What’s So Funny About Cancer?Everything Changes — By Kairol Rosenthal on August 4, 2009 at 12:52 pm
Last week, I was interviewed in a Newsweek article about young adult cancer humor. I’m, not a very funny person. I’m just not. Don’t worry, I’m not being harsh on myself. I think I’m smart, compassionate, and fairly attractive. But, I’m just not very funny.
I love to laugh, but my humor is particular, maybe even stubborn. I can’t rent dvds from the comedy section; I just don’t find them funny. Nor do I find cancer jokes very funny. So, it was really hard when Newsweek asked me to contribute some jokes to the blog that accompanied the article. Here’s what I sent:
*What do you call a young adult cancer patient with health insurance? A Canadian.
*Why did the cancer patient cross the road? He wanted to get hit by a truck.
These jokes are the best I could do.
I’m not above cancer humor, and I’m not particularly politically correct. I just have a hard time laughing at something that has killed a lot of people I love, and caused me and my family enormous pain and distress. I have plenty of laughter in my life. But I don’t want or need it to come from my cancer.
Jill Harrison, a young survivor in the article said she feels cancer can be a cover up for issues we have a hard time talking about. I agree. (Though I see exceptions, like Heidi Adams who is both a total jokester and very real about hardcore cancer issues.)
I find cancer humor a strange way of coping with hardship and an odd tactic for breaking the ice when talking to non-survivors. I never hear people cracking jokes when someone says their dad died of a brain anurism, or that their apartment was charred in a fire.
I feel like the cancer community often dumbs me down, like I need a little slap stick song and dance routine to make it through. And as a result, I see very little time devoted to the the hardest conversations of it all. Did you know that almost 1 in 4 young adult cancer patients won’t make it? How many resources are there talking about end-of-life care for young adults? Almost zilch. And that’s not funny.
When we start actually addressing the really, really hard side of cancer, maybe then I can start laughing about the rest of it. But probably not. I think cancer might always be serious to me. Instead, I’ll spend my time laughing at Cake Wrecks. Yeah, I do find some things funny. Just not cancer.
What is your take? Do you laugh at your illness? Is it ever nervous laughter or good medicine? If you have a disease other than illness, do you find that humor and light-heartedeness is used in your patient community?
Check out my book Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide To Cancer in Your 20s and 30s. I didn’t think it was a funny book, but readers have told me it caused the kind of laughter that makes beverages squirt out your nose.
What’s So Funny About Cancer?
Please check out Kairol’s book “Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20’s and 30’s” at Amazon.com by clicking here.