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Cancer Is A Room: A Poem

My new addition.

Cancer is,
by my definition,
a room.

Cancer is
a dingy,
dirty,
shit room.

Cancer is
a new,
unwanted,
permanent addition
to my life.

The space itself
is a timeless,
industrial enclosure,
splattered and stained
in all the gross colors of
nauseating,
rusting,
and putrefying
shit.

I walk in,
sit in the center,
on the floor of course,
and in order of the
diagnosis,
biopsy,
surgery,
and treatment,
I get shit on.

I’ll describe some
of this shit.
Because the
shit varies.

There were HUGE
streams of
radioactive,
brightly colored,
toxic shit
that got dumped
into me
in a giant pour,
like what flows from
one of those
shitty factories
in a country that
doesn’t give
a shit.

Small stones of shit
got flung at me
at lightning-speed,
like professional baseballs.
They battered,
bruised,
and
broke upon entry.

Lava temperature,
flaming-hot,
shit balls
that still burn
intensely.

Let’s not to forget
the cottage-cheesey,
lumpy shit
that crept into my skin
and forever attached
itself to my bones.
That shit helped give me
an unforgiving,
shitty perspective
on an already broken,
shitty body.

It can be scary.
It can be stifling.
Really, it’s maddening.

It’s claustrophobic,
being under all that shit.
There’s A LOT of shit.
Actually it’s too much shit.
Way too much.

It’s a shit storm.
It could have it’s own
weather channel category
of shitty,
catastrophic,
shit storms.

It can be funny.
Sitting in a room of shit,
getting shit dumped on you.
Laugh about that shit.
Why not?

Can I scream in a shit storm?
Will anyone hear me?
Or will all that shit just
get in my mouth,
making my breath
taste like shit?
Wait, my breath already
tastes like shit.

This shit is lasting forever.

Eventually all that shit
went away
and I was left there,
seemingly all cleaned up,
but feeling really shitty,
like all the shit
had been absorbed
and I somehow
matched the space
I was inside.

I can get up and walk out
of the room now.
The door is closed behind me,
but the room stays there.
It’s stinky.
I can always smell it.
It’s active.

I stand at the ready
for more shit,
just in case.
I hope the door
doesn’t open now.

Please let that shit
stay locked,
so I won’t have to face
all that shit again.

by Nisha Sondhe

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  • Nisha Sondhe

    Photographer

    Nisha Sondhe is a brooklyn-based travel and portrait photographer. While she's not a native New Yorker she has spent the last 19 years living there honing her craft. After 10 years of assisting some of the biggest names in the industry she went off on her own in 2008. Since then her travels and projects from around the world can be seen in various publications and blogs including the New York Times, Travel and Leisure, The Wall Street Journal among others. In January 2014 Nisha was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer. She understands what it’s like to grapple with lasting side-effects and ongoing fears as a result of her cancer diagnosis. Nisha hopes her words connect with other women who haven’t quite found the words to describe their experience.

  • Show Comments (1)

  • Christopher

    Wow. I feel like I’m reading the medical version of punk rock. The fact that such a beautiful person has to live with that on the other side of a door is horrible. Thank you for putting your fears and frustrations out there. Wishing you much love.

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