In this poem, Ashley Cooper ’21 thoughtfully reflects about the chronic nature of cancer.
We live our lives in stories —
Collections of episodic moments
That bring meaning to the whole.
So then why does cancer not reflect the way we live our lives?
Why is cancer non-linear
Why is there never a point where the doctors finally can say:
“You are fine. It is all definitely over now.”
Why is there never a conclusion to this moment, which is supposed to be nothing
more than a moment?
A low point in the larger frame of our human lives.
Why does this moment become a lifestyle of wondering
How it so insidiously adapts into a constant state.
Anguishing over every minutiae of pain indicating that it may have returned.
Worried that living will somehow summon its presence
So alternatively choosing to exist in a standstill, frozen
By its ominous and pestering eye.
Wondering for when it will come
Waiting for it to return.
That is what’s different about cancer.
It is not merely a moment, an occurrence that one can recover from —
It encroaches into the life until it becomes life,
Until it becomes the central entity
to which we must devote all of our energy
just to stay alive.