Keeping my sense of humor

I came across this photo recently and it made me laugh… Years ago, I was an associate minister at a small church. They found a storage room filled with junk and unused decorations that could be emptied, cleaned, and turned into an office. It was an experience. Mice moved into the room and ate some of the banners and wreaths. There was a cabinet of 40-year-old ledgers and records, not to mention piles of old bulletins and programs. And there was a Holy Family with bent-in sides, broken wiring, and big scratches.

Like any good associate minister, I fulfilled the role of “other duties as assigned” which included driving a minivan full of donations to a local thrift store. We laughed until we cried as we buckled in Mary and Joseph, and I headed to the thrift store. It was a messy, dusty task, but humor lightened the load.

Humor has kept me going throughout my chemo journey. I have discovered that my general approach of “au naturel” makeup is actually a good thing. I tried to brush on faux eyebrows… and looked like Groucho Marx! The brow makeup was “semipermanent” so I had to work hard, giggling, to reduce the smear of light brown. False eyelashes were impossible… I kept rubbing my eyes and pulling off the lashes. I decided I was starting to look like the car insurance gecko with no brows or lashes, and I am rocking that look now.

As the weeks roll on after finishing chemo, I’m trying to find my equilibrium. Food that I didn’t like during chemo tastes better now. Water suddenly is OK. But a weird assortment of foods continues to have that “chemo mouth” metallic taste to them. Chocolate candy, for instance, doesn’t taste good. (Somehow, I think that’s heresy!) Some super sweet baked goods don’t sit well in my stomach. I don’t understand it… but I try to keep my sense of humor.

I have had several moments this week where I laughed at myself. At my inability to open a sealed orange juice bottle. At dropping the same pen 3 times in a row. At forgetting which side my car’s gas cap is located. At the myriad of changes in my body post-chemo that aren’t really worth mentioning, but seem to create a “clown car” of issues.

I’m still limited in my public engagements. I rarely go into a store (still). I haven’t been back to church yet (and I miss it terribly!) I don’t have people over, and when someone drops off a meal, we stand outside, masked, chatting. I don’t have high enough blood counts to work in the office yet, so I’m still working from home. I look at these inconveniences and remember that I am privileged because I have health insurance, a job with flexibility, and friends and family to support me.

And I keep looking for things that make me smile. Daffodils in the sunshine. Our noodle cat, Stewart romping around the house. Leaning on my sense of humor when there’s still discomfort and more radiation treatments to go…

As the writer of Proverbs said, A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.

I’m NOT saying that I’ve been able to laugh off every side effect and change to my body. There were some pretty grim days in chemo-land where I doubted I could take one more day. I miss my hair (and my eyelashes and eyebrows!) but know that they will grow back eventually. I have leaned on friends and family. With their support and a lot of prayers, I staggered through.

And just when I needed another boost as I was starting radiation treatments, this was inside my fortune cookie…

My sense of humor is intact. And God’s grace abounds!

Fortune cookie: You will always be surrounded by friends when you need them.

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