Friday, April 9, 2010

What If...

In college I took a poetry class. I’m not really a poet or a great writer, but as I wrote for this class, most of the poems developed from my intense grief from losing my mother. When I took this class it had been 2 ½ years since her death, but I had not really had the time to mourn. She died about 2 weeks before I moved away to start college. I was only 18 and had been in denial before her death because she was my mother and mothers aren’t supposed to leave you when you are only 18, right? To make you feel better people always say, “The pain will lessen over time.” However, that is and it isn’t true. Some days I’m ok and some days I tear up over the littlest thing that reminds me of her. Some days I can talk to someone about her death without a hitch and others I get choked up before I can get a few words out. So, I would be lying if I said that I have now, almost 12 years later, completely mourned my mother’s death because there are pieces of me that are forever broken. I wrote the following poem in that class. It mirrors what my mom went through, but is written as if it’s me going through it.

What if

What if my normal cells begin over replicating
by the millions, deviously devouring

each organ, each tissue, each healthy cell,
until I am no longer human being
but a sculpted skin mold oozing

with foreign, yet not so foreign killer cells,
stretching their growing, grasping claws of death
into each and every crevice of my body,

snidely snickering, intruding my lungs –
continuously producing, incapacitating my lungs,

until the machine helps me breath;
the machine, which supports me,
my limp legs, too weak to stabilize my measly

100 pound body, once displaying rosy cheeks
now sunken back like my chocolate brown eyes,
which are pressed into my face like two caves resting in my skull –

entire body diminishing
overflowing with disease –
nausea, vomiting, aching body,

bald shiny head –

I want to be normal again.

That last line is something my mom actually said to me, several months before her death, after I brought her home from one of her chemos. She felt like no one understood what she was going through, except for her sister who had already lost her battle to ovarian cancer. She felt like she couldn’t talk to anyone. I told her she could talk to me, but she was Mom and wouldn’t burden me with her pain. She just wanted to be normal again and not have to be sick all of the time. It breaks my heart to think that she felt so alone. But, although I am not going through anything near what she went through, in a way I understand her feelings. I have a wonderful husband who I can talk to (poor thing has to listen way too much :) ) and very supportive family, friends and the BRCA community. However, it still feels like sharing too much and talking about it too much is a burden on others. I guess in a way that’s why I didn’t argue too much when my husband and sister suggested a blog. Whether anyone reads or not, or even understands, at least I can express some of my feelings by writing. So, I am sorry for being a “Debbie Downer” today - just feeling a bit blue. On the bright side, I am being proactive against breast and ovarian cancers so I can be normal, whatever that may be.

Until next time, here’s to poetry, “normalcy” and silicone.


  1. Tracy Marie, I love,love,love,love,love,love you so very much! I often think about how I wish I was older so I could have been there for Mom, to be able to listen and understand and be there for her. I always thought she was crazy when she said one day all of us sisters would be best friends, she was so Right!

  2. Hey Tracy - your poem gave me goosebumps, you do have a gift for the written word.

    Please don't apologize for sharing of yourself when you are down. Yes, you have the chance to be proactive and all that stuff, so did I, but this 'choice' doesn't come without fears and sadness too. This whole ride is a crazy roller coaster - it just is.

    Hang tough, and know that it's okay to let yourself feel however you need to feel to get through this...

    There are lots of people here for you, who know exactly how you feel.. I'm one of them!


  3. By the way, your feelings are never going to be considered a burden by me, you know that you can share everything with me, I am ALWAYS here for your my dear little sister. I love you so very much. I totally agree with Terri, you say that you are not a good writer, but you truely are. Believe in yourself and your decisions, it really does NOT matter what any one else thinks, only you!

  4. Kel, I love, love, love you too! It is so great being so close to my sisters! Mom was definitely right - she must have known because of how close she was with all of her sisters! Thanks for the compliments on my writing. I know I can always talk to you about anything! You ROCK!

  5. Teri - Thank you so much for reading! I really appreciate your sweet words about my poem and writing. I have really benefited from reading your blog and from reading posts on Facebook BRCA Sisterhood! It is so helpful knowing all of you are there for me if I have any questions or concerns. You have all been through the same or similar experiences and it helps so much to hear it from someone who has been through it, not just have a doctor tell you how it might feel. You are so great! Thank you!

  6. You're welcome, it's a pleasure to read! I'm so glad you found our facebook group - once you start posting and get to know some of the other people I know you'll come to love it as much as I do. Well, maybe not as much as that, but still, a lot! lol

    I'm here if you have any questions, or just need a shoulder. :)

    Take care