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  • Elmo cures cancer

    This post follows Some girls ruin all the fun.  To see a complete index of slipforming posts, click here. For an index of comical posts, click here.

    Elmo 2 003*This article won First Place in the Humorous Column category of the Colorado Press Association Class 2 Weekly Newspaper competition for 2011.

    My husband was diagnosed with brain cancer this summer.  July 7, 2011 to be exact. It’s tough to be funny when one gets news like this. In the interest of keeping this blog column upbeat, I want to offer some insight into one of the highlights of this discovery.

    Ken’s work colleagues sent a care package. They are a bunch of computer geeks, and Ken was supposed to travel to California to work with them this month, so they bought a Tickle-Me Elmo doll and photographed Elmo in a variety of poses representing Ken at work. Suspiciously, most of the photos involved Elmo and snacks, Elmo goofing off in the file cabinets, or Elmo playing videogames.  Hmmm.  Anyway, they also sent the Elmo doll—a sort of challenge, I guess, to see if we could return pictures of Elmo, duplicating Ken at home in his new life.

    We decided to put Elmo through cancer treatment along with Ken. Elmo got to sit in the ambulance, ride in a wheelchair, sit in a waiting room, look at an MRI, hug a model brain, and have his blood pressure taken. We will stop short of radiating Elmo…some jokes always get taken too far.

    Interestingly, of all the gifts of food and flowers, it was the Elmo doll that proved the most distracting. Son Ben plotted for each new photo, which was a welcome diversion from being an 18-year-old hanging out in the cancer ward.

    Elmo and Ken 106Elmo, with his bulging eyes brings a smile to other patients, too. They see Elmo and smile. They see Elmo in the wheelchair getting his photo taken and find it amusing. Some even offer other photo suggestions. For a relished second, one’s mind is released from the cancer channel to the Elmo channel and it is welcomed.

    Doctor’s in this field also seem to enjoy Elmo. Playful patients must be a nice change, as most patients we have seen are desperately clinging to life, many miserably. Elmo offers a whimsical reminder that all in life is not blackness and despair. Belly tickles exist, and bring fits of laughter. Those same fits are still there, somewhere, and essential in the healing process.

    Elmo is fuzzy, and brilliant red, with curly polyester fur. He gets stuffed into my new gargantuan carry-all bag with his head and arms hanging out and his bottom stuffed near the business cards of highly trained surgeons, radiation experts and chemotherapy specialists, reminding us that they all, regardless of prestigious acclaim, started out as children, curious and playful. Elmo is a stowaway. He comes along to make us smile, and does not burst into tears when he looks at us, which some do. I am beginning to like Elmo. He has grit.

    Elmo and Ken 092Elmo is a great gift idea for those in our shape, and I share his addition to our life because I know that each of you reading this have friends, relatives or neighbors who have had life struggles and need something to uplift them. I am not guaranteeing that Elmo will have the same success with those in your life, but if you include photos, as Ken’s colleagues did, a silly little stuffed toy has a darned good shot at putting a smile on someone who really needs it.

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    7 Comments on “Elmo cures cancer”

    1. ken bogart Says:

      Very insightful of those computer friends….I wonder if they ever thought Elmo would be such a useful tool. At times like this everybody needs something to do, something to take the distractions off the tasks at hand, and to be put in control of something. A hospital is out of the norm, and its nice to have Elmo to take your mind off things. Thanks for sharing with us Dani, and best wishes to you, Ken, and the rest of the family.

    2. Dani Says:

      Thank you, Ken. People have been so thoughtful. I am in awe of how caring everyone has been. It’s really helped us more than any of them know. For those wondering, Ken is still doing fine thus far. He is very tired, but he is a fighter and a strong man. In fact, it was his strength that caused this to be misdiagnosed so many times! Now all we need is for one researcher to have an “Aha” moment! Keep the good thoughts and prayers coming our way! And as Ken says, “Supersize them! I’m a big guy!”
      : )

    3. Mark R. Green AKA Moosevt Says:

      a gift to have found you and what a terrific site…much love to your family as we all walk into the unknown! Be well talk soon and happy day! ( or night, it’s 3AM back east!)

    4. Dani Says:

      Thanks Mark! For those reading this, Mark shares our cancer journey in his own fight against brain cancer. His blog, moosevt.wordpress.com, is outstanding – truly an inspirational, well-written blog. Do go visit it! And for others who find themselves awake at 3 a.m., try vanilla hot chocolate (warm milk). My husband would NOT drink warm milk for love or money, but when I suggested vanilla hot chocolate, he was all over it! And, as promised, warm milk helped him fall asleep without all the side effects of more medicines. Who said you cannot sell refrigerators to Eskimos? Not me! : )

    5. Theresa H Hall Says:

      Dearest Dani and Family,

      I shall keep you and yours in my prayers (I’m pretty good at doing this) and will keep positive thoughts for your sweet husband and his full recovery. Warmest Holiday Wishes!

      “Sleeping Kitten – Dancing Dog!”

      P.S. Please give Elmo a squeeze from me.

    6. Dani Says:

      Thanks Theresa! Warmest holiday wishes to you, too. Ken is doing quite well thus far, so I can only believe that it is all the well wishes folks like you have sent his way! Keep the good thoughts coming! Dani

    7. Dani Says:

      UPDATE: Ken passed away peacefully November 20, 2012 with both our children and me by his side. His journey was filled with the utmost integrity. He was an inspiration to everyone who shared time with him. He taught us how to die with dignity, not to curse the short lifespan, but to fully absorb every minute given. Every member of his family was able to visit him, and so many friends that I lost count. Several seemed worried about childhood torments they may have enjoyed at Ken’s expense. Ken was able to honestly look each and every one of them in the eye and say, “I admired you always. I never judged you on the isolated events, but on the body of your work. You were a role model to me and now to my children who I must leave.”

      He made us all cry. He made us all laugh. He gave us all hope, and reminded us all not to curse our fates. Ken also took aside his brothers and created a “Council of Dads” asking each to consent to being “there” for any questions that our children or I might have in his absence. I have used that council on numerous occasions already, and I share that because it was something that was “free” to do, and worth so much to those he left behind.

      As for me, I miss him dearly. I still hear his laughter at times. And for that, I am thankful! I know that many women take for granted the importance of their husbands to their lives. I know I did – even though I never intended to – and Ken and I were very good about being gracious with each other. Now, I realize that having someone so special in one’s life is a rare and incredible blessing. I hope each of you reading this will take a moment and let those special people in your lives know their importance to you. Go visit. Call. Laugh. Let them know what they have done for you, how they’ve helped shape your life and that you care. I promise such an act will leave you with far fewer regrets down the pike.

      Lastly, thanks for all of your support. You have no idea how your calls, letters and kind words helped get us through those toughest of months. We appreciated it immensely.