Remember when you were little and had fallen off your bike, and your Dad would pick you up and make you laugh? There is a common saying that laughter is the best medicine, and cancer is no exception. Of course, cancer is a very serious disease and requires conventional treatments as well, but humor therapy as a supplement to traditional remedies has been shown to boost mood, encourage relaxation, reduce stress, and even improve the quality of life of cancer patients.
Humor therapy involves using jokes, humor, and laughter to help relieve stress and pain associated with a cancer diagnosis. The best thing about this complementary therapy is that it’s fun and easy to do, and can help make a difficult time a little bit more bearable. Although humor therapy has not been shown to improve cancer outcomes, it can improve your sense of well-being, help you cope with pain and simply give you a break from the seriousness of cancer.
A recent study did find that laughter can improve immune function, which is important to help cancer patients regenerate healthy cells and revive their bodies. Additionally, stress has been shown to inhibit physical health, and laughter is a great way to relieve this emotion and revitalize your self, both mentally and physically.
The most important thing about this treatment, however, is not the scientific evidence but the benefit experienced by actual patients. Brenda Scruggs, a breast cancer survivor, says that she used humor therapy when undergoing her own treatment. Doctors had told her that a side effect of her chemotherapy was diarrhea, so imagine her surprise when the symptom she actually experienced was intense constipation. Only when she had boarded the plane to head home following a treatment did the promised diarrhea make it’s appearance. Despite her discomfort, Scruggs found it difficult not to appreciate the irony and laugh at her situation.
Scruggs is certainly not the only patient who has employed this treatment to help get them through cancer. In fact, if you think about people who know with the diagnosis, you will probably realize that those who have had the most positive outcome and enjoyed the best quality of life during treatment also had a positive attitude and hadn’t forgotten how to laugh.
Whether you are a cancer patient yourself or know someone battling the disease, remember the importance of laughter. Allow yourself to laugh, and do what you can to bring some joy into the lives of your loved ones. Laughter may not be able to rid the body of cancer, but it certainly can’t hurt.