Mary Ellen Ryder is a Boise State professor who died in a major fire here in Boise last night. She was a two time breast cancer survivor and wrote the following.
Ryder wrote a poem about her experience with cancer in 2005:
Mirror, Mirror—I always hated my body.
My mother hated hers.
It’s an old family traditionhanded down
along with the genes
of hefty Yorkshire farmwomen
and strong Irish washerwomen.
“Your body is a temple!”
Ha!mine was just a pedestal
to put my beautiful brain on
and not even good at that.
a routine mammogram
five white dots
small at the first glimpse
of bombs dropping from a clear sky
“—abnormal calcificationusually indicate cancer cells”
my body abnormal
“—exceptionally luckyto be given such an earlier warning”
again I look at the dots
spelling help a message from a castaway
hoping I would notice in time
and in timeI did.
I hug my lovely body.
thank god I say
thank god we’re in this together.
—Mary Ellen Ryder