Kamini Doobay, Class of 2017, wrote this mix of poetry and prose after joining the treatment team for a 10-year-old boy with cancer. This is the second of a 2-part entry. Read Part 1.
In between cycles of chemo, we saw glimpses
of our macho man.
He circled around the nurse’s station, telling jokes,
playing games, demanding a date to go home.
And then one day, the doctor called a meeting.
This time, he was the one smiling.
He said to mom, dad and Joe that the recent
tests and labs have shown that the cancer
Remission. A word they had waited so long
to hear, a word they said over and over until it felt real.
Joe went back to being a kid,
without IV lines and the constant noise of hospital machines,
without nightmares of being separated from
his mom and dad, without being the boy with deadly leukemia.
A year passed.
We looked forward to receiving mom’s kind messages,
photos of his maturing face but that same boyish smile.
Mom left a message for the doctor to call her back this time.
As soon as possible. Why?
The urgency alone was like a knife piercing our hearts.
Joe has had a fever for 1 week,
and has been too tired to play baseball.
That smile of his has once again disappeared.
“Bring him in right away,” said the doctor.
The labs were done.
White blood cell count of 30,000.
What better name for this fiend?
Blasting holes into their hearts,
Blasting the dreams of a bright boy.
Not remission. The word was now relapse.
Once again, they repeated it over and over
until it was real.
The cancer is back but so is the fight.
Surrounded by darkness, we must find light.
Mom and dad saw their little boy suffer before,
and had prayed for Joe to suffer no more.
“Together, we will fight to save our macho man,”
And with undying hope, round two began.
Kamini Doobay is in ISMMS’s PORTAL program, as a MD/MSCR Candidate, Class of 2017.