The New York Times, December 6, 2010

It’s the rare patient who copes with the stress of cancer by being a comedian, but a few people do. I have always found these patients not only funny, but fascinating.

One patient, a middle-aged woman, very thin, with an elfin face, got bad news on morning rounds. With the medical team at her bedside, she gestured toward the physician, then looked at Todd, her nurse for that shift, and asked in an innocent tone, “Does he know about our baby?”

Todd said he turned every possible shade of red, but it was the kind of comment we’d all come to expect from this sardonic patient. She told us that she wanted her tombstone simply to list all the men with whom she’d ever been intimate. When one particularly somber doctor made his rounds, she scolded him for failing to order her a nightly martini.

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