December 21, 2012 at 05:00 AM EST

All stand-up comic Tig Notaro wanted in 2012 was to pitch a book and work some tour dates, but instead she got hit with a never-ending series of curveballs: pneumonia, the death of her mother, a bad breakup. And then, just when everything seemed to be returning to normal, she was diagnosed with cancer in both breasts. “I felt like I was in this tunnel that was so dark for so long, and then another tunnel was put on that,” she says.

But at last, the light: Notaro delivered a hilarious, now-legendary performance in L.A. just one day after her diagnosis. The resulting album, Live, is available on Amazon and iTunes. Today, after a double mastectomy, Notaro, 41, has a clean bill of health and is hoping to turn her experiences into a one-woman show. “There’s still heartache,” she explains. “But people seem to be getting something out of my story, which feels great.”

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