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[Cancer]

[cancer] On ways and means of coping

Anybody who knows me in real life knows that I am a tasteless person with a sense of humor low enough to reasonably be called vile. I cope with my cancer in part by being rather a smart ass, at least when my emotional energy allows. I am not the only one in my circle who does this. But it also bothers the hell out of some people around me.

Playing Cards Against Humanity a couple of days ago, someone passed me the “Brain Tumor” card. I thought this was absolutely hilarious. Likewise, there is a joke going around just lately which I continue to re-tell, that goes thusly:

Q: “What’s the difference between Jay Lake and a ham?”
A: “A ham can be cured.”

The partner of the person who first told me this joke (they are both dear friends) is very upset by it, even though I crack up every time this comes out. If it was up to me, this joke would be told at my funeral.

Humor is incredibly suggestive at the best of times. Humor in the face of mind-numbing adversity… If I couldn’t laugh at this at least some of the time, I’d have curled up and died of grief and fear a long time ago.

In a related vein, yesterday [info]deborahjross said on her LiveJournal:

I must remember that when a dying friend trusts me with intense emotions, they are not asking for me to solve a problem. They are asking me to listen. To be with them. To ease the loneliness and fear to whatever extend my presence can. To be present with them in this very moment.

Down in the comment thread, I responded in part:

[B}ear in mind that everyone in a position similar to mine may have different views of their needs. And some of us (myself included sometimes) can be driven to profound irrationality by fear or stress. Sadly, there is no really good answer.

For me, gallows humor is relieving. Entertaining. And much, much better than most of my emotional and conversational alternatives. For others, it can be profoundly offensive. See my comments about adverse reactions to the Alternate History of My Cancer video [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ].

But you know what? It’s my cancer. I get to decide how to cope. I also get to change my mind about my coping strategies. In either case, it’s not my job to help other people feel better about their fears for themselves or or me. It’s my job to make myself feel better. That’s the best thing I can do for anyone.

This true of anyone in my situation. Most people probably aren’t as enthusiastic about tasteless remarks as I am, but they get to choose. This is my choice. If I could go out death’s door laughing, I would.

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