Fighting Fear with Humor

Newspaper article by: Jennifer Wilck
Newspaper: RandolphRoxbury This Week
Date: April 29, 2009

To some, a diagnosis of cancer might be a sign of the end.  To Andrea Katz of Randolph, it was the inspiration for a book.

“I started the book when I was going through my first round of treatment,” she says.  “I was diagnosed in December 2007 and turned 50 in March 2008.  The genesis was a birthday toast I had written to my closest friends and family helping me celebrate.”

Katz thought her birthday was awkward, coming so soon after her diagnosis, and she wanted to break the ice.  So she roasted herself.

“I realized that as I was thinking about my 50th birthday, we all look forward to these milestones, but it was insignificant.  What was significant was December 15, when I was diagnosed.”

That diagnosis divided her life into BC (before cancer) and AD (after diagnosis).  So she came up with humorous differences to entertain her friends.

“For example, in my BC days, I drank wine like water and in my AD years I drink water like wine,” she says.  “I never cooked in BC years and in my AD years, I still don’t cook, but I have an excuse; my wig is flammable.  I still have fat thighs, but now I can blame it on lymphoma.”
Everyone laughed and Katz decided she had something.  Her book, “Chemo KateLynn: Humorous Perspectives on Life Before Cancer and After Diagnosis,” took a year to write and is with publisher Bascom Hill Publishing Group.  She expects it to be available sometime this summer or fall.

Her book allows her to convey a message to people. “No. 1, you should find laughter,” she says.  “While there’s nothing funny about the diagnosis, there are funny things that happen along the way when you fight the disease.  Don’t let the disease get you down.”

While the book is humorous, the character goes through a transformation, learning that life is short and people horde their money more than their time.  “We should be thoughtful about how we spend our time and who it’s  spent with,” she advises. 

The book enables Katz to help others.  “September is Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month,” she says.  “A portion of the proceeds is going to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.”

Katz feels a particular need to help people at this time. “Cancer is not a good thing, but there are good things that can come from having the disease,” she says.  “If I only helped myself and not others, the rest of my life wouldn’t be worth living the way I want to live it.  When I look back on the years I spent in corporate America, I never made the time to volunteer.  Between working full time and raising two children and commuting, I was always exhausted.  And now is my time to give back.  My gifts are humor and communication, and it’s my gift to others facing the disease without the spirit and support system to give back.  I’m luckier than so many – my husband is my Rock of Gibraltar, in addition to my children, sister, extended family and friends.  I’ve been in the hospital with people who have no support systems.  I hope I can make them laugh and give them a shot in the arm with my book.”