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Does the Buddha Play Pool?

Come Medicine Buddha

Come shine your rays upon me
Penetrate deep within my body
To quell my queasy stomach
And soothe my aching bones.

Let those golden arrows
Shoot deep within my frame
Extinguishing the round tumors
That live inside of me.

Like a pool cue poised and ready
Aim straight for the triangle
Number 6 in right side pocket
Red 4 to far left corner.

Knocking away each colored ball
Dropping steadily into the

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Listening

 Elizabeth Szewczyk

I couldn’t erase their words,
catch the breath atoms, stuff
them between lips,
couldn’t raise survival rates,
lottery odds dependent on cells suctioned
at the precise moment.

Your chest thumping, frantic,
valves siphoning warmth, drawing
cold through vessels, to your feet
crisping leaves beneath us while
you spoke her life.

Replaying slowly, baby girl, toothless
smile, creative toddler scissoring
Barbie hair (and styling hers to match).
Then, like a runner, sprinting 
to that

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Wounded Messenger

Jean Howell

I pulled back the plunger, sucking lidocaine from the bottle into the syringe as I prepared to lance Jimmy’s abscess. A voice in my head kept repeating, like a mean-spirited parrot, that I’d never done this procedure before–not even under supervision, and certainly not by myself…

I’d met Jimmy two months earlier. He’d come into our clinic with a fever, shortness of breath, a horrible cough, and a crumpled paper photocopy of a

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Chemo? No, Thanks

Elaine Whitman

“If I were you,” said the radiologist, as I sat on the gurney discreetly wiping goo from my right breast, “I’d make an appointment with a breast surgeon as soon as possible.” His somber tone of voice, the white blotch radiating ugly spider tendrils on his ultrasound screen…neither of these made me nervous. If anything, I felt mild interest: “How very odd. He must think I have breast cancer. Or something.”

Ten days

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First Night Call

Abby Caplin

During my first night on call as an intern, I felt scared. Not just scared–terrified. I was serving on the medical center’s pediatric oncology floor, and medical school hadn’t prepared me for children with cancer. What did I know about cutting-edge chemotherapy regimens? What if a child suddenly developed an overwhelming infection or a seizure triggered by a tumor? Someone would expect me to know what to do.

“It’s okay,” said Brad, the

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Running Out of Metaphors

Howard F. Stein

His rapidly metastasizing cancer
was not his only problem:
He was not only running out
of life, he was running out of metaphors.
Metaphors had sustained him
for the four months since
they discovered the spot.
He started out 
losing weight as “The Incredible 
Shrinking Man”; then he became
Gregor Samsa for a while;
briefly he was the consumptive Violetta,
soon followed by Ivan Ilych.
He even remembered Susan Sontag 
and Solzhenitsyn

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Hospice

Joanne Wilkinson

My patient’s beagle is very quiet. He lies next to the brown leather living-room chair she used to sit in when I would come to see her at home. His nose is down on his paws, and his round eyes look up at me, up at the nurses, the home health aides, the family members who go back and forth between here and the back bedroom. He is very alert, but silent. He

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Carmen’s Story

Carmen Diaz

I used to be a shy woman who didn’t like the spotlight and never did any public speaking. Ovarian cancer has changed all that. Now I look for opportunities to tell my story. 

I am a 62-year-old, Puerto Rican-born, New York-raised mother of two. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2004. But for more than a year before that, my symptoms weren’t recognized. 

In January 2003, I started to suffer from abdominal

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