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Poetry by Cancer Caregivers

Pemmaraju, Naveen MD

doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000446677.49165.21

Submissions are welcome from oncologists, oncology nurses, and other cancer caregivers. E-mail only, please, to:, and include affiliation/title, address, and phone number, along with a photo, if available.

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Jubilation, Devastation, Exoneration

I. Jubilation

Spectacular, unexpected waves of joy Overcame the sweet, healthy young couple Ultrasonographic-glorious-evidence of a future to come A developing human being within her Poised to begin life's sacred journey

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II. Devastation

The scare. The health that was not truly there Confusion. Desolation. A few days prior to delivery day The news. The awful, panging news… All she remembers is being told a “blood doctor” would need to see her right away Imminent danger hiding in the alacrity of the day Mom's routine blood test was not so routine that day Alarming details revealed the lurking enemy within her blood Leukemia. L-E-U-K-E-M-I-A. Leukemia. Life simply is not at all fair

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III. Exoneration

Swiftest skills and a soggy bone marrow later Expertly wielding the exonerating diagnosis The offending affliction turned out to be the chronic cousin of the more acute troublemaker—chronic myeloid leukemia Still cancer of the blood, but now a plan in place In the final march, the final trimester, a few final days, baby and mother fought Baby delivered, a happy healthy child, not touched by the leukemia Mom, postpartum, exhausted and relieved, her day not yet done Turned to the miracle pills designed to wage lifelong combat on her disease awaiting entry into her mouth at the end of her long day To stave off this unwanted leukemia So she can be around For the rest of her baby's life and beyond

Naveen Pemmaraju, MD

Naveen Pemmaraju, MD

Naveen Pemmaraju, MD, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Leukemia at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “I dedicate this poem to all of the adolescents and young adults (AYA) with cancer and to their families, who in the face of attempting to start careers, long-term relationships, and family life, also must deal with cancer diagnosis and treatment. We are here for you.”

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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