It’s not even Halloween yet and I’ve already accidentally stumbled upon my first Christmas carol, which I find rude and completely absurd. However, in the twisted way my mind works (and because cancer is unfortunately always on my mind) it did lead me to start thinking about other absurd things. As this happened to me on my way to the pharmacy to pick up supplies and medications for my ever-growing list of ailments I decided that it would be more fun to think about all of them as a Broadway musical.
In true Monty Python style, picture this opening number, What Fresh New Hell Will Cancer Bring Me Today. Imagine a bunch of beautifully wrapped packages perhaps under a Christmas tree as the ingénue picks up each bright and shiny package, holds it up to her ear and shakes it in gentle anticipation.
It’s just more fun to share awful information if it’s in the form of a musical. So, just envision these numbers with bright colorful costumes singing and dancing across a stage. Without further ado, I’d like to present Cancer-The Musical. Including some soon to be favorites such as…
- Grey hair doesn’t fall out – wtf?
- I look like a sexy ostrich
- It feels like the atomic bomb went off in my mouth – A new fad diet
- Mouth sores aren’t for wusses
- Butt hurt and other tales of explosive diarrhea
- Neutropenia and flu season, your sniffle could kill me
Somewhere in this musical I also picture a cancer fairy. Similar to a sugar plum or tooth fairy except she (or in my mind he) delivers hot flashes, night sweats, and premature menopause while the lead is sleeping.
The second act in this delightful musical includes these exciting numbers…
- I can’t remember anything, thank you chemo brain
- Nosebleeds, it’s the only thing I’ve eaten all day
- Cancer made me a hugger
- I laughed so hard I cried and cried so hard I laughed
- Medical marijuana, yes it works
- I might give cancer my boobs but I’d rather give it the finger
I guess my point is this, as terrible as this situation is I’m still finding ways to laugh about it. The list of awful things that are happening on a daily basis has grown so long I can’t even remember what hurts. They say that cancer is the fight of your life, not because of all of the awful things you have to endure but because you have endure them and knowingly submit yourself for more.
The dark truth of how you get through it is by remembering that it could always be worse. At least you have the option to fight it. There is a twisted comfort in knowing that somewhere out there is someone battling a harder, longer, or more unfair battle than you are. Someone is doing this, and they too are surviving. So if they can survive it, you can too.
The term survivor recently took on new meaning for me. I’ve always heard “Cancer Survivor” and taken it to mean, “Cancer didn’t kill me.” Which is true, but beyond that I didn’t dig much deeper. Before cancer, I never really understood how people could survive horrible things. How do people go through what some people go through and come out the other side? How do you survive losing your hair, or cutting off your breasts or other impossible situations? I get it now. Being a survivor doesn’t just mean defeating cancer, being a survivor means enduring all that you must go though. Knowing how awful and unfair the next step is and mustering up enough courage to soldier on and put yourself through it. It’s realizing whatever you just did to your body, if you aren’t dead yet, you can handle more. Being a survivor means enduring choice-less choices and living to tell about it.