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.

March 15, 2017

Dear Fran Drescher #35

At Fran Drescher’s Health Summit on October 26, 2016 – Photo by Jodi Rose

Dear Fran,

I just wanted to say that I had a great time this past October at your Health Summit. I learned a lot about cancer and was over-the-moon happy to be able to get my picture taken with you.

Since I have not heard back from you, I think I am going to search for another best friend.

I’m thinking Kathy Bates might be a good fit because of our common breast cancer experience and dealings with lymphedema.

I wish you all the best as you continue to drive around in your Cancer Schmancer van and help women with early detection of cancer.



By |March 2017|Dear Fran Drescher|

December 15, 2016

That’s Not Something You See Every Day #5

Photo by Theresa VanderKooy

The same day that I posted my last nipple conversation on Facebook, I got a very strange picture in my inbox. It was a picture of a friend’s nipple. I realize that’s not something you see every day. Not in my circle of friends anyways.

So, now I had six differing opinions as to what to do with my own nipple:

Friend #1 – “Here is a picture of the $3,000 nipple reconstruction I had done; I’m not so sure I’m happy with the results.”
Friend #2 – “Just do it. Get it done.”
Friend #3 – “Gasp. You can’t miss volleyball for something like a nipple!!! Where are your priorities, woman?!”
Friend #4 – “To nipple or not to nipple? I’d say nipple.”
Friend #5 – “I’m with Friend Number Four.”
Husband – “I support you in whatever decision you make.”

By |December 2016|That's Not Something You...|

December 14, 2016

That’s Not Something You Think Every Day #6

Photo by Theresa VanderKooy

In my last post, I talked about the conversation I had with my plastic surgeon back in the beginning of November.

While people around me debated about normal things like what meal they were going to serve for Thanksgiving or what gifts they were going to give for Christmas, I hemmed and hawed about whether or not I should rush in to get my nipple after years of waiting.

I picked up the phone:

Me: “Hi plastic surgeon’s secretary. I’m looking into getting my nipple done sometime.”

Her: “It looks like we can fit you in after the first part of December.”

Me: “Uh, that soon? Hyperventilate. Um, well…let’s see…about how much will that cost?”

Her: “Hold, please.”

Billing Person: “Understand you’re looking into getting a new nipple.”

Me: “Hyperventilate.”

Billing Person: “It would be roughly $440 for the areola tattooing and $2,417 for the nipple reconstruction surgery.”

Me: “Hyperventilate. How long of a recovery is it? I’m playing in a volleyball league right now and don’t want to miss any games.”

Billing Person: “I will have the plastic surgeon’s nurse call you.”

Me: “Hyperventilate, hyperventilate, hyperventilate.”

By |December 2016|That's Not Something You...|

December 14, 2016

That’s Not Something You Think Every Day #5

Photo by Theresa VanderKooy

In the beginning of November, I called my plastic surgeon. This is how the conversation went:

Me: “Hi, Dr. Miller. I’m finishing up my manuscript for the publisher and I have a few questions. You interned for whom? and at what university?”

Him: “Swartz and Pittsburgh.”

Me: “Can I read another paragraph to you to make sure I’m accurate?”

Him: “Sure.”

Me: “Plan A: DIEP procedure. This is the one where they take your stomach and actually cut it off. They reattach it to your body where your breast used to be. Plan B: TRAM procedure. This is where they tunnel the blood vessels, keeping them intact, and stretch the skin over to where your breast used to be.”

Him: “Correct.”

Me: “Punchline.”

Him: “Ha ha ha ha.”

Me: “The editor wanted to know why I have to lose all my weight first before you can construct that nipple for me. I said because you said so.”

Him: “If you are stuck at your weight, we can still do it.”

Stuck at my weight? Yes, Sirree, Bob: for over 20 years now.

Decisions, decisions. Keep beating my head against the wall (to lose weight) or get that elusive nipple now?

By |December 2016|That's Not Something You...|

December 14, 2016

Letter #38 To My Benefactor

November 22, 2016–I finally left the house to get a haircut/color.

Dear Benefactor,

I’ve been a bad, bad girl. Not naughty so much, but I haven’t used the hiking boots you bought me for so long. I think the last hiking I did was the jaunt over the Bruce Trail on September 10.

Since then, the only “hiking” I’ve managed to do is every morning from my bed, through the kitchen for a quick breakfast of whatever protein shake I can get my hands on, and then to my office at the other end of the house.

While this commute is great for the stress level—no honking cars or hydroplaning—it’s not that great for the hips (or legs or stomach or butt). I’ve been sitting at my desk for hours on end preparing two manuscripts for the publisher.

I hardly make dinner any more, housecleaning has been put to the side (for the most part), and I only come out of my “hidey-hole” for trips to the bathroom, piano teaching two days per week, church on Sundays, volleyball on Monday nights, and the occasional trip to the mailbox.

I promise that as soon as my books come out (in January), I will get back into my hiking routine. You want to come with me? You could give me a stern talking-to about how it’s not healthy to sit for such long periods of time, especially if you’re trying to prevent a recurrence of cancer.

At least I’ve stayed away from the Texas Roadhouse. You know how I feel about that place. Now to stay away from the candy that I bought for my piano students as a reward for practicing.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.



By |December 2016|Letter To My Benefactor|