I used to write a humor column for my high school newspaper. While my fellow newspaper staffers were off interviewing people and writing in-depth articles about teenage drinking or student council elections, I was writing about Slurpee flavors at the local 7-11. It was not Pulitzer-winning material, but I was hooked.
Twenty years later, I still like to write non-Pulitzer-winning, silly stuff, but these days, I post it on my cancer blog.
What’s silly about cancer? Well, nothing. I was diagnosed with it in 2005, and for a while it seemed that nothing would ever seem the least bit silly ever again. A few weeks after my diagnosis, while I was hanging around a computer lounge at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., anxiously waiting for a doctor’s appointment, I got an e-mail from a college friend who has had two heart transplants. He told me that I needed to find humor wherever I possibly could; it would save me.
I knew he was right. I started up my blog: The Adventures of Cancer Girl. I try the best I can to tell my story. And I try to be funny.
I have a rare, incurable blood cancer called multiple myeloma. It was found during a routine blood test at my annual physical. I never had any symptoms. This disease mostly strikes people in their 70s. When I was diagnosed, I was 30 years old and had just given birth to my daughter. Apparently, my body doesn’t know I’m not a senior citizen. Attention, body: Just because I like show tunes and laugh out loud at reruns of The Golden Girls does not mean that I am old.
Uncool, yes. Old, no.
The myeloma has been fairly easy to deal with, as far as cancer goes. I take a daily pill, which has greatly reduced the level of cancer in my body. I’m not in remission, but my disease is stable. I’m lucky in that way.
Even though I’m dealing with “cancer lite,” it can still be a little overwhelming to try to cope with the concept of an incurable, life-threatening illness. When I write on my blog, I feel better.
Although I document all of the ups and downs of my doctor visits and drugs and blood tests, most of my entries have nothing to do with cancer. I write about life as a mom raising a 7-year-old daughter. I recount the time my husband went out in public in his Star Trek uniform. I post far too many photos of Jon Bon Jovi without a shirt on, and I reveal that I’m still a fan of the New Kids on the Block.
You can’t make fun of me, I always remind everyone. I have cancer.
And while the blog helps me cope, I also hope it helps other myeloma patients who find me through the Internet. I want to show that cancer doesn’t always change who you are; cancer doesn’t automatically mean you are sick and dying, and it doesn’t somehow make you amazingly heroic and brave, either. You can have cancer and still live a somewhat normal, boring mom life filled with carpooling and laundry and cupcakes and trips to the zoo and a million games of Hi-Ho Cherry-O. And it can still be fun.
So I have cancer, but I’m still here: living, hoping, writing and even laughing, just a little bit.
Karen Crowley, of Kansas City, is a 37-year-old stay-at-home mom to the World’s Cutest Kid. Her blog is a chronicle of her adventures in mommyhood, cancer survival and everything in between.