When Humor Meets Harsh Reality

When Humor Meets Harsh Reality

I am a huge fan of the web comic XKCD, as writer Randall Munroe makes witty and insightful comments in just a few frames. But there is a reality in play here: for quite some time (since last fall) there have been cancer-related comics sprinkled in with everything else. About a month ago Munroe talked about it in his blog:

Last fall I posted about a family illness, but didn’t give a lot of details.

In October my fiancée was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. It’s rare for young women to get breast cancer, and she’s otherwise healthy and has no family history, so it was a real bolt from the blue.

She’s been in nonstop treatment for the last eight months, which has been an emotional and physical ordeal that’s hard to describe. We both have all the support we could ask for—including an incredible medical team—and we’ve had some really good moments during these months, but it’s still a terrifying and isolating experience. Treatment is ongoing, and there’s no well-defined end point; things are going to continue to be scary and difficult for a while.

I’m usually pretty private about my personal life, but I wanted to explain why I’ve missed some midnight comic deadlines and have been particularly hard to reach lately. I’ve also spent a lot of these eight months immersed in cancer science, and I want to be free to talk (and draw comics) about stuff I’m learning without the unexplained subject matter leaving everyone worried and guessing.

Thank you so much for your patience, kind words, and all the little flash games you all sent. And all the best to those of you who are also caring for someone with cancer, or who are struggling with cancer yourselves.

Pretty much every comic has a ‘rollover’ or ‘tooltip’ that shows up, often explaining something or providing another joke or insight. Here is the ‘rollover’ for today:

I calculate that the electrons in radiation therapy hit you at 99.8% of the speed of light, and the beam used in a 90-second gamma ray therapy session could, if fired with less precision, kill a horse (they did not let me test this).

The cancer issue has raised itself occasionally, poignantly earlier this week with ‘lanes’. It is a reminder once again that everyone you meet online is an actual person, with parents, friends, family, good times, bad times, happiness, and tragedy that touches their lives.

It is also a reminder not to take for granted that those you care about KNOW that you care about them. I consider myself fortunate that with my family we keep in touch with each other and all make sure we know how we feel; and at Gear Diary I don’t think a week goes by without someone saying ‘you’re the best’ to someone else. It is really true that a smile takes just a second but can make someone’s whole day better – and since you never know what someone else might be going through, to paraphrase Bluto from Animal House: give a smile … don’t cost nuthin’.

Check out today’s XKCD

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!