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You Laugh So You Do Not Cry

-- As told by C. to Olivia

C. was diagnosed at age 26 with colon cancer and since that time she’s undergone three major surgeries, 30+ rounds of chemo and five weeks of radiation. And, now is still battling metastasis to retroperitoneal lymph nodes.

She has experienced two recurrences, but she greets each cancer hurdle with positivity and hope and continues to live her life. While she never forgets about cancer, she said it becomes like having the radio on faintly in the background — always present but something she’s grown used to living with and on a good day can ignore. When we talked about humor, she said we laugh during this experience so we don’t cry. I equated it to two sides of coin and it depends which on the day which day we call when the coin flips through the air.

She shared these two poignant stories that showed the lighter side of cancer.

During one round of chemo, C. started wearing a shoulder-length blondish nicely-made wig. Her boyfriend, G., who by no means is a rock star, according to C., was playing the electric guitar he owned. And that day he added to his rock star look by plucking the wig off her head and sporting it while he played the guitar. He swiftly went from looking like her boyfriend to Kurt Cobain with his dark eyes and new blond wig, giving C. the laugh she needed at that point.


During one point in her treatment she needed to make the decision to start treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. This mean every few months she must stay a few days at a time in Houston to see her doctors and get scans and meet with the doctors. She said Houston unfortunately has this connection to cancer for her and is not always her favorite place to visit.

With those feelings in mind, she met with her doctor in Houston who is originally from Germany. This man is not only a world-renown oncology surgeon but also a pianist who has a PhD in music. He was also in the military in addition to his many advanced degrees. Much different than C.’s background. But on that day they shared something in common.

For unknown reasons her doctor started reminiscing out loud about how a few years ago he was biking through the Alps. She remembers him saying with a sigh, “And now we are here in Houston.” She said it was funny because at that same moment they were unified in their thoughts of wishing they were anywhere else but Houston in that hospital. It definitely humanized her doctor in a new way.

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