Survivorship Poems


While writing Happiness in a Storm, I began work on Chapter 8—Hope—and soon realized I was analyzing hope without ever defining it. So I tried to find clear, succinct words to convey the meaning I intended for hope. Instead of a textbook definition, a poem emerged that captured my sense of hope at the time. To read “Hope,” click here.

The View from Remission

In the late spring of 1991, I completed six months of intensive chemotherapy that put my original cancer—Stage III indolent lymphoma—into remission. As friends and family were celebrating, I was striving without success to put my illness completely behind me.

But unexpected, unpleasant physical and emotional aftereffects made it difficult to feel normal or happy. In my efforts to be a Healthy Survivor during my recovery and long-term survivorship, I wrote a poem to help me focus on the silver linings—the positive outcomes of an unwelcome illness.

I’ve hated being a patient. You’ll never hear me call my cancer a gift. But, indeed, my changed perspective—my view from remission—has made me a better doctor, mother, wife, friend. And my ongoing illnesshas made my life better than ever, in certain ways. To read “The View from Remission,” click here.

Variations on a Theme by Niebuhr

The opening verse of the ever-popular “Serenity Prayer,” which some people call the “Courage Prayer,” brought me comfort and inspiration during the moths of my initial treatments.

As I worked hard to become a Healthy Survivor, I took the liberty of adding verses that help me face the challenges of repeated courses of treatment and a menagerie of aftereffects. With credit to Niebuhr’s work and a Talmudic (Jewish writings) proverb, I wrote the expanded poem you can also find in Happiness in a Storm. To read "Variations on a Theme by Niebuhr,"click here