Receive news of cancer, and it immediately becomes all consuming. But at some point, day-to-day life returns, although slightly askew. Now that we’re face-to-face with the gravity of our circumstance, it has become Life, With Cancer. But as my close friend Jerry Reeves, a pediatric oncologist in his first career, observed, “You don’t stop being who you are, just because you have cancer.”
Elaine has been as positive and uncomplaining as is possible to be. We’re simply working our way through it. But we try to not become morbid either. Playing the cancer card is a way to poke fun at how crazy our situation is, and to remind each other that life goes on.
So, in the snappy repartee that dominates a fair portion of our dialogue at home, the tumor humor plays out something like the following:
Early Morning. I’m up and am doing emails in the living room. Elaine calls out from the bedroom.
“Where’s my coffee! I have cancer, you know. I can’t be getting up to make my own coffee!”
There are variations on this theme.
Her: Boy, I could really go for a hamburger with fries and a shake.
Me: You’re shameless. Don’t you have any standards?
Her: No. I have cancer.