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Finding Solace in Survivorship

by Joely SerinoSurvivor, Triple Positive Invasive Ductal CarcinomaMay 9, 2024View more posts from Joely Serino

Finding Solace in Survivorship: A Collection of Poems on Cancer & Mental Health


She protected me,

The day’s events could’ve rocked my world,

Could’ve broken me down beyond repair,

But she protected me.

(Like taking a bottle of white-out to paper,

Like taking a wet sponge to chalkboard,

Like taking a pink-pencil eraser to miscalculations,)


She erased that day,

Wiped it clean from my memory,

Cleared it from my internal storage,

Dumped it all out, leaving only residue,

(the smallest bits and pieces,

A flash here, a word there.)


The rest, I don’t remember it,

No matter how hard I try,

I’ve looked around every turn of my brain,

In every crevice,

And that day…

It’s gone…

Because she protected me.


-On Medical PTSD

Finding Solace in Survivorship


Today I sat at my desk alone

and sobbed.

Heavy tears were hanging on but

couldn’t stand the weight any longer.

Tears that spoke of the

“What ifs,”

and “Why did I’s,”

and the “You should haves.”

A brain overpacked with doubts and questions,

A heart damaged by trauma and sadness,

For myself.

I let it all flow out of me

(A faucet turned on),

I let it all go

(A heavy rainfall),

I mourned who I used to be

(A waterfall rushing),

I feared what was to become of me

(An unending stream of saltiness),

I cried for myself.


-On Mourning Myself



I sat in the chair and she asked

“Can I take your blood pressure from your left arm?”

“No,” I responded,

and I stuck out my right arm.

And my eyes started to fill.

Another reminder.

I took off my coat and sweatshirt and

pulled the neck of my shirt to the side,

revealing my port,

while she prepared everything.

She counted to 3,

and I took a deep breath in,

like clockwork,

an expert at this by now.

And hoping she didn’t see,

tears started to fall beneath my mask,

as the viles of blood filled.

My hair long,

my days filled with work,

but at this moment,

I felt like nothing more,

than a cancer patient,



-On the Mental Toll of Survivorship



My eyes have swollen shut

and flowers have taken root

in the carpet

where my tears soaked in.


Everything hurts

but not more than my heart.


Petals unfurl on my pillow

and under my feet.

I secretly water them every night

while the rest of the world sleeps


A garden of wildflowers blossom in my bed,

grown and nurtured with

my fears,

my secrets,

and all of my regrets.


-On Insomnia after cancer


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