Laugh Long

If you’ve never seen Rene Hicks on Comedy Central, you have missed out on one special, hilarious young lady.

Born to a Pentecostal preacher father and equally devout mother, Rene ran cross country in college, earned a business degree, and became an accountant in a large firm. On a dare she improvised a routine on amateur night at a comedy club, and the rest is history.

As an otherwise healthy woman, her diagnosis of lung cancer baffled her. She had never smoked, but had been exposed to second-hand smoke in the hundreds of clubs and venues she performed at.

She made an appearance at the Women’s Council luncheon here in Elkhart today, to talk about the dangers of smoking, and I laughed so hard… well, you can guess the rest.

A self-described cultural sherpa, history lover, and cancer survivor, Rene has a lot to talk about. Her unique perspective allows her to see little incongruities in what people say and do, and the results are a riot.

Most people wouldn’t think that cancer could be funny. In Rene’s twisted mind, everything is funny. She talked about how strangely people react when they find out you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. “Oh, honey, you’re such a wonderful person. You don’t deserve this cancer.”

Rene asked, (paraphrase) “Does anyone really deserve cancer? Could you say to even your worst enemy, ‘you deserve to get cancer’?” She went on to elaborate, but I can’t write what she said here.

Rene also related a conversation with her “crack-head cousin.” She was enjoying some bacon shortly after her partial lobectomy to remove the cancer in her lung. “You can’t eat that!” warned her cousin. “It’s poison!” She gave her trademark wide-eyed, sideways shrug. “What?” Bacon is poison, and crack is….?

Rene believes in the power of women to make a difference. She cited groups of women in Afghanistan, banned from laughing out loud by the Taliban. They would gather in secret, just to laugh. After all, laughter is the best medicine, and it’s Rene’s secret weapon against the ravages of cancer and its causes.

Rene’s motto is Breathe Strong! Laugh Long! Live On! You can learn more about her and her mission at


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