Breast Cancer and “Coping Humor”

February 27, 2015

Recently, I saw a snippet of Nicole Osborne’s stand up comedy routine and read an article about how she became involved with comedy. Osborne is battling Stage 4 breast cancer. According to the CBS article featuring her story, she appreciates the time to talk about all the stupid things people say to her about her cancer everyday. Nicole was only 32 years old when she received her diagnosis. Some of the jokes in the article include:

“‘I have Stage 4 breast cancer,’ Osborne tells a captive audience. ‘And because of that, people don’t know how to talk to me. They either think I’m dying right away or they can tell me their deep secrets because I’ll die with them.'”


“‘So every time I go to a Duane Reade to pay for something, at the end of the purchase, they’d be like, ‘Do you want to donate to Breast Cancer Awareness month?'” Osborne says, slowly and methodically on stage. ‘I’d say, ‘No, I’m pretty aware.'”

As I found out, Nicole Osborne isn’t alone. Many breast cancer patients must find humor to be a source of therapy being that there are numerous books written on this very topic. For example, Kate Matthews, cartoonist and breast cancer survivor, has put together a book of her work titled: The Little Pink Book of (Mostly) Cancer Cartoons. According to the Huffington Post article written about her, Kate’s “advice to anyone going through cancer: ‘Try to find the humor in any situation. I remember standing in a room naked with eight male doctors (some interns) standing around grabbing at my stomach to see if I had enough flesh for reconstructive surgery.’ As awkward as it was, Kate says it was equally hilarious. ‘Personally, I think it’s important to find humor in any situation. Opening up to things that might be amusing or beautiful helps work your way out of the dark places. I have this vision of people being in a room laughing hysterically.'”

Breast cancer patients have even come together to put together a book, entitled: How to Keep on Laughing! A Guide to Coping Humor with the inscription, “for breast cancer patients, by breast cancer patients.” This book is online, and can be viewed for free:

In fact, there are so many humorous books about breast cancer, that MORE magazine has put together a list of the best twenty. Included on this list was Fran Drescher’s memoir: Cancer Schmancer or Thanks for the Mammogram! by Laura Jensen Walker. Or, my personal favorite title, It’s Not About the Boobs!, by Michele M. Lloyd.

In conclusion, I had no idea such a wide variety of breast cancer humor existed. I’m glad that breast cancer patients can still find humor in their everyday lives, and that they have the courage to share this with others. The comedians, cartoonists and books mentioned here give you just a taste of how much is available. To learn more about any of the women included above, follow any of the links listed below.


MORE Magazine Link to the best 20 humor/breast cancer books:

Huffington Post article about Kate Matthews:

CBS article about Nicole Osborne:

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