Dr Jamie Zhou

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The breast that was supposed to nourish,

Turned against mother and child.

Chemotherapy unleashed, but alas,

Sweet milk turned to bitter gall.

In palliative care, we dive to the deepest end to explore both the suffering and the beauty of life. Writing, to me, is like coming up before your tank gets empty. It helps me process what I witness and experience.

Sometimes, writing is like taking pictures to catch a moment, a precious story or a feeling. It’s a chance to memorialize a connection with a patient. There have even been times where I shared a poem with the patient I wrote about. During those rare encounters, the connection has been extraordinary.

My poems are simple and easy to understand. I take about 5 minutes each time to write them and collect them in a Substack account. Very often, I feel I understand my patient more after I write. I’m grateful I can use writing as a tool and hobby, not only to appreciate my work but also cope with it.