A Humorous Look at the Bright Side of Cancer...
And There Is One


About Marie de Haan

Marie de Haan—wife, mother of three, piano teacher, songwriter, and writer—was leading an impossibly busy life. All of that changed when she was blindsided by a diagnosis of Stage III breast cancer. She got even busier. From chemotherapy and surgery to battles with the insurance company, tussles with her naturopath over the consumption of sugar to internal debate over whether or not to endure radiation, Cancer Is A Funny Thing details how Marie handled these issues: with humor and grace. And Häagen-Dazs chocolate mint ice cream.

January 1, 2019

Dear Fran Drescher #37

December 15, 2018

Dear Fran,

Remember in my last letter to you, I told you about my upcoming nipple surgery?

Well, I ended up getting that nipple on October 1—and four other procedures done—and I must say, it was quite the ordeal. First off, I remember counting back from 100 and the next thing I knew, I thought to myself, “Why is that surgeon sitting on me to work on my boob? Come on, guy, get off me…I can’t breathe when you’re sitting on my chest.”

Suddenly, medical personnel were scrambling, asking me questions and barking out orders: “Get the leads. Can you breathe? Have you had this before? Is the OR ready?”

I could not open my eyes to save my life, or my mouth to speak, but instead felt sticky pieces of tape being applied all over my chest.

All I could do was think, Oh my word, they think I’m having a heart attack.

In fact, Fran, I had had this same feeling before, the previous November when my husband and I went to Maui. The first morning we were there, I couldn’t breathe and I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I knew it wasn’t a panic attack, because I had learned how to conquer those a long time ago.

To make a long story short, I did not have a heart attack on October 1. I do, however, have a new nipple. I will tell you about the other procedures in my next letter to you.

I hope you have a great 2019.

Best friends always,


By |January 2019|Breast Reconstruction, Dear Fran Drescher|

September 14, 2018

The Journey Project – Phase VI

Photo by Adriana de Haan

On Monday, my to-do list only had one item on it: order a nipple.

Today, my main objective was to mail a copy of my new book to Jonathan Cain, the songwriter for the band Journey. The book is at the post office, ready to leave rainy Washington for sunny California.

I’m still hoping to meet Jonathan in person when we do the Ellen show together.

Wish me luck.

By |September 2018|Hobnobbing With Rock Stars|

September 10, 2018

Dear Fran Drescher #36

Hi Fran,

Yes, yes, it’s been a long time. I’ve been super busy with the wackiest things. For example, this was today’s to-do list:

1. Order nipple
Yup. I finally made the plunge (considering the rest of my breast reconstruction was on June 27, 2011 for Pete’s sake) and talked to the plastic surgeon this morning. Surgery is set for October 1.

He asked if I wanted an additional surgery to make both breasts the same size. Hmm. Because I haven’t been through the ringer enough with my eight surgeries—eye correction, 3 C-sections, port in, mastectomy, port out, breast reconstruction—thus far.

Did you ever have surgery for your uterine cancer? I will have to re-read your book and find out.

I hope you are doing well. I will try to be better about keeping in touch. I have so much to tell you.

Best friends always,

By |September 2018|Breast Reconstruction, Dear Fran Drescher|

March 8, 2018

Letter #44 To My Benefactor

December 9, 2017 – Bethany Covenant Church

Dear Benefactor,

I’ve been a bad girl. I have not hiked since November when I conquered the Waihe Ridge Trail in Maui. I told you all about it in my last letter to you.

You see, I’ve been super sad. My uncle has Stage IV lung cancer. It happened super fast. In fact, I just told you—only four letters ago—about him. I had no idea at the time of how sick he was. Neither did he.

In June, he left on a long road trip to mourn the loss of his beloved wife so I wrote him a smushy Father’s Day card (no, he is not my father, but that is a story for another day) telling him how much I loved him the day before he left.

He ended up in the emergency room coughing up blood while he was in eastern Canada, and they diagnosed him on the spot right there during his “vacation.” What the heck???

In that smushy letter, I had told Uncle John that I really missed Aunt Ann and planned on planting yellow roses on Memorial Day which, incidentally, was the actual day of her death, and now here he was, fighting for his own life.

I don’t want to plant all kinds of roses in honor of her and him. I want to sit in the yard with him and admire the many yellow roses that I already have in the garden which remind me of Aunt Ann. We would have peppermint tea (which is his favorite) and I would try to crack him up with my jokes so he could snort and say, “Cut it out!” in that distinctive voice of his.

So, you see why I have not been hiking. I will get back to it, I promise. For now, I’m trying to spend every precious moment I can with Uncle John while he is still around.



By |March 2018|Letter To My Benefactor|

November 25, 2017

Letter #43 To My Benefactor

November 21, 2017

Dear Benefactor,

Guess what? I finally went for another hike. Maui, this time.

It took Ken and me about two hours to get to the top in the burning hot sun. In case you want the details, the Waihee Ridge Trail is 2.1 miles up with a 1563-foot elevation gain. In other words, it was freaking hard. For me, anyway. Ken barely broke a sweat. I huffed and puffed like an old granny.

Five minutes after we made it to the summit, the clouds rolled in. One minute back down the trail, it started pouring. And we started sliding. I thought I was going to die.

Fast forward two days. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a quick turkey sandwich at the airport, waiting to board our plane home.

That’s when the fun began. First, our freezer broke. As I related on Facebook, “Reality check: came home from Maui to a broken freezer. On our way to town on a Black Friday to go shopping. Shoot. Me. Now.” We bought a freezer, had it delivered, and spent all day throwing away hundreds and hundreds of dollars’ worth of meat and trying to save any fruit that was still partially frozen.

Today, the fun continued. Both dogs had explosive diarrhea all over our laundry room. Must have been the thawed cherries they dug out of the compost pile.

So, in addition to the complaining I did on Facebook, I now felt like swearing my head off and complaining some more.

Instead, this is what I know:

1. I just got to go to Maui for 12 days.
2. I hiked the Waihee Ridge Trail and I did not fall and break my neck in the mud on the way down or fall off the cliff.
3. I have not had a reoccurrence of cancer like I thought I would.
4. I have a new freezer because I had the money to pay for it.
5. I have a house over my head, a warm bed to sleep in every night, and cupboards full of food. Not everyone is so fortunate.
6. I have lots of friends who care about me.
7. I have a family who loves me.
8. I have a benefactor who, several years ago, paid for my hiking boots.

In other words, I am content.



By |November 2017|Letter To My Benefactor|