Dear Cancer, Your Fingerprints Are Everywhere

by Marloe Esch RN, BSN, OCNSurvivorJune 11, 2021View more posts from Marloe Esch RN, BSN, OCN

What an unforgiving companion you are.

So nonchalant,

          so willing 

          to hollow out dreams.

 

I remember bending 

backward with the force of you;

my 29th year contracting,

distilling itself into 

          the bitter elixir of chemo,

          the lethal taste of tears.

Who knows how long you’d planned this trip,

what route you took to get here?

 

Sometimes

I catch myself harboring

a timid disbelief that you ever 

          actually existed 

          within me.  

 

But

I always find proof.

  

Even still

your fingerprints are everywhere,

groping and promiscuous

          scars 

          seared into my skin.

You are a footnote at the end of every day,

at the bottom of every page 

of my life. 

 

It is useless to consider

who I might have become without you.  

I will win nothing by 

          playing such 

          cruel games.  

 

Instead,

would you be proud

that I have repurposed you?  I

wish to show you all the things that

I have done

          in spite of you,

          because of you.

 

You are my secret weapon,

transforming inescapable fear

into the wonder of

how best to be

alive.

 

Reluctantly yours,

Marloe

 

To read this letter and the other letters to cancer, click here to read and download the June 2021 Magazine

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