1. Pemmaraju, Naveen MD

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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