By Trish Rohr

As the nurse put her arm around my shoulder and walked me to the doors leading out of the ER, I knew that was the moment my life would change permanently and never go back to what it was before. There was a mass in my husband’s head. He was being taken by ambulance to a larger hospital in town, and I had to get in my car and actually drive to the ICU. Surreal.

That was over three years ago, and the lessons I have learned about life, love, faith and hope are endless. I know this with 100% certainty – I am living my best life. Right here and right now. This is THE only life I am going to get, and it is fully up to me to decide how I will live it.

The first thing I decided to do was to stop giving a shit about that mass in my husband’s head. It hasn’t been easy, and it doesn’t work perfectly every single day. Realizing certain things about life has been an immeasurable blessing and a true Gift. Three years in and here is the first, and most important thing I have come to realize.

Humor Saves Lives.

Or at least it staves off mental breakdowns. If you don’t have a sense of humor, I HIGHLY suggest getting one. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that can survive a good attack of laughter. Even a well placed chuckle can be liberating.

I am lucky in that I am married to the funniest man I have ever met. Ever. In fact I think it will be what I miss most about him. Nothing is off limits – sometimes that can get a bit annoying after 20 years of marriage – but ultimately that means nothing is that important. Seriously, there is NOTHING in this life that is so important that you can’t give yourself the gift of laughter. Not even an incurable brain tumor.

From the very beginning, on that fateful night in the ER, life has given us a lot to laugh about. Let’s go back to when I was walking out of the ER with the nurse, in shock about what was happening around me. She was a little older than me and had already shown us that perhaps a professional life in the ER had started to take its toll on her sensibilities. Nicest gal, though. She was ushering me out to my car and offering her words of support (I wonder how often she sees a 39 year old man diagnosed with a brain mass on her watch?) I do know from that conversation that she does see, apparently, a lot of syphilis come through. In her sweet southern accent, arm wrapped firmly around my shoulders, she said confidently in my ear…

“Honey, don’t worry too much. I see this ALL the time. Men come in here, spots in their brain. And it is nothing more than a case of the syphilis. Now usually they have more than one {spot} so that is good news for you, sweetie. But mark my words, this is nothing more than syphilis.

What? WHAT?? What did you just say to me? No worries, it is just a case of a sexually transmitted disease..all will be well with the world?!

Looking back, that was the gateway for how we have chosen to treat this tumor – with irreverence and humor (hey, humor rhymes with tumor – how about that!). Why should I be polite about something that threatens the life I have built? Why should we tiptoe around it and put it on a pedestal? We don’t. We take away its power every single day by laughing at it, making fun of it and making sure that everyone knows WE DON’T GIVE A SH*T ABOUT THE BRAIN TUMOR.

There is no doubt that along the way we have shocked some people with our humor, we have certainly offended some people with our jokes, sometimes we make people uncomfortable with what we say….oh, we don’t really give a shit about that either. This is our tumor and if we want to minimize it, that is exactly what we will do. You can either lighten up and laugh along or you can pretend to at least. We won’t change because this tumor is ours to do with what we like.

What is your brain tumor? Is there something in your life you can minimize through laughter, put in its place and declare that it will not impact the life you choose to lead? I hope my children look back and remember the light and laughter we have filled our house with — the humor that kicks this tumor to the curb every day. I know they are happy. I know they don’t worry. I know they see Mom and Dad having a great time every day. Shoot, even my son, Chase, realizes that when my cooking isn’t up to par, maybe Dad can seize again and our friends can bring some good food to our house for dinner for a few days…..

Trish and I met over 15 years ago through an amazing friend, Kasie. That was a time in our lives where everything seemed to be so stress-free and the big struggles in life weren’t even on our radar. Eight years ago, our friend Kasie passed away suddenly from a brain tumor that no one knew she had. It is unbelievable how many times and in how many ways cancer will affect all of our lives. As Trish describes the past years after hearing the news of her husband’s tumor, she says, “So many blessings and gifts have come in the past three years; I feel like now is the time for me to share this journey in a bigger way. The encouragement, love and support for what I have posted on CaringBridge is what has given me the courage to write openly and candidly about how we, the Rohr Four, have chosen to handle our life. I hope to share our humor, our faith and our love with others. If you would like to read more about our journey, please follow my blog”  Thank you, Trish, for your honesty and love that has been shared with us all!  ~Rachel Hoeing