Authors

  1. Pemmaraju, Naveen MD

Article Content

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Her breathing was not so good

  
NAVEEN PEMMARAJU, MD... - Click to enlarge in new windowNAVEEN PEMMARAJU, MD, is a Fellow in Hematology and Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. "I dedicate this poem to all of the courageous adolescents and young adults (AYA) suffering with cancer and to their devoted caregivers, spouses, and families."

She tersely informed her mother one day

 

Pressure. Chest pressure. Solemn gasps

 

Foreboding, unsatisfying attempts at breaths

 

Tepid, non-nourishing bits of air filling her decrepit lungs

 

As rotten lungs tried to accept healing ambient gases

 

It was alas to no avail

 

Daughter, newly graduated from college, bent down to search and pray for strength

 

Not for herself, but for her petrified mother

 

Rushed to the Emergency Department

 

In a fleet of worry and pangs of remorse

 

All the mother-daughter moments of the past twenty years flashing back

 

Mother reached out to her daughter's cold, tremulous hand

 

Interlocking their pinky fingers just as they always had

 

In moments of impending crisis

 

As the waiting area itself seemed to crush her every breath,

 

Her breathing took to peril

 

And created a small panic that day

 

A swath of doctors in turn boldly came to her rescue

 

While needles of change drained foreign fluid

 

And the tube was inserted into her unsuspecting chest

 

As she blacked out, she was whispering "Mother, I pray for you"

 

While recovering in the ICU

 

With the beeps and rumblings of important machines filling the background

 

Her breaths insidiously came back to her

 

Just in time for the news

 

The bad news

 

Cytology was sent. Bad news. It's malignancy. My Daughter, it's cancer.

 

Her tears were swift but understated

 

Her mouth dried out and five frogs in her throat sat

 

Her movements paralyzed by this awful news

 

One of these tears, all from her mother, dripped onto her daughter's leg

 

And when mother reached to wipe off that vagrant tear,

 

It was the young daughter, tearless and tender, who this time, reached out her hand,

 

Interlocking their pinky fingers

 

And held on tighter than ever before