there’s something funny about cancer

There’s gotta be, right? I mean, I’ve been a good person. Rather, I AM a good person. I treat others well, almost always. I haven’t stolen anything since I was kid and now I know that was wrong and if I could return the candy or the slap bracelets to that little store in North Woodmere, Long Island, I would. I don’t always tip when — okay, fine — I never tip when I pick-up take-out food. But to be fair, I grew up in suburban Rochester (aka. a cave) and I only recently learned from my super smart sister that people do tip for take-out.  I will admit that I frequently speed on highways. 5-7 miles over the limit (okay, 9 – MAX). But, when I recently got pulled over I didn’t lie when the policeman asked me if I knew I was speeding. So sure, I’m not a perfect saint. I’m not. But I think I’ve paid my Karma dues. Or at least I’m pretty sure.

So why the fuck do I have cancer?  Why the fuck do people get cancer?  Nobody deserves cancer, good person or not.  Cancer really sucks.

Yes, there are days when I feel ‘normal’ or healthy, but today was one of the days that Cancer. Just. Sucks.

Now please – I can just imagine you’re thinking “oh jeez. She was so positive and strong and now she’s pissed at the world”.  But I am not.  This is not going to be a post that goes on about “why me?” “what did I do to deserve this?” “couldn’t this have been avoided if…?” I’ve been there already, weeks ago!  And my brief time in that mental space was a dark scary abyss I hope not to return to.

This is a post about a positive side of cancer, because there better fucking be one! My grandpa Martin taught me to always see the beauty in things, especially when it’s not obvious. And boy is cancer is an ugly fucking duckling, so where’s that beauty hiding?

Today the beautiful thing about cancer is that it’s pretty damn funny. And if you have to go though chemo – well, all the better. Because chemo is so fucking hilarious! Here are some reasons why:

  • Yesterday I noticed my taste buds were gone – or maybe they just stop working. Awesome right? Already I have no appetite but at least I could taste food when I mustered enough dedication to eat. But now, everything tastes the same…like cardboard to be exact. Yesterday I had some ginger ale; cardboard with ginger on top. Then tried some pizza. Ooh – cardboard with cheese! This morning the cardboard flavor turned into white slime. (Exactly! You didn’t think it could get any worse but it can.) So all morning I stuck my tongue out for Steve to see the slime. At first I just wanted him to see how white and gross it is. I brushed my teeth and stuck my tongue out again because the slime didn’t go away. I ate something and again, stuck out my tongue for him. Soon enough I realized, ‘wow, he is just fine with me sticking my tongue out at him almost constantly’. And I smiled a little.
  • I have colon cancer. Not quite as humorous as rectal cancer, but close. For those of you not too familiar with this super sexy part of your anatomy, the colon is part of the large intestine where your food turns to poop. My cancer was Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 9.30.05 PMjust before the “anus” (common name, butt hole). It’s a great coincidence really because as I’ve gotten into farming, I’ve also spent hours talking about poop. Animal poop is an asset to many farmers. Plus, Steve and I have a composting toilet; as do many of our friends. We compare composting systems. Poop is something we have said – with pride – that we “harvest” on our farm. If you’ve pooped at Wellspring Forest Farm, the note in the toilet says “thanks for your deposit”. Anyway, you can imagine the conversations with my doctors and my family…there’s just a shit ton of poop talk!
  • And then there’s all the words for poop that medical people use so it sounds poetic or some shit. (What’s wrong with the word “poop” anyway”?) And all the details they want to know about it:  Was your last stool soft? Or firm? When was your last bowel movement? What color was your stool? Did you notice if your feces were firm or runny? How much did you go in your last BM?       I never did find out if they wanted ounces or pounds for that one! Or how they actually expected me to know the answer!
  • And how’s this for a question that your doctor (and friend) asks you in front of your husband and her husband; “are you experiencing any perianal itching?”! OMG. I had heard the term “peri-urban” before when I worked in the urban agriculture field years ago. But “peri” in reference to the butt, actually my butt … I was not prepared for that.  I just burst out laughing. Whether I have that or not, “perianal itching” are not words I’d ever like to use to describe something about my 35-year old self.  Just say it out loud – please. For me. “PeriAnal Itching”.  It makes you laugh, does it not?
  • There’s the side effects of the chemo drugs. 3 of them create a rollercoaster ride for the intestines – as if my bowels needed anymore complications. One drug causes constipation. Another causes diarrhea. When Steve asked if they would cancel each other out, my oncologist chuckled and shook his head, almost disapprovingly. Fortunately, my butt is enjoying itself when the constipation drug is in effect – as noted by these post cards she is sending:


“Dear Elizabeth. I heard this is where the asses gather”
  • For many of the side effects of the chemo drugs there are other drugs or supplements to take to “help”.  Symptom: nausea. Take this pill, bottle says “may cause dizziness”. Symptom: Dizziness. Take this other pill, “may cause drowsiness”. Fatigue: Sleep.  “But be sure, in the midst of all your sleeping, you drink 3-4 liters of water a day.”
  • I thought my brain was feeling mushy because I’ve been taking it easy, not working yet, often too tired or dizzy to read, etc. But it turns out there’s a common side effect of chemo referred to as “chemo-brain”, which may or may not go away when the chemo is over. So now I actually have a real excuse for my forgetfulness and lack of ability to make small talk at parties.
  • With your support of love, food, donations and well wishes, we are kicking this cancer in the ass! Literally!
  • If I’ve made any of you feel uncomfortable by all this discussion about poop or butts, I hope you’ll consider acquiring either of these books:
    Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 10.33.42 PMEverybody Poops

3 thoughts on “there’s something funny about cancer

  1. This is great! I hope writing this is as therapeutic as reading this! I love you so much!…ps I stole some slap stuck bracelets from you!!! If we are coming clean and all…


  2. For a society that, on the outside at least, seems super modest and conservative…… I must say I’m proud to tell you that those two books (and a few others about the body) are written by Japanese people!! Hehehe 😀


  3. My whole family (and Homer as well) are unable to get through a meal without the topic of manure or poop coming up. We try to control ourselves when in the company of others. Hope you are doing well today. We think of you and Steve often.


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