Pectoriloquy |

Consultation Before Surgery FREE TO VIEW

Joan Baranow, PhD
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: The author writes, “This is the first poem I wrote after learning about my breast cancer. I wanted the tone to be matter of fact (since the cancer was only Stage 1) while also registering my surprise at the diagnosis and my understanding that it could become dangerous if not treated. I am an English professor and poet, and have a special interest in the relationship between writing and healing.”

Editor’s note for authors of submissions to Pectoriloquy: Poems should not exceed 350 words, should not have been previously published, and should be related to concerns of physicians and medicine. First submissions to the Pectoriloquy Section should be submitted via e-mail to poetrychest@aol.com. Authors of accepted poems will be asked to submit the final version to CHEST Manuscript Central.

Michael Zack, MD, FCCP

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.

Chest. 2013;144(4):1417. doi:10.1378/chest.13-0416
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With her finger touching the pink
and purple diagram, the doc explains
dye will flow through milk ducts
to the Sentinel Lymph Nodes,
making tracer stains
where the scalpel must go.
She doesn’t need to say that cells
are pawns of nature’s lunatic changes,
that no one’s guilty,
nor that years nuzzling those
little packages
wrapped in baby blankets
failed to protect the breast.
Something in you opened,
your cup runneth over
and emptied.
We’re here now, she says,
whatever the past was.
Get dressed. Don’t fret.
And so,
you comb through her brisk words
and find she’s right, death backs off,
while inside, seething, voracious
cells keep eating estrogen,
growing fat from your bruised,
but still intact, breast.




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