Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cancer Humor

Cancer of course is not funny. But we have used humor, albeit at times macabre, to help relieve the tension.  The power of laughter is well known. I'm not claiming it can cure cancer, but it helps you maintain a positive outlook and every nurse we have talked to have said that the more positive people seem to do better. Two humorous things came to mind today, one actually happening today.

First the old event. Up at our place at Decatur we often have multi-family potluck meals followed by games. One of the games involves a form of charades (Guesstures) and another has you trying to get your partner to guess a word by you giving hints, except you can't use certain words, which are the obvious ones. This was late August after Meagan's cancer diagnosis (thought to be breast cancer at the time). Now we are a competitive and spirited bunch. The action was fast and furious. Riley was trying to guess a word and a younger member was giving the clues. Suddenly he blurted out for an answer something really far away from the needed word - "Tropic of Cancer". Well, of course that set off a whole series of comments and jokes about cancer, including Meagan being able to pull the "cancer card" if she got close but not quite right on a word. We all knew she had cancer, but hadn't been talking about it, and suddenly it was just out there, but in a funny, appropriate way. It helped relieve the tension, and led to a lot of laughter.

Today, Meagan was telling me about a visit with an old friend. A male friend from high school who she sees maybe once a month. His wife has gone through cancer and they have four kids. He's very religious. Each time she wants to make sure that I know it is purely platonic. I have told her over and over that it's fine, I am glad she has that relationship and really, she doesn't need to keep reassuring me. But given that this is the umpteenth time she's qualified this relationship, I decided to tweak her a bit.

So I said, honey, really, if a male friend wants to make a pass at you knowing you have stage 4 metastatic cancer, with tumors on your back and stomach and lungs, and a big old port a cath (the under skin device used for infusions) on your upper chest, and a series of scars on your back and front - I say go for it! Her jaw just dropped in complete shock. I told her I was just kidding. Really. I know, kinda lame, but sometimes the intensity of the situation and context of cancer just calls for a little levity.


  1. Love your use of humor, Nick, why do you think there are so many Jewish comedians? Look at our history. Hey, I have a biking favor to ask of you when the weather gets a little better.

  2. Love to help you with your biking stuff. Also remember Bikeworks is just around the corner from you and they are super nice and could also answer anything. Take care, big hugs to you and your boy.