Strength (Poem 2019 – 55)

Yesterday was the five year anniversary of my mastectomy, the first stage in 18 months of treatment.  Treatment that without any doubt saved my life.  In the five weeks between me finding the abnormality and the surgery I could feel the mass getting bigger, I would lie awake at night, too scared to sleep, rubbing my finger over it, feeling it changing, growing, invading my body, and knowing it could kill me.

After the surgery I was declared NED (no evidence of disease) as the tumour was removed with clear margins etc etc, but it was hard to feel too much joy at this because my cancer was deemed very aggressive with a high possibility of recurrence.  So in January I started chemo, and then herceptin, and after 18 months I was released from the regimented appointments every three weeks.

18 months of my body being pumped full of drugs

18 months of injections, infusions, tests and scans

18 months in which people move on, they wonder why you’re still obsessed with cancer, why you haven’t got back to normal yet, why you don’t just pick up on life as it was before?

People get bored and dis-interested and they drift away.

And you let them because you are different, cancer has changed the way you view life.

Gone are your feelings of security and sense of a future, replaced by an awareness of the fragility of life and of your own mortality.  You become disconnected from the mundanity of life, idle chit chat has no place in your world anymore, it’s pointless. Inside you’re screaming I don’t care while on the outside you try to look as though you’re listening.

You can’t unknow what you now know…

(poem a day: day 10)

You can find my poetic journey through cancer and mental illness in my second book, I am the Stars in the Sky, which is available in paperback or kindle on Amazon, or message me directly.


behind my eyes there’s a filter
that colours all the world
with knowledge only I know

inside my heart is a box
secured with chains and locks
a secret so precious within

under my ribs, my chest is heavy
my lungs a silted river bed
suffocating purity of breath

but in my mind lives hope
determination and strength
to fight for this life that is mine

copyright © 2019 Karen Horsley

KB and SS promo poster

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Hi, I'm Karen, creator of which is home to my poetry, art and general ramblings. I am the author two collections of poetry, 'Kaleidoscopic Beauty' & 'I am the Stars in the Sky', and the children's book 'All That Glitters' (not yet published). I also enjoy running.

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