This is part of the full text of the medical memoir "Cancer Patient" written by Hugh Cook. The full text has been published online on a free-to-read-online basis. This autobiographical non-fiction account deals with the author's initial health problems, diagnosis, and treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
The complete text of "Cancer Patient" is here on this web site but is also available for purchase from amazon.com as a proper printed paperback book. The full text may also be purchased as a download (a PDF file) from lulu.com for US $5. Go to lulu.com/hughcook
For a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of what's in the book (in its online version, in the PDF version and in the paperback version), see:-
Table of Contents
CANCER PATIENT is a medical memoir which deals with the author's autobiographical experiences which involve, amongst other things, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, a brain biopsy, a lumbar puncture (and then some more lumbar punctures), treatment with Ara-C, treatment with vincristine, treatment with methotrexate, treatment with radiation from a linear accelerator, and a vitrectomy (an operation to remove the jelly from an eye). This is a non-fiction account but it does contain a couple of fictional stories, clearly identified as such, and it also includes some poetry.
The author writes about his thoughts on radiotherapy, that is, on the risks of radiation therapy and his fears about the process. The author supplies a radiotherapy poem.
Silence waits on my schedule,
Bright with invisible needles.
At the cutting edge of the possible
The clinical machines are waiting,
The statistical spin is waiting:
A white space and an outcome.
The internal probe.
The deep destroyer.
Some part of my intellect.
I will sacrifice
For the chance of a happy outcome,
Propitiating a god
Who gives no refunds,
Who carries no insurance,
Who gives no guarantees.
The actual process
Will be credit card painless.
Silent as bankruptcy.
With no audible hammer,
With no banner of outcomes,
The first results a blankness,
Initially truculent, nonconfessing,
Mute as the uncut wire.
I imagine myself then,
At the outset.
Committed to the process,
I am a lottery ticket
Tiptoeing across the cymbals of consequence
Into the mousetrap future.
I imagine the first days.
Some done, much more still to do.
Two and two is still more than three and a half.
But damage must have become,
And damage, more,
Must be inevitable.
And how much damage?
A world away from kisses,
The open mouth of my outcome:
Human, still, and competent,
Or a maimed broccoli,
Uncertain of rodent versus rabbit.
Reality is no longer a sugar lump.
I am walking on shadows,
Never quite knowing
Which shadow might possibly collapse.
The text on this page is part of the cancer memoir "Cancer Patient" which has been posted online. All the chapters of this book are on this website and can be read for free online. However, the text is copyright - all rights reserved. For permission to use this text or any portion of it contact Hugh Cook.
This personal memoir of the writer's encounter with cancer (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the large B-cell type) attempts to cleave to the truth. However, the text may contain information that is wrong, outdated, incomplete or otherwise misleading.
This memoir has been written in a time of illness by a cancer patient who, though he feels sharp enough, must admit to sometimes misinterpreting things, forgetting things, or, on occasion, quite simply not hearing things.
This memoir is designed to communicate the writer's personal experience and is not intended as a source of medical information. Got a medical question? Ask your doctor.