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.

November 17, 2017

Letter #42 To My Benefactor

Steamboat Rock State Park – August 10, 2017

Dear Benefactor,

The last time I wrote you, I mentioned that Ken and I were going camping with some friends on the other side of the mountains (with our new RV) and I would try to go hiking, using those boots you bought me.

Remember how I also mentioned my fear of rattlesnakes?

Someone in our party got stuck up on the hilltop blocked by a rattlesnake—the hilltop depicted in this picture, in fact—and by then, any inclination I had of going hiking went out the window because I just couldn’t conquer my fear.

I went biking every day instead.



By |November 2017|Letter To My Benefactor|

August 6, 2017

Letter #41 To My Benefactor

Fragrance Lake with wonderful friends from Ontario, Canada – July 17, 2017

Benefactor! Benefactor! Benefactor!

So much stuff has been happening around here, I hardly know where to start.

I definitely have not been having any extra time to wallow around feeding into my survivor’s guilt.

First of all, I told you (in my last letter to you) that I would go hiking again soon, and I did. I’m not sure how I managed to squeeze it in with all the crazy stuff happening around here, but I did.

You would be so proud of me, because I made it to the top of Fragrance Lake the very first try this year. Granted, I was with three other people and there was a lot of huffing and puffing going on—I didn’t want to get embarrassed by lying down on the side of the trail for a nap (or death)—but I did it.

Here’s the picture for proof.

Okay, big digression there, but here is what’s been happening:

a) We bought a travel trailer. Never ever thought we would own one of those, but we do. In fact, the maiden voyage of this wonderful contraption is happening in half an hour. Another fact, Ken will be coming into my office to yell at me any moment that it is time to go, so I am typing 100 words per minute right now.

b) Item #5 on my bucket list will probably be fulfilled while we are camping on the other side of the mountains with our new travel trailer. We are finally getting a concrete patio.

So, I’ve been doing a lot of hiking—not with the shoes you bought me—but mainly back and forth to the RV and prepping the ground for bucket lists, but my Keens are coming with me. They are in the trailer as we speak, waiting for me.

There are rattlesnakes where we are going, so I hope I can get the courage up to hike. We both know how I feel about bears and cougars and murderers in the woods.

Gotta go. If you never hear from me again, it means one of those rattlesnakes got me. I beat cancer, so what’s a little rattlesnake, right? Right? Hello?

We’ll hope for the best, eh?



By |August 2017|Letter To My Benefactor|

July 9, 2017

Letter #40 To My Benefactor

Dear Benefactor,

Another reason I have not gone hiking recently is because I have been doing mundane things like going to the dentist.

On Friday, I arrived at my teeth-cleaning appointment promptly at 8:00.

I sat in the chair, waiting for the procedure to start. I admit, getting your teeth cleaned is better than having a filling done or a root canal performed, but still, I would much rather be shopping for Lane Bryant underwear than spending my precious morning getting my chompers scraped.

I waited for the dental assistant—we’ll call her Bertha #3—to start working on my mouth. Instead, she talked about how much she loved my books. For ten minutes. “The part where you talk about your husband burying you in the compost pile? That was so funny.”

I recalled that she had four copies of my books: two for herself and two for a friend of hers.

“How’s your friend?” I asked. “Did she like the books as well?”

“She died.”

I didn’t even know what to say. Here I was, sitting in this wretched chair internally complaining about being there and this young woman—turns out she was only 54—was…dead.

Bertha and I then started talking about my Aunt Ann. She had gone to this same dentist before my family had. “I never met your Aunt Ann,” Bertha advised, “but I’ve met your Uncle John. He’s a sweetheart.”

Yes, and now he’s a widower. They should be traveling the countryside in their RV together. He shouldn’t be gallivanting around the east coast on his own as we speak. They should be…together.

Like I said, there I was, complaining about my teeth, while people around me were dying. Dying of the same disease that I had bonked on the nose and conquered.

Well, my good sir, maybe I should go on a little hike by myself this week and as I meander through the woods, I should give myself a little attitude adjustment.




By |July 2017|Letter To My Benefactor|

July 6, 2017

Letter #39 To My Benefactor

Dear Benefactor,

I cannot believe that the last time I wrote you was December 14, 2016.

It’s not like I’ve been sitting around on my couch all winter and spring watching Netflix every day (and thereby not having the time to write you). Admittedly, I haven’t been spending my time hiking either.

I’ve been gardening and gardening and gardening since February. Our puppy broke his leg, so I have had to stay close to home and keep him tethered so that he doesn’t re-injure himself. (One vet bill is enough.)

In other good news, our daughter just got home from Australia (where she is based as a missionary). She will be staying with us for six weeks.

One of the first things she said to me is, “I’m taking over all the cooking and baking” to which I replied, “Yeehaw!”

I notice she did not offer to clean toilets to which I say, “Boohoo.”

However, I will now be able to meet my deadline for getting “Cancer Is A Funny Thing: Book Three” to the editor.

I will also be forced to sign up for Weight Watchers if she keeps making yummy rhubarb/raspberry pies like the one that she’s holding up in this picture.

I will start hiking again soon, I promise. That way, I can get away with eating a piece of pie once in a while.



By |July 2017|Letter To My Benefactor|

April 3, 2017

That’s Not Something You Think Every Day #8

In my last post, I talked about trying to make a decision about whether or not to pursue finishing my breast reconstruction and having the surgeon build me a nipple.

After Thanksgiving, I didn’t have much time to think about this endeavor, either.

First, there was the Christmas program at church that Ken and I took part in. He sang in the choir while I hung out with my peeps in the band. I am definitely the grandma of the group, but we still have a good time praising the Lord.

Then, I celebrated the snow with Jonathan, the baby of the family.

Next, me and the boys at home Facetimed with Adriana who is in Australia and has missed the last three or four Christmases.

Who has time to be thinking about nipples when there is so much celebrating to do?

By |April 2017|That's Not Something You...|