A Ridiculously Serious Look at Cancer

Cancer Sucks!

It is a proven scientific fact that cancer sucks. 9 out of 10 cancer patients surveyed will tell you that cancer sucks. It would have been 10 out of 10 but that last guy got too sick to respond to our survey. And while I have never had any form of cancer myself, I too can attest to the fact that cancer sucks. Both of my parents–Pete & Anita Toscano–had cancer before they died.

My Mom

My Mom, Anita Toscano

No doubt it was a crappy, painful, scary time all around. Yet in the midst of the most difficult moments, there were bits of humor to get us through. I come from a funny family. Even my mom’s announcement about her last wishes she delivered with her signature dry humor.

Don’t Triffle with Mom!

At that time we already knew she had lung cancer. We heard the doctor’s report, and knew it was bad. Still we did not fully grasp the finality of the diagnosis. This was terminal. Some of us still held out hope that chemo and kale juice and a prayer to any number of saints would provide the miraculous intervention needed to stave off the worst possible outcome–losing mom.

She sat us down around the kitchen table for a serious conversation. She announced, “I already spoke with Patrick.” Patrick was the funeral director. It was a small town so everyone knew everyone. “I already spoke to Patrick, and I told him about my plans.” We protested. “No mom.” “It’s too soon.” She gave us that look, that–don’t-triffle-with-me-look that always silenced us.

She continued, “I told Patrick what I want. When it’s my time, I don’t want a funeral. I don’t want a wake. Don’t lay out my body or have a mass. Just cremate me.” She paused, then took a drag on her cigarette. She used to only ever smoke Lucky Strike cigarettes and other name brands, but since the state of NY put so many taxes on cigarettes, she opted for cheaper generic brands. She continued, “Now if you want to have a memorial because you need that sort of thing, that’s fine–just leave me out of it!”

The Cocktail Party Memorial

tumblr_ltjg5cppAV1qhkbvso1_400We did have a memorial because we very much needed that sort of thing. It was a cocktail party with some of my mom’s signature dishes she served at Pete’s Pub, the bar and restaurant they owned for over 30 years. My sisters lovingly recreated the dishes. It was my mom’s last big party for family and friends.

Now almost 10 years later, cancer still sucks. A good friend of my husband, a women he knew from South Africa and who has become dear to me, is going through a shitty, sucky cancer hell right now. She reminds me a lot of my mom. No nonsense. Don’t give me the wacky cures. Leave God out of this. Don’t sugarcoat this mess.

She inspired me to share some cancer comedy from when my parents were sick. Comedy happens in many ways. One is when we can predict how people react because it happens so often and in the same predictable ways. Did you ever notice…

It was through answering people’s questions about my mom and then my dad that I first experienced what I call, Cancer Face and Cancer Talk and all those consistently obnoxious nervous questions that got repeated over and over. People mean well, no doubt, but still they can ask some of the most ridiculous things. So for my weekly YouTube video I present to you:

There is Something Funny About Cancer


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