Good Luck: To Say or Not to Say, That is the Question

As I am packing up my things after my  infusion, the infusion nurse, who knows that I usually go to another location for my treatment, sends me off with a quick goodbye and “good luck.”  I immediately respond with, “Thanks” But in my gut, I feel something different. What does she mean by that? Was […]

Dear Davis: A Letter About Grief & Loss by Phil Kohlmetz

In June 2016, I wave goodbye to Amy. She’s radiant, framed in the doorway by an early California sunlight, arm in arm with her sister, Jen. Knowing that this may be the last time I see her, I hug her and whisper in her ear, “You are beautiful.” On August 1, 2016, Amy Petrolati died […]

A Song Not Written About MBC

Please note: This post asks you to hear Bob Dylan’s “Positively Fourth Street” in a new way. If you are a huge Dylan fan and do not want me to ruin this song for you, please read one of my other blog posts.  Last week, while inching down Philadelphia’s crowded and congested Route 1 on […]

Transforming Your Medical Records Into Poetry Workshop

“Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick,” opens Susan Sontag’s book Illness as Metaphor. And in the kingdom of illness, surgery, and disease, we encounter mysterious words such as electrocautery, compression deformity, and peak systolic strain. For those of us who are […]

Permission to Ask for Quiet

Having metastatic breast cancer means I spend a lot of time in windowless rooms. Exam rooms. Gowned waiting rooms. Scan rooms. Radiation rooms. Infusion rooms. Bathrooms.  Every three months–when I go for my echocardiogram to make sure Herceptin is not damaging my heart–I spend 45 minutes in a dark, windowless room with just one other […]

Creating a Community of Breast Cancer Stories: April Stearns & Wildfire

“Do we really need more breast cancer stories?” a dear friend asks April Stearns, Founder and Editor of Wildfire Magazine, the  beautiful, purse-sized literary journal specifically geared toward readers and writers who are “too young to have breast cancer.” A funny question to ask someone who has been fostering, supporting, and publishing heartfelt breast cancer […]

Celebrating an Oncology Nurse Practitioner: A Vital Part of my Cancer Team

Lorelei Graham, my oncology nurse practitioner for over ten years, leans toward me. We are inside a small, windowless examination room. It is cool and familiar here, though outside it is a scorchingly hot July 2020 day. Deep into the first wave of COVID, we are both face-covered and distanced. With her feet firmly planted, […]

Letters from the Living

In Marie Howe’s poem, “My Dead Friends,” the speaker of the poem admits that when she’s “weary and can’t decide an answer to a bewildering question,” she asks her “dead friends for their opinion.” As a response, “They stand in unison shaking their heads and smiling–whatever  leads/to joy, they always answer,//to more life and less […]

Reimagining Pain by Katharine Jones

Overexpressed is honored to welcome guest blogger Katharine Jones. In this piece, she explores how the process of visualization helped her to deal with pain due to MBC. Katharine Jones spent her childhood in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. She works in Philadelphia as a Professor and writes about mindfulness and the challenges posed by […]

Postcard Poem Writing Project

January 2016: Every morning my alarm goes off at 4:57 am. I pad downstairs in the dark. Pour my coffee. Close my eyes and breathe for ten minutes. Then, I read a smattering of poems from Ross Gay’s Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude, Ada Limon’s Bright Dead Things, and Larry Levis’ The Selected Levis.  I begin […]


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