Quality CareFind out why Mayo Clinic is the right place for your health care. Make an appointment.
Meet the StaffFind a directory of doctors and departments at all Mayo Clinic campuses. Visit now.
Research and Clinical TrialsSee how Mayo Clinic research and clinical trials advance the science of medicine and improve patient care. Explore now.
Visit Our SchoolsEducators at Mayo Clinic train tomorrow’s leaders to deliver compassionate, high-value, safe patient care. Choose a degree.
Professional ServicesExplore Mayo Clinic’s many resources and see jobs available for medical professionals. Get updates.
Give to Mayo ClinicHelp set a new world standard in care for people everywhere. Give now.
Mayo Clinic offers appointments in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic Health System locations.
Subscribe to Housecall
Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.
Humor can heal the soul, it's true.
Many of you writing on the blog are using humor to deal with the reality of cancer. It seems like it's worth talking about, because research has shown that humor and laughter can reduce stress, control pain, improve our immune system and promote healing.
When you laugh, it increases oxygen flow and circulation, lowers blood pressure and just makes you feel better. Think back to the last time you had a good laugh; how did you feel? Free from stress, happy, light-hearted and relaxed are a few feelings that come to mind. Laughter can give you a sense of release of emotions and can be a great distraction from a situation that is heavy and challenging.
Here's a list of ways to incorporate moments of humor into daily life. See what you think. And, please feel free to add to this list.
Having cancer isn't funny; it's a serious and life-changing event. However, it might be worth a try to incorporate a little humor into your daily life. If you're already doing this, please write in and tell your story. We would love to hear from you.
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
Follow on Twitter:
Selecting "Submit" signifies that you have read and agree to our posting guidelines.
My mom has recurring breast cancer. We do try the funny movies and lots of humor. This really does help. Laughter will help get through this difficult time. Sometimes you just need to get away from the worries you have over the cancer. Use laughter as much as needed
I downloaded comedy routines on my IPod, I listened to them all through my first chemotherapy session. It really helped take my mind off of how nervous I was and it relaxed me. I also made sure to watch funny movies, avoid dark, sad things like the news during treatment. It worked for me, so thought I would share.
In my opinion, most of the behavior is related with the type of cancer you have and the stage it was detected. In my case I was diagnosed prostate cancer in an early stage, believe me I haven't gave a dam to it. It is like I caught a flew and I waiting for the appointment with the doctor to treat it(for having brachytherapy). I don't even talk about it and I don't like anybody ask me "how I feel or going". I keep living a really normal life NO difference, taking the medicines I am supposed to. I can't say that I feel great NO I don't feel anything. Just I feel normal.
just recently confrimed cancer diagnosis and I believe in the power of laughter, and giving the best and cheapest gift that can ever be given, "a smile and a good laugh".most of the time if you just ask for a smile from someone they will get a good laugh that will go along with it .Heck i call my doc "Happyman" I plan to stay positive though out any treatment i have in front of me. to all reading this give me a SMILE PLEASE :.)
I have been a goof-ball all my life. I love to see people laugh maybe its influence and trying situations that has changed my life and others. I worked in emergency departments and nursing homes. I was in college and wrote a thesis on humor. Patch Adams had and still has a Beowulf that humor helps heal the human body via humor. His ideals to me hit the nail on the head. My wife was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer November last year and is in chemotherapy now
We are seperated because she is staying with her dad because of financial constraints and work. She's had a rt massectomy and this came upon her very fast. She's doing wonderful mentally and physically. I bought her a Chihuahua toy puppy..he keeps her hoping and he's actually been a blessing to her because it keeps her mind off her situation and makes her laugh all the time. He was worth the investment. I talk to her by phone almost every night and when I do I make jokes and give her the support that she needs. I am not the hero she is! She's the love of my life and best friend. Wish us well.
I write a blog called "The Corner of Laughter and Prayer" and, yes, humor may be a coping mechanism to those of us in the cancer world, but it works. I look for "the funny" whenever we visit a doctor, a hospital, or just at home. I write about it. It is a great release of tension and it's wondrous to read months later...and laugh all over again. Laughter doesn't come at first; first you're in shock, then disbelief, then you are angry (you're grieving)...after that, all bets are off and it's time to find joy in life despite the disease. Don't let it define you; you define it! And don't forget to pray and tell that disease that you have a God that's bigger than it could ever be.
A Happy New Year to all!
This year let's install our very own "humor barometer" to encourage some laughter into our daily routine. Heath Ledger when he played the joker said, "Haven't you ever heard of the healing power of laughter". True words guys- food for thought.
I haven't gotten to the stage where I can laugh, I'm still soaking up boxes of kleenex. Anytime anyone asks "How are you?" I burst into tears. I have Stage 3 pancreatic cancer, have completed 5 months of chemo and radiation and now waiting for test results to see if I'm operable yet. I've always had a good sense of humor and keen wit but right now I can't find it. I'm scared. I just can't find anything to be happy about but I tell you what, after reading these posts, I am making a New Years resolution to "lighten up" and try out a smile or two.
My two young cats keep me upbeat and laughing and feeling positive despite a steady stream of bad medical news. Cats are natural comedians and they are constantly funny. Right now one is curled up in a towel and the other is on her back with feet in the air!
I stay upbeat by joking about things. Life is more pleasant when you can laugh about it!
I love your joie de vivre persona. All is well with me. I had my last rad session on Friday, the dumb thing is I went through the entire treatment without a tear being spilt, then Friday- torrential showers and flash flooding! Keep your head up guys!
Aisha - EXCELLENT! I had so much fun with wigs and such, in fact, I sew and quilt and made quilted scarves and bandana's...as a biker and lover of the outdoors, I had many women come up to me and ask to make them or where could they purchase them....Having FUN with any disease helps the blows of the trauma that surrounds it...incorporating it NOW into day by day life is permenant, but that hasn't stopped me from anything...period...How are you feeling? Chemo? Rad? Gentle hugs dgo with you thru this journey!!
To my fellow song bird, how bout "I'm gonna wash that man right out of my hair". Quite appropriate for those of us with head scarfs and wigs.
Helen - U TURN, Dumb and Dumber, Re-runs of the show Laugh-In and Bennie Hill (BBC).....enjoy!!!!
I'm usually posting in the "how has cancer changed you" section and decided to go into this realm....well, I almost wet my office chair and never laughed so hard, granted, I'm a real crack up and life of the party and have been compared to being "my own party" in myself...just light and fun and well, I do hope I can bring some real smiles an dhumor to you all..as I type this I'm playing Carly Simons "I've got you under my skin", I sang it when I was diagnosed in 2006 with Breast cancer and sang and sang and sang, always and I'm pretty good, must be my musical background and love for the theater and the stage as well as "life" itself....but I would always take "songs" that were or had a double meaning.....this one everytime I went into surgery and to date that's been quite a bit..I had all the surgeons laughing and then figured, why not, enjoy while your working on me...humor has got me thru much and I seemed to stray a bit but I am now back to that click in heels and song in my heart...I'll be posting some of my favorites and my whole story, almost 5 years out now and picking up speed at my ripe young tender age of 47.....attitude is EVERYTHING and let us all smile and laugh everyday! :-) I always said life should have background music like in the movies we see, really makes a huge difference and that's how I live, music, song, smiles, just all out compassion and love for each and every human I meet...
Kim? Got milk?
A year ago I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. By the grace of God, Mayo Clinic, and my devoted friends and family, I have been given a full year of life beyond diagnosis. I have endured a stem cell transplant in March for which we made shirts: "Stem Cells Rule!" I beat the cancer in June, but it came back in August. So, a friend gave me a shirt that says: "Chick Interrupted - Pardon me while I kick multiple myeloma's ass!" Due to insurance conflicts, I had to leave the best team in the world and am completing 8 chemo treatments with a new in-network team. For two weeks I was devastated. However, my new team uses humor and is very upbeat, right down to choice of color for my arm wraps. I have begun to laugh again as I build trust. I read the comics, my devotional, I watch good movies,laugh with my friends, and enjoy my family. I have been given today; I have a 3-week old granddaughter that I will meet in CA someday; and I have curly hair for the first time ever....thanks, high dose stem cell chemo. I call myself "The Silver Fox." Bless all of you for sharing your ideas for laughter. We are stronger than cancer!
Loved your t-shirt idea Kim! That's what we need, more black humour like that. I find I have a lot of laughs at a local cancer support place called Wellspring. I thought it would be sad and gloomy, but all you hear is people laughing and talking. It's good to be with other cancer survivors, there's not the emotional baggage there is with friends who don't know what to say to you sometimes. Funny movies (except "A Night at the Opera") don't work for me, but books do. Once you let go of the future, the present is a big joke and I treat it that way. I have laughed more since my diagnosis than I ever did before. Life is precious, let's enjoy it. Good luck to everyone.
My son has been diagnozed with melanoma, this on top of congenital disorders and other diagnosis. He's always maintained his sense of humor even when very small. He particularly likes to put the doctors and nurses at east with things like havig a friend draw a meat chart on his torso, prior to an operation, or recently when getting a PTSCAN telling the attendant that "earthlings are so easy to fool, now he has enough fuel in his system to get back to his planet." His humor has benefited not only himself, but his medical providers and his family.
Unfortunately I'm not a survivor but one of those who is watching the old clock ticking away. I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer in May of this year. Fortunately, I have always been a pretty chirpy fellow and I have always been blessed with a strong, if somewhat naughty sense of humour. Isn't humour just absolutely amazing? At St Luke's Hospice here in Fish Hoek, South Africa, I was complimented today for always bringing a smile along whenever I arrive at our Tuesday meetings - I don't think that it is me in particular, it's just that we seem to have so much fun and joking and looking for and finding the lighter side of our condition(s). I never thought I would be part of a "hopeless" group of people, but that is just the point I think - we hope more than anything else for a continuation of the fun, so hopeless doesn't come close to describing what we are and have together. What a priviledge to be by far the youngest of a group of wonderful, fun-loving and always humorous group. Long may the laughter continue ... bless you all!
Kim love the T-shirt idea, years ago I collected Marlboro miles, as I was a smoker. When asked what I was collecting for I replied a pink coffin! I have recently been diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, and my sense of humor had increased 10fold! Good luck to you!
Humor is the best medicine...it sure beats crying! Granted I've had my bad and painful days but I'm kicking the big "C" with all my might. My stats: lumpectomy, invasive ductal carcinoma w/ no lymph node involvement, no chemo, but full round of radiation.
My Breast Cancer Support Group keeps me going...we laugh, we cry, we share our troubles and our joys! Celebrating our medical milestones is cause to party.
Life needs to be viewed with perspectives. I choose to do things that give me joy like learning to operate a Segway at Dogwood Canyon, Missouri in September. Humor and laughter whether coming from great old movies or comic books can and does lift my day. I choose to be positive. Life does have a beginning and an end but I'm not willing to let cancer take away my sence of humor and fun!
After my 4th cancer diagnosis, I had the good luck to have my best friend visit(she lives 6 hours away by car). She arrived 2 days before my first treatment and stayed till the treatment was over before going back to her home.
While she was here, she insisted on participating in things I never do on my own, so every day of her visit was filled with new experiences, much conversation, both serious and lighthearted, and above all...much laughter. My heart was light and my spirits were high and all was right with the world it seemed.
I miss having her around and speak with her by phone, but I don't get the warm hugs, the smiles and laughter.
At least I have memories of it and it keeps me going.
I am now in my 6th cycle, with unknow quantity to come. I have stage 4 colon cancer that has spread to my liver, abdominal wall as well as other assorted masses throughout my abdomen.
The CT scans show that the masses have not increased nor decreased after 5 treatments. There is still hope the chemo will decrease the masses, but regardless, we will continue treatments to prolong my life. So long as I tolerate treatments, I agree this is the best course to take.
I choose not to ask how long they expect me to live. They are so often mistaken. I prefer to live while I'm alive withoout a "deadline" looming.
Good luck to all who struggle with this damned cancer. Keep up the good fight!
May many angels cross your path...Niki
I was diagnosed with stage 0 ductual carcinoma breast cancer this July. Since then I have received ten radiation treatments and am presently on tomoxifen for five years. Four mornings a week I meet with other retired teachers who love the Lord and we walk and talk between forty five minutes and two hours. It has been wonderful to have their love and support. The tomoxifen keeps me awake so I must take a pill to help me sleep. ALthough I am groggy in the mornings, I walk and also go to three Bible studies during the week one being for cancer survivors. The joy of the Lord is my strength. God is so good.
Kim I loved your shirt idea. I'm still laughing. I had a double and chose not to have implants. They have a hard time waking me up after they put me out. When my 22yr. old granddaughter asked me when I was getting implants and I told her I wasn't. She was horrified & I told her I wanted to mow without a shirt and get a good tan.
For humor, book,"Fifth Business" by Robertson Davies breaks me up reading in middle of night when can't sleep.
I am a shy person who had breast cancer. Surgery and chemo invaded my privacy enough but then I had to have radiation. I had been exposed so much I was beginning to feel like a topless dancer. I bought those small self-adhesive foam pieces that children use in craft projects. At Christmas I place a Christmas tree ball on each breast, at summer I used a bird and a bee, and then another time I used butterflies. I felt more covered and the doctor, nurse and I had a good laugh each time. It helped my shyness. Now I see the doctor every 3 months so I only have 4 seasons to worry about. Laugfhter certainly helped.
As a newly diagnosed person with cancer, I am overwhelmed by the positive energy and humour from fellow patient/survivors. It has been positively encouraging. I couldn't agree more that it certainly helps friends and family cope with the news, even from a traditionally serious geek like myself.
Here are some movies that make me laugh: The Birdcage, Tropic Thunder, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The Producers (the old one with Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel), The Hangover, Young Frankenstein, Some Like It Hot.
As a three time survivor, my sense of humor has grown. I now laugh out loud more often. Tell humorous stories, and on the whole, refuse to cry unless they are happy tears.
I liked that post about saying you look good when you really look awful. I know people mean well (I've probably said it myself sometime in the past) , but it reminds me of going to wakes where people focus on the deceased saying how wonderful he or she looks in the casket! I could never understand that. . .
Kim---I love your t-shirt idea! It made me laugh outloud :o)
I had pancreatic cancer (whipple) surgery in Jan, 2008. My family and I were devastated when we heard that dreadful word. We searched for best whipple surgeon in Dallas, TX area & we had friends around the world & in our church here praying for this surgery. I felt so at peace when we went into that operating room. Since my surgery I've not had to take treatments & I mow the lawn/edge/trim hedges for the past 2 1/2 yrs. (I'm now 79) and hope to be around to see my 2 grandchildren grow up. They are 8 & almost 10. My husband & I live with our only son & family. We have an angel for daughter-in-law and we've now been with them 4 years & enjoy our life all 6 of us in one big home. We praise God daily from whom all blessings flow & for my health that I'm able to care for myself & my husband who lost a leg & most of his other foot in 2007. He is in a wheelchair most of the time, but can walk some with a walker & artificial leg. We give all the credit & glory/praise to a Saviour who is our great physician.
I have two grown sons who are, obviously, concerned about their mother. My suggestion is to think about others, rather than yourself. Years ago I mentioned to them that "When I get old and totally Lose it, I hope I am funny and you can laugh at me!" They replied, "Mom, we already do!" I can still laugh with my friends, laugh at upbeat movies, laugh with my sons, laugh at myself, enjoy motivational messages, and have fun. I do think, however, that remembering the strain and the difficulties this disease places on loved ones is important. Let's assure all of them that we are OK! Let's give them something to laugh about, too - even if they are laughing at me!
It is amazing what a difference you can make in your own life by thinking about someone else's feelings rather than your own.
Kim, you are hysterical!! Helen, here is your movie info. First, subscribe to Netflix so you can watch in the privacy of your own home free from inconsiderate jerks and germs...in your bathrobe if you want...
-The Paleface (Bob Hope, old movie, LOL for sure)
-A Fish Called Wanda
-Julie & Julia
-Some Like it Hot
-How to Marry a Millionaire
-My Girl Friday
-Fried Green Tomatoes (just plain excellent)
-The Odd Couple (Lemmon & Matthau)
-Grumpy Old Men
-Somethings Gotta Give
-My Cousin Vinnie
-The Women (Meg Ryan)
-Meet the Parents
-Ace Ventura Pet Detective
-Birdcage (Nathan Lane, Robin Williams)
Well, that should hold you for a day or two...and perhaps someone else as well. SMILE! :) :)
First I had to say to KIM your comments is not welcome it is not funny at all ! no one needs to know whats inside your shirt unless you used to flash them before. Second.. watching funny movies or "I LOVE LUCY " EPISODES might help for someone who used to enjoy them before. A funny movie is always with Chevy Chase or Steve Martin...Good luck everyone and to you KIM
Seven month ago, I had Ovarian Cancer removed, I am 79 years old chose not to have Chimo. Every day occupy myself with things that gives me pleasure and makes me smile, most important, stay away from negative people.
Staying in touch with the younger generation puts everything in perspective, particularly humor. And it does them good to see an old
(62) girl living with cancer who can still laugh.
I think when I get my new Breast implants, I will buy a shirt that says "Yes their fake My reals ones tried to kill me!"
Can anyone please give me the name (s) of a funny, belly-laugh film?
I always got a kick out of people saying I looked SO good. My complexion was gray, I was bald and I had gained a bunch of weight -- I must have really looked like crap before cancer. So my humor may be a bit "off", but it is humor none the less.
Another suggestion: Go to a laughter yoga demo or class. I defy you not to laugh long and loud!
Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not for profit mission.
Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic.
A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.org," "Mayo Clinic Healthy Living," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.