been a writer for a very long time. This is the poem I wrote the first time I was diagnosed with cancer. I remain defiant of cancer and embracing of life. I will not allow it to take from me all the good parts of who I am. Cancer will never touch those parts. I have continued to cherish the deepest parts of me and the strength of my amazing body through each of three cancer diagnoses. As dear Anna would say, "Cancer can bugger off!"
The Unexpected Tree
~by Mary E. Carpenter
Cancer is an illness
To most I know –
To me it is a tree
From which goals and changes grow.
I didn’t ask for it –
It didn’t ask for me,
But somehow a seed was planted
And I became a branch upon the tree.
More stems are slowly growing –
Along with leaves of vibrant green –
Not the roots of cancer;
But a strength that goes unseen.
It conquers all the illness –
It risks and takes a chance!
It reaches for survival,
Not ready for the last dance.
It doesn’t care for vanity –
The breast and hair can go.
It understands the cancer
Doesn’t know the resolve that it can sew.
The branches become bigger –
The roots ever deep –
Cancer can not reach the soul
Where fortitude does reap.
I hope you enjoyed this guest post as much as I did. If you have something you'd like to see posted on Oh My Aches and Pains!, please contact me.