31 Days of CF: William’s Story
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Day 3 of 31 Days of CF Topic: Comedy and CF — It was a brisk Saturday night in New York City. I’m in the small basement of the basement of the Klimat Lounge, home of the Laughing Buddha Comedy Open Mic. It’s 2016 and I was less than a year out of college and less than two years into doing standup comedy. I studied the greats like Patrice O’Neal and Jerry Seinfeld and I was struggling to find a connection to audiences. I mean, I could only tell jokes about the misadventures of my twenties for so long. On that night, however, I would finally muster the courage to speak about the lifelong disease I had: Cystic Fibrosis. In the past, I didn’t want to mention it as I thought my peers and audience members may find it to be a crutch. — The opposite happened. People belly laughed at my jokes and for the first time in my life, I felt like I could relate to people. I have CF. Growing up, I didn’t know anyone that had CF and in fact, most people didn’t believe I had a disease. I looked healthy. However, when people found out I did have a terminal illness, I would be told that I would be dead within 10 years. In the 10 years since, I’ve learned people can be cruel to what they don’t know. — As a writer, comedian, and artist I’ve learned to embrace what may end up killing me. It took years for me to even embrace having CF. I’ve been fortunate enough to have lived a fairly healthy life without having to be in and out of the hospital and it was hard for me to relate to others who were struggling. This past January, my gallbladder went septic, I had a heart attack and nearly died as a result. Mortality puts things into perspective. I don’t remember the first 24 hours in the hospital, but I was aware enough to put some in the memory bank because they were too outrageous not to share. After surgery and another brief hospital stay, I’m recovering well. I’m planning on getting back to the stage soon and talking about the last four months. I’m not sure how the new material will initially do, but I am sure I will find a way to make it funny. After all, laughter is the best medicine. How do you embrace your CF?