CANCER AND LAUGHTER THERAPY

This past weekend it was time again for our annual Hope Shoot- a project which aim is to uplift and boost the spirits of ladies who have survived breast cancer. Once a year we invite a few very deserving ladies, to honour them and spoil them to a weekend away including a beauty make-over and a professional photo-shoot, celebrating their beauty and strength. They also do a video-shoot where they in return share their stories to inspire people currently battling the illness.

Every year there is a new dynamic within the group and every year we learn so much from these strong, amazing cancer warriors. Boosting these ladies’ spirits this year was an incredibly easy task. These women never gave cancer the upper hand, and even at their worst they still managed to put on their lipstick, make themselves look pretty and took the world and the illness head-on. What was amazing to hear was how humour for many survivors was a coping mechanism. Cancer patients want to find humour in their situations. It’s a long journey. It’s usually a minimum of a year, by the time people have had surgery, and chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and possibly adjunct therapies. Humour can help to make them feel like their lives are normal.

When I read up on humour as a coping mechanism while fighting the illness, it was clear from many survivors that If you don’t laugh, you’re going to cry your eyes out. It just makes things less awful. Not everybody finds it helpful. It can be hurtful if the timing isn’t right or the situation isn’t right. So you have to be careful with it.

In-depth studies shown the positive correlation between humour and comfort levels in patients with cancer. Humour frequently was used for relaxation and as a coping mechanism that aided in promoting general wellness. Various types of humourous material lessened anxiety and discomfort, which allowed for patients’ concerns and fears to be discussed openly. The studies also showed that humour had a positive effect on the immune system. Improvements in pain thresholds and elevations in natural killer cell activity consistently appeared in quantitative experimental studies. In addition, measurements of specific neuroendocrine and stress hormone levels revealed biochemical changes that suggested improved physical stress responses and increased feelings of well-being after humourous interventions.

One of the survivors told us how she deals with going on a first date post treatment. Before the date, she would ask in her sexiest voice: “So, are you a boob-man?”, to which most guys reply with a definite yes. She would then carry on by saying: “Well, that’s too bad, because I have none”. This is either followed by a sigh or silence from the prospective date. But she found the perfect comeback for that: “But I am great at blow-jobs”.

Every year the HOPE Shoot makes you cry, puts your life into perspective again and give you a new meaning of what is important. Life is too short for bullshit. Cherish your family, friends and loved ones, because they are the people who are there for you. According to a renowned cancer organisation, families that were able to act openly, express feelings directly, and solve problems effectively had lower levels of depression. Direct communication of information within the family was associated with lower levels of anxiety.

Don’t treat cancer patients differently, be there for them, give them back their sense of normality, and most of all- LAUGH. In-between the tears, laughter is probably the best way to uplift any person currently battling the illness. Most people with cancer are tired of hearing all the bad news of the day, which typically upsets them even more. A gift of good news, or a good chuckle can mean the world to them, so seek out and share good news or a few funny jokes (after asking permission, of course).

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