Monday, October 31, 2011

Cancer Jokes

I'm all about laughter in the face of death. Or even just sickness, sadness, loneliness, whatever. It's death lurking behind all those things, isn't it? Didn't take cancer to teach me that.

I'm glad not too many people seem put off by my cancer jokes, because if I can't make light of my own shit, then fuck my 99% survival chance, I'd rather just curl up and die. Haha!

You can take my hair, but you can never take my sense of humorrrrrr. I told my girlfriend when the diagnosis was up in the air "If it's cancer I will make it the funniest cancer ever." So I'm on the hook. That's probably the worst part. I'm not very funny.

Some great cancer jokes have already helped me cope with this kind of shitty change in my life. Example: "They should make a movie about your story like 50/50, but call it 99/1."

I also got off a "Knock knock" joke:
"Who's there?"

Simple. Classic. Hilarious. All of my knock knock endings are based on the ole "Orange you glad I didn't say banana?" gem, so for good measure throw in a:
"Cancer who?"
"Cancer you glad I didn't say [worse disease]?"

Bad jokes have always been my favorite:
"Why did the lymphoma cross the node?"
"To get you to DIE."

I did also claim cancer was part of my plan to start an Occupy Heaven movement. Topical!

Or just blame a fart on cancer. Cancer farts. It could be a thing. Science!

Darnell gets the prize for offering me "a sympathy bang, only cash it in before you get all bald and cancery." That's the level I sort of need people to be at right now.

So leave me some love and maybe some cancer-related humor, it's all good. It will help with the fact that actual cancer symptoms have started kicking in so I'm feeling more like shit. And it will help Wednesday when I am at the hospital for a pulminary exam (breathing into a tube so they can make sure the chemo doesn't fuck up my lungs), a PET scan (let's really find ALL the cancer), and again Thursday for my second biopsy (this one with IV sedation and actual incision, to remove a chunk of the infected lymph node; the first was a core biopsy with a needle that just took slivers).

Wooo! Yea! Cancer dance!

Friday, October 28, 2011


Alright, enough fancy talk. LET'S GET DOWN TO BRASS TACKS.

One of the first decisions I need to make in terms of my cancer treatment is what to do with my sperm. This is not even a joke. Turns out modern day chemo still comes with a small (in my case, likely very small -- like less than 1%) chance of causing infertility.

So since I am youngish and likely to live a happy, healthy life post-cancer, and might want to make some babies in the future (girlfriend says: YES), then I might want to consider taking out some baby insurance. Which is to say: freeze some sperm now before chemo maybe kills them all forever.

This would mean jerking off into a cup at a sperm banking facility, probably twice, definitely soon. This sounds worse than chemo, and possibly grosser than dying.

Unfortunately tupperware in the back of my own freezer is not really an option. I may just roll the dice despite the fact that, as I've already tried to demonstrate, if something happens to a small percentage of people I AM PROBABLY IN THAT GROUP.

Wait, why aren't I playing the lottery?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Uncommon, Addendum

Apparently in a minority of lymphoma cases (like 5%), drinking alcohol causes pain in the lymphatic system. First: remember, something like .00003% of Americans get Hodgkin's in the first place. I don't have all the stats, if you're so damn curious google it.

Anyway, it's a rare and unusual and totally unexplained phenomenon. Really, my oncologist's face LIT UP when he found out I was one of the lucky few of the lucky few. Literally within minutes of consuming even the smallest amount of alcohol, I get pretty serious pain all up and down my back.

Turns out, hindsight being hilarious, this was actually my first symptom. Naturally I thought it was like anxiety and stress and bad posture (I have plenty of all those things and September is a rough month to work for a major university). And I only once humorously connected the pain to alcohol. At the end of the day when I am unwinding, I am also cracking open a beer -- and I figured the pain was more about stress and muscle tension and the beer was just a McGuffin or a red herring or whatever is the appropriate term. Nope, it was cancer!

Last night I tested this with some alcohol and not only did I experience the pain, but I also got a fever and felt generally cancery. Probably I should stop drinking for a while. Screw you, cancer! ::shakes fist at cancer::

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


"If you've got something uncommon, best to go where the uncommon is common."

That's what the weirdly supportive stranger on the phone -- Dianne from Mass General's Lymphoma Center -- said to me before hanging up. I doubt she knew that I found the sentiment so inspiring not because I need to know I am in good hands treatment-wise -- though thank the baby Jesus I am -- but because all my life I have sought out the corners where the uncommon lurks. Where else would I belong? "Go where the uncommon is common" -- now there's a motto to live by.

And I do plan on living.

Let me back up a bit. I've just today received confirmation of a tentative diagnosis that's been beating around my head for 48 hours now: Hodgkin's lymphoma. Asterix: they aren't 100% sure it's Hodgkin's, but it probably is and anyway it's definitely cancer. So that sucks.

My friend Dr. Dave sent me a link to a blog that he said might be helpful to read: the account of a girl he knows who, like me, though young and in the bloom of health, suddenly got lymphoma. And beat it, and is fine, etc. The doctors tell me that I, too, will be fine, after some shitty (but not as shitty as you hear) rounds of chemo. And while I couldn't read this other blog (yet) because knowing too much at one time overloads my anxiety, I think writing about it myself might be a good way to process. That's what I do. I write poems, mostly, which I will maayyyyvbe post here, along with some sad cancer stories that frankly I can't imagine who would want to read.

But I have been looking for something uncommon to blog about. Howsat old Chinese curse go? "May you have an interesting life." Interesting is bad enough. Uncommon is downright scary business.