CSN Login
Members Online: 12

Morbid Sense of Humor

rossgipson's picture
rossgipson
Posts: 26
Joined: Nov 2008

So there was this one party I went to in college with my friend Sparky, and we were sitting around a table with some various people, and someone started talking about someone they knew that had gone through cancer treatment, and immediately Sparky and I started in with some shtick.

Sparky looks at me and says, "I've heard Leukemia is the way to go...if you had a choice of cancers, that is."

Then I said, "Yeah...a walk in the park, really. You just lie about all day watching Andy Griffith on TV...barely even know you're sick."

The nature of our dead pan and sarcasm was unfortunately lost on the group we were with who just stared at us in disbelief, but their reaction is not really what I'm trying to get at with this story.

I've noticed over the years that I have developed a sort of dark sense of humor when it comes to having dealt with cancer - I routinely tell people I'm not afraid of relapsing because cancer is a lot like lightning...it never strikes in the same place twice (both of which aren't true). I once told a cop the reason I wasn't wearing my seat belt was due to an irritable bowel condition linked to my chemo (that got me out of a ticket and I had a good laugh from it) - and this morbid sense of humor has lead me to develop a mantra a sort of mission statement I've come to live by:

If you can't laugh at your cancer...what can you laugh at?

My question is this...is there anyone out there that uses humor as a coping mechanism like me, and if so, does it border on morbid like mine?

zahalene's picture
zahalene
Posts: 677
Joined: Nov 2005

I have been a cancer survivor for 22 1/2 years (sorry for barging in on the 'young survivor' group).
I also look for ways and means to laugh at cancer and all the issues connected to it.
For example, not long after loosing my second breast (I chose no reconstruction), there seemed to be an explosion of public service announcements on tv concerning the absolute necessity of getting regular mammograms. Now, don't misunderstand me, I agree with the idea of being vigilant in taking steps to protect ourselves. But to me PERSONALLY, it was just a hoot to have someone telling me to get a mammogram. Sooooo, whenever I saw one of those announcements I would announce in stricken tones, "Oh, no, I am wayyyyy overdue for my mammo!!!", especially in front of people who knew about my 'breastless' condition. I got some shocked looks, then bursts of guilty laughter.
Also, I am fond of saying..."I lost my hubby to cancer....I got cancer and he got LOST!" You can hear a pin drop.
Both laughter and tears are escape valves which keep us from exploding. I choose laughter whenever possible.

Chellebug
Posts: 134
Joined: Nov 2008

Humor has certainly helped me get through this past year. I'm sure to those who haven't experience cancer, it may seem a bit morbid, but not to me.

A couple of examples:

In preparation for my bilateral mastectomy I came up with a top 10 list (David Letterman style) of things to look forward to after my surgery. My #1 was something like: This may just be the thing I need to improve my golf game.

My kids like to talk about molecules...I'm not sure why. Months prior to my cancer diagnosis, they were discussing who had more molecules...mommy or daddy. They decided I had more molecules in my body because I had more hair and more breast tissue than their daddy. After my chemo and surgery, it was unanimous....daddy had more molecules.

Is that morbid? Not to me. It's making light of a very difficult situation.

Thanks for your post!
Chelle

erolyn's picture
erolyn
Posts: 21
Joined: Dec 2008

I personally feel that in all bad situations your only two choices are to laugh about it or cry about it...and let's face it, laughing is just more fun.

For my friends and family and I, joking about it is a way to make it seem less serious and scary. My friends and my brothers make cracks about it all the time...I have one friend whom I allow to call me "cancer chick" just because I know that that's his way of coping and being concerned and that he's not trying to be offensive. But that's been a lot of peoples' responses when they find out, probably because I'm usually not a very serious person and they're more comfortable responding to me that way. And I don't mind.

rossgipson's picture
rossgipson
Posts: 26
Joined: Nov 2008

I work with a girl who had cancer in her uterus, and we like to joke a lot. She always tries to maintain that her cancer was more serious than mine, and I always tell her that her cancer didn't even involve losing hair, so I win. I also refer to her as my cancer buddy.

Chellebug
Posts: 134
Joined: Nov 2008

My cancer buddy and I went to a Look Good...Feel Better class together. We were the youngest in the room by far, but enjoyed the company of all the other ladies present. At one point my friend was talking about her sister...

"Oh, she's got EVERYTHING. She got the pretty looks, the red hair, the nice figure..."

One of the ladies across the table asked, "Well, does she have cancer?"

"No," said my friend.

The lady respond, "See, she doesn't have EVERYTHING!"

Oh, we just laughed and laughed and laughed.

erolyn's picture
erolyn
Posts: 21
Joined: Dec 2008

This morning I had my RAI (chemo-ish) treatment, which involved meeting yet another specialist for the first time (I think this is the fourth now?). They all, of course, explain to me up front the basics of my cancer each time. The first thing this one said was: "Now I'm sure you know that you have thyroid cancer, right?" and so of course I replied,

"OH MY GOD!! Are you SERIOUS??"

and he laughed and went, "Oh good, those are my favorite responses."

Thought maybe you'd all appreciate that. :)

rossgipson's picture
rossgipson
Posts: 26
Joined: Nov 2008

my friends and i had an idea to make a sketch comedy show. we're always coming up with different ideas for sketches. anyway, we were going to do a sketch where me and another friend are sitting in chairs and we're getting ready to explain my appearance. it went something like this:

FRIEND: Many of you have been tuning in now, and so Ross and I thought we'd take some time to clear up some confusion. Many of you have probably noticed that Ross looks a little different than the rest of us. What you don't know is why he looks different. For that I'll let Ross take it away.

ME: Thank you. A year ago a T-Rex attacked my town. It's rampage lead to the destruction of many homes and the deaths of many people. Powerless to thwart this threat, the police in the town looked to me to help. They knew I was an expert dinosaur hunter, and knew I could easily contain the menace. I tracked and fought that dinosaur for...

FRIEND: Ross? Sorry to interrupt you there, but what are you doing?

ROSS: Telling the people out there how the dinosaur maimed me.

FRIEND: That's not what happened, and you know it.

ROSS: I think I know my own life, thank you, and that's what happened.

FRIEND: If you say so...but it's not.

ROSS: Alright, if you're so smart, then you tell the people what happened.

FRIEND: Ross had cancer when he was a kid.

ROSS: I WHAT?!!??!?!

The sketch ends with me yelling that last thing in disbelief.

erolyn's picture
erolyn
Posts: 21
Joined: Dec 2008

haha that totally just made my day, thanks :)

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I have a cap that reads "Does this hat make my head look bald?" and an "I love the smell of chemo in the morning" T-shirt. And now that my eyebrows and lashes are falling out, I can't wait to wear my "Ask me about my eyebrows" pin.

PS: I'm too old to be posting here, but just checking on you kids! You all sound like you're getting by just fine.

:D

flygirlc
Posts: 31
Joined: Mar 2009

The standard treatment for thyroid cancer is RAI, which is radioactive iodine 131. Now, depending on the dose and regulations in your state, you have to be quarrentined, very limited or no human contact, sometimes in the hospital, some times at home, and you get a list of things to do and not do, since anything you excrete, waste, sweat, saliva is radioactive for about a week. Well, there are lots of jokes about glowing in the dark, a friend in my support group said her nurse penciled in on her check list of to do and not to do, "Get up at 3 am, go into bathroom, don't turn on light, examine self in mirror to see if you glow." And I laughed when the radiologist was going over the list with me and talking about how my body would get rid of the radiation and almost forgot to mention my saliva, "Oh yeah, and your spit will be hot too!" And one of my friends who just went through RAI got some great shirts, one read "I'm so HOT!" and the O in hot was a radioactive sign. And another one that said something like "Kiss me, I'm radioactive" I also refer to my thyroidectomy scar as my knife fighting scar. Thanks everyone else for your posts on here, they all made me smile.

erolyn's picture
erolyn
Posts: 21
Joined: Dec 2008

I had/have Thyroid also. My friends and family and I had tons of radioactivity jokes after/during my RAI. My personal favorite were the baby ones. My endo told me not to get pregnant for 9 months after treatment, to avoid exposing a fetus to radioactivity. I'm 21 and NOT planning on having a baby anytime soon, so I thought this was kind of funny, and starting discussing with my friends what would happen if I DID get pregnant and gave birth to children with superpowers.

Also my brother put biohazard signs on my bedroom and bathroom doors...that was pretty great.

ARobben's picture
ARobben
Posts: 46
Joined: Apr 2009

Seriously...do you know how many superheroes got their powers from radiation?

Spider-Man...bitten by a radioactive spider
Hulk...gamma radiation
Fantastic Four... "cosmuc radiation"

How come we never have this luck?

Ami32's picture
Ami32
Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 2009

I came on here today for the first time to get some insight into depression and cancer and after reading this string of humorous interpretations on reallity I realize what I really needed! Seriously can we get a whole board with jokes and links to great t-shirts and funny personal experiences! Lately when my bff gets a tummy ache... she says i gave her cancer even though she knows mine is related to chemo and not contagious! And I swear I saw this mosquito's sucker fall out after attacking my chemo-laden body yesterday! Please post more funny things! I love it!

kitandkat's picture
kitandkat
Posts: 11
Joined: Sep 2010

LOL, I had tons of jokes about RAI. For some reason, I always seemed to see one of my friends right after the treatment, even though we didn't go to the same school. She would always pretend to be mad at me because I wasn't "glowing". The last time I had it, we found a glow-in-the-dark rubber bracelet at work that said "radioactive"... I wore it for at least a year before I got worried it was going to fall apart.

Oh and one of the only things I ate on the diet was coconut milk curry - which I now HATE because I ate so much of it. My first year of college my brother sent me this sign that said "COCONUT MILK" and I put it up on my wall all year... it was hilarious. I also ate a lot of moonpies, so my mom likes to send them to me as a joke. I tried to eat one of them last year and it was totally gross. My roommate didn't seem to get the "required cancer diet" thing no matter how many times I explained this to her and thought it was just something special my mom and I ate together... yeah, no, lol.

But yeah, I definitely have a morbid sense of humor... I always have. It's probably my parents' fault. I had to have a lot of blood tests as a kid and my parents would get me to stop crying by saying Elmo (my favorite stuffed animal) liked blood because it was red like him. I love blood, lol.

I have some friends like the friend above who are very comfortable joking with it and actually will joke about it more than I do. Others take awhile to come around to my sense of humor. I don't believe in censoring myself, but it can get awkward if people don't realize the context of the situation. For example, this one time a girl on my floor was complaining about how someone was laughing about epilepsy and I said I would probably laugh if I had epilepsy... I wasn't laughing at the person who had epilepsy but that I would just try to find something positive/funny about the situation if it happened to me. I had a hard time trying to get that point across to her though and I'm pretty sure she thought I was at the least very insensitive. So yeah, sometimes it takes people awhile to get my jokes, and I try to make sure people understand that, for example, I actually HAD cancer when I am joking about cancer, because otherwise it can seem really insensitive. And I tend to joke more about cancer/illness with the people who like to joke themselves because that's what our relationship tends towards, whereas with friends who are more serious we do less joking in general, if that makes sense.

I had a benign brain tumor removed this summer and the first thing one of my friends asked me was why I didn't ask for a Harry Potter scar... lol.

Edward W
Posts: 30
Joined: Oct 2010

Good one Erolyn ! I love it (wish I had thought of something like that for my Esophagealectomy)

purpleeins
Posts: 2
Joined: Nov 2009

Just love your posting! I am a 7 yr lung cancer (diagnosed w/2 wks to live) survivor, and I do not know how I would have made it through without a similar sense. Everything from the dog chasing me around the house w/fake wig(he must've thought it was alive) to trying to glue eyelashes on. Someone should write these things down & share. I know they always made me feel better so laugh on! God bless! Purpleeins

kimothy52
Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2010

It's a sick, twisted game I play, but I always joke about having cancer to see how people react. When I first went back to high school after finishing treatment, me and my friends were doing the whole swap-your-senior-pictures thing. Someone said I was glowing in mine. My response - "Oh that's just a lasting side effect from the radiation." Everyone looked so uncomfortable, except for one person, who started laughing hysterically. Five years later, she's still my best friend.

Phoenix10's picture
Phoenix10
Posts: 47
Joined: Dec 2009

When you come this close to the other side, how can you not be morbid and laugh. Great outlook!

I always recommend chemo as the fool proof weight loss solution!
Sign up today. Weght loss is guaranteed!!!

cgarr71's picture
cgarr71
Posts: 20
Joined: May 2010

When I have to go into the store I have to wear my mask and everyone stares at me like I broke out of the zoo. Now it doesn't bother me too much and I really prefer some one ask me why I wear it because I'll answer loud enough for others to hear. But every once in a while it really bothers me and I happen to be in the produce section I'll fake having a coughing episode in front of them. I know its wrong but i really cant help it.

Phoenix10's picture
Phoenix10
Posts: 47
Joined: Dec 2009

Michael Jackson made mask wearing cool and stylish. I think its time for a moonwalk in that produce section! Make sure you're wearing white socks and black shoes though. Maybe a glove for the extra touch?

I have a prominent limp when I walk. I wish I had a dollar for everyone who's asked me why I walk this way. I'm thinking about telling them I'm a veteran of the war against cancer.

In all seriousness, I know its hard to receive these messages. I had chemo when Synead O'Connor was famous and, yes, I was bald and only wore a hat. A wig just wasn't me but I caught a lot of flack for it. People actually thought I shaved my head, when I was a good 20 pounds under weight and frail looking. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

carlysmami
Posts: 2
Joined: Nov 2010

I tend to have a morbid, dry sense of humor so I usually curb it until I feel the person I´m with is truly ready. What does it have to do with this discussion. Not much. I have a cancer-kid. I seriously used to call her my little tumor because she was so attached to me. Then I found out she has a wilms tumor. When I have tried to tell this very ironic little story to folks most don´t know how to respond because they don´t get it. I do not think its funny that my child has a tumor, AT ALL but I can find a little humor somewhere to help me survive the situation.

mh1229
Posts: 22
Joined: May 2010

I had a surgery that left my outer genitals mutilated... what can you do but make fun of yourself? My close friends and I joke about my porn star name and the glowing and making fun of peoples akward attempts to talk to me since my diagnosis. We call it my "coochie cancer" and joke about how I should have played the lottery (its a rare cancer) with my kind of odds. When I wanted tickets to the world series I pulled the cancer card.... mu husbands response? "I'm not Make-A-Wish Foundation" We cracked up laughing! BTW- I got my tickets;-)
The list goes on and on and we poke fun at cancer every chance we get. You have to smile, and when your life is over ran with appointments and the harsh reality of life threatening illness... make a bad joke and laugh your a$$ off.

Edward W
Posts: 30
Joined: Oct 2010

yes Ross humor does help. I had a complete Esophagealectomy. To make a new one they rolled and attached my stomach to just where two clavical bones are. such a new procedure that some of the nurses at a different hospital had never seen or heard of and it required a bag attached to the incision opening because it blew out once and almost drown me. Well one day my wife was looking very down. This was after it had all healed... I grabbed my throat there and said "Oh I got a stomach ache". She knew what I was doing and I got a laugh.
And in the lingo of hot rodders, it's my "straight pipe" (straight to my stomach from my mouth)

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2014 © Cancer Survivors Network