Skip to main content

"Good evening. Hello. I have cancer. How are you?"


Tig Notaro was diagnosed just three days before a standup comedy set with invasive cancer in both of her breasts. What happened afterwards is quickly becoming the stuff of Internet legend. She decided to get up on stage and deliver a half and hour act that quickly make the social media rounds.

It started off with comedian Lewis C.K.’s tweet: “in 27 years doing this, I've seen a handful of truly great, masterful standup sets. One was Tig Notaro last night at Largo.” The larger media outlets came quickly after, including interviews on NPR and This American Life.

So what’s all the fuss about?

Notaro was brutally honest and open about a subject that is often taboo to talk about in many settings. During the set she talks about a stream of personal tragedies that led up to the diagnosis of cancer including a pneumonia, a C. difficile infection, a traumatic death of her mother from a fall, and a breakup from a longstanding relationship. She does this in such a way that is so raw that it is nearly impossible not to be moved.

She also talks about this on such a personal level that it feels like you are hearing about the diagnosis from one of your closest friends.  Indeed, during the throughout the entire routine she continuously attempts to assure the audience that everything is going to be ok. Take this line:
It's OK. It's going to be OK. It might not be OK. But I'm just saying, it's OK. You're going to be OK. I don't know what's going on with me. 

I highly recommend listening to this if you haven't yet.  If you want to listen to the first 15 minutes for free, go to the This American Life website where you can find Ira Glass’s interview with her as part of the “What Doesn’t Kill You” podcast. I though highly recommend listening to the whole act. It can be downloaded for $5 at Lewis C.K.’s website

 by: Eric Widera

Comments

larryu said…
My best friend has cancer. I've had cancer twice (different types). Black humor helps. Tig Notaro is a master (mistress?)
I think that humour is the best pain killer. I really look up to those people, who can make jokes even in the hardest situations!

Popular posts from this blog

The Dangers of Fleet Enemas

The dangers of oral sodium phosphate preparations are fairly well known in the medical community. In 2006 the FDA issued it’s first warning that patients taking oral sodium phosphate preparations are at risk for potential for acute kidney injury. Two years later, over-the-counter preparations of these drugs were voluntarily withdrawn by the manufacturers.  Those agents still available by prescription were given black box warnings mainly due to acute phosphate nephropathy that can result in renal failure, especially in older adults. Despite all this talk of oral preparations, little was mentioned about a sodium phosphate preparation that is still available over-the-counter – the Fleet enema.

Why Oral Sodium Phosphate Preparations Are Dangerous 

Before we go into the risks of Fleet enemas, lets spend just a couple sentences on why oral sodium phosphate preparations carry significant risks. First, oral sodium phosphate preparations can cause significant fluid shifts within the colon …

Dying without Dialysis

There is a terrific article in this weeks Journal of Pain and Symptom Management by Fliss Murtagh of King's College in London about the epidemiology of symptoms for patients with advanced renal failure who die without dialysis.  This study is important because while we know that patients with advanced renal failure have a limited life expectancy and the average age of initiation of hemodialysis is increasing, we know little about the alternatives to hemodialysis.  Specifically, we know nothing about symptoms affecting quality of life among patients who elect not to start dialysis (so called "conservative management" - is this the best label?).  This article provides a terrific counterpoint to the article in last years NEJM showing that nursing home residents who initiated hemodialysis tended to die and decline in function (see GeriPal write up here). 

The study authors followed patients with the most advanced form of chronic kidney disease (the new name for renal failu…

Survival from severe sepsis: The infection is cured but all is not well

Severe sepsis is a syndrome marked by a severe infection that results in the failure of at least one major organ system: For example, pneumonia complicated by kidney failure. It is the most common non-cardiac cause of critical illness and is associated with a high mortality rate.

But what happens to those who survive their hospitalization for severe sepsis? An important study published in JAMA from Iwashyna and colleagues provides answers and tells us all is not well. When the patient leaves the hospital, the infection may be cured, but the patient and family will need to contend with a host of major new functional and cognitive deficits.

Iwashyna examined disability and cognitive outcomes among 516 survivors of severe sepsis. These subjects were Medicare enrollees who were participants in the Health and Retirement Study. The average age of patients was 77 years.

When interviewed after discharge, most survivors were left with major new deficits in their ability to live independently. …