Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Struggles, gratitude, and love

Jeconda Harris
David G. Thoele

Park Ridge, Illinois, USA


Poet’s statement: Jeconda Harris, my patient for 17 years, gave me a collection of her poetry and expressed her desire to have it published. Regretfully, this did not happen within her lifetime, but, with her mother Barbara’s consent, her wish has finally come true. “Life’s Struggles” reveals the challenges Jeconda faced living with heart disease her entire life. The second poem “Thank You, Dr. Thoele” was written by Jeconda to me. I composed the final poem “Jeconda” after she died of complications from severe heart disease at 25 years of age. I had the honor of reading it at the funeral of my very dear patient.


Theole and Jeconda
Jeconda Harris and

David G. Thoele, MD

Life’s struggles
by Jeconda Harris

I have been struggling all my life
To mark my place.
Pain is all that I have felt,
I feel like I’m not even in the race.
Remember me, oh Lord,
For the fight has begun and I have no sword.
You said to call on Your name and it shall be given.
Well, I don’t even think I should be living.
How long do I have to suffer?
For I feel that my life has ended.
I have heard there is strength in Your word
But Your services I have attended.
Help me, oh Lord, to
Understand what it is I need to know,
What exactly I need to grow.
I believe in the future I shall find relief.
My success will strengthen my belief, for now I need to
Overcome my sorrow
So that I can awake to a better tomorrow.


Thank you, Dr. Thoele
by Jeconda Harris

When you are around I have no fear.
I know you will protect me every step of the way.
Everything you have done for me,
Allowing me to see where I could be.
I think of the things you have done,
The way you showed me how you cared for me.
Now I know it’s got to be real.
How I feel
You were sent my way,
Giving me strength to go on.
You are a friend to me.
I want to thank you for who I am
And who I want to be.
You showed me how to love myself,
Giving me hope to go on.
You took me in your arms and wiped my tears away,
As long as I live I want you to be my number one doctor.


by David G. Thoele, MD

You touched us all.
You lived your life,
A bright flame—
Full of light
Full of warmth
Full of love.

You asked me questions
So many, many questions.
I didn’t always
Have the answers.

I tried my best
To help you live
Your life
But you helped me
Live mine.

You touched me.
You touched everyone.
You lit up the room.
You lit up my computer
With emails sent
From you and from God.

You called—
My phone rang
Again, and again, and again.
You shared your life,
Your ups, your downs.

You tried so hard—
So very, very hard.
I tried to help you,
But you helped me.

You brought me joy.
You made me laugh.
You challenged me,
To the depths of my soul.

You invited me
To be your friend and family.
You asked about my family,
You cared like a friend.
You wished me happy birthday.
You lit up my life.

We struggled together,
You and me.
Now my partner is gone.
I miss you like crazy.

Your heart was flawed,
But your heart was perfect.
Thank you, Jeconda.
Thanks for being you.

Thank you, God,
For giving me Jeconda.



DAVID G. THOELE, MD, completed medical school at the University of Minnesota, pediatric residency at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and fellowship in pediatric cardiology at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

JECONDA HARRIS worked for several years as an ECG technician at Rush University Medical Center, helping other people with heart disease. She wrote several poems addressing her struggles with illness, joy, sadness, and her belief in God.


Highlighted in Frontispiece Fall 2011 – Volume 3, Issue 3
Fall 2011  |  Sections  |  Poetry

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