Lifesaving Poems: Julia Darling’s ‘Chemotherapy’ vs ‘Psalm 102’

Remarkable this. Quite wonderful.

Anthony Wilson


I was astonished to find in an old diary today that by 8 March 2006, less than one month after I was diagnosed with cancer, I had already been given two infusions of chemotherapy. The speed of the cycles of my particular treatment was due to my successful volunteering to take part in a randomised control trial testing the efficacy of a cycle of 14 days against 21 days, or, in the jargon, ‘CHOP-R 14 vs 21’.

It is odd what you remember. The twenty tiny cherry-red pills I had to swallow with milk during for five days after each infusion. (These were steroids. They were deeply un-fun, let me tell you). The Piriton chaser injection just ahead of the main infusion, ‘to send you away with the fairies, my lover’, as one nurse put it. She wasn’t wrong. 

Most of all I remember the swathes of bright blue…

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