A Merry Malignancy
or
A Haiku Romp With Lung Cancer

It was the day after my birthday. Off to the emergency room, weakened from not eating and, as I found out, not breathing sufficiently. After a chest x-ray and a CAT scan, I finally sat down to a meal. I had had no appetite, let alone the strength to prepare a meal, for over a month. There in front of me was food, not very good food; but I was actually hungry. In walked a resident to tell me that the results of the CAT scan showed what looked like lung cancer. So much for food. After the initial shock (I never smoked!!), I surprised myself and everyone else with my acceptance of the situation. I simply put everything in the hands of the Almighty and decided to go along for the ride.

emergency room
a dire diagnosis…
unexpected faith

My stay in the hospital was almost pleasant. Since I work there, I had daily visits from coworkers and already knew many of the doctors. During morning rounds, one of the residents would come in with the biggest, brightest smile I've ever seen. How could I possibly feel miserable starting the day like that?

bleak winter morning
beam of sunshine in the dark…
a doctor’s smile

In spite of the generally awful hospital food, I did have a few tasty meals and treats, brought in by my coworkers.

in the hospital
chicken salad from a friend
brightens the long day

After I was released, I had to return one day to have a port implanted in preparation for chemotherapy. When I woke up, there was that bright smile again at my bedside.

surprise visitor
in the recovery room…
face of a new friend

Early on I decided that this was not really lung cancer. After all, I was born during the year of Roswell. Perhaps there were more aliens, successful in their mission to implant their seed into unsuspecting infants. It lay dormant for decades, waiting for an opportunity to strike.

creature from the crab
planting its alien seed
into my body

reading at barnes & noble

It didn't help that the CAT scan showed what seemed like a tail growing into my bronchial tube. At first I decided to call the tumor, er, alien, Lumpy. When I began chemotherapy, I learned I would receive some additional drugs, including one called Decadron that sounded too much like a Transformer. Cute Lumpy became evil Megatron.

transforming my lung
to his cancerous offspring…
die, Megatron, die!

I was actually looking forward to losing my hair; but nobody warned me that I would lose ALL of it, including my eyelashes!

hair disappearing
as drugs attack the cancer...
but my eyelashes?

I did have an epiphany one day. I had my glasses off while looking in the mirror and realized that I looked like I just woke up in a pod in the real world with Neo.

chemotherapy
tears away brows and lashes…
wake in the real world

Besides becoming a character in The Matrix, there was another benefit to losing my hair. My granddaughters loved to take off my hat (wigs were for special occasions) to see my bald head. Aha! I found a way to surprise them - temporary tattoos.

lost tresses make way…
revealing a fresh canvas
to a grandchild’s eyes

My goodness, I was even getting requests for specific tattoos!

slimy monster

on top of my head
at a granddaughter’s request…
a slimy monster

After the final session of my first round of chemo, I went out to dinner with a friend and couldn't resist drinking an appropriate beer.

Megatron withers...
celebrating his demise
with hoptimus prime

hoptimus prime

More to come...


Copyright © BJ Swartz 2009-2010

Return to Swartz/Roller Poetry.

BJ Swartz
twin-prime@hotmail.com

Updated July 11, 2010