a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Dealing with cancer


First grandchildren and discovering I had cancer
Donald Hall Poet
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

There were wonderful things, like the birth of the first two grandchildren - two red-headed girls - my kids are five... five years apart in age, but their first two children were born four days apart.  Two girls who are 16 at the moment of my speaking now, and there's an... ecstatic to have grandchildren, marvellous... I can just talk about it and be totally conventional. I was just another ecstatic grandfather.  When the first was born down in Concord, New Hampshire - or actually she was the second born, but I hadn't seen the first one yet - I went to the hospital to see the baby and took photographs of course, but then I couldn't stand it to wait for one hour developing so I ran out to a camera store, bought a Polaroid and came back and took more pictures which I could hold in my hand right then.  It was lovely, and since then there have been three more grandchildren, so that there are now two 12 year olds, and a 14 year old, as well as two 16 year olds, this was all wonderful. But shortly after the first granddaughters were born, I... oh, I can't think of the first symptom... oh, I know, fatigue... I... I was... I always take one nap a day, but then I was taking two naps, three naps, four naps, and I went to my doctor. I do tend, when something weird happens, to go check it out, and I'm glad I did. My doctor suspected that I was leaking blood somewhere, and he sent me to a doctor who gave me an endoscopy, where they put a camera down your throat, they are looking for a bleeding ulcer or something - nothing there. So they went in the other direction, and I had colon cancer. I will never forget... Jane came with me... they... they give you Demerol so that somebody else has to drive you.  And I remember the doctor sitting across the desk with Jane and me, saying, 'You have colon cancer'.  That's just the sentence that reverberates in the mind.

The 14th US Poet Laureate Donald Hall (1928-2018) was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, then earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard in 1951 and a BLitt, from Oxford in 1953. He published many essays and anthologies of both poetry and prose including String too Short to be Saved: Recollections of Summers on a New England Farm, White Apples and the Taste of Stone, Without: Poems, and Ox-Cart Man, a children's book which won the Caldecott Medal. Hall was editor of the magazine Oxford Poetry, literary editor of Isis, editor of New Poems, and poetry editor of The Paris Review. He won many awards, including two Guggenheim Fellowships and a Robert Frost Medal. At the end of his first Oxford year, he also won the university's Newdigate Prize, awarded for his poem Exile.

Listeners: Kendel Currier

Kendel Currier started working for Donald Hall in August of 1994 as his correspondence typist. Later she took on his manuscript typing as well, and in October of 1998 moved 100 meters down the road from Donald and became his personal assistant, adding many various new tasks to her work. As well as working for Donald for the last 10 and-a-half years, Donald Hall and Kendel Currier share a set of great (or for Kendel great-great) grandparents, making them distant cousins and part of a similar New Hampshire heritage.

Tags: Concord, New Hampshire, Jane Kenyon

Duration: 2 minutes, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008