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Poetry and Oncology
October 14, 2021

Say Hi

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Oncol. 2021;7(12):1907. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2021.4315

Day 1
You tested positive for COVID,
breaths labored, faltering.
In the notes,
increased work of breathing.

Day 23
You have been here longer
than anyone taking care of you.
You fight the ventilator.
Flinching with every
lab drawn, line placed.
In the notes,
maxed out on sedation,
requiring paralytics.

Day 40
You have spent hours
awake and asleep,
hurting & healing
until flutters of life.
We pray for you to
get better, for the best.
In the notes,
following commands for
the first time:
blink, wiggle toes.
Tracheostomy scheduled.

Day 47
We check in on you,
you wave for
the first time.
The doctor says
talk to her. I ask you to
say hi.
When you do, you cry.
It is a miracle.
In the notes,
breathing comfortable,
no pain.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Ellen Zhang, BA, Harvard Medical School, 107 Ave Louis Pasteur, Vanderbilt Hall, Boston, MA 02115 (ellen_zhang@hms.harvard.edu).

Published Online: October 14, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2021.4315

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.