Unfortunately, when you’re joking about cancer (warning: it’s not for everybody), the flavor is often “noir”. On the front page of today’s NY Times is a story about the cancer drug Avastin. It tells of a 58-year-old woman who went to the doctor for a routine check-up. Unfortunately, he found a lump under her arm which ended up being advanced breast cancer.
I hope you are sitting down. The doctor said to the woman:
‘This is not a conversation I like to have. But I can’t do anything for you. You can’t be cured. You can’t be treated. All we can do is manage your cancer. On scans to detect tumors, you light up like a Christmas tree.”
OUCH. Have to say DH and I were ROFL (rolling on floor, laughing) when we heard this. The doctor must have been a geezer, because nowadays sensitivity training is part of the curriculum in medical school.
Giving and receiving “dire” diagnoses is a serious matter. A friend who went to the doctor for a back problem and was told he had advanced PC managed to tell me *in a funny way* how he had staggered out of the examining room completely blotto, walked out of the office and …. had some continency problems. Didn’t know what to do because he needed a change of clothing. This is not all that unusual. Another guy who was in his 40’s when he got a PC diagnosis said he left the doctor’s office, got into his car, but didn’t get very far. He crashed the car in the parking lot.
On one of the forums the other day we were talking about one of my favorite topics, language and cancer. One woman wrote that she hates the term “cancer advocate” — it sounds as if you’re on the side of the cancer. Funny because instead of “one woman” I had started to write, “Kathy Meade, PC advocate, wrote….”
Kathy Meade also provided this: Her college-age son had some friends over. They were looking at a book about PC that was on the table, giggling. Kathy, always trying to educate, asked: “Do you guys know what a ‘digital rectal exam” is?
Kathy’s son replied, “I do, Mom. That’s a computerized test they do for prostate cancer”.
Funny, I had just told DH a few days earlier, “Can’t say we aren’t making progress. At least the rectal exam has gone from analog to digital”. I think joking about the DRE helps to “detoxify” it. I’ve heard so many jokes about the “finger wave”, I could write a book. My friend Curtis sent me the one-liners I posted in “The Butt of Jokes“. My favorite one goes something like this:
“Doc, when you get down there, can you tell my wife you don’t see my brain?”
Husb riffed on that:
“Doc, when you get down there, can you do a brain scan?”
One man got really bent out of shape about phraseology the other day. In one of the PC forums he related how he had gone to the supermarket, and as he was checking out, the cashier had asked him:
“Do you want to donate money for prostate cancer?”
The man gave gave the clerk a tongue-lashing and stomped out.
I couldn’t even figure this one out. Then I realized the problem: the clerk had left out the word “research”. I have to say I think this man overreacted. Nobody is in favor of prostate cancer. The poor cashier probably had to say this 500 times a day and if he dropped a word, so what? We all know the intended meaning. The customer was probably just cheap.
I give the “wordplay” award of the week to… myself. The other day I opined:
“A man in a PC group recently complained about the use of ‘erectile dysfunction’ as a euphemism for impotence. I myself find ‘ED’ a more useful term because it covers a broad spectrum of disorders — and most of the time sexual function is not black or white. Some people are, shall we lay, more impotent than others.”
“Some people are, shall we lay, more impotent than others?” one man wrote. “You win the Freudian slip of the day award.” 🙂
I was truly embarrassed. Don’t like my slip showing.
I never had problems with reading comprehension BC (before the cancer), but AD (after diagnosis) I can’t seem to understand anything on the written page. Yesterday I was confounded by this sentence:
“My doctor told me to take a quarter-tab of Viagra every day”.
“A quarter-tub of Viagra?” And I thought I’d heard everything.