Pug sitting on a toilet wrapped in a poop emoji blanket

Tumor Humor: Coping With Cancer With a (Twisted) Sense of Humor

I recently joined Stupid Cancer’s Digital Cancer Con and got to participate in some very excellent sessions for young adults with cancer. One of my personal favorites was a session with Humor Beats Cancer’s founder to talk about leveraging humor as a coping mechanism.

If you know me at all, you know inappropriate humor is my jam. Especially when I can make jokes about my own cancer diagnosis. Personally, humor has always been a way for me to cope (I even named my personal blog Have a Sense of Tumor). When you’re experiencing something as sh*tty as a cancer diagnosis, you deserve to laugh at yourself every now and then.

Tumor humor

Cancer people get it. So don’t feel bad for laughing. We all have terribly awkward moments as cancer patients. And this session at Cancer Con really inspired me to reflect on some of my personal funnier moments as a stage IV melanoma survivor. So, I thought I’d share a few of them with you all. Please laugh along with me!

Story #1: Poop emoji blanket

For some strange reason, I really love the poop emoji. Maybe it’s my childish sense of humor, but something about it just makes me laugh. When I was first diagnosed a dear friend of mine gifted me a poop emoji blanket. It was most likely straight out of the children’s department, but was PERFECT. Treatment rooms are always chilly, so this was such a nice gesture so I had something to keep me warm. Well, on my first infusion I was sitting in the doctor’s office meeting with my oncologist when he was telling me what side effects to be aware of. Apparently the #1 side effect of immunotherapy is colitis (a medical term for quite literally sh*tting your pants). He was being so serious telling me if I had diarrhea more than 4 times per day, I’d have to go to the emergency room, and here I was sitting there wrapped in a freaking poop emoji blanket.

Story #2: Surprise barf bingo

While I was going through immunotherapy treatment, I had some serious stomach issues. My nausea and vomiting seemed to sort of sneak up on me, so I conveniently named them the “surprise barfs.” It got to the point where I found myself throwing up in more public locations than I could keep track of. Let me tell you, barfing in a public restroom is really an art and a science. (Side note: avoid automatic flushing toilets if you can, that was a terrible experience!) Anyway, to keep track of all these public places I had puked at, I decided to make my own barf bingo card. I thought it’d be a way to make a game out of something so awkward and terrible. I barfed in a Firehouse subs, an axe-throwing place, plenty of friends cars, Walgreens parking lots, so, so many places. I think the one that takes the cake is when I visited my boyfriend’s dad in Colorado and I didn’t even get to introduce myself before I became best friends with his toilet. Somehow in the midst of tears, I told my boyfriend “Now I have an out-of-state place on my barf bingo card!” It’s the little things, am I right?

Story #3: Pride AND Joy

I have a younger sister and we nick-named ourselves “Pride and Joy” since we’re the pride and joy of our parents’ life, obviously! She’s always been “Pride” because well, she’s getting her PhD in mathematics and I’ve been “Joy” because I make everyone laugh at my silly jokes. When I was hospitalized with a severe reaction to my treatment, I went through an intense amount of tests. I was in there for over 9 days and felt like a lab rat. In all the testing, I found out that I was having an extreme response to my immunotherapy treatment and my tumors were shrinking! In a drug-induced state, I turned to my sister and said “Guess I’m the Joy AND Pride, sucker!” It really felt good being both!

Tumor humor goes a long way

It doesn’t erase what we’re going through as cancer patients, but humor can be a great coping mechanism. I’d love to hear your awkward, funny, strange, cancer stories! Please share with me!

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