By Heather Millar
OK, I know that cancer isn’t really funny. But funny things happen to cancer patients: I got into a bike accident on the way to radiation therapy one morning. The paramedics wanted to take me to the hospital. I kept explaining that I was already on the way to hospital full of doctors dedicated to keeping me alive. They laughed, shook their heads, and let me ride my bike to the hospital. My radiation oncologist examined both my left breast and my bruised tailbone that day. She still mentions the incident every time I have a follow-up appointment.
Laurie Pomeranz, a friend of mine from the Bay Area Young Survivors support group, wrote this lovely essay for Salon.com about how she and several other breast cancer patients and survivors ended up in a restaurant bathroom comparing mastectomy scars and breast reconstructions.
I keep nice letters from readers and editors. I pull them out on really bad workdays. In that spirit, I’ve been collecting weird and funny cancer tidbits, and thought I’d share a few:
• If you’re the kind of woman who constantly puts off breast self exams, there’s a new “Your Man Reminder” app for smart phones in which hunky, bare-chested guys show you how to do the exams and remind you daily.
• A guy in England recently had an ultrasound done because he had pain in his testicles. The scan showed a face in his privates. Don’t let anyone say doctors don’t have a sense of humor: The image was published in the British Society of Urology’s journal last September. Luckily for the patient, the expressive tumor wasn’t malignant.
• A Florida woman had been suffering from asthma, pneumonia, and shortness of breath for 28 years. When she started coughing up blood, she feared the worst: lung cancer. Turns out the problem was a fruit pit she accidentally inhaled decades earlier.
• A British mother of two had a mammogram after her kitten jumped on her breast over and over again, for weeks. Thanks to her cat, her breast cancer was diagnosed early. Turns out dogs can sniff out cancer too. National Public Radio reported last year that a Japanese research team trained a dog to detect colorectal cancer with 98 percent accuracy.
• And finally, can you believe that people actually fake having cancer so that they can get free stuff? Last month, a woman from New York was arrested in California for pretending she had acute myeloid leukemia and had only months to live. She used her “condition” to dupe people out of a $1,200 wedding dress, wedding rings, flowers for her wedding, and a honeymoon in Aruba. A teenager in West Texas also recently faked leukemia to con people out of $17,000 in donations. There’s a special place for people like that. I mean, cancer as a fundraiser?
Do you have any funny or strange cancer stories? Share them here. Lord knows, all cancer patients could use a laugh!