Cancer Comic Strip

My name is Suzan St Maur and I've had cancer twice. I find that humor helps me get through my cancer, and from what I understand it helps many others too. This blog is dedicated not to information about the disease, but to cancer warriors and their relatives/friends who just want some cheering chuckles. By all means share your funny stories and jokes with us - email them to suze @ (If you want to know more about me see my profile on here or

Friday, September 30, 2005

OK ... now here are the docs' REAL notes...

Have you ever wondered why sometimes your hospital care isn't quite on target in your view? The following examples from doctors' notes may help you understand why. (With thanks to the poor martyrs who collected the following for our information.)


1. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year

2. On the 2nd day the knee was better and on the 3rd day it disappeared completely.

3. She has had no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

4. The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me in 1993.

5. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

6. Discharge status: Alive but without permission.

7. Healthy appearing decrepit 69 year-old male, mentally alert but forgetful.

8. The patient refused an autopsy.

9. The patient has no past history of suicides.

10. Patient has left his white blood cells at another hospital.

11. Patient's past medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.

12. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

13. Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.

14. Since she can't get pregnant with her husband, I thought you might like to work her up.

15. She is numb from her toes down.

16. While in the ER, she was examined, X-rated and sent home.

17. The skin was moist and dry.

18. Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.

19. Patient was alert and unresponsive.

20. Rectal exam revealed a normal size thyroid.

21. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.

22. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.

23. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.

24. Exam of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

25. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

26. The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stockbroker instead.

27. Skin: Somewhat pale but present.

28. The pelvic examination will be done later on the floor.

29. Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Blank, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.

30. Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.

31. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.

Hey, you have a good weekend if you can! I'll probably be back before Monday. But if you have any stories (true or not-but-funny) to share, please either post them as comments or email them to me and I'll post them on your behalf. Just go:

(and no spam, please....)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

A sneaky-but-apt snipe at doctors...

My good friend Frances from South Africa (and co-author with me of a new book to be published next year, see similar titles here ... ... OK, commercial over) sent me this subtle but wicked snipe at our favorite GPs'/primary doctors' legendary lack of graphological skills...

Doctors at a major London teaching hospital went on strike this morning. Hospital administrators as yet do not know what the doctors' demands are, as they're still waiting for a pharmacist to come and read what's written on the picket signs.

I just hope whoever writes up my chemotherapy scripts a) can do legible joined-up writing and b) is reasonably good at spelling.

And as for computerized prescriptions?

The last few times my GP/primary doc has tried to key in a prescription for me while I was in his office I had to help him with the spelling and the send commands so I didn't leave the medical centre with a course of pills to treat ingrown toenails on an orang-utan. (The doc's wife is a vet, but I doubt there's a connection.)

Here, now, in the UK it's teenage homework time so I had better turn back into my screaming harridan mode and ensure my 13-year-old son gets off MSN and on to his studies. Ho-hum.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Grania's party trick

I haven't actually asked her permission to tell this story but I know she won't mind (will you?) ... anyway my double-mastectomy pal Grania here in England has created the ultimate vacation party trick.

Having bought a selection of bathing suits/swimming costumes with inbuilt foam prostheses, she set off recently with her husband for two weeks' sunshine in a luxury resort on a Mediterranean island.

Most days, with a deadpan straight face she would step up out of the swimming pool, go up to the poolside bar, order a gin and tonic in a loud voice and simultaneously wring out both her "boobs" leaving two puddles, one roughly in front of each of her feet.

The sound of clinking ice cubes would, without fail each time, be preceded by the plops of several lower jaws hitting the jaunty mosaic floor.

...wish I had been a fly on the wall...

Monday, September 26, 2005

My latest news - and signs you need a new doctor

A quick update on my own cancer situation...

Despite my onco having given me a very guarded opinion - sitting on the fence, basically - on whether chemo is a good idea or not ... "only small percentage of benefit in your case, it's up to you..." I've decided to go for it. Should start in a couple of weeks.

Ah, what the heck. I've always hated washing/drying/styling my hair so the thought of a nice wig that I can throw into the laundry really appeals to me. And even if the percentage of benefit from chemo is small, I reckon it's worth having. Do you agree?

However, this recent fence-sitting on the part of my doctors has caused me to reconsider whether the advice I'm getting is the best possible or not. The following has helped me in my decision making process. (Once again, many thanks to the original author whoever s/he may be...)

Warning signs that you may need a new doctor:
  • The patient before you was a goat.
  • Instead of anesthetic he has you watch PBS.
  • He has an assistant named Igor.
  • The local bar association named him "Client of the Year."
  • Whenever he leaves the room his nurse makes duck noises.
  • During surgery he has to keep repeating that "thigh bone connected to the knee bone" song.
  • Mike Wallace and a film crew are hanging out in his waiting room.
  • He asks you to turn your head and cough during an eye exam.
  • You can beat him in a game of Operation.
  • All his medical books are from the Time-Life "Do-it-Yourself Series."
  • He has an office sharing arrangement with a mortician.

    Have a great week!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sunday groan

A quick corny giggle for today...

Just as a surgeon was finishing up an operation the patient woke up, sat up and demanded to know what was going on.

"I'm about to close," the surgeon said.

The patient grabbed his hand and said, "Oh, no you're not! I'll close my own incision."

The doctor handed him the needle and said, "Suture self."

(Well, it made me giggle.)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

More (breast) cancer humor

I've just registered on the US-based website and found that within their Discussion Boards section, there's a great humor forum. To join in you have to register, but there's no cost. Go

Friday, September 23, 2005

Terrific opportunity for UK cancer kids

Julie Dugan from Bournemouth, UK, writes:

I volunteer at a local charity in Bournemouth called the Youth Cancer Trust. It is a small charity that gives free holidays to young people with cancer.

I spent time one evening this week "babysitting" 4 teenage boys - 2 with cancer (each had brought a friend) it amazed me how they were so matter of fact about their tumours. I am sure that if I ask Brenda the wonderful lady who founded the charity (in memory of her daughter who died at the age of 21) she would have have some good jokes from the youngsers. I will forward them to you.

If you have a moment they have a website - it is

If you come across any young people who you feel would benefit please do not hesitate to contact me or the charity. My next big task for them is a "marketing" campaign to get more young people to the house. Fundraising has been going well - so they are able to offer more places now!

Please support Julie, Brenda and Co as much as you can - especially if you're based in the Bournemouth area.

And for our daily funny?

Well, while we're on the topic of kids, let's share this useful Q & A about pregnancy and childbirth. Once again, thanks to the original author whoever s/he may be...

Q: Should I have a baby after 35?
A: No, 35 children is enough.

Q: I'm two months pregnant now. When will my baby move?
A: With any luck, right after he finishes college.

Q: How will I know if my vomiting is morning sickness or the flu?
A: If it's the flu, you'll get better.

Q: What is the most common pregnancy craving?
A: For men to be the ones who get pregnant.

Q: What is the most reliable method to determine a baby's sex?
A: Childbirth.

Q: The more pregnant I get, the more often strangers smile at me. Why?
A: 'Cause you're fatter than they are.

Q: My wife is five months pregnant and so moody that sometimes she's borderline irrational.
A: So what's your question?

Q: What's the difference between a nine-month pregnant woman and a model?
A: Nothing (if the pregnant woman's husband knows what's good for him).

Q: How long is the average woman in labor?
A: Whatever she says divided by two.

Q: My childbirth instructor says it's not pain I'll feel during labor, but pressure. Is she right?
A: Yes, in the same way that a tornado might be called an air current.

Q: When is the best time to get an epidural?
A: Right after you find out you're pregnant.

Q: Is there any reason I have to be in the delivery room while my wife is in labor?
A: Not unless the word "alimony" means anything to you.

Q: Is there anything I should avoid while recovering from childbirth?
A: Yes, pregnancy.

Q: Does pregnancy cause hemorrhoids?
A: Pregnancy causes anything you want to blame it for.

Q: What does it mean when a baby is born with teeth?
A: It means that the baby's mother may want to rethink her plans to nurse/breastfeed.

Q: What is the best time to wean the baby from nursing/breastfeeding?
A: When you see teeth marks.

Q: Do I have to have a baby shower?
A: Not if you change the baby's diaper very quickly.

Q: Our baby was born last week. When will my wife begin to feel and act normal again?
A: When the kids are in college.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Martin's in a flap...

Martin Pick from Milton Keynes, UK, writes ...

"Two years ago I was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer. After a couple of ops and one dose of chemo it was decided I needed a more comprehensive course and was put on a fairly new treatment whereby live TB is injected directly into the bladder.

The way this is done is through a catheter. On my first of 6 appointments I was propped on the nurse's couch, trousers round my ankles, nervously waiting for this first treatment.

(I had already been warned that many patients cannot finish this treatment as it is quite aggressive and can cause all sorts of problems with the water works - so I did not know how I was going to react. And this was 10 days before Christmas!)

The nurse (she was fabulous) started to prepare all the tubes etc., etc., and whilst at her table with her back to me said "right - pull your flaps back".

Well, I am not of the Jewish faith so grabbed my willy, expecting her to come at me with catheter "et al".

As she turned to see me with willy in hand and skin pulled back she roared with laughter.

"No," she said, "your FLAPS!"

She meant for me to hold my shirt tails up out of the way."

No wonder people say that truth is stranger (and funnier) than fiction. Happily Martin is in remission. Many thanks to him for sharing his flaps with us!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Decisions, decisions

Being a tight-fisted old trout I'm holding off from making an appointment to get my hair cut and coloured until I know if I am to have chemo or not. No point spending loadsamoney on a good hair day if it's all going to fall out on a no hair day in a couple of weeks. Tomorrow evening's (Sept 22nd) meet with the oncologist will reveal all and indicate whether my hairdresser is going to get lucky or not.

In the meantime I have been conducting a major review of my lifestyle in an attempt to get truly fit and healthy. The following Q & A information has been especially helpful...with thanks to its original author, whoever s/he may be.

Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?

A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable slurry.

Q: Are beer or wine bad for me?

A: Look, it goes back to the earlier point about fruits and vegetables. As we all know, scientists divide everything in the world into three categories: animal, mineral, and vegetable. We all know that beer and wine are not animal, and they are not on the periodic table of elements, so that only leaves one thing, right? Here's a tip: have a burger and a beer and enjoy your liquid vegetables.

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have a body, and you have body fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: At the gym, a guy asked me to "spot" for him while he did the bench press. What did he mean?

A: "Spotting" for someone means you stand over him while he blows air up your shorts. It's an accepted practice at health clubs; though if you find that it becomes the ONLY reason why you're going in, you probably ought to re-evaluate your exercise program.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. The best philosophy is: No Pain = No Pain.

Q: If I stop smoking, will I live longer?

A: Nope. Smoking is a sign of individual expression and peace of mind. If you stop, you'll probably stress yourself to death in record time.

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?

A: You're not listening. Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: What's the secret to healthy eating?

A: Thicker gravy.

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

With luck this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about
trying to live a longer and healthier life...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Have you got furniture disease?

...that's when your chest begins to slide down into your drawers.

Although having recently acquired an ultra-lightweight breast prosthesis (to use while the incision is healing up) I'm aware that there could be an upward - as well as downward - problem.

If anyone seeing me in the local supermarket notices a spaceship-shaped object creeping north and lurking under my left ear, please tap me on the shoulder discreetly so I can hoik it back down into my bra.

However: na, na na na, nah ... MY current (left) boobie doesn't stand a snowflake's chance in H*ll of sliding into my drawers. It's too light to go anywhere but out to the garage (once I get the permanent prosthesis) to help wash the car.

Now is that one of life's little compensations, or what?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

It will soon be "poke and peek" time...

Although in recent weeks I've been in a flurry of breast cancer issues we mustn't forget my original introduction to the disease, i.e. superficial bladder cancer. I'm reminded of that specifically by the fact that my (now) annual check will be due next month ... laughingly known as a "poke and peek." Basically it means my dear urologist will once again be directing a periscope up my frontal nether regions to see if the beast has returned there.

I was diagnosed with this one about two and a half years ago and went through a TURBT (trans-urethral resection of bladder tumour) followed by a one-off intra-vesical chemo session.

All gobbledegook and jargon unless you've been there yourself, but hey - the good news about early (and even advanced) bladder cancer is that it has a relatively low mortality rate. In other words, it's one of the cancers least likely to kill you, even if it has begun to spread.

Through my bladder cancer issues I discovered a wonderful self-help website and discussion list called "Bladder Cancer Web Cafe" which you'll find here:

Much as I admire the information-only websites that tackle pretty much every type of cancer I have to say that this one really has helped me get through the illness more than any other - because it also contains input from warriors, not just doctors and other experts.

If you, or anyone you know, is a bladder cancer warrior then that's the place for you to find not only information, but also the comfort of exchanging experiences with numerous others with the same illness.

And that leads me on to ACOR - the Association of Cancer Online Resources.

I haven't had time to explore each type of cancer represented individually by this group, but it strikes me as a resource that will provide a rather more holistic type of help to cancer warriors whatever the "brand" of their disease. To go there...

And as we're here to have a laugh - not just tackle the serious stuff - here follows a notice sent out some time ago by a North American ER (UK version, Casualty or Accident and Emergency) department to their staff...

It has come to our attention from several emergency rooms that many EMS narratives have taken a decidedly creative direction lately. Effective immediately, all members are to refrain from using slang and abbreviations to describe patients, such as the following.

1) Cardiac patients should not be referred to as suffering from MUH (messed up heart), PBS (pretty bad shape), PCL (pre-code looking) or HIBGIA (had it before, got it again).

2) Stroke patients are NOT "Charlie Carrots." Nor are rescuers to use CCFCCP(Coo Coo for Cocoa Puffs) to describe their mental state.

3) Trauma patients are not CATS (cut all to shit), FDGB (fall down, go boom), TBC (total body crunch) or "hamburger helper." Similarly, descriptions of a car crash do not have to include phrases like "negative vehicle to vehicle interface" or "terminal deceleration syndrome."

4) HAZMAT teams are highly trained professionals, not "glow worms."

5) Persons with altered mental states as a result of drug use are not considered "pharmaceutically gifted."

6) Gunshot wounds to the head are not "trans-occipital implants."

7) The homeless are not "urban outdoorsmen," nor is endotracheal intubation referred to as a "PVC Challenge."

8) And finally, do not refer to recently deceased persons as being "paws up," ART (assuming room temperature), CC (Cancel Christmas), CTD (circling the drain), DRT (dead right there) or NLPR (no long playing records).

I know you will all join me in respecting the cultural diversity of our patients to include their medical orientations in creating proper narratives and log entries.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Medics' views of a new hospital wing

Hurray, it's the weekend and today my stitches were removed. So I'm now able to walk and smile at the same time. For your enjoyment, here are the reactions noted by various medical departments when their hospital's new wing was opened...(thanks to the original author, whoever you are.)

The allergists voted to scratch it.

The dermatologists preferred no rash moves.

The gastroenterologists had a gut feeling about it.

The neurologists thought the administration had a lot of nerve.

The obstreticians stated they were laboring under a misconception.

The ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted.

The orthopaedists issued a joint resolution.

The pathologists yelled, "over my dead body!"

The pediatricians said, "grow up."

The proctologists said, "We are in arrears."

The psychiatrists thought it was madness.

The surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.

The radiologists could see right through it.

The internists thought it was a hard pill to swallow.

The plastic surgeons said, "This puts a whole new face on the matter."

The podiatrists thought it was a big step forward.

The urologists felt the scheme wouldn't hold water.

The cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

How to prepare for a hospital stay

Getting away from breasts today and focusing on more general issues, here is some sage advice for anyone about to go into hospital for treatment, surgery, etc. Many thanks to its original author (whoever you are) for sharing it with us here.

Now, going to the hospital is never a fun to begin with, but with these tips you should be able to prepare for your stay, and minimize the discomfort when you get there.

1. Lay nude on the front lawn and ask the weed man to probe you with his applicator.
2. Drink a quart of Sherwin-Williams Eggshell One-Coat Coverage Interior Flat White #2. Then have your child stuff his slinky down your throat.
3. Put a real estate agent's 'Open House' sign on your front yard and lie on your bed dressed in a paper napkin with straws stuck up your nose.
4. Put your hand down the garbage disposal unit while practicing your smile and repeating: "mild discomfort".
5. Set your alarm to go off every ten minutes from ten PM to seven AM, at which times you will alternately puncture your wrist with a Craftsman (squarehead) screwdriver and stab yourself with a knitting needle.
6. Remove all actual food from the house.
7. With several strands of Christmas lights strung from a coat stand and onto yourself, walk slowly up and down the hall.
8. Urinate into an empty lipstick tube.
9. Rub a bit of honey on your left buttock, drop your pants, go over to a wasps nest, bend over and shake it just a bit.
10. Make sure that there is no toilet paper in your bathroom, eat a bowl of cherries, and have your partner ignore you completely as you plead for him/her to come and bring you a roll of the paper gold.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Joke for today...(OK, we're still into breasts)

I hope no-one finds this offensive ... but then, this isn't a blog about being Politically Correct.

You'll find lots of those elsewhere on the Internet.

A woman and a baby were in the doctor's examining room, waiting for the doctor to come in for the baby's first exam. The doctor arrived, examined the baby, checked his weight, and being a little concerned, asked if the baby was breast fed or bottle fed.

"Breast fed" she replied.

"Well, strip down to your waist," the doctor ordered. She did. He pinched her nipples, then pressed, kneaded, and rubbed both breasts for a while in a detailed examination. Motioning to her to get dressed, he said, "no wonder this baby is underweight. You don't have any milk."

"I know," she said, "I'm his Grandma, but I'm sure glad I came."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

OK, let's get these jokes on the road - no messing

I've just spent some time looking through what Google suggests are cancer jokes, and I have to say I'm disappointed. No matter what website you look at, the same gags are there. To me they're not that funny and believe me, I can laugh in the face of most disasters.

We can do better than that - can't we!

So, let's move on from what's there already and look at some other vaguely relevant jokes which genuinely are funny. Well, I think so. Feel free to disagree and post alternatives - either as comments here, or email them to me and I'll post them. Addie is suze @ (cut and paste then knock out the spaces ... anti-spam device, I'm afraid.)

As I've got breast cancer on the brain - and pretty much everywhere else at the moment - here's my starter about a topic all of us breast cancer warriors know only too well: mammograms. Source/author unknown but whoever you are, thank you - please don't expect us to pay you because a) this blog is non-commercial and b) we're all potless anyway.

Many women are afraid of their first mammogram but there is no need to worry. By taking a few minutes each day for a week preceding the exam and doing the following practice exercises, you will be totally prepared for the test, and best of all, you can do these simple practice exercises right in your home.

Exercise 1
Open your refrigerator door and insert one breast between the door and the main box. Have one of your strongest friends slam the door shut as hard as possible and lean on the door for good measure. Hold that position for five seconds. Repeat again in case the first time wasn't effective enough.

Exercise 2
Visit your garage at 3 AM when the temperature of the cement floor is just perfect. Take off all your clothes and lie comfortably on the floor with one breast wedged under the rear tire of the car. Ask a friend to slowly back the car up until your breast is sufficiently flattened and chilled. Turn over and repeat for the other breast.

Exercise 3
Freeze two metal bookends overnight. Strip to the waist. Invite a stranger into the room. Press the frozen bookends against one your breasts. Smash the bookends together as hard as you can. Set an appointment with the stranger to meet next year and do it again.

You are now properly prepared.

I'm now a fully paid-up Monoboob

Well, I got back from hospital this weekend and am still carrying my "grenade" (as Barb Greng called her drains, see below) with its gradually increasing content of "Hawaiian Punch."

Actually I take issue with Barb here. The UK version of her "grenade" is more like a Molotov Cocktail; bottle shaped with a handy large grip at the top for easy throwing. Fortunately its contents are not nearly so explosive as the Molotov variety but are equally unsavoury. In fact if someone were to throw it at me, I'm not sure which I'd prefer - the lymphatic gunk or flaming gasolene. Hmmm.

Because I have already started driving to fetch my son from the school bus and do a little light grocery shopping, I now carry the Molotov Cocktail around in a natty little Louis Vuitton (fake, of course, purchased in Spain for all of 10 Euros) shoulder bag. Who says a mastectomy can't be stylish?

In a few days the histology reports should be back and I will then know if am to be marinated (chemo,) barbecued (radio) or both. Already I am taking a nice new hormone drug called Arimidex which promises to give me hot flashes, aching joints and in all probability a beard, chest hair and a deep voice too. Ah well, at least if I get marinated that should take care of the chest hair. Life has its compensations.

In the meantime I am doing a little work, taking frequent breaks to browse through a stack of mastectomy bra / prostheses catalogues. Now, shall I pick a symmetrical, an asymmetrical, a contour oval, a tresia personally, a classic standard, a two-layer, a lightweight, a self-supporting ... and that's just the bra straps...

And did you know you can buy separate nipples? That's for girls who've had a reconstruction without a nipple being part of the deal, perhaps because the surgeon couldn't find appropriate bunions or moles on their bodies out of which to make DIY ones. At £15 a pair (U$D 26) the falsies are not cheap - and they don't even offer a facility to retract or stand out according to the exterior temperature. Bah, humbug!

Anyway, I haven't heard any good breast-related jokes lately but here is one about different body parts that always breaks me up...

A cardiac specialist died and at his funeral the coffin was placed in front of a huge mock up of a heart made up of flowers.

When the pastor finished with the sermon and eulogy, and after everyone said their good-byes, the heart opened, the coffin rolled inside and the heart closed. Just then one of the mourners burst into laughter.

The guy next to him asked: "Why are you laughing?"

"I was thinking about my own funeral" the man replied.

"What's so funny about that?"

"I'm a gynaecologist."

Monday, September 05, 2005

Not for Official Eyes...

UK Police, if you should happen to be reading this please click on to something else, OK.

Over here in the UK as you probably know, we drive on the left hand side of the road, with our steering wheel etc. to the right.

As my immediately forthcoming mastectomy is to be on the left hand side, and my car is a "standard" / "stick shift" / "manual" ... I have to confess I have spent the last few days teaching my son Tom (his band's website is here, plug, plug... to shift gear for me. Happily he is getting the hang of it well.

Together we should prove to be a formidable driving team, although dragster events in our Citroen station wagon should probably be postponed for now, despite these well-rehearsed team efforts.

Who else has suffered from driving issues along these lines?

Come on guys, where are you?

Cancer is not a disease totally devoted to women, you know. Let's hear from some of you males who want to share a therapeutic chuckle too.

Try this site for size - it's great!

....and then come back and share more of your funny stories here.

There are many, many more websites along these lines and I'm not trying to compete with them ... in fact I'm very happy to keep researching them and passing their URLs on here.

But what really counts is communication.

Let's make our cancer network one that dwarfs all the business, commercial, social, political, and other ones. We can do it and we should. How does it go in those commercials?

"Because we're worth it."

We sure are.

Christine Clifford's Cancer Club

My good friend Barb Grengs mailed me a copy of Cancer Has Its Privileges - Stories Of Hope And Laughter by Christine Clifford. I read it cover to cover without putting it down (guess the laundry and the office work will just have to wait.) It's a collection of short anecdotes, poems and shared experiences of cancer survivors - very inspiring, no matter what type of cancer you have and how long you've had it.

Christine is also the founder of The Cancer Club, "a company designed to market humorous and helpful products internationally for people who have cancer." Their website is well worth checking out here: You can buy this book plus a range of other titles and products from the website.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

"Oh-no" moments with breast prostheses ... who's got the funniest story?

Further to Barb Grengs' wonderful experience when her dog ran off with the lightweight "boobie" and shook it to death, I recalled another one after my mother had her mastectomy some six years ago.

On a hot summer's day, lightly clad, she leaned over our garden pond to show the neighbour's children where they might see frogs and newts. As she did so the (obviously not secured) prosthesis plopped out of her top and landed, glutinous and trembling, on a lily pad.

"Goodness me, what a big frog!" my mother chuckled through gritted teeth, grabbing the offending amphibian and carrying it off out of sight. "I'll just put him in the bushes ... be right back."

Then the other day my breastcare nurse told me about one of her other patients who, permanent prosthesis in place, sat next to a man at a dinner party who spent some time telling her how off-putting and sexually discouraging breast surgery was to a "real man" like him.

During a few minutes' respite while he was out taking a comfort break, she removed her prosthesis and plonked it into his unfinished bowl of fruit salad. When he returned she excused herself, saying she was now going to the ladies, and reminded him to be sure and finish his dessert.

Come on, there must be many more such stories, so please share them! Then if we gather enough we might publish them in a book entitled "150 other uses for breast prostheses" ... what do you think?

Friday, September 02, 2005

So - where are the jokes, then?

People have asked me where they can find jokes about cancer and the answer is, lots of places on the internet!

All I did was key in the appropriate words into Google and here are the first few results:

But ... there are many, many more. To access them just key in cancer+jokes into Google or your favorite search engine.

And stay tuned to this little weblog, because here we Cancer Warriors hope to capture some humor that will laugh off everything else.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

"Sick" joke

Doctor to lady patient: "I have good news and bad news."
Patient: "Let's start with the bad news."
Doctor: "I'm afraid we performed a mastectomy on the wrong breast."
Patient: "Oh no! What's the good news?"
Doctor: "Your other breast was misdiagnosed - the lump is benign."

Bye, bye, boobie by Barbara Grengs

The following two-part story was sent to me by US author and friend Barb Grengs. I read it only a day or two after my breast cancer diagnosis and despite still reeling from the shock, burst out laughing several times over Barb's wickedly funny descriptions. She has given permission for me to share the story with you here - enjoy!

Part 1

No, this is not a memoir about my ex-husband. Let's just get this straight at the outset.My recent divorce was just beginning to settle when I got the unsettling news about the cancer. Not to worry; I blamed this on the ex as well. We all know that stress can cause cancer, right! I knew of several friends who had "lost" a husband (mine was lost in England with his mistress) and then discovered cancer. It was like the cancer was waiting for a cozy spot to settle while my immune system was looking the other way. Well, the cancer did find a nice cozy place to settle: my right breast.

When the doctor called with the "news," I thought, "Oh sh*t," but said, "What's the next step, Doc?" It's important not to offend or alienate the guys and gals wearing the suits, especially when they have control of certain body parts. I made an appointment with the surgeon. Just a pointer here: take someone who is not emotionally attached to the appendage/organ being removed. Another positive about being single; my ex really thought I had a nice "set." I wouldn't have to worry about disrupting his quality world since I'd been deleted.

The Doc, my friend, my daughter, and I talked options; it's important to know what's on the menu. The lump was quite large (3.5 cm., the size of a golf ball) and my boob was quite small (smaller than a baseball). My higher math skills raced to the challenge: baseball minus golf ball = ping pong ball. Thus, I nixed the lumpectomy. I wanted to avoid the tanning booth (radiation), and I wanted to make sure the dreaded "C" was gone and since my boob would be obliterated anyway, I decided on the mastectomy.

I have since read that when the diagnosis is made there are two types of women: the one who researches incessantly on the internet and the one who says, "Get rid of the damn thing." Needless to say, I fell into the second category, mainly because I am a computer retard and by the time I figured out the net, the cancer would have spread to my adenoids.

After the consultation, my friend, my daughter, and I went to dinner to chat about THE DECISION. On the way to the restaurant, my daughter and I started joking around about chemo, turbans, boobs, and her father, when out of the blue, my kid says, "Mom, if you were a game, you'd be Uno, and if I were a game, I'd be Yahtzee." With that comment, she threw open her coat and displayed a neat pair of 40's. I nearly drove off the road which would have eliminated the need for surgery entirely.

We then went on to joking about a One-Stop Cancer Shop for the stylish, specializing in funky wigs, scarves and turbans for those having a "no hair day" and a specialized boob buffet so picking out that perfect prosthesis would be a snap.

My first inclination for a quick and easy replacement boob was to put bird seed in a ziploc and attach it with duct tape. Just a quick sidebar here. I haven't been on the DATING SCENE for 27 years, and needless to say, I was out of the loop. The first guy who had the nerve to ask me out was a bird watcher. Our date was to go to Southern Minnesota where the eagles were hanging out. He even suggested that we might "get lucky" and see a hooded merganser. I quickly ran to my bird book and checked out the merganser section and found both the hooded and red-breasted merganser. I figured if he showed me his hooded merganser, I'd show my red-breasted merganser. The bird seed might come in handy.

Now back to picking out a prosthesis. The thought of velcro is another possibility, but that would mean another surgery. In fact, velcro attached organs might change the face of cosmetic surgery forever. Imagine what you could do with interchangeable buns, boobs, and lips--what great Halloween costumes. My daughter has since suggested pudding and then snack time would be taken care of. But the most impressive recommendation came from the Cancer Lady who visited me in the hospital. She insisted on Nordstrom's as the creme de la creme of prosthetics. So my daughter and I drove to the Megamall to check out hotsy totsy boobies. Little did I know that this process was second only to picking out your wedding dress, and we all know how important that is. A very snooty woman, a Prosthetics Specialist, said I needed an appointment and she was booked for the next two weeks. Well, la-de-dah. Back to the bird seed.

The surgery itself wasn't that bad given the extremes of a breech birth or a lobotomy. I personally enjoyed the "grenades." Let me explain. Sewed neatly to my right side and armpit were two separate plastic tubes that led to two plastic bottles used to collect gunk the color of Hawaiian punch which I will never drink again. Several times each day I had to "bleed" the lines, record the quantity and color of the gunk. My daughter would stand outside the bathroom door and squeal "gross," making that a multi-syllable word as only young people can. It was close to Christmas and I couldn't help but wonder what Martha Stewart would make of the "grenades": add a few sequins and a pinch of marzipan and you've got a centerpiece that squirts.

I was not to escape hospital incarceration until two criteria were met: I had to learn how to empty and clean the "grenades", a task that any "idiot could learn to do in five minutes" or so sayeth my wiseth asseth surgeon, he who owneth both of his boobs. Task number two was to listen to a wonderful volunteer from the Cancer Society. This woman was a hoot! She opened up whole new worlds for me. She'd had a double mastectomy three years before and talked about picking her prostheses. Quickly scanning her chest, she stated she had on her weekend boobs; evidently these were more casual, perhaps made of flannel or denim. They were softly understated. And then she quickly added, she also had PARTY boobs. I could only imagine Dolly Parton tits bursting forth from a sequined party dress. These boobs would glisten and glitter; these boobs would croon, "Whatta ya say, Big Boy, your place or mine." My ex would pay!

She then gave me my very first prosthesis, something I could wear home from the hospital, as if I cared. I was worried about finding a home for the two "grenades" bulging from my sweatshirt. The booby was tastefully hidden in a brown fabric bag along with numerous pamphlets from the Cancer Society. She started to giggle when I opened the bag because she had obviously misjudged my size. This boob, stuffed to the max with fiberfill, could have, when alive, fed an entire African village. Man, this puppy was huge.I could hardly wait to get home to dog, cats, and kid, home to cat hair, dog toys, empty pop cans, and my own bed.

My dog nearly wiggled himself to death when he saw me. With "grenades" dangling, I loved my puppy, sighing in contentment knowing that my relationship with my dog far exceeded my relationship with my ex. My dog was a nifty replacement: far less maintenance and I could kennel him at night. The first thing the dog did was rummage through my hospital gear including the discreet brown fabric bag. Without hesitation, he rooted around and came up with MONGO BOOB! He ran around, mouth stuffed with fiberfill, shaking it furiously, making sure it was dead. I have since resurrected the saliva stained boob, sewed the opening shut so the fiberfill won't escape, and given it to the dog. "Go fetch the boob, boy," fills those awkward conversational lulls that often accompany first dates.

If I ever am fortunate enough to have a second date, I've created the perfect line: when he stares at my "boy" side, I'll just smile coyly and say, "Breast reduction surgery gone bad." Who knows, I might get lucky and experience a merganser sighting.

Part 2: Boobless in St Paul

My remaining breast went to Boob Heaven Friday June 25th at noon. It was a relatively quiet ceremony with only a few close friends attending. At the request of the newly departed, flowers and memorials were minimal. The chaplain said a few words of encouragement before I said goodbye to a very special part of my body.

I opted for the surgery because I wanted peace of mind. Being fifty-five and single, I saw no need to keep the breast since I hadn't planned on breast feeding my grandchildren nor was I planning a career as a geriatric stripper.

Back in January, only a month after I had the first mastectomy, I had a mammogram on my left breast. The radiologist called and wanted to do further x-rays because he saw a "suspicious" thickening. Immediately my daughter and I panicked and we both spent several sleepless nights anticipating the worst. The worrying was for naught and the doctors assured me there was no cancer in the left breast. I was to continue taking the tamoxifen and have another mammogram in six months.

My motto, "Better living through drugs" served me well when I consider this past year, but the tamoxifen was not a drug I enjoyed taking. Hot flashes returned with a vengeance and I dressed in so many layers I actually started to look like a matronly street person. My students would laugh as I stripped, while I assured them that in time they, too, would experience menopausal moments.

I had three choices according to my oncologist: stop taking the drug and risk breast cancer in the left breast, take drugs to counteract the drugs, or have a prophylactic mastectomy. So I took control of my body and with the support of my oncologist, my surgeon, and my daughter, opted to have the breast removed. As of June 25th, I am nearly l00% certain to be breast cancer free for the remainder of my life.

The hospital stay was shortened to one night since the surgery was less radical. It's a damn good thing I ran out of breasts because the next surgery would probably have been a drive through or a do it yourself job.

The stay was not without some points of interest namely the woman in the adjacent room. She had just had a mastectomy and was very angry and scared. She was yelling at her family and the nurses; it was hard to listen to for several reasons. One, I knew exactly how she was feeling and two, I knew that she was alienating those very people she needed. When she was walking in the hall, I decided to have a chat with her.

During the course of our conversation, she asked several questions about the pinching, stinging pain she was feeling. I knew that would continue several weeks/months after the surgery because it was a sign of nerve regeneration. She asked me what I was most afraid of and without batting an eye, I said, "Chemo." Puking is not my idea of recreation.

She agreed and I told her what had helped me. When I found out about the cancer surgery, I decided to tell my high school seniors what was happening to me. I didn't want rumors circulating and I didn't want to disappear from their lives for several weeks without explanation. I also told them of my fears and after class, a young woman came up to me and said, "Mrs. Grengs, you don't have to be afraid of chemo. I've had it twice and it isn't as bad as you might think."

That beautiful young woman became my hero; if she could undergo chemo at seventeen, so could I at fifty-five. Fortunately, my cancer did not require chemo because the cancerous tumor was encapsulated by a fibrous tumor and had not spread into the lymph nodes. I shared that with my "neighbor" as well. Maybe she would be as fortunate.

Her husband came by to thank me for listening to her and understanding what she was experiencing. My visits to the oncology ward have provided me with many life lessons, the most valuable being to stop whining and count my blessings.

When I got home, my animal friends were thrilled to see me. My huge long-haired male cat, saw the "grenade" dangling from my side, and assumed I'd been in the hospital for a permanent cat toy transplant. How thoughtful of me! He batted contentedly while purring on my lap. I felt pretty darned frisky and went out for pizza Saturday evening. If anyone stared at the juice bottle at my side, I tried to pass it off as a colorful pager.

All in all, I've been blessed with competent and humane medical staff and supportive family and friends. And I never have to be bothered with wearing a bra.

Furthermore, I can run without bouncing, bend over without anyone trying to look down my blouse, and swing a golf club unencumbered. My boobs will never sag and those tasteless jokes and cards about gravity and its effects will never apply to me. So eat your hearts out Baywatch babes. Boobless in St. Paul is ready to boogie.