David Burchett Christian Blog and Commentary

Cancer humor - the ultimate oxymoron?

One of the life lessons that Joni and I are learning on her/our cancer journey is the truth of the wise king who wrote this classic lament.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

I will have to confess I first learned these truths courtesy of The Byrds in 1965. With lyrics by Solomon (King) and Seeger (Pete) the song Turn! Turn! Turn! was a favorite of mine during my confused journey into adolescence. But the truth of the words of King Solomon beautifully adapted by Seeger and colleagues is resonating with me today. I would suggest that a fair percentage of our journey so far could be wrapped up in verses three and four above.

a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

This summarizes the weird cycle of chemotherapy. The chemo kills the rapidly dividing cells and then the other drugs stimulate white cells to regain strength. I wrote about the odd concept of poison for healing in a recent post. But the essence of this rambling is contained in the next verse...

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

That says it all in a nutshell of ancient wisdom. There has been a lot of weeping. We have exhausted our annual Kleenex budget with seven months still left in the financial year. And that has been good. God has giving us the gift of weeping. It is cleansing and therapeutic and men ought to get a little better at that truth. There may be no crying in baseball but there is crying when your wife and best friend is facing cancer. There was mourning. We accepted the reality of her disease. We trusted in a God that has proven trustworthy. But we mourned the loss of blessed routine. Our lives would be turned upside down for a very long time. There will be a time to dance when we finish treatment and when we celebrate the five year anniversary of diagnosis. But perhaps the most overlooked tool is the gift of humor - the time to laugh.

Joni and I have determined to find a time to laugh through this cancer journey. I have purchased a couple of t-shirts for Joni from a company called Cafepress(Not all designs are this site are, shall we say, edifying. Proceed with caution). One has a befuddled little happy face with the words, "I've got CHEMO BRAIN...What's your excuse?"Other shirts have an in your face attitude that some might consider dark but I believe represents the spirit of hope and trust and resolve. One company is called gotCancer?org and they have a wonderful slogan..."Laughing in Cancer's Face!" I might modify that to read "Cancer's Ugly Face" but the point remains the same. A couple of their designs are definitely for those with a sense of humor.

The shirts are available at the gotcancer?org website.

There is a time to laugh...even in the face of cancer. Joni and I were laughing today about an incident that happened last night. This was the weekend of the lost follicles. Joni's hair starting coming out and she got the buzz cut on Monday. That same night she went to an event wearing her new wig. A woman came up to her and said, "I love what you've done with your hair! What have you done?" I asked Joni if she had "shared" how this admirer could have the same look. It is really very simple. Just have a port surgically installed. Begin chemo. Wait two weeks. Remove remaining hair. Don wig. Voila! New look!

On the day of Joni's first chemotherapy we felt some understandable trepidation. The unknown is the worst part of this journey. Then a wonderful brother in Christ showed up unexpectedly at the Oncology office. And there in the midst of our uncertainty we laughed and joked and talked. I am convinced that God used this servant to bring joy to us before the storm. When we made it to the chair Joni's pulse and blood pressure were pretty normal. I suspect the dose of therapeutic laughter and joy were a big part of that response.

It is easy for those in the valley and for those around them to discard the gift of humor. Sometimes we almost consider it a Godly thing to be somber. I would suggest that laughter is one of God's most precious gifts in the healing process. We have committed to not waste our cancer. But we have also committed to laugh during this trial as we put our trust in the One who bestowed that wonderful gift. There is a time for laughter. Don't forget to make time for it.




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