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Poetry and Medicine
March 16, 2005

My Radiation Treatment

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to

JAMA. 2005;293(11):1301. doi:10.1001/jama.293.11.1301

for Diane, Heather, and Allison

Every week four or five, completing the course,
bring candies, cakes or cut flowers: I see,
this is a type of sanctuary for the hurt.
Colorful fish weaving through coral and seaweed:
I begin to see myself as part of another life
larger than my own life.
These one-size-fits-all cotton gowns,
white with blue binding, always tie on the right:
Sharing this common burden, I grow in self worth.
We stroll by the Keukenhof garden,
its tulip beds, its cherry trees, its dark water, quietly
hanging behind lighted glass.
Decades before cancer,
savoring delights of the original near Amsterdam,
I didn’t know death as soil for beauty.
Is more than courtesy at work in this place?
I begin therapy with love of family and friends,
I finish beloved by the whole earth.

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