How a Diarrhea Joke Saved a Woman's Life

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How a Diarrhea Joke Saved a Woman's Life

Toilet humor saves lives.

Over the weekend, the BBC reported that Irish comedian Ed Byrne’s routine was responsible for the life-saving doctor’s visit of a 60-year-old Englishwoman. Jackie Kaines Lang has thanked Byrne for telling a long-winded joke about chronic diarrhea at a live show in 2015, which inspired Kaines Lang to talk to her doctor about her own fecal frustrations. Upon inspection, Kaines Lang was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer, and she was able to start her life-saving treatment before the disease could progress to the point of becoming untreatable.

Seven years later, Kaines Lang is cancer free, and she’s expressed her gratitude for the comedian who literally saved her ass.

“I was shitting so much, I no longer enjoyed shitting,” Byrne described of the multi-week diarrhea spell at the center of the bit. Three years after the performance that saved Kaines Lang’s life, he would repeat the lengthy story of an embarrassing visit with a pair of student doctors who stumbled through an evaluation for constant bowel evacuations on his special, Ed Byrne: Outside Looking In.

Though Byrne’s defecation issues cleared up in a timely and untidy manner, Kaines Lang wondered if her own poop problem might need a medical assessment after hearing the routine at a local show. Said Kaines Lang, "I thought 'do you know I have had diarrhea for over three weeks, I ought to get this checked out, the guy's right.’ The very next day I phoned my GP.”

Byrne’s joke kicked off a cancer battle which Kaines Lang thankfully won, and, following the conclusion of her cancer treatments, Kaines Long reached out to various media outlets to try to get the word out about bowel cancer and tell her story of being saved by a poop joke. Kaines Long wanted to thank Byrne for his role in her recovery, but was unable to get in touch with Byrne – until last week.

BBC Radio picked up Kaines Long’s story and surprised her by inviting Byrne to crash her interview, wherein the cancer survivor thanked the Irish comic profusely. Byrne, who lost his brother to cancer, expressed his congratulations to Kaines Long for beating her diagnosis, but he refused to take credit for his joke’s part in the process, saying, "I would stop short of calling it a life-saving routine. Let me at least share the credit with the doctors, I would say they did most of the life saving."

Byrne also griped, "Of all the routines I have had to suddenly be out there (in the media), why did it have to be the one about me having diarrhea for three weeks?” Saving lives with poop jokes is such a pain in the ass.

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