In the months since Beauty Pearls for Chemo Girls has been released, Debbie and I have spoken to hundreds – maybe even thousands – of women facing cancer treatment. While each experience is as unique as the patient dealing with disease, one thing never seems to change: the eagerness of all these women to reach out to others in need, to connect with fellow survivors, and most of all, to look into the face of cancer – and laugh!
Time and time again we’ve seen how tightly closed and worried faces brighten as we relate our tales from the front lines of cancer: the laughter that follows as I relate how my inspiration for the book bubbled up the morning I stumbled into the bathroom and realized I’d left my eyelashes on the pillowcase; It resonates when Debbie tells the story of how one of our experts provided her advice while running in and out of stores collecting prescriptions and lollipops and chicken soup for her husband, lying at home with a cold.
It may seem counter intuitive to approach such a devastating diagnosis with humor, but by speaking honestly about the more ridiculous side of treatment – my two year old son not letting me in his room unless I first covered my ‘baldie’ head; greeting my newly growing-in hair with a mix of joy and horror as a wide white swath of fuzz appeared down the center of my head, prompting a trip to a hair salon for a dye job that made me look like a freshly shorn Lucille Ball – what we’ve found is that by being able to poke fun at the whole chemo experience, we take away some of its bite, and remind our sisters that even in the worst of situations, there’s always room for a smile.
As each of us faces the inevitable difficulties cancer creates, it’s vitally important to remember that no matter how serious or trying our situation is, the ability to find the lighter side of the moment allows the lighter side of our lives to shine through.
So while we take the time to cry, to mourn, to cope and to deal with the effects of chemo, we hope everyone will remember the power that comes from giggling, smiling – from laughing out loud.
Cancer is no joke, but if we can find within ourselves the strength to embrace some of the absurdities treatment presents – and let out a good guffaw in the process – we keep hold of joy in our lives, and remind ourselves that while the load may be heavy, the weight will ease as our treatment ends.
And the punch line lands on the disease that tried to wipe out our happiness, but instead was laughed right out of our lives.