A Comedian Tells the Story of His Child’s Cancer

Yesterday a video came my way on Facebook. It’s a stand-up piece by Anthony Griffith, who tells what it was like working as a comedian when his 2-year old daughter had recurrent cancer and died.

This 9 minute clip packs sadness and pain:

The Moth Presents Anthony Griffith

“If you don’t know about cancer, when it comes back it comes back hard.” It’s “meaner and stronger,” he explains. To compensate for its added aggressiveness, doctors raise doses of chemo and radiation. That’s not easy for anyone, a child no less.

He reflects on his daughter’s condition back then: “So she’s bald, which she doesn’t mind because every kid in the ward is bald, and she thinks it’s a part of life…”

He recalls his predicament, as a parent: “You’re not prepared for this. There’s no books, there’s no home-ed class to teach you,” he says.  Therapists were off-limits in his community. “So you try to figure it out.”

“What did I do?” he wondered, trying to make sense of his daughter’s illness. His musings cross all kinds of barriers.

Griffith was thrilled to appear several times on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. But NBC is “all about nice and everything is going to be OK.” He felt pressured to keep everything “light” when he wanted to speak honestly.

He recounts how he felt. “And I’m hurting, and I want everyone else to hurt because somebody is to blame for this,” he shouts, two decades later. He suppressed his anger, bucked up, and performed.

Rage persists, understandably, still.

The powerful clip is produced by the Moth, an NPO dedicated to storytelling. H/t to Jen Singer.

Thank you to Mr. Griffith, the comedian and actor, for telling it like it is.

 

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Should You Tell Your Employer When a Loved One Is Ill?

An article caught my attention in the September AARP Bulletin:

The Caregiver’s Dilemma considers the 61.6 million people in the U.S. who care for older relatives or friends. People with jobs are, understandably, unsure if they should let their boss or supervisor know they’re caring for someone who’s sick. This indirect cost of illness and aging in America is said to tally $33.6 billion each year.

The pressure on workers is tough, writes Sally Abrahms:

Many employees are in that elder care-giving boat, yet workers with work-family conflicts are often reluctant to raise the issue with superiors. They fear they’ll be viewed as not committed enough, or receive bad year-end reviews. They may also think that discussing their personal life is unprofessional or sense resentment from colleagues and the boss, who may have to pick up the slack during their absences…

The article reminded me of the dilemma faced by cancer patients, and by the parents or children of anyone who’s got a serious diagnosis and needs help. How much to tell the boss?

It’s a tough economy.

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About this Week

Dear Readers,

It’s a quiet, warm and breezeless day here in Manhattan.

I’ve been at the hospital for much of the time lately, visiting with my Dad. Being there brings back all kinds of memories. I could write an essay about it, in a flash, but I don’t feel like doing so, so I won’t.

Not an easy week.

All for today,

ES

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Taking Care of Yourself When Someone You Love is Ill

This week a close relative was hospitalized and turns out to have a serious condition.  He’s not a blog-lover, so I’ll keep this abstract:

When a loved one gets sick, you have to take care of yourself. It’s hard to do your work, and to be there 24/7 for the rest of your family, and to eat nutritious, non-hospital cafeteria-type meals, and to find time to run or swim or whatever it is you do to take care of the one life you have.

So I’ll go to the gym today, just for half an hour. I’ll gor for a swim tomorrow, even if it’s just for half my usual laps: 30 minutes is better than no time in the water; 20 minutes is OK too, far better than not going at all. My intention is to keep up my routine, albeit reduced and adjusted, through what will hopefully be a long haul.

And I’ll write when I can.

—-

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