That Which Must Not be Named

Author: John Smelcer, PhD, CAGS
Last Reviewed: December 20, 2022

Like every person throughout history
I ask, “Why me?” “Why did I get cancer?”
“What did I do to deserve this, to deserve It?”
“How is this possible?”
And yet It is.

I run from It, ignore It, rail at It, and pound my fists against It.

But every time I look in a mirror I’m face-to-face with It –
and cannot deny It,

this thing staring dumbly back at me as I shudder in horror.


About the author: In the fall of 2022, Dr. John Smelcer was diagnosed with stage 2 B-cell, non-specified, non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a metastatic cancer of the lymphatic system. He is currently undergoing hospitalization cycles of chemo and immuno-therapy. John Smelcer is the author of 60 books, including a dozen books of poetry. His most recent collection is Raven. For a quarter century, he was Poetry Editor at Rosebud Magazine, where he currently serves as Senior Editor Emeritus. From 2016-2020, he was the Inaugural Writer-in-Residence for the Charter for Compassion, the world’s largest compassion movement with over five million members in 45 countries.

Related Blog Posts

May 31, 2023

A Poet’s Autobiography of Cancer

by OncoLink Team

March 7, 2023

Happy 29th Birthday OncoLink!

by Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, AOCN

February 28, 2023

Is That New Lump or Bump a Sarcoma?

by OncoLink Team