Monday, June 12, 2017

Someone to Laugh With

A woman dressed in an evening gown is sitting at a bar, sipping a cocktail and kittenishly looking at the representative figure of death in its black robe and with its sickle leaning against the back of his chair.  “Are you flirting with me?” he says tenuously…

I’ve always had a slightly dark sense of humor and can and do laugh at what some would consider the more serious aspects of life.  I have laughed my way through life, job loss, major mishaps and the ugly part of aging, so it is no real surprise that I have a sense of humor about living with cancer.  I can’t help myself – there are just some funny things associated with my cancer and when I come across them or experience them, I have to laugh.

Sadly, I am often laughing alone.

Not everyone will think the scene at the beginning of this blog is funny.  Some will not believe that any aspects of the cancer experience can be taken lightly.  There is a definitive line between humor and insensitivity, to be sure, and I hope not to cross it in any way that truly offends another or diminishes their deeply held beliefs in any way.  I am (mostly) careful not to make fun of cancer in a general sense nor around anyone else who may be stricken.  I do not find humor in how anyone other than me deals with it or in how it deals with people other than me.

But still, there are parts of having cancer that do indeed create awkwardly funny moments.  

In talking with my best friend and sister just yesterday we got on the topic of dieting and healthy lifestyles.  With summer upon us everyone wants to shed some weight and create a better body image.  They talked a little about long term plans (it takes time to lose weight) and where they wanted to be on the scale for future events.

 I wanted to say something like, “Unfortunately, I may have to wait until after my cremation to achieve  a smokin’ hot body!” (not an original pun by the way, I’m sure I read it somewhere) but I could not share it.  Though it made me chuckle just to think of it, I did not think my sister nor my friend would find that funny at all.  So I kept it to myself and we missed a moment we might otherwise be able to look back upon and smile.

Humor is a self-defense mechanism, no doubt – and making fun of my cancer and its possible outcomes is just another tool in my “deal with it” toolbox.  It is good for me/necessary for me to have a sense of humor about myself and my situation.
Humor has medicinal benefits as well.  It relieves some of the stress of my diagnosis and can make my otherwise intolerable situation tolerable.  When laughing, I increases air intake, and for someone so frequently short of breath, a good deep inhale is akin to deep massage.  Laughing releases endorphins which may help reduce my pain and will ultimately lift my mood, providing a more positive base from which to deal with things.  When I laugh, I feel good.   When I can laugh at myself and my situation, I feel more in control.

Humor can bring us together, minimize the stress, create shared moments and good memories.  It can help ease pain and even lower blood pressure.   It can and will make my days brighter and my diagnosis easier to bear.

So, I’m going to keep on crackin' jokes and laughing and I encourage you to laugh along with me.  Heck, crack a few jokes of your own…I promise to keep my sense of humor alive and well.

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