Pectoriloquy |

It was supposed to be me. FREE TO VIEW

Annemarie Conlon, PhD
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Editor’s Note: The author writes, “I am a thoracic oncology social worker on faculty in the School of Social Work at the Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to this position, I worked on a thoracic unit of a large cancer center in Houston, Texas. Individual stories touch me deeply. This poem honors a patient who had encountered an unexpected event early in her lung cancer treatment.”

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

Chest. 2014;145(4):923. doi:10.1378/chest.13-1273
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I remember waking up early that morning.
You, still sound asleep, deserving a few moments longer.
Lord knows you had taken care of me all those months.
Ever since Dr. H. told us “we” had cancer -
lung cancer - stage IV – all the way to the brain.
I blamed myself for putting you through this.
How long did it take me to give them up?
But you stayed with me,
held my hand, tightly, as Dr. H. repeated those words,
making sure we understood.
We did.
And there we were.
Knowing the end would be sooner, rather than later.
I worried about you being alone.
You said there was time to think about that.
For now, it was about me;
the symptoms, treatment, side effects … our cancer.
Even though we knew it would never be enough –
that soon I would be gone.
You made me the focus and I let you.
It was your gift to me you said.
I accepted that.
Yet, here I am two years later.
Me, still surviving.
I’ve had good care.
Now and everyday
remembering back to that morning
I let you sleep a bit longer –
the only gift I could give in return
but, you were not asleep at all.




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