Laugh, Laugh, Laugh
I have referred you before to LBCC's new blog, http://livingbeyondbc.wordpress.com/, and I especially like this entry, written by one of their volunteers, about the power and importance of humor. I was reminded of the glory of laughter last week-end when I saw It's Complicated, Meryl Streep's newest movie. I felt great for days.
It really isn't funny, you know. It's serious. The whole thing. Life-threatening. So, no laughing. Cut it out. Be serious. Just wipe that smile off of your face.
Except we can't, can we? Not always. But be honest: aren't there times when you look around and think, "I'm in the middle of a Mel Brooks movie except no one knows but me!"
Now this is the important message. YOU MUST LAUGH.
Photo credit: Laurie Beck Peterson
You've already cried way too much. It's time to find the laughter. Sometimes the laughter stays hidden for a really long time and sometimes it shows up at the strangest time.
When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer (22 years ago), my husband and I were sitting in my breast surgeon's office, receiving the bad news. A few days before we had learned the results of the biopsy, but this was the "what do we do now" appointment. The tone was quite somber, of course. Before the doctor outlined my choices he asked how my general health had been. I told him I felt fine, but that I had recently had a head cold. And then the moment arrived! A slow smile spread across my face, the first one since "this" began. And I said, with a big smile on my face: "But I guess it went to my chest!"
Ok, maybe not the funniest line ever, but that was the moment I knew I could be ok. I knew if I could find a joke (feeble as it might have been), then I could find more reasons to smile and to laugh. And I did. I even found a doctor who understands my sense of humor and who makes me laugh. This past summer I found out I had a 2nd recurrence, a 2nd time with bone mets. The first had been 18 years ago, so this really knocked me down. And I stayed down for a while. But by the time we got to my wonderful, funny oncologist (a funny oncologist??) the stress lifted and we laughed through the entire appointment. We laughed at cancer, at the absurdity of all of this…we even laughed at our laughter. And you know what? It felt really good.
Sometimes I have to get out of my head, out of the wondering, worrying, wishing. Treatment pulls me back to those difficult places: I start to resent the familiar smells, the look of the waiting rooms, even the nurse's nail polish. I hate belonging where I don't want to be. So I make a conscious effort to look for something that will at least make me smile. I watch old funny movies (may I recommend "The Producers"-the old one and any Marx Brothers movie), I talk to my funny friends (they must promise to be funny and not quiet and "sensitive").
And occasionally in the waiting area at the doctor's office, I find a kindred spirit, someone who is able to pull me away from the awful reality of this for a few minutes. Have you had these moments? Care to share them? We can all use a good laugh.