Cancer is no laughing matter. Nothing about it — from the shocking diagnosis to the prolonged recovery — is easy, and it’s certainly not funny. That’s precisely why I was determined to maintain my sense of humor throughout the ordeal.
As I composed my periodic reports to family and friends, I began to conclude each missive with a joke. They weren’t necessarily great jokes. They weren’t necessarily new jokes. Some might even say that Ralph and I favored quantity over quality. But the process of finding and composing them was a welcome diversion for me.
While the narrative conveyed my experience, the jokes sustained my self and symbolically kept my illness at arm’s length. They were a coping mechanism that could elevate my spirits even on dark days.
For readers, they lightened the impact of my often-dire news and let people know I was not losing hope. I used them in the book as a kind of “send off” to my readers, as if to say, ‘lest you think I’m down in the dumps, hah, here is one for you.’
I suspect that the jokes also relieved the stress of my readers. It’s not easy to read about someone else’s medical experience – the fevers, the counts, the rashes, and the meds. The jokes let them know they could connect with me as the person I’ve always been and not just as a cancer patient. And they regularly did so, alternately “complaining” about how bad the jokes were but whining if I ever forgot to include a joke!
Rather than “cancer jokes,” I found more humor in bad puns, non sequiturs and double entendre. And so, in closing, I would just like to say: