Side Effects

Neil Harding McAlister

Her doctor hoped the best, but feared the worst,
And silently the worried healer cursed
Disease that strikes down people in their prime,
To kill some patients long before their time.

He ordered several scans so he could know
What ailed this woman.  She chose not to go,
Preferring to stay home on each occasion,
Fearing side effects of radiation.

Opinions can be held by any fool –
And fools will hold them, as a general rule.
In former times they’d rant and rave and fret;
Today they spout off on the Internet

With crackpot theories, anecdotes and rumors
Of “natural” approaches to fight tumors.
To that great fount of wisdom she repaired
To visit web sites where such guff gets aired.

Physicians’ good prescriptions went unfilled.
She blithely said, “I don’t like taking pills.
I never use them, so I'm never vexed
By drugs with all their nasty side effects.”

Instead she went to some holistic store.
As if a teenage sales clerk could know more
Than teams of doctors with advanced degrees,
She sought to buy the cure for her disease.

Two hundred dollars poorer she emerged.
Her purse now bulged with supplements and herbs,
Some vitamins, exotic, tropic juice,
And other nostrums of no earthly use.

She took them faithfully for one whole year
In deep denial, but with growing fear
Of symptoms that got worse each passing day:
A nagging pain that would not go away.

When she heard footsteps of approaching Fate,
And saw her doc again, it was too late.
The woman died, her misplaced hopes defeated
By “side effects” of cancer left untreated.



                                                 © NHM, 2012