Jean McIntyre

38 Jean McIntyre

Regular Giver

My husband John died from metastatic oesophagael cancer, just after Christmas 2010. My heart broke. John was a gentle giant and I didn’t know how I would survive without him.

I’ve been touched by Cancer many times. First my Dad, Roy, who had Basal Cell Carcinoma in the 1980s. The doctor at RPH said “You know you were looking down the barrel of a gun!”. Then in the 90’s my eldest sister and my Mum both had Mastectomies from Breast Cancer. Thankfully, they all survived. Mum and Dad are now in their mid 80’s.

I’m now remarried to a fabulous man Mal who is a survivor himself. I have regular mammograms and MRIs just to be sure.

Here’s a poem I wrote about my Dad’s cancer:


Since Dad looked down the barrel of a gun
I always wear sunscreen.

He’s an expert now:
“That’s senile skin. Just flake that off.”
“That’s a concern – keep an eye on that”
“Checkup every 12 months”.

We credit his survival to Mum’s regime
of vitamins and herbal remedies.
In that room of men,
Wretched, drugged again,
Doctor said he thought Dad was a gonner.
We cried at that – we didn’t know.

Youth can kill you.
Think of drugs, fast driving, unsafe sex –
Not, standing brown, sweaty-skinned
and beautiful
Tarring the roof of Parliament House.

He still wears those shorts.
But adds a terry towelling hat.

It’s a bit of a chore
Slathering myself with Cancer Council 30+.
But with each rubbing in
I think of those tattoos
on his hair line
to guide the radio therapy.
The hole in his neck.
How he has to turn his whole body.
How his skin went back to baby soft.

The sun on my neck is a serial killer.
Painting the townsfolk red.
Trapping other victims.
I’ve taken too, to wearing daggy hats.

© Jean McIntyre 2005


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