Is Laughter the Best Medicine?

Cancer, Old Age or Something New?

It's been a rough couple of weeks here with unexplained body and joint pains keeping me from doing much of anything except this blog and sleeping. Finally yesterday morning, I got out of bed without wincing and it feels now like I'm on the mend.

However, I'm really, really tired. Too tired to write a new blog post and I need a nap. Because I have no idea what caused this extended period of pain, I'm going to re-publish a related story from only a couple of months ago that a lot of you seemed to enjoy and caused a few laughs among you.

On first publication, it was titled “Cancer, Chemo or Old Age?" - comments here. I'm not currently taking chemo so this time, maybe it should be “Cancer, Old Age or What the Fuck now?” (Sorry if I offended anyone.)

I'll be back tomorrow with the Saturday Interesting Stuff.

* * *

That's the question I spend some of my time trying to figure out. A new pain in my elbow. Nausea if I eat one more bite. A nose so runny I use up one-and-a-half boxes of Kleenex in a day.

I'll go with old age as the cause of a pain in an elbow. Nausea is probably from the chemo. And who knows (nose?) what's causing my constantly running nose.

I suppose it doesn't matter. Cancer, chemo or old age doesn't change the fact of whatever is bothering me. But it might be helpful to know which does what so that perhaps a medication can be adjusted - although I'm not pretending that symptoms at this simplistic level can in any way be compared to pancreatic cancer.

When I was first diagnosed two years ago, my idea was to follow the instructions of my various physicians and nurses while making preparations for my death. The statistics tell the irrefutable story: fewer than 10 percent of pancreatic cancer patients live beyond one year after diagnosis so I've already won this lottery.

Time went by. It took nearly a year to entirely recover from the 12-hour Whipple surgery. The pain I experienced then was anything but a mystery: 22 surgical staples along with the removal and/or rearrangement of several organs.

Some chemo followed but was stopped when it was deemed ineffective. Eventually, my current chemo regimen began and so far, as I have reported here, it is working well and – amazing – with each treatment the side effects have lightened or disappeared.

Just like not knowing what is responsible for my improved chemo side effects, I have no idea how long this situation of such a good response to the chemo will last. It will end at some point; I just don't know when.

The only thing I think I know about living a reasonably untroubled daily life with such a noose hanging over me is that I must find a way to make peace with it. Which is pretty much the same thing as making peace with dying.

The psilocybin session I underwent in December, the benefits of which so far are holding strong, get me partway there. The rest is one of the passages people in my predicament have to deal with several times.

It's doubtful that any of this is unique to me. I'm just surprised that no one I can find talks about it. Does anyone reading this know what I am not too clearly trying to say?


I'm sorry to hear that you've been having a rough couple weeks, Ronni! Couldn't tell from your recent blog posts. I can relate to "what the fuck now?", lol. Wishing you the best!

I think that anyone who lives to be an elder knows exactly what you are trying to say. In your predicament your body has gone through a major trauma and just thinking about that makes me tired. Just knowing the fatality of your diagnosis must cause enough stress to exhaust the most stoic.

Even though I have not gone through the draining experience you are enduring I am having unexplained pains and weariness. I often say, "Now what?". It's hard work being old. In most cases I don't even bother to tell my doctor of the new pain or symptom because I know he will just give me a new prescription while thinking you can't cure old age.

I hope for many wise commenters to follow. I need ALL the advice for making peace with dying. Thank you, Ronni. I hope your pain continues to diminish and your fatigue lessens.

Unexplained aches, pains, and stiffness. Extreme fatigue. Side effects of many drugs. Also of normal aging. Nothing to do but go with the flow and hope tomorrow is a better day. Keep on keepin' on, Ronni. You're amazing.

xx ❤️

As Roseanne Roseannadanna (Gilda Radner) said, "It's always something."

Dearest Ronni,

Many days, I just sit in my rocker with the 'Nature' channel on. Not enough brain power to follow a plot and too little tolerance to 'noise' to watch/listen to the classical channel, even though I love classical music.

If I could lie down and sleep I would but my muscles won't allow it. If I lie still my muscles lose strength, so rock it is.

Gentle hugs as you endure this trying time. If it persists check in with your doctor, you might be anemic again.

Friends and I used to say "If it's not one thing, it's my mother." But we're old too old to say that now, with no mothers on planet. Hope you feel better soon, Ronni.

Yep, Roseanne was right, as is Darlene et. al. Long-term, incurable physical pain can sure hit the delete key on the joy in life--and I don't even have cancer! At least I'm still somewhat functional which is a plus. I'm sure I couldn't do what Ronni has done and is doing. Y-a-a-y, Ronni!

Old age; it is what it is.

Ronni, I don't know what it is you're tackling today but, with me, I'm feeling as low as I ever want to go !!

With me, I'm recognizing heavy duty depression, but I know that even a forced 15 minutes of easy Senior Chair Exercises could possibly lift me up. I suggest we tell each other that tomorrow we might very well feel better for having pushed ourselves even a tiny, tiny bit today.

I think of lingering for a few seconds at my secret candy drawer, just long enough to grab one small square of dark chocolate ~~ can't hurt, might help. Add some peppy music ? Sure.
Wishing for us both, peace.

Big hugs and positive thoughts to you, Ronni! Thank you so much for everything you do!!

I certainly am not a doctor; however, I have had a good deal of experience with death by cancer. I have a breast cancer diagnosis as well.

Cancer is a disease that does not run a predictable course. Combine that with treatment, and the course becomes even more unpredictable. So trying to figure it out is probably useless. At this point you can only attempt to treat the symptoms you are experiencing.

Making peace with death. No answers here only compassion. Heartfelt compassion, Ronnie.

Writing is my best friend, and it is clearly one of your best friends. If I were in your shoes, I would write and write until I vented all of my ideas and feelings, and when I felt more agitated, I would pick up that notebook and write until I did not want to write anymore.,In addition, I would want to have someone who I know loves me to be available via phone or in person.

Hospice provides social workers and counselors who know their stuff. I understand that Hospice now accepts people who are still undergoing treatment. I figure this differs with each hospice, I guess. You could at least request a home visit from a counselor.

I surely do feel for you, dear Ronnie. I have read your blog every day since you started. I have laughed with you, cried with you, and learned so very much from you.

My Best,


Oh, I can relate. Good days and and downs. Mysterious pains that come and go. And what's with the runny nose thing? I've got that too.

"... what the fuck now?!" is a common theme with me at age 82. Things and parts of me seem to be going a little kooky frequently nowadays ... a finger joint suddenly blazes up in unholy pain, the ankles swell beyond recognition, my memory has slowed down so much that I can't remember my best friend's name, one eye suddenly sees double, or I wake up in the middle of the night with a raging charlie horse, et cetera, ad nauseam!!

For the most part, these things come and go after a day or two. Never have time nor inclination to even go to Urgent Care, let alone a doctor's appointment which could take 2 weeks to set up! Just sigh, shrug my shoulders (when one of them doesn't hurt), and keep soldiering on into old age .

Old age is definitely NOT for sissies!

Seeing your blog reminds me of 1969! That year I spent 5 months at Fort Dix in basic trainimg. Whenever had I CQ duty (11 - 7AM), I tuned WMCA to hear you and your husband talking the night away.
I guessed you and Alex were around 30 and I was correct. It was hippest and only left wing talk in America. It sounded as though Alex was the voice and you were the idea person behind the show. The 60s was the enlighted age of the last 100 years in the arts, politics and science. None of us will see it again. Just want you to know how great you both were a mere 51 years ago in the Apple.
Bill Boston.

Twenty years ago my father received a bad diagnosis at age 82. He died about one year later. In my opinion it made for a rather soft landing. He wasn't in pain, he wasn't scared. He'd lived a long, healthy life and loved his family. He just got more tired and weak as the days after the diagnosis went by.

He did not have any draconian surgery. He had time to plan, talk with my mother and make final plans. He even provided a number of ideas to include and NOT to include in his obituary.

What was interesting to me was the number of people he knew well who died during the year of his decline. No matter what he went through, there seemed to be someone whose life was inevitably going to be shorter than his.

Thinking of you.

Well, isn’t that the pits! Sometimes all we can do is just roll with the punches — keep rollin’!

I collect sayings, poems etc. and I don’t know where this came from, but I like what it says and her attitude.

"So much of our medical approach is a reflection of our death-and-aging phobic society that I have decided to avoid contact with doctors unless I have an obvious problem. Why do I need to know that my heart is weakening or I have stage 4 cancer before I actually have symptoms from it? It's all so anxiety-driven. Yes, if I were a younger woman, or had children at home, or my husband were still alive I'd want to live longer. If moving around didn't hurt me, maybe my attitude would be different.
But in my life I've lived in 7 different countries and spent time in many more. I have a master's degree, have been both divorced and widowed, and my only child will be 40 in a few months. He is doing well, though I have no grandchildren. I've survived 3 kinds of cancer. I've had 2 rewarding careers and I know that I have contributed a lot to society. That's enough.

I am getting so tired of watching the march of folly. Lying, cheating, stealing, raping, killing - it never ends. Certainly the world is beautiful, and there is much good in life, but human selfishness is well on the way to destroying all that. I don't watch any TV - check the news on my computer - find almost all popular music both boring and annoying. A lot about modern society appalls me. (Not the least of which is our sociopathic president). I mean, really, what kind of people approve of someone like him??

So let death come when it may. Who gets the right to tell me I must live past 75, or 80, or whatever? What cheerful, condescending, unaware nitwit gets to give me rules and regulations? Sheesh. If you want to live to shit in your diapers and have someone feed you your meals, feel free, but leave me out of it. If you want to get a ride to bingo and get Meals on Wheels, knock yourself out, but I'd rather be dead. Fat, dumb, and happy is not my style.

We have to take responsibility for ourselves, and no one wants to. It's hard. But without it you just inhabit life, you don't really LIVE it."

I was reading the above post from your TX radio listener and thought, "how cool"! I would've liked to have heard your (and your husband's) TX radio show back in the day.

Take care, Ronni! You know your body well. You take excellent care of it. Rest up!

Finally getting caught up with TGB today, and first want to empathize and commiserate with what's been shared here, Ronni and others. My husband and I share some of the same issues as others here, and some days life is just a pure struggle. Sometimes that struggle is the only thing that carries us over to the next day, which might be a better one or might not, but at least it is a new day.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop regarding the ICE raids today makes it even more difficult to keep up the energy to make that struggle. Friday night I attended a Lights for Liberty event at a local church, just one of the hundreds of such events going on in communities all over the country and, we are told, around the world. So much pales by comparison when hearing details about what's really happening south of the border that's driving people to make the trek here. The people who are even making it to the border are a small percentage of those who are fleeing their homelands. I cannot even begin to imagine what that must be like. It seems surreal, and yet it is very real and people of all ages are suffering and dying each day, most of whom we never hear about. Pondering this makes my struggles seem so minor. Having a home, bed, running water and adequate food, medical care and the luxury of feeding birds, gardening reading, sitting on the computer almost daily checking in with Ronni and all of you here, and seeing my family whenever I choose makes me wonder what I ever did to deserve these things, when so many people go without. Which leads me to believe that one's reality has little or nothing to do with what they deserve, but rather "there but for fortune. . . ."

On a lighter note, I agree that hearing shows that you and Alex put out in the 1960's would be fascinating. Are there archive copies anywhere that you could direct us to, or any chance that you two could put some of that older material out on here one of these days? I imagine it might be a lot of work and probably too much to ask, but I'm sure there are several of us here, and others out there who don't even know about TGB, who would find it wildly interesting to hearken back to events and music from those days via your radio shows. Sometimes dwelling on those youthful times, which seemed so much brighter and full of hope, helps to keep what's happening today in balance.

Let's see, it's always something, as many have said. Ronni, good to hear you say you might be rebounding--hope that trend continued. Hope springs eternal and so far so good for you by all standards of measurement.

Just this week, suddenly the bottom of my foot got real sore, like planter fasciitis, and painful to walk. It's subsiding now but that was one of those annoyances that I knew was probably transient, but very annoying, and especially because my week in Europe begins Sunday and I didn't need impaired walking.

I'm convinced, nearly so, that when I go or go seriously downhill, it will be cardio-vascular related, and possibly suddenly. While "past performance is no indication of future performance", I can say there is no cancer in my family at all, but there is cardio-vascular disease and it's what got all of my family, some earlier, some later, but sooner or later. Therefore, in all seriousness, there is a chance that you, Ronni, could even outlast me! Odds are with me, but the sudden nature of my anticipated demise (barring accidental or crime related death) makes it possible at any moment. I've seen too many people go this way. It bothers me to no end, wondering how long I will dodge this curse, hence, my trip to Europe and go while I can.

PS: My wife is a cancer survivor, so we understand that disease, to some extent.

Ronni, may you surpass the five your mark.

God Speed. John

love to you

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