LAughing in the FAce of Cancer by Pam Lecko

Pam Lacko
Author photograph: Mark Lacko

Derived from a blog written during her battle against cancer, Pam Lacko’s Laughing in the Face of Cancer is must-reading. It describes in vivid detail and with a large dose of life-saving humor the ways in which its author survived and thrived after her diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer and her double mastectomy. This book will invigorate and inspire all who read it, whatever their personal battles may be. Bernie Siegel, M.D., author of of Faith Hope & Healing and A Book of Miracles, has this to say about the book: “I have learned from my experience that survival behavior and self-induced healing can be of great assistance to anyone coping with cancer. Pam Lacko’s experience, as recorded in Laughing in the Face of Cancer, says it all. The tips at the conclusion of her book contain the wisdom survivors need to know. Studies show that cancer patients who laugh live longer. It is all scientific and related to our body chemistry. When you love and laugh in the face of cancer, your body gets a live message and does all it can to help you survive.

Cover artists: Deborah Brooks & Sarah McQuilkin
So read on, learn from a role model, and behave as if you are a survivor and a thriver too.” And this from Dr. Lorence Gutterman, oncologist, hematologist and author of Small Circles of Time: “Laughing in the Face of Cancer by Pam Lacko is an engaging memoir of her experiences with cancer. She welcomes all to share her journey, one that teaches as well as gives us pause to admire her courage and creativity. Through unexpected vignettes that resonate with poignant humor, the author shows us the comedy in what life has handed her. I laughed with her. A refreshing read.”

Born and raised in Connecticut, Pam Lacko currently lives in Simsbury with her husband, Jeff; two children, Rebecca and Mathew; and their two golden retrievers. At the age of 47, she was diagnosed with Stage IIB Ovarian Cancer but managed to maintain her daily involvement in all aspects of life. Three years later she continues to run a successful computer-consulting business and donates her spare time to the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce, the Simsbury school system, and cancer-relief efforts in the area. One of the latter is an annual “Women Only, Bad Golfing Encouraged” golf tournament benefiting the American Cancer Society. She was recently given the Simsbury Hometown Hero award. Soon after her diagnosis, Pam began to write a blog documenting her experiences with surgeries, treatments and emotional reactions. That blog has now become this book, which she hopes will help those experiencing significant medical events such as cancer and encourage them to smile a bit.

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ISBN 978-1-936482-06-1

Copyright © 2011 by Pam Lacko

6" x 9" paperback, 84 pages




My Ball and Chain

After surgery and time in the recovery room, they moved me to a semi-private room up on the sixth floor. I was a bit out of it but did realize that I had a roommate. I swear I must have kept her up all night whining about my pain. Fortunately for her, she was discharged the next morning. My stay was private from that point on.
I woke up on Friday morning to find that my “Johnny” was all wet in the front. This was odd, as I had a catheter in, and anyway I was pretty sure a woman can’t pee forward. I buzzed for the nurse and had her check it out. She thought that my “pain booster” or my incision might be leaking. Great, I thought. I didn’t even know I had a “pain booster.” Just what I needed!
They sent in a resident to check it out. A tall blonde named Dr. Sing (I’ve changed her name to protect the innocent). She was really nervous and unsure of herself as she poked at my stomach. I was getting a little nervous too. I told her that if she wasn’t sure what was wrong, she didn’t have to touch the trouble spot. I didn’t mind being wet, I told her.
She checked with the doctor and came back to say that my “pain booster” might be leaking a bit, but the doctor wanted to keep it in. What was this “pain booster” thing she was talking about? I couldn’t budge my head enough to see what was on my stomach, so the mystery continued.
That afternoon they took out the catheter and said I should get up to pee. Yeh right. Getting up was hard enough, never mind walking over to that bathroom halfway across Connecticut.
With help from my nurse, I sat up and was immediately drawn back down to the pillow by some weight in the bed. When the nurse asked, “What’s wrong?” I said, “Something is dragging me under.” We looked under the sheets and found a ball about the size of a large Christmas ornament with a tube leading under my Johnny. “Oh, this must be the pain booster,” said my knowledgeable nurse. “I’ve never actually seen one of these before.”
Great, I thought. Dr. Sing is jittery, and my knowledgeable nurse just found out what a “pain booster” looks like. I’m in good hands here!
I figured out that in order for me to move anywhere, my ornament must come with me. When I picked it up, I realized it weighed two or three pounds, which felt more like ten at the time. So with my right hand on my moving drug cart and the ball in my left hand, I was escorted to the bathroom miles away with my backside showing to the whole sixth floor. Hey, I thought, if people think my backside is bad, they should take a look at my front!
When I got to the throne, I again realized something troubling. The amount of tubing connecting me to the ball was only about eight inches long. This wasn’t nearly enough line to set the ball on the floor while peeing. So what was a girl to do? Pee one handed was my Day One answer.
On Day Two I got smarter. While I was sitting there holding my ball and chain, I saw a paper bag hanging from the wall next to the toilet. Though it was a small bag, I thought it was big enough to hold my ball. But was it strong enough? I couldn’t quite reach the bag, so I tossed my ball in, risking my life—if the ball made the bag fall to the ground, I would be pulled off the toilet. The bag held tight. I called my nurse in and told her I had found a ball-holder. She immediately reinforced the bag by putting more tape on the wall and patted me on the back for being so creative. I was feeling pretty proud of myself at that point.

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