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Cancer Humor

Posted 3/21/2014

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  Thank God for humor. And sometimes all you can do is laugh. And we all know what I am talking about. In my groups, the moments of side-splitting, tears running down the face humor happen sometimes--and surely the guffaw moments happen more often. At these times, any observer likely would be horrified and wonder what they crazy cancer women are thinking. That, of course, is our secret--but the very bottom line is that this kind of humor is tightly protected and only available to us. Remarks made by others are considered to be in very bad taste.

  Some months ago, a very beloved woman came to my Monday group for women with advanced cancer. She had been given especially bad news, and we all realized that her life expectancy had just gone from hoped-for months to weeks. As it turned out, she died a few days later (making that Monday morning even more precious for us all), What I remember most about Marilyn that day was her laughter, intermxed with her tears, but enabling all of us to share and hold her and the feelings. We were replete with the "don't buy any green bananas" remarks, and they were all hilarious. To us only.

  This is an essay by Heather Millar about this kind of humor. She writes about breast prostheses, and, as the owner of several, I would have to agree that they lend themselves to bad jokes. My favorite was a woman who told me that, while washing her face and otherwise preparing to join her husband in bed, she tossed the rubber boob at him, saying: "Go ahead and get started without me."

  Here it is:

Sometimes All You Can Do is Laugh




By Heather Millar

Last weekend, my daughter had a sleepover with 12 friends to celebrate her 13th
birthday. As my husband and I took refuge before a fire in the living room, we could
hear girly chatter from the dining room where the girls were chowing down on pizza. All
of a sudden, one loud comment from one of the girls grabbed our attention: “And
THEN, my Mom was walking around with a fake boob on her head. It was SO
embarrassing.” The girls all giggled.
The comment came from the daughter of a dear friend who is a breast cancer survivor.
She’s been disease-free for more than 10 years. That, frankly, is nothing short of a miracle. Her cancer was very
aggressive, and nearly stage 4. At the time, her doctors gave her only a small chance of surviving. And yet, here she is, working and thriving a decade later. In fact, she and her partner came over later that very evening to enjoy the fire and to help us survive the sleepover.

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