Dealing with Cancer #6, It’s Okay to Cry… It’s Better to Laugh

Lesson #6

It’s okay to cry… it’s better to laugh

The day I learned that I have cancer, I was driving from my urologist’s office to Dwight’s for supper.  Marie and I were in between houses; she and Clarence were staying in the Phoenix area with Brad, Felicia, and the kids, and I was staying close to the new construction with Halen, a young aircraft engine technician I’ve known since he was in high school 13 years ago.

As I recall, I made it through the initial phone conversation with Marie with an air of pragmatism.  As I neared Dwight’s house, I saw that Abel our contractor was working late on our new construction.  Abel had testified to me several times that he had been stricken with cancer as a young man and was saved through prayer and intercession.  Abel is a good man, and I decided to share my news with him.  I fought back tears with the deep breaths of a woman in labor as I explained the situation to him.

As I left Abel and drove the two minutes to Dwight’s house I told myself I would not discuss the situation with Dwight and his family, but the first thing he asked when I walked through the door was, “So how did the appointment go?”

After 30 seconds of labor-like breathing, I managed to whisper, “I have cancer.”  Then I cried.

I sent a text to my children and told them I have cancer.  I explained that I did not want to discuss it at this time, and if they want more details they should call their mother.  The real reason I did not want to discuss it with them or anyone else was because I did not want to talk through tears in my voice and create a pity party atmosphere.

The Turning Point: Breaking Through the Tears

Typically, middle son Brad in his bull-in-a-China-shop way overruled me and called anyway.  Although I’ve not given birth, I’ve enjoyed 12 seasons of “Call the Midwife,” and I employed their breathing techniques and survived the conversation without a major breakdown.

A week later, Marie, Clarence, and I reunited and moved into our new home next to the airport.  The following day, youngest son Jesse came down from Phoenix for a face-to-face discussion.  My breathing technique failed me, and I broke down.  Jesse calmly placed his hands on my shoulders and said, “It’s okay to cry.”  I did.

That was a turning point.  Since that moment in early October, I have been able to discuss the situation without breaking down.  I have had moments of anger and frustration, but I push through with prayer and make it to the other side without intentionally invoking a pity party.

It’s Better to Laugh

Dwight, Brad, and Gene

The two funniest people I know are my middle son Brad and my friend Dwight.  Life with them in my camp has been one belly-laughing schtick after another for 40 years.  Neither makes light of my situation but each discusses it as a passing condition I will get through.  There’s always a joke.


Yesterday, Brad built a storage shed in our backyard.  “How can I help?” I asked.  “You can’t, old man.  Just watch the dogs and the kid.”  We all got a good laugh.

Because I’ve gained 20 pounds and my jeans no longer fit, I’ve taken to wearing pajama bottoms.  Dwight showed up yesterday with a pair of nice running pants with an elastic waist.  “Here,” he ordered, “Please start wearing these.  Those PJs make you look like an invalid.”  I’ve donned them today much to everyone’s pleasure.

I’ve added a fourth response to my ‘how-are you’ answers.  “If I was any better, I’d be George Clooney.”  It makes me laugh and it brings a smile to the face of the person who asked.

In summary, you can and will get past the tears IF you allow yourself to do it, and it does take a conscious effort.  Once you do, make laughter a routine part of your day.  One final thought…

Don’t apologize for your condition.  I’ve learned that Mrs. tVM does not want me to apologize for my condition.  “I’m sorry that you have to do this or that for me…”  Nope!  She doesn’t want to hear that.  A simple thank you will do. 

“I’m sorry you have to make supper every night.”  WRONG

“Thanks for that terrific meal.  That’s the best meatloaf I’ve had in a decade.”  RIGHT.

Of course, that’s probably good advice to employ even if you don’t have cancer.

Lesson #6
It’s okay to cry… it’s better to laugh

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  1. Gene, thank you for sharing your journey. (This post made me smile.). Onward, my warrior friend. ♥️

  2. I’m only the second funniest person in my own household! You need to spend more time with Lyla… she is a riot.

  3. These were very meaningful stories for me. Thank you for sharing these anecdotes. Gail and I continue to pray for you here in San Antonio. I thought what happened to Abel may be a sign of things to come.