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The ‘C’ word – by Claire Taylor

17 June 2020

The ‘C’ word.
It used to stand for Cancer.
Will it ever again?

Life has changed, irretrievably.
Suits and dresses, swopped for scrubs.
Compassionate faces, hidden behind masks.
Searching eyes, the touch of a gloved hand.
Sweat pours.

Money spent, like never before.
A never ending pot?
Endless ward reconfigurations.
Ventilators.
The Nightingale.
Mothballed: forever?

Each day starts with uncertainty.
Where? With whom? Doing what?
Social distancing.
Remote meetings.
Endless ethical debates.
Staff working relentlessly, doing their best.
Days roll into one.
God give us strength, stamina, courage, kindness, patience.
And mercy for those returning home exhausted to self-isolation: alone, alone, alone.

The stench of death:
Bodies turning into corpses,
Lying helpless; baked by the sun.
Abandoned – yet never forgotten.

Communication.
By telephone, muffled.
‘I’m very sorry to have to tell you…’
Stark, painful words spoken and received through a hot wall of tears.
Man was never meant to be alone.

Colleagues off sick.
2 weeks with the virus.
Then again: months with stress and depression.
Or maybe more?

The ‘C’ word.
It used to stand for Cancer.
Will it ever again?

Claire Taylor
June 2020

Claire is a Consultant respiratory physician.

The picture at the top of this post shows Claire and her colleagues wearing full PPE at work in Harrogate.  

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