Cancer is no Laughing Matter, but Humor can Provide Relief

October 26th, 2011

Anyone with a friend or loved one who's been affected by cancer knows the pain it can cause, both physically and emotionally. When the diagnosis comes, it truly is a battle to remain positive while undergoing the physically debilitating treatment. While chemotherapy and various medications are the best treatments for cancer, humor can also play a role in lifting people's spirits when they need it most. To help spread the word about Breast Cancer Awareness Month along with our campaign with Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, we thought we'd dedicate this post to humor, and the role it can play in the lives of cancer patients and anyone who's dealing with a serious illness either directly or indirectly. According to Cancer.org, Humor Therapy is defined as:
The use of humor for the relief of physical or emotional pain and stress. It is used as a complementary method to promote health and cope with illness. Although available scientific evidence does not support claims that laughter can cure cancer or any other disease, it can reduce stress and enhance a person's quality of life. Humor has physical effects because it can stimulate the circulatory system, immune system, and other systems in the body.
Obviously we're not advocating humor as a replacement for any other kinds of cancer treatment, but when implemented as part of the overall treatment approach, humor therapy can boost mood, encourage relaxation, reduce stress and improve quality of life. Cancer treatment often involved a lot of pain and symptom management along with humor can play a useful role. Some ideas that we've seen for using humor in cancer treatments include the following:
  • Have a wig party
  • Plan a clever fundraiser, like Art Bras
  • Watch a goofy movie or sitcom
  • Visit a comedy show
  • Write a blog post about body changes
  • Rock a “Save the Ta-tas” T-shirt
One woman writing on the SheKnows blog even had a “Ta Ta to the ta-tas” party before a bilateral mastectomy, complete with themed cupcakes and the support of friends. Of course, some people don't see humor as having any role in treatment, which is a fair perspective given the seriousness of a cancer diagnosis and an individual's personal experience. However, KevinMD.com makes a valid point about humor's ability to generate awareness, a critical step in getting the undiagnosed to pay attention to warning signs, when he states:
“Humor is a way to reach people who may be turned off by traditional public service announcements. We may be getting some people to think about this for the first time.”
As we move into the final days of October and continue our campaign to promote breast cancer awareness while supporting the search for a cure, we encourage those who are affected or who have loved ones who are, to think about what makes us laugh and do whatever possible to inspire a smile. We'd love to hear about any experiences you've had with humor, music or other non-medical treatments that have helped when dealing with cancer. Please help us spread awareness and share with us here on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.



About the Author

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IOGEAR enjoys long walks on the beach and romantic getaways. While not traveling, IOGEAR enjoys a great game of shuffle board whilst playing the banjo.