Funny Cancer Stories

Yes, I do SO know funny cancer stories! Sure, I know a few grim ones but doesn't everyone? It takes ... style ... to have FUNNY cancer stories. The same kind of style that leads people to wear wildly colored floral print scarves pirate fashion with big ear-rings instead of staying home or bothering with wigs which are hot and itchy and often make you look frumpy. Bald can be asscessorized into acceptable. Frumpy is NEVER acceptable. (I have this on first-hand knowledge from a woman that once told another cancer patient "Well, you'd feel better if you just put on some lipstick! You're sick, not dead!) And, yes, I could swear in court that particular Aunt did indeed live her life by that creed.

Its come to my imagination recently that one of my friends might have cancer. But she's not telling, and I'm not so tacky as to just ask. Not that particular question. If she wants to keep it quiet, more power to her. But it will NOT stop me from random drive-by casserolings. Few thing do. And its the rare person that turns down one of my dinners. I can cook. And I do cook. And I send. Its what you do. I learned it from my grandmother and my mother. People need to eat, even if they have lots of stress. And stress comes in all sizes, from births to burials.

Anyway, back to the funny bits. For example, one of my mom's friends has jet-black hair. Raven blue black. Which has gotten blacker with age. (RedRaven pointed out in the post on BlackIrish that was how "black irish" was explained to her) Many people just KNEW she died her hair. Well, during chemo it all fell out. She announced from her hospital-bed with great satisfaction "When it grows in, people will know my roots really ARE black!" I believe tat made the whole ordeal worth it for her.

Although most of my favorite cancer stories revolve around my aunt, Jane. The same one earlier with a belief in the healing powers of lipstick. She was a trip! (Think Auntie Mame with Rosalind Russell) Born only nine months earlier than my mother, they might as well have been twins. Oh, they looked TOTALLY different, but I've never seen twins closer than those two. It was almost creepy. I remember once when I was young people were talking about the need to prepare your children in the event that something happened to you and my mother just looked at her womens group and said "Why? They'd still have Jane." In our world it was almost like having two mothers, often to our aggrivation. Arguing with the two of them was hideous. One would lecture until she had to breath and then the other one would have a go at you until SHE had to breath and so on. Sometimes they'd have to stop in mid sentence and the other would pick up with the next word! It was earth-shaking when Jane got the news that she had three weeks to live. (Note: She lived two years and died accidentially of something completely non-cancer related).

Oh, yeah. THAT was funny. At her SECOND yearly update, her doctor looked over at her and said "Well. I hope you didn't do anything rash when I said you only had three weeks to live."

See, when she found out she had about three weeks to live, she refused to go home and talk to the weeping teeth-gnashing I'm-so-sorry people that would have surrounded her. She wasn't sad. She was cranky. She knew herself well enough to know that she'd choke the life out of the first one that said "Its Gods will" or "You've had a good long life" so she simply ran away from home! She went to stay with my mother, who lived about an hour away.

For the first few weeks, they all cried a lot. My mother, and Jane, and her only "child" who was about 30 at the time (Beth). My Dad just walked around the living room replacing boxes of tissue. He was the one that finally told me, although I had guessed because everytime my mother answered the phone, she burst into tears. After he told me, he kind of flinched as he looked at me. I just looked back at him. Then he relaxed and said, with all sincereity, "Thank God you aren't a crier!" To fully understand the humor of that and grasp his situation, consider the Pea story ...

Jane and Mom were sitting in the living room.

Jane: I think maybe I could keep down some black-eyed peas.
Mom: I wish I had known earlier, there's just not time to cook them now.

Jane: Perhaps we could do them in the microwave.
Mom: They won't do right.

Jane: I'm sure it wouldn't take that long to do peas.
Mom: At least an hour, and by then you won't be hungry.

Jane: I really think peas can be cooked in less time than that.
Mom: They won't be fit to eat unless they simmer. But we can try.

Jane: No. They'll take too long to cook.
Mom: Perhaps we can do them in the microwave.

Jane: They just wouldn't taste right.
Mom: Lets do them, in case you're still in the mood for them later.

Jane: No, my appetite comes and goes. There's no point
Mom: ... (etc).

At that point my Dad interupts with "The black-eyed peas are ready. I put them on an hour ago when the two of you started".

Later, Jane started an experimental treatment at Vandy involving yew trees. She continued to stay with my parents because she needed some help with the intensive treatments. By this time, relatives had figured out where she was. But most of them were too ... cautious ... to cross Jane and my mother. All except Larry-the-trucker (who is Norman's older brother for those of you following along) who decided to send her flowers. Except that Larry still loved his own life enough to send them anonymously. And instead of get-well flowers, he sent her a house-warming plant! We love Larry almost as much as we love Norman. But can you imagine a grown macho-trucker terrorfied of two little old women!?! I'd have loved to see him at the florist!

And Larry is DEFINITELY higher up on our list of "happy" relatives than Gloria! Who just barely makes the list of relatives anyway. (Let me point out that in the South, relatives are ... extended. While it doesn't count legally after "third" cousins I think, I have relatives that are around "twelveth cousins". Here's a shout-out to Kristan -- Ask your Dad if HE can figure it out exactly--HA!) To the point though, let me tell you what Gloria did ...

This has GOT to be the funniest cancer moment ever! I drove over to my parents to visit for the afternoon. Walking in, I knew something was wrong. Very very wrong. Jane was screaming instructions to everyone and no one while my Dad was frantically cleaning the bathroom. Mom was furiously scrubbing the sink and carrying on a high-volume monolog about taking out the garbage and why people should call before they come over and how preachers are horrible excuses for human-beings. This was my first clue. It seems that between the time I called to ask if they needed me to pick up anything on my way, and my actual arrival, that the alarm had been sounded.

See, my parents live in a rural community about an hour away from the rural community my aunt lived in. That means there was roughly forty miles of farmland and two or three small towns between the two. Depending on how you define "town". A preacher, and a whole car full of church-ladies, had stopped for directions in the second small town about ten miles away from my parents farm. God bless the guy at the co-op for giving them questionable directions and calling my Dad! Because the whole town knows how mother is and walking in on her unprepared for company is ... not going to make life easier for my father, and everyone loves my Dad. They love my mother too, but they're just a little ... scared of her.

So. I arrive on the scene moments into the ten-minute window between the warning-call and the expected arrival. The moment arrived and passed. No visitors. More time and stil no visitors. We were all sitting in the front-sun-room which used to be a front-porch until my grandparents glassed it in. It has a lovely view, which includes the driveway so visitors don't slip up on you. Still no visitors. Heart-rates slowed. Blood-pressure dropped. Specualtion started. Just who exactly was foolish enough to suggest that particular minister visit, and then give him her location. Hmmmmm. Little good comes of thinking ill of the majority of your relatives, so I steered the conversational focus onto the minister and his little group of church-ladies. Turns out that Jane had been the church secretary for years and quit six-months before because the preacher "churched" one of the deacons for suggesting that the minister was acting inapproriately! Jane washed her hands of the whole congregation for believing the minsisters accusations about a good man with no proof. She was LIVID (which was saying something for Jane), and a few months later she was vindicated when it turned out that the new-ish minister had been embezzleling and carousing with married church members and wanted the long-time deacon discredited and thrown out before the deacon presented proof to the congregation! THAT was the preacher that Cousin Gloria chose to sic on Aunt Jane! Turns out the preacher and his posse got hopelessly lost, and decided to go home after the person they asked for directions fell over laughing out loud when they confessed to intentionally not-calling-Dorothy-before-visiting.

That still left us with the question of who sent the minister. And what to actually do about them. I used to be catty, a horrid person. Someone that inflicted pain and suffering with malice and forethought. I found out about Gloria, and while not being cruel enough to actually tell Jane and mother, I did talk to Gloria about it. Kind of. I called her and chatted about nothing and everything and ended with the story of how some total lunatic had thought it a good idea to send THAT particular minister, and what the minister had done, and how Jane abhorred him and his entire group, and how Jane had to hurry to get dressed while throwing up and thinking really bad bad BAD things about whoever had given him her location and how Mother WOULD find out who that person was and make sure they were appropriately and thoroughly ... chastised. That no good had ever come of someone arrogantly and intentionally trying to thwart Jane-n-Dorothy. I'm pretty sure Gloria didn't sleep well for quite a while.

I have a million more stories, but not the minutes to type them. These wil have to do until next time!


I busted up at "Thank God you aren't a crier!"

Should I tell my mom's story here, or blog it????

Maybe I'll blog it.

Leni | 08/17/2006 - 08:30 PM

Very cute story! Thank you for sharing! Rather reminds ya' of Larry the Cable Guy...just "Git er done".

Laurel Phelps LaFlamme | 02/13/2008 - 11:05 PM
Make Waves

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