Laughing in Silence and Stillness During Cancer


Laughter helped me get through many of cancer’s uncomfortable situations, including a recent MRI, where I was laughing despite not being able to move.

Living with cancer is like walking on ice. You are always wondering when it is going to crack.

Every time you go in for a six-month checkup or 12-month checkup, you are always wondering if the cancer has returned. That never goes away regardless of remission time.

Living with metastatic cancer is like walking on cracked ice. You can see the cracks. You are just wondering when they will start breaking up and things will start falling apart.

We all live with fear. Each day I try not to let it get the best of me. But when the checkup times come around, the fear and anxiety increases. Regardless of how I feel, the fear is always present. How do I cope? By relying on my friends and family to help me. I cope by having a positive attitude. I cope by believing in hope. I hope that I will be OK, and if not, then I will deal with it when the time comes, instead of anticipating the worst. I also deal with it by using meditation and visualization daily. Mindfulness meditation is a great way to help calm anxiety. I practice it all the time.

However, I feel that the best medicine is laughter. Laughter takes us out of fear and places us in a good space. It puts us in a place of freedom. It puts us in a place of joy. It lowers our blood pressure. It lifts our spirits into clouds of delight.

When I can see humor in my life and in my own circumstances, then I can make progress with my cancer battle. Sometimes it’s hard to find the humor when in pain. Sometimes it’s hard to find the humor when the circumstances are not good. Sometimes it’s hard to find the humor without needed support. But this is where a compassionate nurse can make a difference. A doctor can offer a reassuring word. A technician can come in with a smile and brighten the whole day, even if I know I’m getting poked. Just a little thing such as showing kindness or smiling can lift my spirits out of depression into a state of joy. Joy can change body chemistry making every cell smile, so it becomes infectious. We spread the joy!

Just recently I had an MRI as part of my checkup. Obviously, I was nervous and frightened. The technicians made me feel at ease by recognizing my fear and calming me. They asked what music I would like to hear, and I requested the second movement of the seventh symphony of Beethoven.

The technician said, “You got it.”

As the music began, I forgot how difficult it was to concentrate. I hadn’t had an MRI in a long time. I had forgotten how difficult it was to relax. And with all the noise of the MRI, sounding like metal grinding on itself, I began to struggle to find a place of calm. The noise was almost deafening, even with the earphones on. However, I knew the music and began to focus on it in my mind. At one point I smiled inside because the machine hit the same note as the symphony was playing. It made me laugh inside even though my body was still. Out of nowhere came a moment of unexpected joy. I was euphoric.

That moment of interior laughter got me through the procedure and alleviated my fear. For a few seconds, I had been transported out of the MRI setting into a concert hall filled with people and a full orchestra playing the symphony. Fear was no longer present. Anxiety disappeared. Pleasure filled my brain waves. My breathing was restful. My heart rate was lowered.

Humor can come in many forms. It does not have to be a full belly laugh. It can be a quiet interior laugh with not a single movement. Laughter was the medicine that got me through this procedure. Laughter is the medicine that gets us through life. My results turned out well, and I am still in remission.

This post was written and submitted by Chester Freeman. The article reflects the views of Chester Freeman and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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