Oncology Nursing Press, Inc. | Darren LaCroix

Oncology Nursing Press, Inc.

Oncology Nursing Press, Inc.


Oncology Nursing Forum

Living and Laughing With Cancer: A Comedian’s Journey. Dave Fitzgerald.


What happens when an individual, who is a comedian by profession, is diagnosed with cancer? Is anything funny about the stress of a cancer diagnosis, learning about complex treatment options, and undergoing surgery? As a founder of The Humor Institute, a professional speaker, and a tour comedian who has performed in more than 45 countries, Dave Fitzgerald is the perfect person to answer this question.

The video begins with a clip of Fitzgerald in his role as a professional comedian, describing humorous interpretations of a belief in God’s plan. This gives the viewer a glimpse of a major theme of his message: recovering from cancer is more than a physical process.

Through a conversational interview with a friend and cofounder of The Humor Institute, Fitzgerald talks about his own experience of being diagnosed with cancer, educating himself about treatment options, and undergoing surgery. He gives sound advice and offers keen insights. For example, he believes that preparing a written list of questions for physicians can help patients compensate for the lack of control they may be feeling. He encourages patients to commit to asking those questions once they are written. Throughout the video, Fitzgerald blends practical advice with sensitivity to the emotional aspects of the cancer journey.

Oncology nurses will find Fitzgerald’s message easy to echo. He suggests that people with cancer not “become the disease” and describes how important it was for him to talk with someone who had been through the treatment and how he learned to deal with the impact surgery would have on his daily life. Fitzgerald effectively describes his own fears, modeling a sense of vulnerability for others facing similar challenges.

The video alternates between dialogue, clips of live performances where Fitzgerald recounts humorous aspects of his cancer diagnosis and surgery, and pictures of him as a patient. With a relaxed pace and length of 40 minutes, this video would be appropriate for cancer support groups and for viewing by individual patients and families. A men’s support group especially could find it helpful, as Fitzgerald deals with the emotional side of cancer in a forthright manner. Amidst the seriousness of a cancer diagnosis many people look for hope, stories of successful survivors, and tools that make their illness more manageable. This video incorporates all of these.

~ Carolyn Ceronsky, RN, MS, CS Nurse Practitioner
United Center for Breast Care – United Hospital St. Paul, MN

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