Poetry is the only way to touch upon the experience of cancer. It is also the only way to find the beauty in the beastliness. And for me, it was the only way to express my grief and allow healing into my life. Grief is a many-layered thing. It unfolds and refolds away from and over itself multitudinous times and in varying manifestations. To say that grief will fade away is misleading. To say that it will ameliorate and become an acceptable part of the griever’s psyche is a truth… as long as the griever intentionally grieves. Because grief begins with the diagnosis and because so much of my experience of watching a loved one suffer was beyond words, I set out on my intentional grief journey through writing.
cancerwords is a record of Glenn Peirson’s three year battle with a rare sinus cancer. Glenn, diagnosed at stage 4, did his elegant utmost to stay here for his wife and children, the joys of his life. As mother of this remarkable man for all seasons, I was seized by a need to write poetry and take photos on my prayer-walks. These two disciplines became my prayer forms. For me, they reached through the madness to a silence where pain is transformed into resilience. And I was sustained. And I was enabled to be what Glenn, Mary, Theodora and Henry needed me to be.
It is my hope that this book will speak to others, particularly parents. For when the death-order is violated by an intruder, it is almost too much for a parent to bear. I learned that I could survive what I had always said I couldn’t. I learned that I will never cease to be wondrously proud of and inexplicably connected to my son in whatever dimension he happens to be. And I learned that artistry, which resides, I believe, in the imagination, is the soul of healing.
There is a way for everyone. This is mine.