Poems about cancer

We are very grateful to all of you who have made such an effort to share your personal and poignant poems about cancer with us. We had so many we had to move them over to this site which is easier to upload and manage so any new submission will be loaded up much more quickly. Please feel free to send more via email to us (health-education@clara.com) and share with anyone who may be interested in these poems about cancer.

Also read many more poems on cancernet.co.uk/poems.htm


Breast Cancer 

Checking your breasts regularly
Upper chest and armpits too,
Is crucial to early diagnosis
Know what is normal to you.

Lumps, thickening of breast tissue
One breast becomes larger or lower,
Make sure you attend breast screening
If you are fifty or over.

Everyone’s breasts are different
Different times of month and age,
Look out for changes unusual to you
If worried, GP please engage.

Puckering or dimpling of skin
Continuous pain causing strife,
Reporting changes without delay
Can make a difference to your life.

Have your nipples inverted (turned in)?
Have they changed shape or position?
Developing a rash, crusting or discharge
If any of these, it’s your mission.

Make an appointment with your GP
Remember this is your body,
Early diagnosis can make a difference
Better to be safe than sorry.

Written by Bill Mckechnie


The power of cancer.

It can’t take my memories.
Except at the end.

It can’t swallow love.
But can change it forever.

It can’t change who God is.
Or where I go next.

It can’t stop the world.
But will let me get off.

It will destroy me in body.
But can’t change the past.

It can’t use computers
You’re reading this now.

Prize fighter

I don’t want you to die,
And I don’t want you to just beat it,
I want you to scrap with it like a street brawler,
Rip its cuffs and tear the lapels from its shirt.
Drown it in a muddy piss filled puddle,
Flip a coin as you walk away.

I want you to live and argue with it endlessly,
I want you to be irritated by it and impatient
as you are with me right now.
You say my life’s a hamster wheel of disaster.
You laugh at its silliness, scratching at the uneven patches under your wig.
This monstrosity, you say, it looks like a badger’s arse.

 I gaze at your face now,
Irish and watery eyed with fear and mirth.
There’s a line under your eye
that you didn’t have before…and soft red marks on your hands.

Prize fighter.
Fight dirty and grab it by its dark balls, or
if it happens to be a lady,
dig your nails in and pull out her hair. All’s fair.

Like for like.
Be the rebel your ancestors might have been,
Wear your heels and wrestle in the mud,
Smoke a cigarette in a glamourous way and throw champagne in its face.
Wipe the smile off its filthy face,
Wipe a smear of oil across your face.

Roll your sleeves up…the gloves should be off.
But let’s not talk in clichés,
Powerless. You’re better than that.
Clinch it…twist it…bring it down on the nub of your knee.
Kick the stool from under it.

But never forget, sunshine.
I’m in your corner…sponge in hand,
Bellowing at you, above the ragged crowd.
I don’t want you to die.
Prize fighter.

‘Mum’

My mother lost her life today
When lost in grief it’s hard to say
How much that woman touched my heart
Dysfunctional family worn apart
But in our final days together

We sat with Mum in sunny weather
As years of cancer wore her down
She’s fin-a-lly at peace, no frown
So grateful for those final days
She loved us all in different ways

She smiled at me at held my hand
I squeezed back gently, bedside manned
When she needed to know that we were there
We sat watching from grey chair
When scared and pained and short of breath

We settled her, no fear of death
We reminisced of holidays
And smiles all round at better days
We sat and watched her rest in peace
As pain so harsh did finally cease
Thank you for our time together
Now we can be at peace forever

An open letter to cancer’

Cancer you’re a wanker
You make far too many sick
Cancer you’re an arsehole
An annoying little prick

Cancer you’re such a hater
I don’t want to see you back
Cancer please don’t take her
I’ll do anything to retract

Cancer can’t you see
How much pain you cause
If you spread health instead of pain
You’d get so much more applause
Cancer please just give us
The time back that’s too late

Cancer it’s so unfair
Why so many do you hate?
Cancer you suck the future
From so many that you touch
I beg for one more life spared
Would that really be too much?

Chemo in winter/ Everyday life.

I come-to wearily, conscious of the slight ache in my shoulder.
I hold the kettle under the cold tap, one foot on the other on the chilly lino.

I watch the sheep from the kitchen window while I wait for the kettle to click off.
They are nibbling the hedge. I don’t know what attracts them. It looks bare to me.

I take my cereal and tea back to bed and arrange my two duvets, my hat and my scarf.
I am lucky to have an appetite.

Once I’ve drunk my tea I’ll have a cup of water then clean my teeth, have a salt-water rinse and try and chase some more sleep.

Despite it being a bright, sunny day out there, sometimes you just can’t find the will to live each day as if it were your last.

Silver linings

I will always be young and beautiful.
The tragic heroine has been a favourite part.
I have no pension plan.
What a brilliant decision!

What percentage do my investments earn?
Well, it doesn’t matter!

How will my tattoo look aged 65?
Er, sort of crumbly and brown.

Smoking kills you.
The cancer already does.

How does it feel to be the living dead?
I can stare death in the face and almost hold it’s hypnotic gaze.

Its nearness makes everything clearer, brighter, darker.
My fiancée has commitment issues.
Not any more he doesn’t!

Watching people’s faces when you tell them you haven’t long left.
I love to get a reaction.

Results

To find out that I wouldn’t need my climbing gear was a shock.

Almost a disappointment.
I now understand blank astonishment.

I was so sure that I knew where I was going and to find I was wrong was disquieting.
I had rehearsed my reactions to being faced by mountains;

Trying to look on the bright side of them and appreciating their grandeur;
preparing so thoroughly that I forgot to pack the sun cream.

I was blinded by the level, benign beach and shady palms.
This was all mine to run across and roll about on and dance along.

Why do I not feel like dancing?
Where is relief? Reprieve?

Just perplexed and I guess stunned.


Waiting for Results

I’m being taken on holiday but it’s a surprise. I wonder where I’m going? I think I’ve guessed but I’ve been wrong before. What do I pack? It could be cold and rainy, could be a tropical paradise.

I had better pack everything.
I wonder where I’m going? I think I’ve guessed. I feel it in my bones. Have I remembered to pack everything? I may need scuba gear, climbing gear, warm clothes or bikini.

I think the bikini unlikely but I try to fit it in the case.
I lie awake considering all possibilities and trying not to, knowing it futile.

I wake early. I don’t want to miss the flight. It’s a 40 minute trip to the airport and will we be able to park? I hope I have everything packed.
I’ve had plenty of time to consider.

Folks say ‘be positive,’ but it’s not them who’ll get wet if they don’t take a mack. If it’s a tropical island then that’s great. I can leave the mack in the case.
I wait for the taxi, full of anticipation.

I wonder where I’m going?
I’ll only know when I’m on the plane

Things we never say

(Things we never say on an angry day when they’re only trying to help).

“You know, you’re not the only one’
I say ‘True, true.’
Because it is.
I don’t say ‘Thanks, I feel much smaller now.’
and ‘I don’t care; this is happening to me.’

You know, there are others who are much worse off’
I say ‘True, true.’
Because it is.
I don’t say ‘Thanks, I feel much guiltier now.’
and ‘Do you think I don’t know that?’

‘You know that this attitude is selfish and self-pitying’
I say ‘True, true.’
Because it is.
I don’t say ‘Thanks, I feel so pitiful now.’
and ‘Do you think I want to feel like this?’

You know, any of us could be hit by a bus tomorrow’
I say ‘True, true.’
Because it is.
I don’t say ‘Thanks, I feel melodramatic now.’
Or ‘I look forward to that.’

‘You know, you should be positive’
I say ‘Perhaps, perhaps’
Because it’s probably true.
I don’t say ‘Thanks, I feel a failure now.’
and ‘How does that work exactly?? Wanna show me?’

‘You know, you need to fight it’
I say ‘True, true.’
Because it probably is.
I don’t say ‘Thanks, I feel much weaker now.’
and ‘Which weapons do you suggest I employ?’

You know, that miracles can happen’
I say ‘True, true.’
Because it is.
I don’t say ‘Thanks, I feel so faithless now.’
or ‘Yeah, but let’s face it; that’s not going to happen.’

 

Why did I smoke?

I looked in the mirror and what did I see?

A bald headed person staring at me,

The chemotherapy certainly works,

I`m fed up laying in my bed,

feeling sickly,

it is just as they said,

My weight has gone down in a matter of days

Dont feel like eating , cancer certainly has its different ways.

I used to smoke ,40 years and more,

why stop I used to say , smoking isnt a chore,

I wont get cancer, me ! no way,

so now look at me with only one lung,

They were right cancer isnt much fun.

So if you smoke and think it wont happen to you.

Take heed of my words they are really true.

Look at that Girl

Oh look at that girl, oh so fair…with hair of curly golden locks of sunkissed hair.
Lock by lock I see it fall, but that’s not my flower, I don’t have to climb that wall.
Gosh that’s sad, but it’s not me. It’s not my fight. It will never be.
You see a commercial, you shed a tear. Thank God it’s not my child. It won’t ever be.
The flower wilts day by day.
What was bright and shiny slowly turns to grey.
There are cries for help and tears running down, there are smiles too of course,
here and there, but then comes the frown.
This IS MY LIFE…..this IS MY FLOWER that I was given to protect but I dont have
the power.
I scream and I yell but no one hears.
Now we talk about life in months…there may not be years.
The hardest part of any battle is not the end where peace lies ahead, but the fight
itself where fear and pain rear their ugly head.
The hardest part of watching my daughter suffer this illness is not knowing one day
that she will be at peace with her father.
No, it’s like watching a majestic lion with its magnificent roar..who cannot be
tamed, a beautiful creature standing tall and proud.. being put into chains, until
little by little its will is broken down.
Listening to the cries for help that I cannot answer.
“Why won’t you help me mommy? Please don’t make me go in there.”
Sparkling blue eyes so full of life, so quickly lose their sight.
Losing someone you love takes your breath away, but what is worse is watching every
day- losing someone you love one piece at a time is by far worse, mere words can’t
describe.
Now and forever, what cancer can’t take away is the fight my little girl gave and is
still giving every step of the way.

-Angela Jackura
I am the mother of a 4 yr old precious girl battling a terminal brain tumor

The Right to be a Bird

To grace the morning with your song
To fly so freely all day long
To perch upon a sturdy tree
And watch the world pass peacefully
To see the beauty from great height
To feel so resonant and light
To watch the river flowing past
Your body free from pain at last
To change your course when you see fit
To fly some more, then rest a bit

To sit on church tops, spirit free
To feel close to divinity
To visit people at your will
To cheap and chirp and call and trill
To have the time for contemplation

Travel lots during migration
To soak up sunbeams on your face
To take the day at your own pace
To make great patterns in the sky
To swoop and soar and flutter by

Your body’s left a life absurd
You’ve earned the right to be a bird


Confusing Season

Sugar dust sprinkled
On a tall shrouded hill
So far away
And I’m missing you still

Ahead there is sunshine
But a bite in the air
Such a mixture of weather
How I wish you were there
And the blackbirds are calling
For the Spring toarrive
And I call on thoughts

That help keep you alive
My hands they are freezing
And the river flows on
Even friends can lack patience
Wishing me to move on
And the train winds ahead
And it transports my soul
And a swan calls out to me

How I long to feel whole
This journey is bumpy
Full of highs and of lows
And the pain of your passing

So intense, no one knows
It’s a puzzle, a riddle
And who knows the reason
I am carried along
By this confusing season

Bittersweet Limerick

You’d barely retired a year
When fate filled our lives full of fear
My heart started pounding
The news was dumbfounding

So hard as I couldn’t be near
You phoned on a Friday at four
My heart it collapsed on the floor
Said it wasn’t a good one

But you’d deal with it head on
And I knew you would fight, that’s for sure
How the chemicals burned you inside
Even right at your lowest you tried
To start each day anew

Not to focus on you
Taking each grueling step in your stride
We all knew what we would be losing
Our hearts slowly sinking and bruising
Yet you still soldiered on
Til the day you passed on
Showed us life is out there for the choosing


More than Ashes

You are not just ashes
You are so much more
You are with me in the morning
When I’m insecure

With me when I’m walking
Robin on the tree
With me when I’m lonely
Saying gentle words to me
You are with us in the lounge

Each Friday night at seven
Saying cheers from high above
And sending love from heaven
You are not just ashes
You’re deep within my soul
With me when my thoughts are scattered
Helping me feel whole
With me when I light a candle
There when I feel sad
Our lovely walks come back to me
They always will dear Dad

My ode to chemo

You’re no friend of mine
You make me wanna puke
When I think I’m feeling fine

You creep and crawl
Inside my body parts
Turn innocent gas
Into unexpected sharts

You took away
My beautiful golden hair
Now just a bald head
Resides atop there

You’re cruel and mean
Unpredictable too
I never know from day to day
What you’re gonna do

So I had a talk with God
We walked hand and hand
Walked forever it seemed
Across the Holy land

God gave me a smile
Polished up a crown
Even bejeweled and bedazzled it
Said this will never let you down

He gave me a kiss
Upon my rosy cheek
Said this chemo
Ain’t for the weak

As He walked away
My smile got brighter
Let this be known
I’m one hell of a fighter

Cancer doesn’t define me
I’ve got a good soul
Cause this people
Is how I roll

So at the end of the day
You and I need to click
Because we both know
CANCER is the REAL PRICK

My ode to chemo

You’re no friend of mine
You make me wanna puke
When I think I’m feeling fine

You creep and crawl
Inside my body parts
Turn innocent gas
Into unexpected sharts

You took away
My beautiful golden hair
Now just a bald head
Resides atop there

You’re cruel and mean
Unpredictable too
I never know from day to day
What you’re gonna do

So I had a talk with God
We walked hand and hand
Walked forever it seemed
Across the Holy land

God gave me a smile
Polished up a crown
Even bejeweled and bedazzled it
Said this will never let you down

He gave me a kiss
Upon my rosy cheek
Said this chemo
Ain’t for the weak

As He walked away
My smile got brighter
Let this be known
I’m one hell of a fighter

Cancer doesn’t define me
I’ve got a good soul
Cause this people
Is how I roll

So at the end of the day
You and I need to click
Because we both know
CANCER is the REAL PRICK

 

A Call from my Mom

A call from mom,
In aching voice, she said,
“Not seen you for months,
Come and see me,
Know, you are busy in life”;
In next flight I reached home,
But found her in hospital bed;
Dry like withered petal,
So tired and weak she was;
Head shaved,
Could count ribs one by one;
In half opened eyes
She watched me,
Gestured, come hug me once,
“It’s long time,
No touch of you”;
Eyes wet, no voice in my tongue,
Hugged her,
Tears of mine, wet her soul;
A drop from her dry eyes,
Said from soul in terrible pain,
“Why this too me,
Never did wrong in my life,
Always kind,
Compassionate I was;
Where mistake had happened?
Punishing me with dreadful ‘cancer’;
It’s so painful tiring,
I cant stand;
Stay close to me my son,
My days are numbered;
Look my son,
Death envoy waving…
From height in the sky;
Waiting to take me with him,
Whispering oft,
‘O’ baby, thine world,
Is no more thine;
Incarcerated by modern world,
This world of ‘cancer’;
The food thou eat,
Assuming good for health,
But is blend of
Insecticide and pesticide;
Buildings replace the green trees,
Breeze to breathe is poison gas;
Polluted water thou drink;
Has weakened humans,
Immunity to distemper too lost;
Come baby its painful world”;

© Sadashivan Nair

Love thy Neighbour

As I sit in the chair, nervous fingers through my hair
I gaze at his lips
Searching for hints and tips
I snap to attention when I hear
The dreaded words I fear
He says, “You have a year at most –
Draw your loved ones near
By email or by post-
Live life to the max
Play the piano or learn the sax”
So I did as I was told, my life no longer on hold
I left my old baggage, embraced a new package
My bucket list revised, my loved ones apprised
My God came first-to love Him with ferocity
My kids followed- to love them with veracity
Yours truly came next- to live life with audacity
As my time draws near, I’ve eschewed all fear
Hear me laugh out loud
As the kids do me proud
As my God begins the remould
My gifts begin to unfold
My life takes on new meaning
Peace and love now streaming
I never saw it before,
Who would’ve thought a deadline Could’ve revealed a pipeline
To God’s very core?
I see it so clearly, I understand it quite simply
Life is shorter than you think
Don’t wait until you’re at the brink
No ones gonna make it
No one survives
Not the way you think
Be kind to yourself
Simply love thy neighbour as
thyself

By Vivian Zems