Together with our millions of supporters, the American Cancer Society saves lives and creates more birthdays by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back against cancer. This post is part of their Bloggers for More Birthdays campaign. Click on the icon or link to learn more.
Nothing says you’re getting older more than the phone calls. Last year, it seemed that every time I picked up the phone it was either someone telling me they were getting divorced, or that they had cancer. I don’t mean to sound flip. The first is the end of life as you know it, and the second the potential end of life all together. But if you can’t find humor in it all, you can’t survive it. There are even websites devoted to “Cancer Jokes.” Gotta love the internet.
Still, it’s hard to find anything to smile about when you’re watching someone suffer. Still, I try. Humor is how I cope with everything from whining kids, to leaky roofs, to sagging bustlines. So when my mother-in-law was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma this summer, we joked about how chemo would be the best diet ever. When my college boyfriend found out that his thyroid cancer had metastasized into his lungs, he quipped “Bet now you’re really glad you didn’t marry me!” And when my own mother went in for her second mastectomy, after already having lost her large intestine to colitis twenty years earlier, we joked that it was “another year, another body part.”
Not truly funny, maybe. But when you’re terrified, or sad, or desperate, sometimes you’ll laugh, just to make it seem like it’s not that bad. Sometimes you’ll laugh just so you won’t cry.
So here’s my little list of the “bright side” to cancer. (Fair warning: Cancer jokes are certainly not for everyone. Some of you may be offended. But for those of you need to laugh to make it through….read on.)
1. Cancer is the best “out” ever. Forget someone’s name? Oh, it’s the chemo-brain, so sorry. Don’t want to go out to dinner with your boring neighbor? “I’m just so tired. The cancer, you know.” Having a bad hair day? ‘nough said.
2. Illness one-ups-manship. Cancer trumps all. Tired of hearing your friend complain about how exhausted she is? Pull the cancer card. That’ll shut her right up.
3. Cancer is an excuse to go blond. Or brunette. Or redheaded. Or long and curly. Or short and sassy. Change your wig as fast as you change your mind. You’re allowed!
4. Cancer reminds you of how many people love you. Not a funny one, but a truth. So many people will call you and offer help. So many friends will take care of your kids, or bring over food. Or make you laugh when you feel like crying.
And so many bloggers are part of working towards the goal of no cancer at all. So many people out there who don’t know anything about you are writing and joining the Bloggers for More Birthdays blog chain. Because we care. Because we want to make difference. And because we know — because some of us have gone through it as patients, as children, as spouses, as friends — that cancer really isn’t anything to laugh at.
But imagine, just imagine, how much we’ll all smile when we’ve conquered it. When it’s just a memory – like polio, or rampant measles and mumps. Think how much laughter there will be then. No cancer jokes necessary.