Fork You Cancer by Janie Emaus In the Powder Room

Fork You, Cancer

The “C word” hit home for Janie and her husband in a very unexpected way.


So, what do you do when your doctor tells you that your MRI looks great? No change in the cancer, which is still there, but growing slower than you. And that’s pretty darn slow because once you reach sixty, not much grows on your body anymore. Except for maybe your ears.

Do you:

a) take a nice long drive along the coast and have a meal looking out at the ocean;

b) take a nice long drive along the city streets and have a meal and people watch;

c) buy new silverware, and have a meal at home.

Well, if you’re my husband, no amount of begging and pleading can change your mind. You want C and that’s all there is to it.

What I’d like to know is where was this husband when we got married, oh so many years ago? Why did he not care about a wedding registry?

Back then he didn’t know a salad fork from one used to eat tiramisu. Our mismatched dishes were just fine with him. He just didn’t care what we ate off of. As long as we were eating.

But things change.

These days, he does all the cooking and a majority of the cleaning.

And for the past few months he’s been complaining that our salad forks don’t stab the tomatoes with enough “umph.” Our knives aren’t thick enough to hold. The soup spoons don’t scoop properly.

Every time he empties the dishwasher (yes, he does that now, too) he grumbles.

But I think it goes deeper. Much deeper. Involving another C word: Control.

He has no Control over those malignant cells growing inside his brain. Although, he seems to do quite nicely when it comes to yelling at me for my brain’s shortcomings.

When I can’t find my keys for the third time in two days, he goes ballistic. When I leave the dryer open because my cellphone rings as I scoop up an armful of warm clothes, he carries on for hours. And don’t get me started on his behavior when I forget to replace the empty toilet paper roll.

But these are Small things, which when added up don’t amount to anything too big to worry about.

And I know he worries about people staring at him when he is in public. To me, he’s just a bald middle-aged guy. Not many people can see his scar and unless he brings it up, no one knows that the top of his head is soft like a baby’s.

So, yeah, I’m up for a day at the beach. And I love to people watch. But I get more enjoyment out of watching my husband eat.

Because I know what he’s doing. With each jab into a tomato. Each cut of steak. Every puncture into whatever is piled on his plate, he’s shouting:

Fuck you. Fuck you Cancer.


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Janie Emaus is the author of the time travel romance, Before the After, the young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love, and a co-author of In the Powder Room’s hilarious best-selling anthology You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth. Janie blogs for The Huffington Post, Purple Clover, The Mid and Midlife Blvd. She is proud to be named a 2013 BlogHer Voice of the Year. Janie believes that when the world is falling apart, we’re just one laugh away from putting it together again. To learn more about Janie visit her blog and her author website

Keep the conversation going...



  1. Dotty DeMeulenaere says

    I didn’t know your husband had Cancer. I’m so sorry. What a great piece this is, and what a great way to fight it. I was moved.

  2. says

    Your husband sounds like the dream man of the house. What a great attitude to tell cancer to go screw. You, courageous wife of a courageous husband, you rock.

  3. Vicki Batman says

    Hi, Janie! You have to keep him if he cooks, empties and wants silverware. On the other side, you get it. And he’s Mr. Warm and Fuzzy and courageous. Mine said cancer was an item to check off his yellow pad. He looked pretty scary for about six months, then went back to being his onery self. Hugs, my friend.

  4. Terry says

    Wow that really hits home. Great description of what a cancer victim goes through and what a partner to one goes through. Very thought provoking.

  5. sunny Fader says

    One of the best things you have written, Janie–and you have written a lot of good stuff. You got this right!

  6. says

    Okay, this sounds like something I could say! “our salad forks don’t stab the tomatoes with enough “umph.” I recently got a ‘tomato knife’ after wondering what the reason for such a thing would be. I saw the light. I loved this story.

  7. says

    I wish I did not know exactly how you feel but I do. That resolve and your recognizing that it is controlling everything you both can (because so much is out of your control) that will get you threw the days to come. My wish for you is that you hang on to the powerful feelings you and he get from those things you can control.

  8. says

    Hi Janie,

    I don’t know your husband, but I know mine, and I’m thinking his choice of option c has more to do with being a middle-aged guy. :} They just prefer to be at home…which is WAY better than a doctor’s office, or a hospital or an imaging center. Fingers crossed you and your husband have seen the last of those for a while!!

  9. says

    What a courageous attitude in facing all you have to go thru with the ‘C’ word! Compassionate and Understanding are great friends to walk with you to lighten your load along the way! God bless!

  10. says

    I couldn’t agree more with the way he is thinking. I hate cancer with a passion.
    I hope his continues to have no change and I will keep both of you in my prayers and good thoughts.

  11. Jeri says

    You found a tasteful way of dealing with a most unappetizing subject. I kind of like the meat cleaver idea. Good visual. Lots of love and many hugs

  12. says

    Unfortunately the “C” word has invaded our lives 4 times over the last 2 years. Now it includes my son. So I hear ya, Janie. We read about it in the papers and on the news, but when it comes home, WHAM.

    Your husband? Yes, with every puncture he’s knocking out cancer, and not ever letting it win. You? Are the gem I knew you were when I met you last year, and always are. You are a wonderful woman and an incredible wife. Bless both of you, my friend.

    • says

      Cathy, – So sorry that cancer has invaded your lives so many times. It’s been around us a lot, too. Having a friend like you, makes it easier to handle. Blessing back to you, my friend.

  13. says

    I don’t know of anyone whom that dratted scourge has not touched, even a little. When my husband had “the good kind,” many years ago, I just remember feeling as though the floor opened and swallowed me up whole. We were young and couldn’t even imagine something like that would happen. I feel for you both–so hard to see the one you love suffer…and as cliche as it may sound, we must fight, fight, fight. Sending love to both.

  14. says

    Your words convey your love, patience, compassion, and understanding so beautifully. Cancer sucks! And, I love the symbolic representation of silverware, both as a metaphor for control and as a tool to stab the stuffing out of cancer.

  15. says

    Here’s hoping those cherry tomatoes pop and spit like and explode like your hubby must certainly want to do at times…And you…

    That big ugly C has hit too close to home for me in the past six months…close friends and associates…lung, bladder, breast…

    When you can talk him into going away? Take the set with you. 😉

    Yours in healing, hope, and happiness…
    ~Annah Elizabeth

    • says

      Annah – So sorry that it has been in your lives too. But then, it’s everywhere, isn’t it? Wishing you much happiness and good health.

  16. DIANE KLAPPER says

    For a pete lady you are one of the sweetest, caring and strongest Women I’ve ever met you’ve always been positive with whatever challenges you’ve faced. I love you your attitude and the smile that you always wear.

  17. says

    Janie, you’ve written about this horrible disease with such emotion and wit, you give us all the strength to stand with our fists in the air & shout FU cancer! Stand strong !

  18. MomAtWork says

    Loved your piece. It is a sentiment that rings with me, 14 years ago I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, surgery and a year of chemo, and I am still here…one of the things I grabbed onto was that one of the drugs was called by an abbreviated name – 5FU and every time they poured it into my veins in my head I was saying “Take that cancer – FU five times over!” Buy the man some sharper forks and heavier knives and stab away! Best of luck to you both…

  19. says

    Though I know what it’s like to have someone tell you that you have the Big C, I don’t know what it’s like to live with it every day and have to pretend that it’s not always on your mind. Mine is gone. It takes a strong person to “live with it” and obviously your husband is one of the special ones. A keeper as they say.

    • says

      Patricia – I’m so glad yours is gone. My husband is a strong, lucky guy and I know he’ll be around for a long, long time. We’ll need to get another set of knives!

  20. says

    Great writing, Janie. Just sorry that cancer had to be your subject. Sending lots of prayers and good wishes your way.
    I hope your husband will see improvement soon – it’s great that he is so helpful around the house!

    • says

      Marti – I love that he is now into cooking and keeping “his” kitchen clean. The circumstance which brought us to this place aren’t the best, but we’re making the best of them!

  21. Tony Natoli says


    Apparently you folks have been dealing with this for a while. For me its been 30 years since I was told I was terminal and there was no treatment. I had a very “assertive” doctor at the time and he felt he needed to try anyway. It worked for 17 years! In 2002 I was treated again with some rocket-science technology that was only a theory back in ’84. Carol Frank’s husband, Carl Singerman was and is my current oncologist. He also works with a great group at Northridge Hospital in case you might want to contact him…

    Cancer impacts us all in all sorts of ways… and some are actually for the good. A rather rash statement I’m sure… but your post even reflects some of what I say and even proves my point.

    Being a Christian… I am a believer in the God of the Jews… and rely on the HOPE that this faith offers and soothes. I too have lived through all these emotions, many at the same time… which kinda makes one look CRAZY… but so what?

    I wish you both the best and if I can be of any help from this distance, please don’t hesitate to contact me…

    Your classmate forever…


  22. says


    I’m sure there are days when both of you wonder why this had to happen but the fact that most of your days, at least it sounds that way, are good ones where you are able to live, be happy and yell at one another like married couples do, is wonderful. I’ve also thought. Both of my parents had cancer – mom had breast cancer at 40 and 34 years later is alive and well. Dad had lung cancer and unfortunately only survived another year and a bit. However, we all laughed and made fun of the various and embarrassing things that happened while going through it.

  23. says

    Cancer sucks. Anyone who says differently is either a liar or has never had or has cancer or lives with a loved one with cancer, and I will tell them that! Who knew silverware would be a form of celebratory joy but if it works that is great!