Posted in Cindy Taylor, Guest Writer, Illness/life-threatening illness, Music, Poems/Poetry

Matastasize, an awkward word

an awkward word,
vowels lurking with malice
between those rock hard t’s
and stumbling past that sinister s,
into that endless z…
Even educated women know;
the seeds of broken dreams will gather
nearest to the heart
and grow
until the Gardener’s sharpened shears
snip away the wretched, rotted root.
That puckered rose, that brutal scar,
my brave and beautiful friend;
wear it as a medal:
triumphant, survivor, heroine!

– Cindy Taylor

© 2008 – 2011, poem and portrait (below), Cindy Taylor, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ MesserWoland via Wikipedia under CC BY A-SA 3.0 Unported License


Minnie Julia Riperton (1947-1979), American singer-songwriter: In January 1976 Riperton was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a modified radical mastectomy. Though she was given just six months to live, she continued recording and touring, and in 1977 she became spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. Riperton was one of the first celebrities to go public with her breast cancer diagnosis, but did not disclose that she was terminally ill. In 1978, Riperton also received the prestigious Society’s Courage Award presented to her at the White House by then-President Jimmy Carter. She died at age 31 on July 12, 1979.



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CINDY TAYLOR ~ originally contributed this piece to us in 2011 for our Perspectives on Cancer series. She is multitalented: a freelance writer, a poet, editor and proofreader. She also has an abiding passion for food  and an endearing zeal for life, which she shares with us on her award-winning blog, The Only Cin. Cindy lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Posted in Guest Writer, Perspectives on Cancer, Poems/Poetry




Myra Schneider


 for Grevel


For four months

all those Matisse and Picasso women

draped against

plants, balconies, Mediterranean sea, skies

have taunted me

with the beautiful globes of their breasts as I’ve filled


my emptiness

with pages of scrawl, with fecund May, its floods

of green, its irrepressible

wedding-lace white, buttercup gold,

but failed to cover

the image of myself as a misshapen clown


until you reminded me

that in Greek myth the most revered women

were the single-breasted

Amazons who mastered javelins and bows, rode

horses into battle,

whose fierce queens were renowned for their femininity.


Then recognising the fields I’d fought my way across

I raised my shield

of glistening words, saw it echoed the sun.


© 2011, Myra Schneider, all rights reserved. This poem is posted on Into the Bardo  with the permission of  Ms. Schneider. Any further reposting requires her permission. 

Photo credit ~ amazon preparing for a battle (Queen Antiop or Armed Venus), byPierre-Eugène-Emile Hébert 1860 (National Gallery of ArtWashington, D.C.), public domain photograph via Wikipedia


Amazon is an excerpt from:

Writing My Way Through Cancer  Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2003), and

Multiplying The Moon  Enitharmon (2004)

Editor’s note: The opening poems of Multiplying the Moon are Myra Schneider’s response to her experience of terrible illness. In the aftermath of fighting breast cancer, she found herself writing poems that explore transience, death, and survival from many different angles. The main theme of `Voicebox,’ the long fictional narrative in the middle of the book, is communication; the poem follows the connections and disconnections between its main characters. In a short poem sequence, the poet draws on findings from the 1901 census to re-create her father’s early life, and the understanding she gains helps her to feel a new closeness with him. This is united by the theme of investigation of the self and its relationship with the outside world.

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Myra Schneider ~ was born in London in 1936 and grew up on the Firth of Clyde. She is the author of four poetry collections from Littlewood, three novels for children from Heinemann, and has three poetry collections published by Enitharmon: Exits, The Panic Bird and Insisting on Yellow. With John Killick she has written Writing for Self-Discovery  (Vega, Chrysalis Books) which was re-published in 2002. Her book Writing My Way Through Cancer, was published by Jessica Kingsley in 2003. The book is her fleshed-out journal from the year 2000 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It includes poem notes and poems and a section of therapeutic writing ideas.

Posted in Guest Writer, Perspectives on Cancer, Uncategorized




Lisa Maxwell

This month, a little more than most, I think about what I have been through, what I have lost, and what I have gained. I never ask, “why me?” I am always grateful it was me. I had my mother’s strength and my father’s stubbornness to get me through it. Someone else may not have been a lucky as I was…am.

October is almost upon us and it is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but for some of us, those like me and our families, every month is breast cancer awareness month.   When you hear those words, “you have cancer,” you are never more aware.   That feeling, the awareness, it never leaves you.

Tonight I sat with my daughter and watched a speech by Kelly Corrigan, breast cancer survivor and author.  Emily and I held hands and cried together, grateful for what we have gained and all that we are lucky to still have…each other.

Sure, I have been through what some call “hell,” but I never saw it that way. For me, it was just a journey to get to the other side.  Just one more thing to get past and then move on.  People sometimes say to me, “so-and-so died of cancer.”  My only response can ever be, “I’m not doing that.”

For me, having treatment and getting on with my life was the only choice.  IS the only choice. Surviving is the ONLY choice.

Now, I use my experiences to make others aware of just how a diagnosis of cancer can change your life, even if it’s not you who is diagnosed.   My cancer affected everyone around me: my parents, my husband, my little boys, and my daughter.  Now I spread the word through my writing, my big mouth, and by walking the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer every year and raising money for research and other programs.

Mine is to do.

© 2011 Lisa Maxwell, all rights reserved, this includes text and family photos. Please be respectful. 

Video uploaded to YouTube by 

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Lisa Maxwell ~ periodically blogs about cancer on her mother’s site, PattiKen and the Muses. Lisa is a mother with three children and an educator who recently completed a master’s program. She is dedicated to promoting cancer awareness, early detection, and participation in events that encourage awareness and raise funds to support research, detection, and treatment. We are grateful that Lisa survived and is able to reach a helping hand out to others.

Posted in Essay, Guest Writer, Perspectives on Cancer

PERSPECTIVES ON CANCER #6: Superhero and Junior Superhero



Patti Maxwell
This is a true story about Lisa, Patti’s daughter, who is doing well now and will make her own contribution to Perspectives on Cancer. J.D.
Like everyone younger than logic, she was fearless. Flying high on wings of inexperience, she took risks most learn to avoid and tempted Fate at every turn. She lived in a Land far from reality. She was eternally optimistic: there was plenty of time to grow up, time to move on, time to get ready, and time to get ahead. She had, after all, all the time in the world. There were endless Tomorrows stretched out ahead of her. Playing fast and loose, she beat odds she didn’t even know were against her. She was invincible, indestructible, immortal.
And then one day, her Land was invaded by a Monster and his legions. They assaulted many of her givens, and caused the rest to take shelter in denial. The air became rank with fear, as the Monster’s bombs of destruction exploded first here, then there, threatening the very way of life throughout the Land. She had never thought something like that could happen to her, and she was terrified.
But the one thing she wasn’t was dumb. She quickly realized that the Monster could not be allowed to run rampant though the Land, and that he had to be stopped before everything was destroyed. Casting fear and denial aside, she dug out her best cape, always useful back in her flying days, and put it on. And she became the first Superhero the Land had known.
She fought with all her might, long and hard and desperately. There were times when she was down, wounded and tired, but she quickly got up again, took up her sword, and resumed the battle. The war raged for many months, and though she won some and lost some, she never lost her will to survive. She fought on, until one day she realized the Monster was gone. She had won.
After the war was over and the smoke had cleared, she looked around and surveyed the rubble left behind. Many parts of the Land had been ravaged. Where once there had been bounty, there was now barrenness. Structures had been flattened. Expectations had been unalterably altered.
But she knew the Land could be rebuilt, and it was. New structures were erected, looking as good as those taken down by the Monster. The seeds of new prosperity were planted, and new expectations developed.
But one unexpected outcome of the war was her realization that life in the Land was perhaps not as eternal as she had once thought. Perhaps there really wasn’t all the time in the world. Though one might suppose that this was a bad outcome, one would be wrong. After having fought and won against the evil Monster, the Land was moved closer to reality and life was made forever better. Foundations and armaments were reinforced, made stronger than before to protect against any future attacks. Social programs were put into place to prepare the Land to be more self-sufficient and successful in the future.
So while she occasionally missed the wild and free antics she’d enjoyed before the Monster came, she was happier than ever before. She had learned that, true, there were not endless Tomorrows laid out in front of her, but Today was a much better place.
She never really put away her cape after the war, though. Battered and torn though it was, she kept it nearby, just in case she might need it again. She was a Superhero, after all.

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Patti’s daughter, Lisa, and her granddaughter, Emily, at

this May’s Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Boston, MA, USA






Patti Maxwell


She saw her mother hit by cancer at 33
Watched as she fought back and won
And learned what it takes to be a superhero.
Today they fight for the cure side by side.

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PattiKen is a writer/blogger and was a corporate trainer and technical writer for many years, keeping her creative (and sometimes whimsical) side under wraps. The business world sometimes frowns on creativity.  The opportunity to use her creative brain now is a lot like kicking off those heels at last and wiggling her toes.   Blogging has given her a platform to showcase her writing and has brought many new friends into her life in the process.  Patti is very grateful for both. Patti’s delights us with her short-stories, poems, and her slice of  real-life vignettes. She blogs at:

© PattiKen, Copyright 2010, 2011, All Rights Reserved. Family photo is included in the copyright. Please be respectful.