Fran DiGiacomo was my mentor in laughing at cancer itself with her book “I’d Rather Do Chemo Than Clean Out the Garage: Choosing Laughter Over Tears.” Her humor was life-giving to me. Unlike me, writing to you from the recovery side of this valley, Fran writes with the prespective of someone who knows she will be in treatment for the rest of her life — which she has chosen to enjoy! Fran developed a questionnaire for her surgery staff, and designed a special T-shirt to wear each time she checks into the hospital for surgery. I pray that you and I will not need to spend that much time in the hospital, but we can learn from her proactive approach.
Based on her inspiration, when I had to go to the hospital for a test or procedure, I would bring a joke to share. I’d first ask “Have you heard any good jokes today?” Although I was sad everyone said no, at least I didn’t have to worry that my joke was too lame, as it had zero competition. One joke from Fran’s book (which is NOT lame) is her definition for anesthesiologist, the doctor who stands behind you and passes gas. Thanks, Fran!
I need to warn you that your care providers may not laugh at your jokes unless you give them explicit permission. In their defense, not a lot of cancer patients are laughing. Too often, when a cancer patient says something melodramtic, they mean it. Remember I warned false anger can be a side effect? I appreciate my gentle care providers who choose not to laugh out of respect for the deep valley through which their patients travel. However, if you share with your caregivers that you are seeking laughter, they will join you, support and encourage you — and, dare I say it, appreciate you! You will be a breath of fresh air in their day, welcomed and enjoyed.