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.

October 25, 2016

Dear Fran Drescher #34

Oceanside Pier - October 25

Oceanside Pier – October 25

Fran, Fran, Fran!

I haven’t written you since October 4 (when I told you about my uneven boobies).

I have great news. I am sitting in Oceanside right now, sending you this letter, but tomorrow, I am going to meet you in person.

I already had a trip planned for Southern California when I heard you were hosting the Fran Drescher’s Health Summit 2016. Of course, I signed up right away. And then had a dream about it. I told my Facebook friends all about it:

I had a dream that I was at the Fran Drescher’s Health Summit 2016. Fran was sitting at a round table and it was my turn for the meet-and-greet. I relayed to her that I had written 33 pretend letters to her on my cancer blog because she was such an inspiration to me while I was going through my own cancer treatment, and she was so touched by my kindness and attentiveness, she had to dab the tears away from her eyes.

When I woke up from the dream, I told my husband Ken, “I got to talk to Fran Drescher for twenty minutes all by myself and I made her cry. It was awesome.”

I also told Ken, “Here’s how it’s really going to go: I will shake her hand—one of sixty lined up in a row for the meet-and-greet—and I will have exactly ten seconds to drool all over myself and mumble something like, ‘Hey, bestie, letters…blog…I’m stalking you…’ while Jodi Rose, my photographer and friend, snaps pictures of my big bahookie from behind. The security guy will swoop in and say, ‘Did I hear someone say stalking?’ and drag me away, kicking and screaming.”

I look forward to having a mimosa with you tomorrow morning. Cheers!

Best friends always,


By |October 2016|Dear Fran Drescher|

October 25, 2016

Letter #37 To My Benefactor

Dear Benefactor,

Texas Roadhouse in Oceanside, California - October 23

Texas Roadhouse in Oceanside, California – October 23 – with Jodi Rose

In my last letter to you, I told you that I was going to make sure to take my Keens with me on the next vacation. Well, one week after I came home from Toronto, I was on another airplane headed for Southern California. In fact, I am writing you this letter from Oceanside.

I know, I know, I am one spoiled brat.

Well, my Keens are here, but I haven’t gone hiking yet. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been walking. Yesterday, I logged over 12,000 steps on my Fitbit from hanging out at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Knott's Berry Farm - yesterday

Knott’s Berry Farm – yesterday

That’s a good thing, because the minute I pulled into town here—even before I checked into the condo—I ended up at the Texas Roadhouse with my traveling partner, Jodi Rose. This is one of my absolute favorite restaurants. I especially love their buns with honey/cinnamon butter. All self-control goes out the window the minute I enter their establishment.

I need to keep walking (and probably stay away from Texas Roadhouse) or Knott’s Berry Farm will have to swap out that poster above my head for a picture of me instead of Sweet Marie.



By |October 2016|Letter To My Benefactor|

October 25, 2016

Letter #36 To My Benefactor

Hiking the Bruce Trail in Ontario, Canada – September 10

Dear Benefactor,

I just wanted to tell you that for the first vacation ever, I left those wonderful Keens you paid for at home; my husband and I were going to visit family in Toronto, Canada, and I figured we wouldn’t have time to do any hiking.

Sure enough, the first day we were there—the Canadian Thanksgiving—my nieces and nephews took us hiking on the Bruce Trail. The only shoes I had with me were my Sperry boat shoes and let me tell you, they are not the same as those Keens.

Oh well, hiking in crappy shoes is better than sitting on the couch overeating turkey and stuffing, right?

You know I usually take my Keens with me on vacation.

You know that one letter I sent you about my depression problem because of stuff that happened in my past? I’m doing everything I can to stay positive and keep active, such as hiking no matter where I am in the world.

I get myself out of bed every single morning—on vacation and at home—and command myself to be happy and grateful for another day added to my life.



By |October 2016|Letter To My Benefactor|

October 25, 2016

Doctor Burnout

I think this was after my surgery.

In my last post, item #4 mentioned that I need to go to the eye doctor, but I just can’t bring myself to go: I have complete doctor burnout.

I’m in need of an optometrist for the fact that I am blind as a bat. I find myself reaching for the cheater reading glasses more and more.

However, I also need more than glasses.

I was born cross-eyed. When I was three, I underwent surgery to correct the problem. The surgeon told my parents at that time that I would need another surgery when I turned 18.

Age 18 passed with no surgery, age 28, age 38, age 48. Somewhere between 18 and 28, I consulted a doctor. About the only thing that stands out in that appointment is the fact that he (she?) told me I would be awake for the surgery. I hightailed it out of the office and never looked back. Awake? Kreebles.

When I started thinking about putting my big-girl panties on to conquer my fear of being awake during eye surgery to go consult another eye doctor—especially after two friends told me how happy they were with their lazy eye surgeries—I got diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer.

One to usually only go to a naturopath once or twice a year for a tuneup, suddenly I found myself going to an average of three doctor appointments per week: for everything from tests on my breast, bones, and brain, to nine heart tests performed because of the “Red Devil” regimen I was given.

My liver almost shut down, which caused a bunch of extra appointments.

Then, there have been all the surgeries I’ve had on my body: that eye surgery I mentioned earlier, three C-sections, the insertion of my port for chemotherapy, a mastectomy, the removal of my port, breast reconstruction. I feel like I’m going to be one big scar any day now.

Chemotherapy, surgeries, physical therapy and massage for my lymphedema… I think I’ve had enough appointments to last a lifetime.

When I get tired, you can see my eye wandering, like in this picture. September 4, 2016 – Bellingham Bay

The thought of going now to get a) reading glasses and b) surgery to correct my lazy eye? I just can’t do it. I know one of these days I will have no choice—because both problems are getting worse—but for now, I’m going to stay away from as many doctors as possible, hope my cancer doesn’t come back, and enjoy living my life to the fullest instead.

By |October 2016|Breast Cancer Awareness|

October 25, 2016

Breast Cancer Awareness #8

Table Rock in Boise, Idaho - September 2, 2016

Table Rock in Boise, Idaho – September 2, 2016

And once again, it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Like I’ve said before, I don’t like how breast cancer seems to get the most attention out of all the cancers.

Maybe I’m just hypersensitive to all the pink ribbons everywhere, having gone through breast cancer myself.

Here is my list of reasons I’m very aware of breast cancer:

1. I’m still having a hard time reading any books to completion: I hope this doesn’t mean my chemo brain is permanent.

2. Last week alone, a friend told me about her friend that is “going through breast cancer.” Another young girl who sold me yoga pants told me her mother is dying from ovarian cancer and has “given up all hope.” I cried over both of these women I don’t even know.

3. Every October, I get mail from Nordstrom advertising the prostheses they sell.

4. I’ve needed to go to the eye doctor for years now, but I keep putting it off because of the doctor burnout I’m still experiencing from my cancer treatment seven years ago.

Crabbing in Bellingham Bay - September 4, 2016 - with Jonathan

Crabbing in Bellingham Bay – September 4, 2016 – with Jonathan

5. I’ve been vacationing like crazy this year because I keep thinking that “any day now,” the bomb is going to drop.

6. Any time I get a sore on my body that doesn’t want to heal, I’m worried that my cancer is back because poor wound healing is a symptom of cancer. I never used to be paranoid like that before I got my cancer.

7. I’m more conscious of maintaining and enriching my relationships with friends and family because I realize how precious life truly is, having faced death squarely in the eyeballs, so to speak.

8. Every time I pay bills, I’m thankful that we managed to hang on to our house in spite of the huge debt caused by our bills during my cancer treatment: our lawyer friend advised us to declare medical bankruptcy during those dark days, but we managed somehow, by the grace of God, to hang on to our house and pay every last medical bill.

9. Two weeks ago, I got a notice from my oncologist making an appointment for me this upcoming March. I guess he is worried cancer could come back to bite me in the butt.

10. My energy has never fully returned since my treatment, and in talking to other women that have gone through cancer, this is pretty common.

By |October 2016|Breast Cancer Awareness|