by Pamela Merez
At times I’m suddenly terrified.
Caught off guard by memories of cancer
that sneak into my mind and cancel hope.
Memories wanting to bully courage.
Hidden, waiting, hovering, memories
just ready to pounce on my spirit.
They hurt and scare, the threats to my spirit
and being, leaving me terrified.
I pause and look at the memories.
What do they tell? What does the cancer
tell? Both scare and tamper with courage
but they must have other messages. Hope.
Nature and rhythms are portals for hope.
Flowers, breath, new days. Signs of the spirit,
inside and out, foundations of courage.
Do I really need to be terrified?
I do if I listen to the cancer.
Well, I’ll find answers in the memories.
Diagnoses, treatments, hard memories.
All uncertainties that will shut out hope
if let them. Memories of cancer
I’d rather forget. Inside, my spirit
tells me that it’s okay to be terrified.
To accept it, feel it, and use my courage.
Reminders that feelings pass. With courage,
I take another look at the memories,
only this time I’m curious, not terrified.
Answers. I live the life I choose with hope.
I love and am loved. Outside, the spirit
shows itself through beauty. Oh, that cancer.
A nuisance, pest, and disease, that’s cancer
in its glory. The real power is courage.
“Hey, there are more answers,” says my spirit.
I wonder what else the memories
tell. Heightened senses, wide open for hope.
And when present, I’m not terrified.
Cancer? So, what. It’s the messages in the memories
that matter. The power of courage, comfort of hope,
and presence of the spirit. I sure don’t need to be terrified.
Pamela Merez is a 26-year survivor of adenoid cystic carcinoma of the salivary gland and a clinical psychologist in private practice in Hawaii. She is also an avid runner who loves the outdoors.
This poem was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, November/December 2021.
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