Laughing At Cancer



I can make fun of anything. It’s my job. For instance, last July, as we stood on a scenic overlook over the Mississippi River in Missouri (you can’t look at the Missouri River in Mississippi), I got a phone call to tell me my father had cancer.

Um …

Okay, I can’t make fun of everything.

My Dad had a long, six month fight that wasn’t much fun for anyone, especially since he’d been diagnosed with a type of cancer that has a poor prognosis. (As opposed to a poor proboscis, which wins this column’s unusual word prize by a nose.)

But Dad is one of those people who is always working, so he went to work, kicked cancer in the face, and messed up its proboscis so much that it now looks like proboscis and gravy. His latest checkup is due in a few days (Me? Nervous?), but as of now he’s been declared cancer free.

I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice it to say Dad’s particular cancer, and how advanced it was, makes his cure a miracle … a miracle assisted by modern medicine, just as my father was assisted by the American Cancer Society.

(Suffice, by the way, is the word proboscis beat by a nose. But enough parenthesizing.)

Now, I know what you’re thinking. (Scary, ain’t it? Oops—I parenthesized.) “Mark, you’re not going to use your father’s illness to shill for the Noble County Relay For Life, are you?”

Yes. Yes, I am. But isn’t it better than when I misuse my column to sell books? I mean, use my column to sell books?

(Editor’s note: We’ve only had one complaint about Mark self-promoting in his column. Still, we smack him when we have to. With one of his books.)

(Writer’s note: I’ve got a new book coming out this spring. Ow!)

I try to portray myself as rather self-centered and profiteering, because that way people don’t ask me to, say, help them move, or donate my time. Just the same, some years ago I was brought on board as promotions chair for Noble County’s Relay organization, because they told me I could wear a captain’s hat and put my name on a chair at the meetings. Captain’s hats are cool. We all need to give a little back to our community, and by giving I don’t mean littering in the park.

Finding out I may have prostate cancer made it a bit more personal to me, but after a couple of years of sitting on pins and needles (It’s the prostate. Think about it), Doctor Finger declared that it was probably more or less a false alarm, for now.

(Darn, parenthesis. Oops—darn!)

I have to say, I wasn’t all that thrilled with the caveats on Doctor Finger’s diagnosis. By the way, I had peas and caveats for dinner last night.

Then my step-father had a cancer scare. Then my father actually got cancer. And my father received support from the American Cancer Society, direct, concrete support that involved money, not concrete. Money that people donate through events like the thousands of Relays For Life (Relay For Lives?) that take place around the world.

So, how can I not help our local Relay? Especially after they gave me the cool captain’s hat? Sometimes, when I’m sitting in the living room in my captain’s chair, I pretend the TV is a view screen and order Sulu to go to warp speed. Unfortunately, the only available Sulu is my dog, and he hasn’t mastered the helm controls.

My point, and I had to get to it because all those parentheses have me running out of space, is that cancer is bad. The American Cancer Society is our largest voluntary health organization, unless you count Girl Scouts, who contribute to our emotional health with those cookies. They’re not perfect (The ACS, I mean, Girl Scouts are)—for instance, they didn’t get me a Captain Kirk shirt, which is okay because he didn’t actually wear a captain’s hat. I’d have looked pretty silly ordering the dog to go to warp speed “while … talking … likeCaptain … Kirk” in both a Starfleet uniform and a captain’s hat, wouldn’t I?

I wonder why my wife is laughing at me?

(Editor’s Note: It just occurred to us that Captain Kirk kind of talks in parenthesis. That explains a lot.)



For more information about the Noble County Relay For Life and how you can get involved, contact Mike White at (260) 302-2052 or            The Noble County Relay website is:


And the Facebook page is:


And you can buy my books at (Ow!)


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10 thoughts on “Laughing At Cancer”

  1. It’s so wonderful that your Dad has been declared cancer-free! I’m so happy for both of you.

    As a cancer survivor myself (Stage 1 breast cancer, 11 years ago), I agree that cancer is not funny. On the other hand, if you have the damned disease it helps if you can laugh at it. Yes, you can find things to laugh at. Some of my fellow radiation therapy patients were good at that, while we were all sitting in those crazy hospital gowns waiting for our turn. At that point, the disease was no longer terrifying to many of us. It was something we had to deal with, and we were doing just that.

    I really believe, too, that being able to laugh at a disease helps the healing process.

  2. Lots of funny stuff to dig out of cancer which I’ve had for 15 years with six operations, 8 1/2 hours of radiation, 24 MRI trips. Whenever Relay for Life asks me to donate comedy stage time for their cause, I’m glad to do so.

    BTW, on my 24 MRI trips, anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes each, the 25th trip… is free.

    1. Wow — that’s a frequent flier trip you don’t want to be able to take advantage of, isn’t it?

      Glad you’ve been fighting and winning … just wish everyone’s efforts will eventually pay off with a cure.

  3. Fantastic news about your Dad being free of that @&**!! *@#!! cancer. I lost my Dad to the fucking bastard cancer…uh oh, oops, I think I meant to say, *#!!!! #@!**. Sorry.

  4. This is truly a Noble (County) cause! (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.) (Gee, it’s hard to stop parenthesizing once you start.)

    I have had several relatives diagnosed with cancer, most recently my wife, with breast cancer. She has just started chemotherapy.

    A health challenge like cancer is a great way to get clear on what is important in life and to be grateful for it!

    1. Yeah, that parenthesizing thing … it’s an addiction, and I have an addictive personality.

      I’ll keep your wife in my thoughts and prayers — in addition to giving you a different outlook on life, cancer is something that connects us all, sooner or later.

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