Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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Scan to Scan

A fog of emotions blankets the waiting room:
Stress and anxiety, with some impending doom.

A woman reaches across the table for magazines,
Wondering what this new appointment means.
A husband, wondering if they’d grow older,
Places his hand on his beloved’s shoulder.

When I see the nurse appear,
I sink a little further down.
I’m not quite ready to hear
What today’s scans have shown.

Almost a year ago from today
Was the first time I heard them say:
“You have cancer in your lung.”
That makes no sense, for I’m still so young.
My doctor tried to get to know who I am
But I really couldn’t give a damn.
All I needed to hear
Was whether my end was near?
She said, “We have options to try.”
I didn’t believe her and started to cry.

Since that day, a full year ago,
We fought with all we had.
Cycle by cycle: we tried chemo and radiation.
Cycle by cycle: my side effects needed palliation.

I knew from the start
My cancer won’t go away
The best we can try
Is to keep it at bay:
Keep it from growing
Keep it from spreading
Keep it from destroying
The life that I’m living.

We’ve tried all the treatments we can;
Once this stops working, there is no other plan.
I hang on to life as strong as I can.
I hold my breath, scan to scan.

Poetry Thursdays is an initiative that highlights poems by medical students. If you are interested in contributing or would like to learn more, please contact our editors.

Nisitha Sengottuvel Nisitha Sengottuvel (2 Posts)

Contributing Writer

The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine

Nisitha is a third year MD/PhD student at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Her PhD will be in genetics with an emphasis in lung cancer metastasis. In 2016, she graduated from Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in molecular genetics. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, painting, and singing.