Check out USA Today

kerry Member Posts: 1,313 Member
edited March 2014 in Colorectal Cancer #1
I picked up a copy of USA Today this afternoon and lo and behold there is an article about cancer and humor!! And there is more.....there is a small paragraph that mentions the SEMI-COLONS!!! We are famous! Our very own SpongeBob is quoted.

Thanks USA Today!


(and thank-you Bob)


  • Lisa Rose
    Lisa Rose Member Posts: 598 Member
    Laughing in the face of cancer
    Updated 5/23/2006 11:44 AM ET E-mail | Save | Print | Reprints & Permissions | Subscribe to stories like this

    Drawing strength: Brian Fies began putting his drawings online, and people responded. His graphic novel, Mom's Cancer, was published in March.

    By Liz Szabo, USA TODAY
    Miriam Engelberg was neurotic, anxious and afraid of death and that was before she had cancer.
    She recalls the days she spent waiting for her biopsy results for breast cancer as some of the most intense of her life. Engelberg imagined how relieved she would feel if the test came back normal. She could go back to enjoying life the way she used to before the suspicious mammogram, when all she worried about was terrorism. And unemployment. And killer bees.

    "I've always thought about death and what it all means," says Engelberg, 48, author of Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person: A Memoir in Comics, one of three new cancer-themed comic books coming out this year. "It comforts me to make humor out of it."

    While some say there's nothing funny about cancer, a growing number of survivors and their families are using comedy to tell their stories.

    In March, Abrams Image published artist Brian Fies' graphic novel Mom's Cancer. Marisa Acocella Marchetto, a cartoonist whose work has appeared in Glamour and The New Yorker, has written and illustrated the autobiographical Cancer Vixen, due this fall from Alfred A. Knopf.

    Authors say they are not making light of the suffering inflicted by a deadly disease. Rather, they say they're able to express themselves better through cartoons than any other genre.

    Engelberg, whose book was released this month by Harper Paperbacks, says comics are the perfect way to capture embarrassing or absurd situations.

    Humor also plays a major role in some patient-oriented websites, such as Cancer Island, at and, which features a "Cancertainment" section that includes "Top 10 Signs You've Joined a Cheap HMO."

    Cancer also has turned up in the plots of television sitcoms such as The Office.

    "What we're seeing is the evolution of how people talk about cancer," says Diane Blum, executive director of CancerCare, which provides services to patients.

    Only a few years ago, many people were afraid to even say the word cancer, Blum says. People feel far more comfortable today talking publicly not only about cancer, but also about their bodies and a variety of personal issues.

    In Canada, a rowing team made up of cancer survivors call themselves Breasts Ahoy.

    A group of American colon cancer survivors have dubbed themselves the Semi-Colons. They get together twice a year for Colonpalooza, held in flashy locales such as Las Vegas, says member Bob Hendrickson of Washington, D.C., who modeled for the group's swimsuit "colondar."

    Better treatments now allow patients to not just survive the disease, but to live long enough to write about the experience from a critical distance, Blum says.

    More than 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with cancer. While the prognosis for many cancers remains bleak, survival rates are climbing in some of the most common tumors.

    Nearly 89% of women with breast cancer survive at least five years, along with 99.7% of men with prostate cancer, the National Cancer Institute says.

    Connecting through humor

    Survivors say there are unspoken rules to cancer humor. No one appreciates mean-spirited mockery, Blum says. And Engelberg acknowledges there are limits to what she will laugh about. She never jokes about her concern for her 9-year-old son or her sorrow at imagining him without a mother.

    Engelberg has no qualms, though, about poking fun at herself or using slapstick humor.

    She hopes that even people who have never been to a hospital will sympathize with her frustrations. One cartoon depicts Engelberg trying to follow the instructions for putting on a "three-armed" wrap-around hospital gown. "I thought to myself, 'Do I have to go through metastatic cancer and also have to follow this damn diagram?' "

    This kind of humor helps many patients cope, says Heidi Adams, who founded the Planet Cancer site after surviving bone cancer at 26. Cartoons break intimidating experiences into "smaller, manageable, bite-size moments."

    Laughter also helps cancer patients find common ground with other people and can help put well-meaning friends or co-workers at ease, especially when they are fumbling for the right words, Adams says. "Many people don't know how to deal with cancer, so by saying something funny, you can break the ice," she says. "Then other people aren't as afraid of saying something wrong."

    Engelberg says cartoons keep her from worrying so much.

    "It's fun for me to think about how to turn something into a cartoon, because I really don't like having to think," Engelberg says. "It just always goes in a bad direction, like 'Life, death, what is it all for?' When I think about cartoons, it occupies my mind."

    At times, Engelberg has become perhaps overly engrossed in her comics.

    She was about to finish the comic book, she says, when her doctor delivered depressing news: The cancer was back, and it had spread to her bones and her brain.

    "My first thought was, 'Oh no, this is going to hurt book sales,' " Engelberg says. "My second thought was of death."

    Actor Evan Handler says he couldn't identify with many other patients' stories, and his anger and dark humor made him feel like an outsider. So he wrote a book and play, both called Time on Fire: My Comedy of Terrors, about having leukemia at 24.

    "I thought of explaining myself as a way to build a bridge, to give people a glimpse where I had been," says Handler, known for playing Harry Goldenblatt on Sex and the City, which featured two cancer plotlines. "I wanted to do something that would be as harsh as anything that had been done, but that would also be funny. ... The humor had to be a way to couch that stuff without driving people away."

    Fies agrees about the value of black humor. It helped his mother "keep her dignity," he says. "If you can laugh at something, you have, in some sense, overcome it."

    Fies says he was searching for a way to share his family's struggle when he picked up a pad of paper and sketched his mother, asleep in a recliner while undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer. "Somehow, that one picture packed more information than words could by themselves," says Fies, who began publishing his drawings online.

    'I am not alone'

    Drawing his mother's story helped Fies make sense of the experience. His site attracted thousands of readers, largely through word of mouth, with many following his mother's progress from week to week.

    "It was striking how many wrote to say, 'I'm so happy to find out that I am not alone,' " Fies says. "That in turn helped me feel that I was not alone."

    Fies is pleased that so many teachers are using Mom's Cancer, including nursing instructors, sociology professors and even the leaders of smoking cessation programs. The book has become a tribute to his mother, who died as the book went to press.

    "This book gives me happy memories instead of sad ones," Fies says.

    Adams says these stories are a reminder that people cope with cancer in different ways.

    Engelberg, for example, says she has no interest in being heroic; instead, she prefers watching daytime television and completing celebrity crossword puzzles from TV Guide.

    "When I first found out I was metastatic, I was just in shock," Engelberg says. Her husband, trying to be supportive, suggested going for a walk or out to dinner. She chose to watch a decidedly lowbrow comedy, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.

    "You know, it was the perfect movie for that day."

    Posted 5/22/2006 10:22 PM ET
  • Betsydoglover
    Betsydoglover Member Posts: 1,248 Member
    This is great! (Of course the facts aren't all entirely accurate - but who cares!)

    Thanks, Bob!

  • HowardJ
    HowardJ Member Posts: 474
    Go Semi-Colons!
  • jerseysue
    jerseysue Member Posts: 624 Member
    Rock on!
  • KathiM
    KathiM Member Posts: 8,028 Member
    I KNEW about this, but didn't know how to get my hands on a USA Today....Thanks, Kerry!!
    Hugs, Kathi
  • tkd3g
    tkd3g Member Posts: 767
    Too bad there wasn't a picture of our STUD-MUFFIN, Sponger!

    THat's ok, I have pics! :)

  • spongebob
    spongebob Member Posts: 2,565 Member
    tkd3g said:

    Too bad there wasn't a picture of our STUD-MUFFIN, Sponger!

    THat's ok, I have pics! :)


    I told you to burn the negatives!!! I'll lose my security clearance if the CIA ever gets ahold of those!

    Please... no autographs...

    Funny thing is, I was in USA Today about this time last year for an article on how old the Coast Guard's fleet of ships is and how we're keeping them together in some cases with duct tape and chewing gum. I must say that, although a much smaller quote, this was a much more pleasant experience!

    Well, I must run - call my people is you want a photo.
  • Kanort
    Kanort Member Posts: 1,272 Member
    Thanks, Kerry and Baby Lisa!!! are everywhere!!!