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What Lipstick and Dancing Naked Taught Me About Cancer: Have Fun

We’ve all experienced horribly gut-wrenching days, the kind that turn our worlds upside down and permanently alter our lives. For many, the initial reaction to being slapped across the face with such awful news is to collapse into a puddle of dark tears … or fall into a state of shock … or maybe even a sense of denial. Any one of these reactions is expected and perfectly acceptable. I would have thought that my world would have crashed after my cancer diagnosis. But, through the haze of anguish, fear and the unknown, I realized that life can still be fun even with cancer.

I first realized this shortly after receiving my first cancer diagnosis in 2004. That’s when I officially became “Caryn with Cancer,” and vowed not to let that awful title define me. I remember being incredibly hungry as I left the doctor’s office. I was tired, and desperately wanted to shake the icky feeling I had in my stomach. So after stopping for lunch, I wandered into my favorite makeup boutique. “Caryn without Cancer” would’ve analyzed NARS cosmetics, discussed her Chanel wedding perfume with the girl behind the counter, and found a new plum colored lip-gloss. So that’s exactly what I did on this day, and I felt rejuvenated for a moment. The lesson I learned? Buying a new lipstick and laughing with the retail staff about silly girl stuff actually made me feel better about what I was about to embark on.

As the weeks progressed, I became inundated with doctors appointments, researching a healthier lifestyle, and figuring out plans around my new “crappy life event.” But luckily I was able to find small nuggets of delight that helped me feel better momentarily. Everything that came with being a girl with cancer was so exhausting, so quick pick-me-ups like buying lip-gloss became extremely important. Each time I allowed myself to have a little fun, I felt like I was infused with a new batch of positive energy that helped me move forward with all the to-do’s.

I realized that even with cancer, I could be happy. I was a newlywed and was determined to enjoy the lifestyle that went along with being a new wife, despite the dire cancer diagnosis just weeks after our wedding. I focused on the positives or filled my life with things that were fun. Of course, this strategy doesn’t cure cancer, but it sure helped me and my family cope during a difficult time.

As I take a laugh down memory lane during this difficult time, here are some unique, silly, and fun bad-mood busters that made me laugh.

What Lipstick and Dancing Naked Taught Me About Cancer 1

10 Silly Pick-Me-Ups That Helped Me Have Fun with Cancer

10. Exercised to Carmen Electra’s Strip Tease videos. The worse I was, the more I giggled.

9. Dined at a Japanese restaurant with tatami rooms (it was private – so no one stared at my bald head or sneezed around my immune deficient body.)

8. Watched Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, and Adam Sandler flicks. The sillier the humor, the better.

7. Asked friends to reach out to acquaintances and had them mail silly notes, photos, and pictures. I smiled every time I went to the mailbox and the efforts meant more than email.

6. Hosted a cartoon night. My son raided the party store, then decorated our house with streamers. Dinner was served with Thomas the Train plates followed by a cartoon movie.

5. Visited Barnes & Noble and bought three magazines. I sat at home, read and relaxed with red wine. Sometimes I put candles in the bath and did the same, but with vegan cocoa.

4. Camped out in our backyard or guest room. Forts, flashlights and ghost stories are always amusing.

3. Created a date night at home – made a new playlist, grabbed takeout and used our wedding china.

2. Hosted a virtual dance party. I emailed my friends a song and they sent videos of themselves, their kids or animals dancing to it.

1. Danced naked by myself jamming to music before jumping in the shower – seriously, it was ridiculous but hilarious.

 What are your favorite fun or silly pick-me-ups?

5 Comments

  1. Rona Rockland

    You are an inspiration to all of us, young or old!! I knew from the first time I met you, that you were very SPECIAL!! So glad that Nikki, Jeff,Ethan and Sienna have you as a part of their family and lives!!

    Rona

  2. Amelia Kendall

    Caryn, this is my favorite post because it’s so personal and even though we’ve shared stories, this is like a window for me to see through your eyes for a minute. I love it. I love you and a I miss you – xo

  3. Caryn Sullivan

    Thanks Amelia. This post is “so me”. While I’ve definitely experienced many hurdles with cancer, it makes my life easier when I laugh and smile at it all. As you know, it isn’t always easy, but my defense mechanism is to find something to make me smile, so I can get through it. Miss you, too. xoxo

  4. What a great message. I needed it today. Thank you for sharing it!

    • Caryn Sullivan

      Sarah – I’m glad this piece made you smile. Hope you had a great rest of the week. Thanks for stopping by.

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