Back when my mother was alive, she got throat cancer from smoking 18 packs of cigarettes a day for 40 years. Funny how that happens.

Anyway, while she had cancer (which, greatly to her surprise, did not kill her), she turned into a totally different person. She refused to stand in line. She would just barge to the front of the line at the movie theater or anywhere else and tell the gatekeepers, “I can’t wait in this line. I have cancer.’”

And, here’s the thing: They always let her through. I’m not sure if it’s because my mom was just the kind of person you didn’t want to mess with, or because they were afraid cancer was contagious, but we always got the best seats in the theater because she was so pugnacious.

Ten years ago, I fully intended to test this theory when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I was planning to try that exact technique and write about it for your edification, but the doctors ended up yanking it out of my head so fast, I didn’t have a chance to experiment. If you didn’t read my column, here it is: I can’t have a brain tumor, I have dinner on the stove.

Anyway, the brain tumor is old history and it will never come back. But I am actually going to get a chance to test my theory after all, because I’ve been diagnosed myself with cancer. It stinks. I would use stronger language, but I’m in a family newspaper.

By the time most of you read this, I will have had a radical hysterectomy, which is scary but I really want this thing out of me because I feel it’s malevolent, like Rosemary’s Baby. By the way, no one under the age of 50 has any idea about Rosemary’s Baby, which is a shame, because it’s such a good movie.

Now, cancer stinks, but it’s really not all bad. Ever since I was diagnosed, I have not paid for a meal. Seriously. My friends feel so guilty that I got the cancer and not them that they’ve been picking up every check. I’ve started ordering more food, since I know that no one’s going to make me pay.

Also, my young adult children, Cheetah Boy and Curly Girl, who live with me, are actually paying attention to my utterances and doing bizarre things like cleaning up the kitchen without being told to. I guess they really want to be in the will. Maybe if I had a heart attack, they’d even start turning the lights off when they leave a room.

And my cleaning lady — who is poor as a church mouse — offered to come and take care of me for free. That was so touching, especially when another friend stepped in and offered to pay her to do it.

Now, some of you may remember that I recently wrote a column about getting a letter from Forest Lawn inviting me to lunch, and how I had no intention of going because I didn’t intend to die. Well, just because life likes to pull little pranks on you, now I wish I’d gone to that lunch, not only because I love free food, but because maybe they would have forked over a discounted “preneed” package at the end of it. Even if the food was as bad as I expect it would be, I’ll go practically anywhere to save money (except a timeshare presentation).

Right now, my problem is they tell you not to drink. I mean, what the hell? How are you supposed to cope with a cancer diagnosis without liquor?

Anyway, I’m writing this before the surgery and then I’m going to see an Asian medicine practitioner to get some mushrooms and herbs and talk about acupuncture, which has been shown to be beneficial for chemotherapy side effects.

The bosses are going to run some “Best of Marla” columns while I’m off recuperating, but if you’re hoping I won’t come back, too bad for you, because just like a bad penny, I will definitely be back, and probably meaner than ever.

Stay well until then.

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