Lorde and Vanhoutte

Cancer has been on the rise for quite some time, challenging the lives of those surrounding us. We hear of cancer on the news, between our family, and friends, and also fear the risk as we get older. Audre Lorde and J. Vanhoutte portray their personal experience of cancer through two articulately written passages using fear, strength/ hope, and a literary background.


Audre Lorde was diagnosed with breast cancer leaving her to face with not only her day to day routines but also the new burden of caring about her disease. In “The Cancer Journal” Lorde describes her feelings through in a diary point-of-view. Dated in the 1980s, she relays herself as a mother and a poet, already dealing with the struggles of being a black, lesbian, feminist.

Writing for Lorde is one of her only outputs stating “I am a post-mastectomy woman who believes our feelings need a voice in order to be recognized” (Lorde, p. 7). In later postings, the fight for strength comes out through her words. She struggles with her post cancer fight to provide herself with physical and mental health in order to become a stronger female.


Vanhoutte faces a similar experience and deals with it through writing as well. In her piece “Cancer and the Common Woman in Margaret Edson’s W;t” the fight is for literary relief of cancer. Her critique of the drama makes her question her own sense of who she is with cancer. Her friends and acquantences burden her with assumptions about her conditions on the accordance to reveal her disease “in ways that helped them mark their own distance from it” (Vanhoutte, p. 392).

The main character from Margaret Edson’s drama that Vanhoutte is using to detail her situation is Vivian. An ongoing theme of Vivian’s struggles and whether she deserves them and whether it is better for her to die challenges Vanhoutte.  This brought her to the difference between the writing and the actual hospital taking care of her.  She found strength in the literary sides to cancer.


Both scenarios show the dark and then the light to cancer. Both women talk about the fear they face when receiving the first announcement and then fitting the disease in their lives. Lorde specifically points out her own fear while Vanhoutte skims around the point to bring a scholarly view.  Also, on the emotional side of things, the women find strength in their cancer as a way to realize new things in their life; to grasp on to the bigger and better.


Vanhoutte and Lorde using literary vices to explain, cope, and compare their diseases. For them, cancer started out as one of the most challenges things to happen to them throughout life, yet ended with a more knowledgably mindset.


Tio Notaro

Tio Notaro begins her comedy performance by discussing how she found out she had breast cancer. She begins by stating multiple times that she has cancer and how wonderful it is, obviously in a sarcastic tone. The irony of it all is she continues through the show creating humor out of her tragic recent events.

Many people under the same conditions as Tio would sulk and suffer through their pain. Her choice to be comedic instead of sitting through the suffrage is probably a choice of happiness. Personally, my theory is that when things go bad in life, the best thing to do is laugh. Tio brings this to the table in multiple ways, showing that she really won’t give up herself just because something bad is happening. This changes the understanding of her illness because if she simply spoke about her cancer, people would feel bad for her and want to show sympany. Instead, by expressing herself in comedy, she helps the crowd better understand her strength.

Tio’s jokes were very vulgar, and to some might be considered rude. However, through life there are constant taboos that are funny when broken. Most people laughed when she talks about here struggles because it eases the situation.

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