My Journey Thru “L”*: *Lymphoma is written by the late Bill Castle, who died in 2008 from pneumonia after his cancer resurfaced following a year of remission. The book is a compilation of short, rhyming poems that narrate and reflect upon the story of his lymphoma diagnosis and treatment from 2005 – 2006.
Infused with a warm, positive attitude, the collection is organized into weekly chapters, each ending in a reflection on the week as a whole. The prologue showcases his folksy diction and humor as he relates medical information: “My own family’s worried, concerned, or not knowing. / Shoulda seen me last Thursday when I was a-glowing / From nuclear MUGA scan lighting the chart, / Trying to find out the strength of my heart.”
Castle writes clearly, simply, and shares key information about how he’s feeling, his daily activities, and his questions about his health. He is overwhelmingly upbeat, as in this reflection in the beginning: “One week down, a lifetime to go/ New challenge, ‘nother test/ With immune system down, It’ll be a new show,/ I’m sure I’ll come out best.” But his poetry also recounts bad days, when his spirits are low. Toward book’s end, he writes: “Coming days will be more happy/ But for today: How do you spell ‘Crappy’?”
The poems take readers along on Castle’s evolving journey. And while these are simple refrains, without the sophistication of more lofty poetry, readers will find poignancy in the author’s valiant struggle to keep discouragement at bay, particularly as the debilitating effects of treatment mount. By book’s end, Castle’s enduring humanity endears himself to readers, who will agree with Castle’s wife Sue when she writes in an afterword: “I know you would have liked him.”
This is less refined poetry than a journal of one man’s struggle to retain his humor and dignity through the worst of times. Those going through similar struggles will find a warm companion on these pages.
Also available as an ebook.