Friday, June 27, 2008

Cancer Humor

I know that cancer is a scary and heavy topic, but I have to live with cancer and I just can't be scared and heavy all the time. I have to laugh, even about cancer. I think a sense of humor helps take the fear and anxiety out of a lot of scary things, as I wrote in a previous blog entry, "Laughing About Death".

I've come across some funny responses to surprising things people say to cancer patients. I thought you might find them funny as well:

- Are you going to live?
- I don't know. Are you?

- Ohmigod! I heard you were sick, but I didn't know you were dying!
- Ohmigod! I heard you were insensitive, but I didn't know you were stupid!

- You need to have a mastectomy? You have such beautiful breasts. What a waste!
- You have a brain. What a waste!

- Well, at least it's just your breasts and not a part of the body you need.
- Is that what they said to you before your lobotomy?

- I had a friend who had chemo and her hair didn't fall out.
- Obviously, she didn't get the good stuff.

- You have to have chemo? I heard chemo's toxic and poisonous and it'll kill you.
- You mean, like the cigarettes and alcohol you can't give up?

- Hey! Your hair's started growing back! Frankly, I thought you looked better bald.
- Thanks. I think you would, too.

Have you heard any good ones you'd like to share?


Anonymous said...

I guess, just as kids say the darnest things - so do adults. I think the trick is to be quick witted enough to come up with a one liner that is not too curt but at the same time educate. And we should always take time to think before we say anything!


ALI KATI said...

Lolz, loved those. How bout this?

"Oh, it's great how you've managed not to be such a downer about your cancer."

"Yeah, I took a lesson from you about your face."

Anonymous said...

I had a classic in our local supermarket a few days after Harriet died....... "Your daughter died and you're out shopping?!"

"Ummmmmmmmmm, well, yeah, are we supposed to starve to death?"

Francesca Giessmann said...

laughing out loud....
will think of some to add...

Anonymous said...

But some of these retorts are really mean-spirited answers, don't you think?

Generally, i don't believe people MEAN to ask such tactless and "heartless" questions. I believe many are genuine "foot-in-mouth" / "it didn't sound that way in my mind" situations, but some of the answers are really not nice. esp the ones about lobotomies and the earlier comment about "i took a lesson from you about your face".

Just my two cents anyway.

Shin said...

Dear Anonymous re: mean-spirited retorts.

I agree. Some of these replies are very mean-spirited and the people who suggested them didn't actually say them; they only thought them. I think they're funny, but I would never say them to anyone myself.

I collected most of these from other cancer blogs and cancer community Web sites.

Most people just don't know what to say and how to behave around cancer patients and it's not their fault. I know I've said some stupid and insensitive things to people in my time. I just hope people can have a sense of humor about mistakes that we can all make from time to time.

ALI KATI said...

@ Anonymous

First, it's great that you believe that people are generally well-meaning and do not MEAN to ask tactless or heartless questions. It would also be fair to say, not everyone believes as you do.

Personally, I think most people have a more self-centred perspective - as in, they may not be "intentionally or actively mean" but they can be entirely mean by omission. I've heard comments regarding situations, not necessarily about myself, which are pretty horrendous.

Secondly, with jokes or retorts with "lobotomies" or "your face sucks" - I think they're defiant and irreverent in a juvenile way that's supposed to help release tension and anger but aren't really mean-natured. I doubt anyone on the receiving end of those sort of jokes can really be insulted - because you first have to admit being vulnerable to them to feel insulted - and it doesn't hit the mark in realism to afford that. It's sort of like saying, oh yeah, well your momma did that too!

Sometimes when people say or do thoughtless things, it's more effective to crack one back or rib them than to give a long lecture about how to behave.