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A poem: Lonely From A Patient's Perspective

By: Allison Breininger

young woman looking sad


On a Tuesday morning

In a hospital room.

My friends all in class.

My family at work.

Even the nurses have other things to do.


Not me.

I’m stuck.

In a hospital room

On a Tuesday morning.




On a Wednesday evening

At a support group for others with this disease.

These are supposed to be my people,

The few who get it,

Who are walking the path that I am on.

But instead, no one seems quite like me.

The guy over there is end-stage and makes me feel like I’m staring into my own depressing future.

The woman to my left is newly diagnosed and her wide eyes and nervous energy are far too reminiscent of my own early days, 

Days that are now long gone.

The person across from me is technically in the same stage as me, but has had none of the same side effects and seems to be sailing through unscathed. 

I smile as if I’m happy for him, 

But jealousy and anger towards this person I don’t know boil just beneath the surface, 

adding guilt to my list of emotions.

These are supposed to be my people,

But instead, no one seems quite like me,

At this support group for others with this disease,

On this Wednesday evening.

All of which makes me feel quite




On a Friday night

In my apartment.

I have only enough energy to get through the work day,

And barely that,

So going out at the end of the day is out of the question.

But that’s where everyone else my age is.

Sometimes they invite me and I have to say no.

Sometimes they don’t invite me at all.

I’m not sure which is worse.

Other evenings aren’t so hard, but being

In my apartment

On a Friday night?




On a Saturday morning

In my front yard.

All the other neighbors have raked and bagged their leaves, 

Making my full lawn all the more obvious.

I’m three years cancer-free,

So I don’t feel like I can ask for help anymore for things like raking.

But the energy this task entails 

Is far beyond what I can handle

And will deplete me for the rest of the weekend.

I know there are services I can access, 

But I feel guilty now that I’m three years out.

I could ask a friend to help, 

But after all these years, they probably feel like they’ve helped enough 

And that it’s time for me to buck up and

Do it myself.

Even though I am three years cancer-free,

I don’t have the energy I used to.

But I think people expect that I do,

And I expect that I should.

So I guess I’ll rake the leaves myself.

In my front yard

On this Saturday morning.




On a Sunday afternoon

At a family gathering.

How can I be in a room full of people

And still feel so alone?

Small talk is hard.

I don’t want to talk about my treatments, my appointments, my upcoming scans.

And at the same time,

Those things are all I know right now,

The things that fill my days, my brain, my heart, my sleepless nights.

I don’t have funny anecdotes from weekend adventures or itineraries of upcoming trips to share.

The only thing I have to talk about is the one thing I don’t want to bring up,

At this family gathering

On a Sunday afternoon,

All of which makes me feel 




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