Johanna Shapiro, PhD
(November, 2004)

The bad news is
You might have ovarian cancer
The good news is
You might not
Wait two weeks
We’ll do surgery
To find out.

You scream, you rage
You revise your will
But you wait two weeks
Which seem like two years
Then surgeons split you
Down the middle
Peel you apart with retractors
Plunge in, snip and cut

You scream, you rage
It hurts like hell
Morphine gives you a headache
And makes you nauseous
But at least you’ll know
Or not

The first pathology report
Is pretty positive
We think you have a
(are you kidding?
Is that a real medical name?
It sounds like a bad
Country and western song)
Which hardly ever comes back
And which we can’t really do much about anyway
So – you might as well forget about it.
But you’ll have to wait a week
Till we know for sure.

Being a good patient,
You forget about it for a week
You have the occasional nightmare
And the less-occasional panic attack
(What if it’s not country & western?)
but you wait
Then they call you with the real path report
Oops! It’s not lie – oh- my-oh
(Although it was a kind of lie)
Instead, we think you have
Endometrial stromal sarcoma
(this one doesn’t even sound fun)
only it could be either the high-grade
which kills almost everybody in
about two years
or the low-grade, where you have
a fighting chance
to stick around awhile longer
we have to consult with a superlab
so you’ll have to wait two more weeks

You rant, you rave, you sob,
You are a crazy person
When the two weeks are up
They’re pretty sure it’s the good kind of
Bad kind
And they wish they’d known that
When they did the surgery
Because they would’ve done
A different kind of operation
But it probably won’t affect
“your outcome” anyway.

So now you know.
There is nothing more to wait for.

When they pass out these diagnoses
They should pass out the xanax and
The prozac as well
They should give you the number
Of a suicide hotline
They should schedule you for therapy
Five days a week
They should look at your face,
Look in your eyes
And say, this is going to be really, really tough
They should give you a hug
They should say,
Call me if you need to cry.