Prescription: A dose of humor

Prescription: A dose of humor

Like most kids, 12-year-old Joshua McFadden likes a good joke. He particularly likes to share them with his primary caregiver at Lurie Children’s, neuro-oncologist Stewart Goldman, MD, who is also the Head of the Division of Hematology, Oncology, Neuro-Oncology & Stem Cell Transplantation.

“Joshua goes online to find jokes to share with Dr. Goldman,” says his mom, Lisa. “Then they go back and forth trading them. As down as he gets, Joshua gets super up when he finds a good joke to tell.”

In February, Joshua was diagnosed with a highly aggressive and difficult to treat form of pediatric brain tumor called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). These tumors are located in the part of the brain stem that controls essential bodily functions, such as heartbeat, breathing, swallowing, eyesight and balance. While research into cures for DIPG are ongoing — including studies at Lurie Children’s — children with this form of brain tumor currently have a dire prognosis.

“Joshua is an outstanding example of the courage and dignity of the children I care for,” says Dr. Goldman. “His ability to see the funny side of life demonstrates his positive outlook and his ability to live his life and not just feel like a “patient.'”

Although he has lost the ability to speak, Joshua now shares his jokes through texts and e-mail. Here are some of his current favorites:


Q: Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road?

A: Because he had no guts!


Q: Why couldn’t the little pirate go into the movie?

A: Because it was rated aaarrgh


Q: What type of bagels can fly?

A: A plain bagel


Q: What’s green and hangs from trees?

A: Giraffe boogers


Q: How does a train eat?

A: Chew-chew


Note: Joshua passed away in January 2017.


To learn more about Joshua’s fight against DIPG, visit:




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