“Character Sketch”

A poem from my busiest days doubling as a courageous cancer patient & hardworking college student . . .

Sitting in class, I had an assignment to do:

Find a partner and start to interview.

I let my partner go first and talk about her life.

She grew up in a family of seven children, a husband and a wife.

Then it was my turn to start talking and go,

But how to define myself, I didn’t know.

I told my cancer battle, the first thing that came to mind,

But I shouldn’t focus on my illness alone, Sarah helped me find.

I have always loved writing stories, rhymes and such.

My early passion for basketball is also a subject I could touch.

I won the school spelling bee in fifth grade, I was no fool.

I again came in first place in seventh grade in middle school.

I won many scholarships to finance college for a significant time.

I was also given the talent to express myself through rhyme.

The End

Life pre-diagnosis

This photo’s from my life pre-diagnosis.

Mismatched Messages

My blog Pincushion 4 Pokes was initially born in May 2013 to share my cancer-related insight & helpful health tidbits I picked up along the way during my eight-year leukemia struggle. Although I’ve had fun also including former and current writings, stories & poems on my blog for readers, today I disclose the health fact that –

Heartburn can also cause the hugely uncomfortable feeling of your chest tightening.

Googling the term “heartburn symptoms” revealed this as a symptom: “The sensation of pressure or pain just behind your breastbone. However, a crushing chest pain may be something more serious and may need to be assessed by a physician immediately.”

Nexium was prescribed for me a few months ago when my heartburn recurred after first surfacing many years prior. Despite choosing not to take the famous purple pill this time around, today after learning from a hospital pharmacist that Nexium may actually help ease my tight-chest feeling, I began swallowing the pill along with my others. What’s 1 more? I already feel better mentally just knowing the reason for my down-in-the-dumps unpleasant feelings. I hope physical improvements follow soon too.


This next message has nothing to do with heartburn: The more you open & close a glasses case, the faster the case weakens and eventually stops working. Upon learning this fact very recently (I’ve only been a glasses-wearer my last several adult years), I now open my glasses case once a day if I can help it – storing the wide open case in a safe place, like a shelf – in order to prolong the life of the container holding my glasses.



Sick, Young & Supremely Scared

This is when my young life was forever changed.

This is when my young life was forever changed.

I found myself young, scared & Sobbing Uncontrollably on the little black and white family room couch in the weeks after my initial diagnosis of leukemia because:

× Reality punched me square in the face for the very first time that I was seriously ill


× I was indescribably horrifically one-hundred-and-twenty-five-thousand percent terrified of ever needing a bone marrow transplant (especially after seeing a girl patient younger than me in the hospital having one, and all the machines and complicated mess of tubes surrounding her 24/7) and what’s worse, even finding a person’s bone marrow that matched mine.

I must say, not all memories are good ones – clearly – and for that reason I’ve pushed the worst ones deep down in my brain, only to surface if something I happen to see or hear triggers a recollection to jump to the forefront.


Stay Alert, Don’t Get Hurt

Fortunately the rhyming title and tidbit to tell today, Stay Alert, Don’t Get Hurt, applies to multiple areas of life. I just experienced the phrase in 2 different areas before 11 this morning:

⇔ With my caring Mom behind the wheel as we drove to my 9 o’clock monthly chiropractor appointment, her radar went off once she noticed that her Traverse wouldn’t accelerate. To make matters worse, or rather more dangerous, we were on 275 alongside cars obviously going fast, which increased our chance of being clobbered by another vehicle. So thanks to my Mom’s alertness to immediately recognize car trouble, we exited the freeway, turned around and drove home (rescheduling the appointment for next week) to get the car fixed.

⇔ Later this morning my left knee (remember I mentioned before that it’s permanently damaged to the point of needing a knee replacement) totally and unexpectedly gave out as I rose to stand. I fulfilled today’s title “Stay Alert, Don’t Get Hurt,” by using my weak knee to alert me to the need to take it slow and easy by getting off my feet for a while, to avoid putting extra stress and further injuring my compromised joints. This is where my commitment to fitness comes in handy. Because part of my staying fit includes riding my recumbent exercise bike, the muscles in my legs are strong enough to keep me steady not if, but when, my knee collapses due to weakness.

“Jello and Applesauce” poem

I penned this poem’s words over a decade ago while fighting leukemia when I was too ill to gain weight, & what’s worse, my food choices were heavily restricted.


Trying to gain weight without fiber, lactose or fat,

Jello and applesauce, how fun is that?

Drop too low and get twelve hours of TPN,

Gain the pounds faster, each week we want ten!

Every two hours at night TPN fills my bladder.

With this annoying disturbance, I better be getting fatter.

No string cheese or Mexican food or chocolate cake,

Three times a day drink a large calorie shake!

Korean hand therapy may work, it may not.

At any rate, it could improve the chances I’ve got.

AVN, right-side weakness, and lots more too,

My goal to get better is not something new.

Lots of things to do, take up lots of my time,

Good thing I can vent in the form of a rhyme.


Family Flashback Friday

Years ago as a teenager fighting leukemia, there were innumerable times I received shots for various reasons. One particular incident clearly stands out: 

My Mom & sister Sarah were both with me as I received particularly painful stinging needle pokes. Sarah gave me her hand to grasp as the time for shots arrived. I was in such bad shape I couldn’t even talk.

“I don’t think it was that bad,” I vividly remember her telling my Mom after the shots were given to me. “She didn’t tighten her grip on my hand.” 

Well, duh! I recall thinking. When I did tighten my hold around your hand when I got the stinging painful shots, you couldn’t even tell the difference because I’m so weak right now!