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

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Ah, alternatives ... aren't we lucky to have them?

When I was first diagnosed with cancer and declared it publicly, a great friend - experienced in these things already - warned me to beware of people emerging from the shadows with weird and wonderful remedies for almost any medical problem, most of which would bear little resemblance to those prescribed by conventional medics.

Having no problems about contemplating alternative supplements and therapies that help compensate for the inadequacies of our modern lifestyle, I'm pretty well disposed to new ideas regarding any of the issues we have to deal with every day. Not just cancer, but life in general.

However there are a few of these notions that really strike me as a bit OTT. Am I being unreasonable? See what you think of the following ...


** If you are choking on an ice cube, don't panic. Simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat and presto. The blockage will be almost instantly removed.

** Clumsy? Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

** Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the toilet seat by simply using the sink.

** For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.

** A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

** If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives, then you will be afraid to cough.

** Have a bad toothache? Smash your thumb with a hammer and you will forget about the toothache.


Have a great week!


Friday, January 27, 2006

Herceptin - a serious moment

Readers in North America may be horrified to learn that here in the UK our National Health Service is somewhat backward in coming forward - depending on which area of the country you live in - to allow funded treatment for early stage Her2 positive breast cancer cases.

The only NHS approved funded treatment currently is for advanced BC. Some NHS areas are relenting on early stage BC cases and coughing up; some aren't.

However attitudes - and financial unwillingness - are beginning to change.

The progress that is being made is largely due to several brave people campaigning in the UK to put this right. Just today (Jan 27th) there was a heart-warming story on the BBC's news website about Barbara Clark - click here to view.

And another brave warrior, Dot Griffiths, has started a campaign, "Women Fighting For Herceptin," with its own website - click here.

Without people like Barbara, Dot et al Heaven knows how much longer the fight would take. If you're sympathetic to the cause, please sign up to Dot's petition on "Women Fighting For Herceptin" ... there's no donation required, you don't need to be UK based, and every bit helps.

OK, next post will be jokey. Promise.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

That broccoli has a lot to answer for...

My recent postings seem to have caused something of a stir in the world's vegetable racks. The following are the thoughts of my good friend and colleague Nicola Cooper-Abbs, whose feelings about broccoli are almost as passionate as my own...


I’ve had an irrational fear of broccoli for as long as I can remember. It fits well with my irrational fear of donuts and thunder. I’m pretty sure my fear of the green trees started with my mother’s obsession with that vegetable. My mum has always been pretty good about looking after herself. She used to come in late from work and prepare herself an evening meal, maybe a jacket potato, maybe a fish pie, maybe a piece of chicken. Whatever the meal, whatever the mood, it was always accompanied by those evil green trees.

Big, hulking, steamy lumps of broccoli simmering away in the pan. Bluergh. Even the smell was enough to make you leave the country. I used to have nightmares about giant trees of broccoli chasing me through the countryside, pinning me down and dropping into my mouth to curse me with their unholy goodness. My mum used to take great delight in asking me to chop up her broccoli or chase me round the kitchen with it (wonder where those nightmares came from).

Somewhere, and I’m not sure how it happened, I developed a liking for broccoli. It was insidious. I ate it one night not knowing what it was and before I knew it I was craving more. Evil, haunted broccoli has infected my brain. They say coffee and alcohol are addictive - they ain’t got nothing on broccoli.

But the broccoli addiction paid off for my mum - she is incredibly fit and healthy and at this very moment is in training to walk the Inca Trail. In October this year she will take on the 10 day trek to raise money for the Breast Cancer Campaign. If you’d like to sponsor her to raise money for a great cause (and distract her from the broccoli for a few days) then go to


Nicola told me that her mother is doing this fund-raising trek in memory of a very close friend who was a breast cancer warrior. Sounds like a great idea, with an even greater purpose.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Latest news: vegetables are dangerous

If I read any more stories about the health-giving properties of broccoli (see "Beautiful Broccoli" here) I will scream. It's all lies. In fact I now think broccoli is the most dangerous vegetable of all. I don't care if prevents cancer - it was directly to blame for a grievous accident last night...

Having choked on a floret of that brutal brassica, I trotted off to the washroom rather than entertain my dinner guests with the unappetizing sound effects of coughing and spluttering. On my way there my foot caught on a cable and over I went on my ankle.

Damn and curse the dreaded broccoli! Boy, did I turn the air the colour of blueberries with my folkloric words and phrases!

Now I have a foot that looks like a ripe aubergine and feels like someone dropped a giant pumpkin on it. Can't drive, can't walk without shuffling as if I had a ball and chain attached to that foot, and can't remember where I left my sense of humour. (In the vegetable rack, maybe?)

Ah well, I suppose that's all part of getting older. If you're a baby boomer, like me, you'll appreciate these suitably re-written song titles:


Paul Simon -- "Fifty Ways to Lose Your Liver"
Carly Simon -- 'You're So Varicose Vein"
The Bee Gees -- "How Can You Mend a Broken Hip"
Roberta Flack -- "The First Time Ever I Forgot Your Face"
Johnny Nash -- "I Can't See Clearly Now"
The Temptations -- "Papa Got a Kidney Stone"
Nancy Sinatra -- "These Boots Are Made For Bunions"
ABBA -- "Denture Queen"
Leo Sayer -- "You Make Me Feel Like Napping"
Commodores -- "Once, Twice, Three Times My Back's Out"
Procol Harem -- "A Whiter Shade of Hair"
Steely Dan -- "Rikki Don't Lose That Clapper"
Herman's Hermits -- "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Walker"
Credence Clearwater Revival -- "Bad Prune Rising"
Marvin Gaye -- "I Heard It Through the Grape Nuts"
The Who -- "Talkin' 'Bout My Medication"
The Troggs -- "Bald Thing"


Don't forget to eat your greens ... carefully.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Just call me FatFingers

Raucous laughter at our friendly neighbourhood onco unit last week when I happened to ask if they knew why my left (the side on which the good surgeon chopped out a dozen armpit lymph nodes) hand and wrist now looked like a string of giant bratwurst sausages.

"How many hours did you say you were doing per day writing that book of yours?" snorted one of the nurses. I told her. "And you're surprised? You're lucky your whole arm isn't the size of one of those French horsehair bolsters. Here, take this video home and watch it."

Off I trotted, antique VHS format videocassette in hand, wondering if we still had a VHS player in the house and if so whether the cats had walked on the controls and reprogrammed/ruined it like they did to my fax machine. My son sneered down his nose at this ancient piece of pre-technology but obligingly rummaged in the attic for a VHS player and hooked it up. We settled down to watch the show.

Now, the VHS technology might have been pure 1980s but the model chosen to demonstrate lymphedema massage was straight-out-of-the-noughties Politically Correct; a post-mastectomy man, poor chap. However the fact that he was a big, fat middle-aged fellow with body and chest hair the texture of Sherwood Forest didn't help me to understand the technique. I found it tricky to relate the places he was stimulating on his thicket of coarse Norwegian Pines to the equivalent places on my still half-bosomed, hair-free chest. The voice-over narration droned on incomprehensibly, the script no doubt having been written by an expert (they're the last people who should ever write training or explanatory material, because they know too much.)

Three times we watched the video and with each showing I became more confused. "Do we have to watch this again, Mum?" asked my son through clenched teeth as I reached for the video player once more. I pulled the cassette out of the machine and said no.

"I guess I'll just have to be FatFingers," I grunted. But then I remembered a friend of a friend who is a Lymphedema nurse ... aha, the lovely Yvonne. She will be getting a call from me very soon. In the meantime I just wish there were a pill I could pop to shrink my giant bratwursts ... to regular weiner (frankfurter) size would be good. In the meantime, here are some other pills for women to pop that can make us all feel a little better...


Take 2 and the rest of the world can go to hell for up to 8 hours.

St. M O M 'S W O R T
Plant extract that treats mom's depression by rendering preschoolers unconscious for up to six hours.

Highly effective suppository that eliminates melancholy by enhancing the memory of how awful they were as teenagers and how you couldn't wait till they moved out.

Liquid silicone for single women. Two full cups swallowed before an evening out increases breast size, decreases intelligence, and improves flirting.

When taken with Peptobimbo, can cause dangerously low I.Q. causing enjoyment of country & western music.

Potent antibiotic for older women. Increases resistance to such lines as, "You make me want to be a better person ... can we get naked now?"

B U Y- A G R A
Injectable stimulant taken prior to shopping. Increases potency and duration of spending spree.
Extra Strength BUY-ONE-AL When combined with Buyagra, can cause an indiscriminate buying frenzy so severe the victim may even come home with a Donnie Osmond CD or a book by Dr. Laura.

Relieves headache caused by a man who can't remember your birthday, anniversary or phone number.

A spray carried in a purse or wallet to be used on anyone too eager to share their life stories with total strangers.

More effective than Excedrin in treating the, "Not now, dear, I have a headache," syndrome.


Love to all


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Chemohair...such an issue!

Hi everyone and welcome back to CCS after the Holidays. A happy, healthy 2006 to you all.

At my last (4th) epirubicin session on January 5th we had a particularly hairy afternoon, one way or another. Bradley the gorgeous Golden Retriever guide dog spent some considerable time with his head on my lap, hence depositing hair on my knees etc (no problem though, am used to it!) and several of us were comparing bald heads as well as early regrowth of hair among breast cancer girls in the second half of their chemo - on CMF.

To my astonishment I was the only girl (well, old trout, actually) in there who was wearing a wig. Everyone else is into hats, scarves and turbans. Why not me? My scalp itches like crazy and I know scarves and turbans are much more comfortable. Is my wig thing just vanity then? Or could it possibly have something to do with the fact that in a hat I look like Humpty Dumpty with a cowpat on his head?

Hmmmm ... anyway, here are some links to further thoughts on this wig issue from other cancer warriors. Have a look at those and then please come back here with your own thoughts - I would be fascinated to know which wins in the head covering stakes ... hats/scarves/turbans or wigs??

Love to all