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For an Inspirational Breast Cancer Survivor: Maxim, a Poem

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Marissa is the writer of ThePracticalMommy and the blog Mommy Knows What's Best. She is a stay-at-home mom to four and was a teacher.


What is a maxim?

A maxim is an expression of a principle or truth. What is the maxim in this poem?




I do not like my hands.

They’re worn and coarse,

as if I had been using them, forty years,

for hard labor.

I haven’t,

because I have not yet counted

so many years.

Why do I care?

Why should I care?

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Everyone in my town knows the pleasant woman,

who rides around, unashamed,


with no hair on her exposed, naked head.

She is a true heroine.

Life eating madness—C-A-N-C-E-R—claimed the life of

her first husband,

stole the childhood breath from

her only son,

and robs her from her

feminine quality—

yet she rides through town,

without any hair,


Life goes on.

I hear the phrase exhaling

from my mouth.

Do I live by that?

What is it in these frail temples of our

souls that inhibits us from

regaining strength?

Why is it so painful, so draining

to say:

Hey, I’m okay.

Never better.

Human nature.

Yet we see them every day—those superhuman beings

taking small strides,


never allowing us to see any

signs of lost hope…

because there isn’t any.


Without any hair.

My hands—coarse, hardened, scarred,

but alive.

My soul—coarse, hardened, tried, tempest tossed,

but alive.

Life goes on.

Light still permeates the darkness;

the moon only reflects that light on one visible side.

Smiling—without any hair.


Breast Cancer Information

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Inspirational People

A Poem about an Inspirational Breast Cancer Survivor

This poem started out as a free writing activity one summer afternoon a few years ago. I had been angry about circumstances in my life—being told I was too young for something—hence the questions, “Why do I care? Why should I care?” I started writing about my hands, just as a reflection to take my mind away from everything else.

It was then that I saw the subject of my poem: my grandmother’s cousin, who lived in the same little town as I. She was driving around to see other family members and her mother, who lived right down the street. At the time, she had been going through rounds of chemotherapy for breast cancer and had lost all of her hair. She never wore a hat, wig or scarf though, except to church. She did not care one bit about how others might have viewed her and took the experience as another challenge in life. ‘The pleasant woman’, a play on the meaning of her name, kept on with life, not letting anything stop her.

And she smiled. She had always smiled, and in fact if you met her now, you would notice how much she smiles, but this time it struck me, how beautiful it really was. How could she, when going through so much strife in her life, still smile? Yet there she was, battling cancer, without any hair, moving on with her life.

It made me realize how lucky I was, that I was simply just alive. It made me realize that human nature makes us feel sorry for ourselves at the drop of a hat. We never consider how others who have it so much worse than us still keep their heads held high and continue on with the blessing of life.

Things will always be the same, nothing stops for us when we are faced with a crisis in life. Everything keeps on going with time: the sun shines in the day and the moon reflects the light at night. The saying, the maxim, holds true for all: ‘Life goes on .’

And it has. ‘The pleasant woman’, cancer free now for a few years, still pushes forward with life. She has her beautiful family, is the hardest worker I will ever know, and is now blessed to have two adorable grandchildren she will be able to watch grow and learn. She is an inspiration to me.

And she’s still smiling.



Marissa (author) from United States on September 17, 2012:

pstraubie48, thank you very much for your kind words. Many blessings to you and your brave daughter! I'll have to check out your hub. :)

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on September 16, 2012:

AMAZING tribute. It's not about the hair is t? It is about being alive and being thankful. I am publishing my second article about our family's journey through cancer. My daugther shunned the scarves as well. We would say that bald is beautiful.

I am so glad your heroine in this story is doing well...sending Angels her way and yours.

I am adding this poem to my hub so others may feel this story as I have. It is not published yet but will be today...Cancer comes knocking part 2.

Marissa (author) from United States on February 23, 2012:

smart4ever, I'm glad you liked the poem. I hope you are able to secure more funds for that ever important research! Thanks for reading. :)

smarter4ever from Wisconsin on February 22, 2012:

This is beautiful! I work with cancer researchers and we are trying so hard to get more research dollars.

This was very touching, and very real. Thank you so much for sharing it!

Marissa (author) from United States on January 21, 2012:

SarahBodo, I'm sorry to hear about your neighbor. He left you with a beautiful message: to hold on to life, because it's beautiful. So true! Thanks for reading!

Marissa (author) from United States on January 21, 2012:

Sunshine625, I'm glad you liked the poem! :) Let's kick cancer to the curb!

Marissa (author) from United States on January 21, 2012:

Cagsil, it's amazing how cancer can elicit so many different responses from people. I'm sorry you had so many people close to you that had to endure this disease! My cousin was able to battle cancer on a positive level, but I think it takes a really special person with an inner strength to pull through like she did. :) I'm not so sure I'd be that way...

Thanks for reading!

SarahBodo on January 20, 2012:

Yes, cancer is a scary thing. My neighbor died of stomach cancer a few days ago. I remember how he struggled, but he was so positive about life and as he was fighting, he kept telling us to hold on to life, because it is beautiful. He was a very strong person.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on January 20, 2012:

Keep on smilin' Maxim. Keep cancer to the curb. She's an inspiration to many. A beautiful tribute poem. Well done:)

Raymond D Choiniere from USA on January 20, 2012:

Hey ThePracticalMommy, I have personal experience with how cancer affects and effects people. My father died at 49 years old from Cancer, my sister had Breast Cancer at 26 years old, my mother had Colon Cancer at 55 years old and my grandmother had Colon Cancer at 72 years old. My dad didn't fear death, so he was always joking around and living day by day, enjoying the time he had left with his family as much as he could. My sister was not that way and she required a lot of support to get through her ordeal. She presently turned 44 years old and doing quite well. My mother, well..umm..she pretty much has given up on people because during all of her health issues over the last 15 years of her life, she realized that there's no one there for her that she thought would be there. She has been Cancer free for almost 10 years now. And, no I'm not one of them she thought that about.

My grandmother is an entirely different story because she has surgery like my mother did to prevent the Cancer from spreading, but when she came out of the surgery, she really didn't come back fully. She ended up with dementia and died a couple of years later.

I'm glad to hear that this particular lady truly found an understanding of her life which brought her happiness and peace of mind, so she could battle Cancer on a positive level. Great Hub! Voted Up! :)

Marissa (author) from United States on January 20, 2012:

Ardie, she smiles all the time! If you met her, you'd find how hard it is not to smile back. :) I have a friend who has a sleeve like that and she is so grateful for it. Your husband is doing a great thing for those women. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

Sondra from Neverland on January 20, 2012:

I love the last line "and she's still smiling.'

My husband fits women with breast cancer with sleeves to minimize the swelling in their arms and he says those patients are the hardest to NOT hug to pieces - because they are just so happy and so upbeat and sweet. Thank you for sharing this poem - I am going to show it to him now :)

Marissa (author) from United States on January 02, 2012:

AudreyHowitt, thanks so much for reading and commenting!

Audrey Howitt from California on December 31, 2011:

This is wonderful! Smiling--and alive!

Marissa (author) from United States on December 01, 2011:

Samoa6, thanks for reading and commenting! :)

Samoa6 from San Diego on November 30, 2011:

I love this poem! Every word is so true!

Marissa (author) from United States on November 30, 2011:

cgreen7090, I too hope they find a cure for cancer! Thank you for sharing your memory of your mom, and thank you for reading. :)

cgreen7090 from Tennessee on November 30, 2011:

This touched me. My mother died of breast cancer in 2001. I have a picture of her in a hospital bed, bald as the day she was born, eating a Tootsie Pop and smiling. Cancer is a horrible, horrible disease. I hope they find a cure soon. Thanks for sharing.

Marissa (author) from United States on November 30, 2011:

tobusiness, thank you very much for the kind words!

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on November 29, 2011:

PracticalMummy, You're not just practical, you are brave and strong and I wish you all the all the best

Marissa (author) from United States on November 18, 2011:

Allana Calhoun, it really is a blessing to see others fighting vigilently through their own battles so that we can really appreciate our own lives. It really does make the things we whine about seem so insignificant, doesn't it? Thanks so much for reading and commenting! :)

Allana Calhoun from Chicago, Illinois on November 18, 2011:

Truly inspirational! I believe you've captured what you felt quite well. We should all be inspired by those who fight so hard against the odds. Our own moments of self-pity do seem minuscule compared to what they are going through.

Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on November 17, 2011:

NO problem, thank you for writing this lovely poem!

Marissa (author) from United States on November 14, 2011:

justateacher, it's awesome and inspiring to hear about your niece and how she was a strong survivor! Thanks for reading! :)

molometer, your love and dedication to your wife is truly shown in your comment. She is blessed to have such a supportive husband! I wish you both all the health and luck in the world. Thanks for reading! :)

Micheal from United Kingdom on November 14, 2011:

Hello ThePracticalMommy

A well written, touching and beautiful story of one persons ability to carry on regardless of life's harsh challenges.

It's good that you wrote this story and shared it.

It reminds me of my wife who is on chemo at the moment.

She is one tough bird and I love her.

She is a fighter and her spirit is strong.

She will win.

LaDena Campbell from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz... on November 14, 2011:

As always...wonderful...I have a niece that has survived cancer and she was the same way...she refused to let it get her down and never tried to cover up and was beautiful throughout the whole experience...

Voted up, of course!

Marissa (author) from United States on November 07, 2011:

chanroth, thank you very much for the comment and encouragement! :)

chanroth from California, USA on November 06, 2011:

Well written with great meaning! I wish you luck in the contest!! ^_^

Marissa (author) from United States on November 06, 2011:

PDXKaraokeGuy, thank you for reading and commenting! :)

Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on November 06, 2011:

well done. Nice tribute!

Marissa (author) from United States on November 04, 2011:

OfTheHeart, thank you so much for your comment. I'm really glad you enjoyed it! :)

Stephanie from New York on November 04, 2011:

Really beautifully written. It flowed with ease and grace. I enjoyed the poem.

Marissa (author) from United States on November 04, 2011:

shea duane, you know, you're right about hands representing all that women do. It's so fitting! I never thought of it that way. :)

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

shea duane from new jersey on November 04, 2011:

I love this poem... the images are so meaningful. I often write about hands because they represent so much for women... all the things we do with our hands !!!

wonderful piece of work.

Marissa (author) from United States on November 04, 2011:

tillsontitan, thank you for your kind comment and vote! :)

Mary Craig from New York on November 04, 2011:

Beautiful lesson. Pushing forward with life! Voted up and beautiful.

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