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Health & Wellness

You’ve Got to Laugh – How Humor Can Help Breast Cancer Patients And Others Who are Ill

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At many breast cancer walks and events, you’ll see women wearing T-shirts with slogans blazoned across their chests proclaiming, “Yes they’re fake! My real ones tried to kill me” or “I’m having a no hair day.”

Sure cancer and other diseases and ailments can be filled with pain, anxiety, nausea and times where you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, “but if you can laugh about it, then you’re in the driver’s seat,” says Patty Wooten, a nurse, professional clown and cancer survivor.

“When you laugh you take back the power and control. It’s a way of saying, this will not crush me,” says Wooten who speaks around the world about the therapeutic benefits of humor.

Studies show that laughter can strengthen the immune system, decrease stress-related hormones, lower anxiety levels and elevate mood, all of which can help with healing. “It’s also good for you spiritually,” Wooten says, and promotes a positive outlook.

Many hospitals, like Cancer Treatment Centers of America, use laugh therapy as a complementary “tool for healing” to improve quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses. At Duke, their travelling “Laugh Mobile” is stocked with humorous books and DVDs, bubbles, whoopee cushions and rubber chickens to help patients have some plain old fun.

"Laughter is as important as stretching, sleeping and exercise," says Wooten. Here are some ways to bring a little into your life when you are ill:

Act silly.

You may have breast cancer, and while losing your hair may be tough, why not have some fun with it? Try hosting a shaving party, and shave your hair into a Mohawk before it all falls out from chemo.

Watch a funny video, TV show or movie.

Nervous about a medical procedure? Search YouTube or download the funniest thing you can find to keep your mind on something else.

Play dress up.

Hats, scarves and costumes can help mask a cast, a scar or other physical changes from illness. Take photos wearing crazy get ups or gather your friends and have a fun fashion show.

Spend time with a kid.

Children can teach us a thing or two about laughter, finding the humorous in any situation. Let them inspire you. 

Tell a joke.

Share some silly stuff and you’ll end up laughing, too. Check out http://www.cancerisnotfunny.com/.

As they say, laughter is the best medicine, so let some humor into your life. After all, who doesn’t feel better after a good laugh?

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