13 April 2008

What I Hate About Chemotherapy -- And Love About Get Wellephant Cards!

Does everybody remember the first joke they ever learned? I do! I even remember my father teaching it to me on the banks of the Verde River, so we were living in Cottonwood at the time. I must have been five or six years old. It went like this:

How do you shoot a purple elephant?
With a purple elephant gun.
Then how do you shoot a white elephant?
With a white elephant gun?
No! You squeeze its trunk until it turns purple and shoot it with a purple elephant gun!

Okay, you can groan, but my Cub Scouts loved it! I am now armed with a couple dozen more elephant jokes, thanks to the post I put up on Six LDS Writers and Frog last Friday. The post follows, and the elephant jokes follow the post.

Five Things I Hate About Chemo

When I began chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, I wanted to keep it private. Two weeks later, not only is it the worst-kept secret since Neiman Marcus’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I feel like a fraud. I recently got a letter from a friend outlining how brave and candid and long-suffering I supposedly am. Oh, gosh. Is that a load of . . . um . . . that all-natural material everybody’s spreading on their gardens this time of year, or what? Not only would I never cut it on Moment of Truth, but I can gripe and whine with the best of them!

I’ll prove it. In a drastic departure from “to review or not to review” – and just for the record – here are the top five things I hate about chemo:
Mouth sores and chapped lips. I go through two tubes of Chapstick and one bottle of mouthwash a week with no noticeable improvement. It is the first time in my life I’ve been grateful for thin lips and a small mouth. Julia Roberts and/or Joan Rivers would not survive this.
Trashed taste buds. Everything tastes terrible. Some people say it’s metallic, but I think it’s more . . . I don’t know what it is . . . but it changes eating as I know it. Bland is barely tolerable. Sweet is nasty. Salty is at least close to normal. Anybody remember the salt-craving creature from Star Trek? I feel such a strong kinship these days that I downloaded her picture and put it on the mantle with the rest of the family photos.
The singular opportunity to observe results of my body’s semi-digestive process up close and personal. Repeatedly.
Soliloquies. “To wig or not to wig. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (as in the looks one is bound to get when bald) or to take arms against a sea of troubles (as in poaching somebody else’s hair) and by opposing end them?” Of all the thousand natural shocks that chemo-flesh is heir to, hair-loss might be the worst. I’ve spent hours looking at wigs. Long hair. Short hair. Brown hair. Red hair. Goth hair. Mohair. Even a curly blonde bubble-do Barbie wore in 1955. Suffice it to say that despite being sorely tempted by a purple shag, I decided to hope for the best instead of prepare for the worst. I will think positively . . . and avoid hairbrushes. If I go bald anyway, Plan B is already in the closet: the knee-length curls Hilary wore at the last Mystery Dinner. Bonus: Since I'm so short, all I will need to reenact Rapunzel is a stepladder and a witch.
Pity Parties. While I do allow that an occasional intimate tea with self-pity is gratifying, I despair of larger soirees held in my honor. Almost everybody I know feels so dang sorry for me they can’t stand it. Well, I can’t stand it either.
Most of my phone conversations now go like this: Hello? Did I get you up? No. Oh, uh, good. So, er, how are you? I’m fine. How are you really? I’m really fine. No, you’re not. You puke toenails. Well, sure. I meant other than that. I knew I shouldn’t have bothered you! Click.

It’s not much different in cyberspace. I used to get silly stories and incredible pictures and tales of woe and requests to read manuscripts. This morning, every single e-mailer wanted to sell me something or pray for me. Obviously, the word has spread. While I am practically certain that I am the same person I was before I started feeding on salt and kneeling in the presence of toilets, I may be the only one who believe it.

Nobody take this next part wrong, even if I phrase it badly, okay? I deeply appreciate prayer in my behalf. Prayer is, as Elder Maxwell taught, the most efficacious thing one person can do for another. Thus I am richly blessed by the effort and faith of my family and friends. Pity, on the other hand, leads people to think that all they have to offer is prayer . . . and sympathy. That is not the case.

Please don't feel sorry for me. I don’t feel sorry for myself – at least not because of that stupid “Things I Hate about Chemo” list. Everything on it pales in comparison to my many blessings. They are too numerous to list, but I have a great doctor, adequate insurance, lovely bathrooms, and the best family and dearest friends in the world. Yes, I also have cancer, but I have a kind that is almost never caught in stage one – and yet it was! This means that if I endure a little discomfort today, I have a 95% chance of living enough tomorrows to . . . I don’t know . . . see Rob grow up? Watch the Cubs win a World Series? Something miraculous, for sure!

I do recognize that ignoring cancer is like overlooking an elephant in the room. But in my case, it is a very large room and a relatively small elephant. In fact, I think it may be much like the one on my bookshelf – about eight inches high and six inches wide. Since it’s made of solid brass, it is a little heavy to carry around all the time, but one does what one must. Here’s the thing I wish more people understood: If I hold this thing up to my nose it is all I can see. Its width and breadth obscure the room and make everything seem as dark and cold as it is itself. Anyone would be afraid to be alone with a beast of that magnitude. But when I manage to push it out to arm’s length, the perspective changes. It’s the same elephant, and we’re still together in the same room, but now there is light, and around its greatly-diminished dimensions I can clearly see all the places I have yet to go.

You’d think, knowing this, I could keep that elephant where it belongs. But the thing I really hate about chemo is the lack of strength I sometimes have to keep the elephant at arm’s length. Then, more than I need barf bags and pretzels and sympathetic shoulders, I need friends who still see me behind the elephant. Living and laughing and growing and serving despite cancer and chemo is the only way to keep the pachyderm in perspective.

So, quick, somebody tell me an elephant joke!

I cannot say how grateful I am that so many people did! I got some other funny stuff too, as well as helpful advice and remarks that made me cry in gratitude, but you’ll have to look those up for yourself.) This post is all about elephant jokes.

Sperrynluv said...
Q: What did the mother elephant tell her son who was late for his botany fieldtrip?
A: Pack up your trunk and leaf!
Stephanie Black said...
Q. How do you fit four elephants into a Volkswagen?
A. Two in the front and two in the back.
Mean Aunt said...
How do you stop a charging elephant?
Take away his credit card.
Why do elephants paint their toenails red?
To hide in the cherry trees.
Pat said...
Who is the most famous male singing elephant?
Harry Elephante.
How can you tell when an elephant has been in your refrigerator?
Look for elephant tracks in the butter.
What cheers you up when you are sick?
A Get Wellephant card.
Cheri Crane said...
How do you get three elephants in a taxi?
One in the front next to the driver, and two in the back.
How do you know there is an elephant in your house?
There's a taxi outside with two impatient elephants.
Marta Smith said...
Person with ADD: Why did the elephant cross the road?
Normal Person: I don't know. Why?
ADD: (Blink, blink) I'm sorry, what was the question?
Normal: You were telling me a joke.
ADD: A joke? Okay. Knock, knock.
Normal: (Sigh) Who's there?
ADD: Hey, look! An elephant!
David Woolley said...
Q: What did Kerry say when a man dressed in an elephant costume knocked on her door?
A: Sorry, Rob. No interviews.
Q: What did Kerry say when she dropped off her elephant in the elephant exhibition pen at the Phoenix Zoo and found Jeff Savage blowing water out his nose?
A: Call Letterman.
Doug Johnston said...
How do you stop an elephant from charging?
Take away her credit card.
Jennifer Leffler said...
How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
Liz Adair said...
Who is the most famous female singing elephant?
Elephants Gerald
How do you get down off an elephant?
You don't. You get down off a goose.
How can you tell there's an elephant under your bed?
Because your nose is squished against the ceiling.
Kim Thompson said...
Why don't elephants ride bikes?
They don't have a thumb to ring the bell.
Marlene Austin said...
What time is it when ten elephants are chasing you?
Ten after one.
Sariah Wilson said...
Q: What do elephants have that nothing else has?
A: Baby elephants.
Karlene said...
What is gray and comes in a powder?
Instant elephant.

I probably have enough elephant jokes to entertain my Cubs for months to come, but I'm always open for a few more . . .


Anonymous said...

Q: What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming over the hill?
A: "Here come the elephants over the hill!"
Q: What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming over the hill wearing sunglasses?
A: Nothing; he didn't recognize them.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Kerry, you may well live forever, but you will never see Rob Wells grow up.

Hate to break it to you, but them's the facts.

Pat said...

Hang in there sweet lady - we still need you here!
Found a few more for you today - (these can be addicting, can't they? hee hee)

Q: How do elephants communicate?
A: They talk on the elephone.

Q: Who weighs 6000 pounds and wears glass slippers?
A: Cinderelephant

Q: Wha't big and grey and can fly straight up?
A: An elecopter.

Q: What do elephants do for entertainment?
A: Watch elevision.


Julie Wright said...

I agree with tristi on the rob thing. That boy doesn't stand a chance, I don't care how old you live to be!

I love you, your prespective, and your ability to make me laugh when I should be the one looking for elephant jokes for you.

Do you know I donate my hair to locks of love every year and a half. My hair grows super fast due to the survival of the fittest thing and a brother who thought it was fun to pick me up by the hair of my head and sling me across the room when we were children. Every year and a half I get a foot and a few inches that I can simply cut off. This leaves me with a sassy little bob that keeps me cooler in the summertime.

I never really thought about my hair going to a real person before now.

I appreciate that perspective too.

You rock! You're beautiful! And I can't wait til we get to hang out again. You give me sooooo much joy.

Mary in Phoenix said...

I'm late posting but here are a few more elephant jokes. You can never have too many.

What do elephants do for laughs?
They tell people jokes.

Why do elephants paint their toenails red?
So they can hide in a strawberry patch.

Why do elephants hide in strawberry patches?
So they can jump out and stomp on people.

Why do elephants stomp on people?
That is how they play squash.

What is large and gray and goes around and around in circles?
An elephant stuck in a revolving door.

Why do elephants have grey skin?
To keep their insides together.

What has 6 legs, 3 ears, 4 tusks, and 2 trunks?
An elephant with spare parts.

Candace E. Salima said...

Kerry - I'm so excited I found your new blog. Located you on Cheri Crane's blog, Crane-ium.

Hey chemotherapy sucks, there's no way around it. But not focusing on it as the sole event in your life is the best you can do. You're doing it! You rock, sister! I love you!

Can wait to get to Arizona and share some laughs with you again.

Terry said...

You don't know me. I'm just a fan. But thank you so very much for posting this. I needed to read it. I have a co-worker that recently found out that she has stage 4 colon cancer. She is 45. She had 6 weeks of Chemo and radiation and in a month will have her colon removed. She has been working almost every afternoon. I'm amazed at her strength. I love your elephant analogy! It applies in so many areas of life!
A side note, my friend and neighbor, Sharon Swanson, in Mesa, Arizona gave me your first book, saying that she was a friend of yours. I've enjoyed every one that I've read! I will enjoy your blog now that I've found it, too.

Silvana Mäkelä said...

Hi, Kerry. Im in same situation of you: chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. I just started my blog and become a fan of yours.

It´s nice to see you are ok in this situation because Im somebody who is happy and my cancer treatment doesnt destroys it.

Sorry, my english is not the best one,Im still learning, but feel free to ask and talk with me if you want some information, if you are curious about how we do things here, in Brazil, or if you only want to talk with somebody in same situation...

i hope the best also for you. And, Congratulations about your blogs. You write very well . :)

Lisa said...

Hey Kerry your post made me appreciate life more than before now. You know we humans never know the true value of what we have until it is no longer there.

Kerry please let us know how you're doing now. I'm worried about you.

Alexis said...

Hi Kerry, can you let us know how you're doing?

Debby GMitchel said...

Have just got to share. Am going tru Chemo for Colonn rectal cancer. The teratment has done the same thingto me. Had open sores that bled for a bit. Being a horse woman and having CORONA Ointment on habd for the horses. Having sen what it does for them, I tried. IT WORKS where nothing else did!! Go to a feed store and find.. is used on cattle for ,ilking a well. I swear by it and want to get the word out. Thta lip cracking is just awful. I can now eat again.. Good Luck//

maggie.danhakl@healthline.com said...


Healthline just designed a virtual guide of the effects of chemotherapy on the body. You can see the infographic here: http://www.healthline.com/health/cancer/effects-on-body

This is valuable med-reviewed information that can help a person understand the side effects they are experiencing from their chemo treatment. I thought this would be of interest to your audience, and I’m writing to see if you would include this as a resource on your page: http://kerryblair.blogspot.com/2008/04/what-i-hate-about-chemotherapy-and-love.html

If you do not believe this would be a good fit for a resource on your site, even sharing this on your social communities would be a great alternative to help get the word out.

Thanks so much for taking the time to review. Please let me know your thoughts and if I can answer any questions for you.

All the best,
Maggie Danhakl • Assistant Marketing Manager
p: 415-281-3124 f: 415-281-3199

Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
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