Thursday, October 15, 2015

This is How We Cope

A friend of mine posted something the other day, along the lines of: "Brain MRI day. There better be brains still in there."

It got me thinking about how we -- those of us who've been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer -- deal with the barrage of treatments, scans, and uncertainty that make up our day-to-day lives. A lot of us resort to humor.

Another friend posted a photo of her SKULL CAP, which had been removed from her head as part of her treatment for metastatic breast cancer that had spread to her brain. In the photo, screws were still attached to the flesh. My friend joked (of course) about having a screw loose.

I thought her post was hilarious, but I also wanted to cry at the absurdity and unfairness of it. In what other world or scenario would I find a photo of a friend's surgically-removed scalp remotely funny? None that I can think of.

My friends and I make jokes about whether we still have brains because we are in fact SCARED OUT OF OUR MINDS.

Metastatic breast cancer is terrifying. 

So we try to find the humor -- or find other ways to cope.

Sometimes, I feel embarrassed about how emotional I get, so I try to pass it off as being the fault of astrological phenomena. My scientist husband loves when I do this. (Note the heavy sarcasm.) A few weeks ago, for example, I tweeted that I was feeling extra emotional about cancer, and suggested that maybe I could blame the full moon. 

A friend who also has a 4yo son responded that she blames her brain mets. She was like: I see your bullshit, and I'mma cut right through it. As far as I know, I don't have brain mets, but I still reeled at the truth of her statement. Some days, there is no way around it. This shit is real.

Because as much as we might try to make light of our various situations, metastatic cancer is actually a heavy load. It is a LOT to process. As I said to another friend I was emailing with this week: you can't expect to remain sane all of the time. 


  1. Nope! You can't expect to remain sane all of the time. I think our humor gets darker too... at least the metsters get our jokes. :) It is a very heavy load. I have to remind myself one day at a time all too often.

    1. At a conference I went to in the spring, Ann (of But Doctor I Hate Pink!) made the joke: "Terminal cancer can be funny...just not for very long!" and those of us at the mets table were the only ones to laugh. Definitely darker humor :) XO