Authors

  1. Pemmaraju, Naveen MD

Article Content

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"It's okay, Doctor"

I knew something was not right

 

Well before you ever did

 

But I was too busy

 

Far too busy with life's all too familiar, ever-present-never-stop-to-do-list

 

That I had happily incorporated

 

Into my new life

 

Too busy to come to see you

 

For, if I stopped my new life's new routine,

 

That you had given back to me five years ago yesterday,

 

If I have to stop the dance I am dancing now,

 

In order to come to your clinic,

 

Then it would affirm, give space, and allow

 

The dawn of a new unwanted reality

 

Lurking within me

 

On that day, our hi/hello visits of recent years past

 

Incredibly came to a halt.

 

Because on that day, a tiny but menacing purple bump,

 

A violaceous invader violating my epidermis,

 

Whispered to us that it had returned

 

Because on that day,

 

One single drop,

 

Just a solitary, matter-of-fact drop of blood

 

Sitting on the pathologist's slide-

 

And staring back up at you, whispering,

 

Told you what I already knew

 

Because, on that day,

 

My bone marrow betrayed my new story,

 

It whispered to you, in taboo-hushed languages

 

It announced to you, in an ages-old secret code

 

In which my DNA undressed itself to expose my inner truths to you

 

Unravelling; unfaithful to the bonds that were supposed

 

Supposed to last me for a lifetime

 

Now you are going to sit down with me

 

Glasses off, grimace in step

 

Your off-kilter rhythm when things are not just, not right, not so;

 

I remember this pang, this deep-down feeling,

 

From my original diagnosis day,

 

Unmistakable for what is to come next.

 

You are about to tell me-

 

That I may not be around for my first-born daughter's wedding,

 

Or for my husband's surprise-but-he-already-knows-retirement party

 

Because you have to tell me

 

That I have to dance with you again

 

That I have it again

 

Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm

 

B-P-D-C-N

 

From my vulnerable skin to my stained bone marrow

 

To my lymph nodes which are now crying out in pain, yearning for relief,

 

That it was in hibernation, a skin deep remission,

 

Past the mark of when it should come back

 

And now it is back, relapsed with a mission-

 

But, It's okay, doctor,

 

Yes, It is okay for you to shed a tear for me,

 

To think about my family back home and what they will say,

 

But now it is time for you to take six deep, slow, purposeful breaths of life,

 

Now you have to remember to tell me

 

That it's time that you have a plan for me,

 

Just like you had done before for me all of those years back,

 

That you are once again ready,

 

And that it is time to do that dance together again

 

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 patients and families out there, with a family member with blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN), a rare, life-threatening hematologic malignancy that affects the skin, lymph nodes, bone marrow, and blood. I have developed a clinical and research focus in this difficult-to-treat disease, and am working with many collaborators and teams to develop novel clinical trial therapies for patients with BPDCN."

  
Naveen Pemmaraju, MD... - Click to enlarge in new windowNaveen Pemmaraju, MD. Naveen Pemmaraju, MD