This month’s student submission: Choices by Eugene Leung

Choices
Eugene Leung, Medical Radiation Sciences (Radiation Therapy) Year 2

Patient just laying there, head first into the machine.
No voice, just grunts and hand gestures.
Not that if he wanted to talk he could.
Hole in his throat, post-total laryngectomy.
He winces as he takes out his tracheostomy tube
Phlegm and mucus gathering in his throat, misshapen.

Patient just laying there, head first into the machine.
Mask on, he looks almost like a mannequin head.
Cancer has taken it all,
Years of smoking.
He doesn’t smell like smoke anymore
but years ago probably did.
I look at the patient
and just see remorse in his eyes.
It’s hard to feel sorry for him, but I wonder
“Is smoking really a choice after a while?”

Patient just laying there, head first into the machine.
We raise him up, and slide him in slowly.
We stop and ask “Do you want to hold onto a ring? Many patients do.”
He shakes his head and grasps his belt buckle,
Brown and leather, worn out,
etched with one simple word:
Marlboro.

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