Cancertainment: Comedy about cancer treatment, often created by and aimed at cancer patients in their 20s and 30s.
The term was coined around 1995 by Planet Cancer, whose website includes a cancertainment section with links to books, movies, games, and other diversions "to inspire, comfort, and keep you in stitches, even if you already are." (Typical cancertainment joke: "What's one of the top reasons to date a cancer chick? Recreational drugs are paid for by insurance.")
Prominent cancertainment spokespersons include Iva Skoch, a travel writer who was 29 when she was diagnosed with colon cancer; and Kairol Rosenthal, author of Everything Changes: The Insider's Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was 27. Skoch and Rosenthal were interviewed recently for NPR's "Fresh Air."
Iva Skoch wrote about cancer humor for Newsweek in July:
I have always joked about cancer, often to put other people at ease. At times, making jokes feels just as thin, forced, and fake as those HANG IN THERE kitten posters. But often, the reality is so overwhelming that all I can do is laugh.
A contributor to Urban Dictionary who evidently has had some personal experience with the issue submitted an alternate definition of "cancertainment":
All the screwball politics, bureaucratic bullshit, evil healthcare/HMOs, co-pays, premiums, corporations, the impossible labyrinths they send you through. This also includes the dinner time conversations with family, daily chit chat with friends as well as all the chemo therapy, drug treatments, MRIs, and the rest of the long list of things you have to go through when you have cancer. Almost totally non existent with socialized medicine.
UPDATE: Reader Michele Hush sent me a link to this story about The C Word, a new comedy on the Showtime cable channel, "which will star Laura Linney as a suburban mom diagnosed with cancer, approaching the subject from the same lighthearted perspective as Showtime's other half-hour shows, which still allows a lot of room for dramatic moments."