Incurably Alive: Woman Faces Death with a Sense of Humor

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A cancer patient has turned her own impending death into a business, http://www.bluelips.com, that deals in the subject of death.

In 1999, Toni (last name withheld by request) was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. The cancer, in fact, had spread to her bone and she was given a prognosis of 2-5 years. When she read her medical chart, it said "incurable." She was so incensed that she made her doctor change the wording to "incurably alive."

But this is only the beginning of her story. She is helping to change attitudes and is saving lives through her website http://bluelips.com. When she went to make her funeral arrangements she found the funeral home evasive and abrupt in their treatment of her. She was hurried along and asked to make decisions quickly and even commit to an expensive funeral contract. She refused and when she tried to ask questions about what the funeral home was going to do to her body when she died, she was told "no one ever asks those kinds of questions."

As a result of her experience, she started a website called "Bluelips" where the average consumer can purchase items such as an embalming or autopsy video, anatomical chocolate, post mortem collectibles and other oddities. Her descriptions in many cases are full of humor. She donates over 25% of the profits to breast cancer research.

She has made unpaid appearances on a Penn and Teller show and is interviewed in the documentary "Flight From Death." Her website has been featured in the book "Internet Babylon" where she received a three-page review. As controversial as her website is, she has a number of fans rooting for her as is evidenced by over 600,000 visitiors to her site since its inception.

She spends as much time as she can educating others about advanced breast cancer, but also how to protect themselves from unscrupulous funeral directors. She is called "the new Jessica Mitford." The late Jessica Mitford wrote the stunning expose "The American Way of Death" about the funeral industry years ago. Toni, being a fan of Ms. Mitford's, feels that the site honors her work, just in a different medium.

"Jessica was my hero growing up. She taught us to stand up for ourselves and to ask questions. All that I learned from her I have put to use in my every day life so that I question doctors, lawyers and any professional to whom I am entrusting my well being to," says Toni.

Bluelips.com is an unusual place to shop, with an unusual history behind its existence. Bluelips.com has also raised the consciousness of the public -- and it has done so with a sense of humor.

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L Panatella
Bluelips
415-972-8000
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