Did you know April is National Poetry Month? Yep. It is. Last year I shared a few poems that you, my dear readers, had written. One year I tackled writing a few of my own and shared this one with you. I always intend trying to write more, but…To mark National Poetry Month this year, I am pleased to introduce you to a book written by a lovely woman who chronicled her breast cancer experience through poetry. Impressive, right?
The book is titled, Dancing with Breast Cancer: A Memoir in Poems by Janay Cosner. Reborn Phoenix Press, Naples, FL, 2017. 98 pages. The book is divided into four parts: Diagnosis and Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiation and The New Normal. Each section contains 18-25 poems about that topic.
I am not gonna lie, when I was first thinking about reviewing this book, I was pretty sure I’d decide, no.
I thought this was going to be another one of those “let’s put a happy face” on breast cancer books because of that word “dancing” in the title, I suppose.
(Remember the doctor who danced before her mastectomy?)
But I was wrong.
Dancing with Breast Cancer is raw, honest and deeply emotional. I very much related to the poems, and I think you will too. Cosner bares her soul, giving the reader a glimpse into the pain, trauma, uncertainty, drudgery, panic and fear (to name a few things) that most breast cancer patients experience.
And that as you, my dear readers, know all too well, is no pink party and sure as heck, no dance.
So why this title?
Because Cosner is a lover of dance and prided herself on always being first on the dance floor. Following her diagnosis, she became too weak to dance on a dance floor. Cancer was suddenly her new partner, and her new dance became one with words–poetry.
As Cosner shares in the books introduction:
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was shocked, panicked, angry, depressed and overwhelmed. A pen and paper were a great comfort to me in the middle of the night, at doctors’ appointments and in many stressful situations. Writing about my experiences let me process my emotions and led to insights that helped me surmount difficult obstacles.
Each poem is a snapshot of my experience thus far: some are pretty, some gritty, some ugly, some humorous, but all are sprinkled with attitude.
This book is for all the women I’ve never met who have or had breast cancer. I cried, unzipped myself and spilled my guts to write this book.
Poetry helped Cosner process her emotions. Boy, do I relate. A pen and a journal helped me process mine.
The best way to give you a glimpse into what Dancing with Breast Cancer is like is, of course, to share some poems from the book. So, I picked a few of my favorites.
Enjoy them, and then be sure to enter my giveaway!
I am going on vacation to the sick world.
No lounge chairs or pink drinks with umbrellas,
no pulsating Caribbean drums, no perfect white beaches,
just gray doctors’ offices full of health magazines and steel chairs.
My days full of biopsies, x-rays, PET scans, thumping MRIs, pink, yellow, green pills.
I bond with patients:
What are you in for?
How many treatments to go?
You look great.
No longer the daring bikini-clad blonde,
I am terrified, twirling off balance on tiptoes.
I want to go home.
I’m Not Proud of Myself
I am a tsunami,
kick dents in wastebaskets,
throw a bag of cheese at a truck,
scream at nurses,
cancel my surgery,
fire my chemo doctor.
I want to say I’m sorry.
My anger is misplaced.
Having cancer is like driving a bus without steering,
and my feet can’t reach the brakes.
You’ll Be Fine
What will people tell me today?
My Aunt Bessie, a belly dancer, had breast cancer.
So sorry! Let me tell you about my gall bladder.
Don’t worry! You are still desirable, such a pretty face.
My mom looked forward to chemo. She wanted to lose weight!
Don’t fret about your husband. I’ll take care of him.
What did you do to deserve this?
You don’t look sick.
You did want a break. Now everyone will take care of you.
Have a good attitude.
I have an attitude.
So that’s a sampling.
There are numerous cancer memoirs out there, but cancer poetry books are a rare find.
This one’s a gem.
I highly recommend it.
If you’d like to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a FREE, autographed copy of Dancing with Breast Cancer, leave a comment below by 5 pm CT on Monday, April 30th sharing why you want to read this book, and you’re entered! US mailing address required. The winner will be announced shortly thereafter. More chances to win via Facebook and Instagram. You’ll need to like and follow to be entered.
And the winner is – Lisa! Congrats, Lisa and thank you to all who participated.
About the author:
Janay Cosner is a fun-loving poet. She is a former English teacher and the author of eight Formula Writing curriculum guides for grades K–12. Even though breast cancer ran in her family, she was shocked and overwhelmed when she was diagnosed. Janay would love to hear your story, and she is available for speaking engagements. Please contact her at DancingwithBreastCancer2014@
Listen to Cosner reading her poem, “Bald,” via YouTube.
Would you like to be entered in this giveaway and if so, why?
Have you written a poem you’d like to share? If yes, feel free to share it.