Breast Cancer Answers Art Gallery


A New Reality---Phase I

The image of myself is distorted: like my world.
Reality has been altered: by a word.
A phone called me to hear: my fear
I am sick: Cancer.

© 1985, Betsy Noorzay

The results of a blood test were what I wanted
To check on my hormone levels is what I need.
"Set up an appointment with a surgeon," I could not heed.
"Areas in the mammograms..." I could not think.
"Oh God, it's happening to me," the only link I could make.
"April is the cruelest month...," the poet said.
Now it's me. With Toni two days dead.
Pancreatic cancer her bitter drink, spread to her brain.
Her loss, our pain.
Now the word she did not speak spreads through my mind,
Kills any innocence that might still find.
Think. Think back, way back to that time so long ago:
When the mammograms were taken. Extra views!
Strange how I didn't really give that too much attention, this time.
I usually do. It is often done.
Strange how I really didn't give it a second thought since I have had
Some previous false scares over prominent lumps.
Odd that I wasn't waiting anxiously for the results, my truer form.
This time I'd let go of that, remembering:
They always call if there's a problem.
But no one called me. Three weeks and no one called.
Unknowing, I phoned about the blood tests.
I called and she, matter-of-factly
Told me: mind-altering news.
On the telephone.

No pillows to couch it in.
No arms to hold me firmly against the terror.
Perhaps there is no terror in it for the doctor

When she reads a radiology report on someone else,
A someone who is just another in a long line of someones
Who fill up her double-booked schedule
So that she has little time for tears or comfort,
Especially on the phone.
Perhaps she needs that emotional distance to do her work.
Perhaps to keep check on compassion,
She protects herself because she is a woman--she wants to separate herself
From this disease, from me.
Because she is a woman I expected more.
But it may be that she does recognize her capacity to become the other.
She guards herself from compassion.
I cannot think well enough to tell her this is false protection.

My genealogy is reaching out to touch me.
I've been selected to carry on the tradition.
Cancer has finally chosen me to give it life.

It can't be true!
Breast cancer?
I have been waiting for this all my life.
Wondering if the legacy would visit me
That spent some time with Mom,
Stole away my Aunt Margery.
Has such a concern made this possible?
Is it I who choose? Is that my finger
Instilling this new life into myself?

To live with cancer!
I was excited when I read
Love, Medicine and Miracles
Just two months ago.
What an opportunity:
To find out if I can make
Bernie Siegel's methods work.
Why doesn't this excite and challenge me?
Why doesn't it feel like a new project?
Why am I having trouble thinking?
This is as much as my mind can see:

Maybe death--
At least the conclusion to my life
As I now know it.
This is my new reality.

* * * *