Stories of Cancer
Giving Voice to Real Experiences

Julia’s poem

Chemotherapy

I did not imagine being bald
at forty four. I didn’t have a plan.
Perhaps a scar or two from growing old,
hot flushes. I’d sit fluttering a fan.

But I am bald, and hardly ever walk
by day, I’m the invalid of these rooms,
stirring soups, awake in the half dark,
not answering the phone when it rings.

I never thought that life could get this small,
that I would care so much about a cup,
the taste of tea, the texture of a shawl,
and whether or not I should get up.

I’m not unhappy. I have learnt to drift
and sip. The smallest things are gifts.

By Julia Darling, from Sudden Collapses in Public Places, Arc Publications 2003  Copyright © Julia Darling’s family 2005