My humour gets me through!

My humour gets me through!

For most of this winter, I faced my nemesis. Constant cold, damp weather.For a man with the poor immune system that I have, I tremble when watching winter weather forecasts. I seem to stumble from cold to flu,to everlasting chest infection.Finally get rid of that, then the next one starts.Feeling under the weather (literally) for long periods takes it’s toll on me, as I try to continue with parts of my life.

I am now towards the 6th anniversary of my diagnosis, and when reviewing the things I faced, there are times that I honestly don’t know how I have the strength to continue. I thought of something that immediately made me smile, and then I realised. Only my humour could have got me this far.

This post was written about a year ago, but I realised it is as appropriate now, as it was then, and is still what helps me cope, so I would like to share it with you all today.

Humour plays a very big part in my personality, and always has done. I have always been able to see the funny side of most situations, even if sometimes there doesn’t appear to be one! In my life before cancer, it certainly helped me with my work, as everyone remembered me as ‘that funny guy’ and in a very competitive industry, it seemed to give me an edge.

When I started coming to hospital, I was aware that things were going to be very different to what they had been, in many ways! I was spending a lot of time in waiting rooms, doctors offices, and the chemo ward.How was this going to affect my personality? Was I going to lose my sense of humour and get depressed?

Ironically, that was one of my biggest concerns, not so much my schedule of treatment! What is there to smile about in a room full of people who are very unwell, having very toxic treatment? I approached my first chemo session very quietly and cautiously, after all I was the new boy in town! My idea, was to watch and learn how other patients were dealing with things. It was relatively quiet, some people reading, listening to music, or quietly chatting with friends. Others just sitting there on their own in quiet contemplation.

My bags of chemo were ready, now just the cannulation! Ah, my veins are difficult, here we go! It took two or three nurses to try and cannulate me, with my arm being put in hot water, cold water and eventually sister taking over and finally succeeding. What I hadn’t noticed was that people were quietly watching how the new boy was getting on.Slowly people were talking about how they couldn’t watch as the nurses tried to find my veins. Very quickly my old self returned and I was laughing and joking for the rest of the afternoon!
At the end of the session, a lady approached me, who’s husband was having treatment at the other end of the room. She asked me what chemo rota I was on. I said I was every two weeks, why? (I thought I may have been too loud for her husband, as he was a very quiet man) She told me that her husband was also having treatment for the first time, and he was frightened. But he had laughed so much during the afternoon, he had almost forgotten about his treatment! He then wanted to be on the same rota as me.The nurses also mentioned to me that they enjoyed the sessions when I came, as there was generally a lighter mood.
I will never forget Terry, who was an ex serviceman, who had Myeloma. We met as inpatients. We both complained about our food, and although we were in the same ward, we were in isolation units so we used to ring each other and discuss our days. He would always tell me a joke or two. We always met in the same clinics and the staff dreaded it as we never stopped laughing. Unfortunately, Terry’s situation got worse and he was very soon in a wheel chair, but we made a point of meeting and sharing a joke or two. I used to joke with him about having to slow down, as he had his chair.

Unfortunately Terry passed away, and his wife asked me to come to his service of celebration. Everyone had to wear bright colours to reflect his personality. After the service, his wife thanked me for coming and she told me of one of the last things that Terry had mentioned. He talked about how ill he was, and as he was a religious guy, he talked about going to Heaven. He then told his wife, that in the nicest way, he hoped it wouldn’t be too long before I joined him there so that we could continue our fun!!

That is when I truly understood the power of humour in a cancer environment.I do appreciate that it is not for everyone, and not for every occasion, and I am always very aware of people I don’t know, in case it is not for them, but sometimes some serious things might just seem not quite so bad, with a little added humour.

I know that sometimes it is difficult to find a smile at times, even I struggle on certain days, but I have found that humour is what gets me through. It has been my defence for tricky situations and has always served me well.It is not rehearsed or learned, some of us have it, and some don’t, but don’t we look at life differently if we are laughing?

I have just found this piece on the web: Interesting!!

Research Supporting Laughter Therapy

A growing body of research supports the theory that laughter may have therapeutic value.
For years, the use of humor has been used in medicine. Surgeons used humor to distract patients from pain as early as the 13th century. Later, in the 20th century, came the scientific study of the effect of humor on physical wellness. Many credit this to Norman Cousins. After years of prolonged pain from a serious illness, Cousins claims to have cured himself with a self-invented regimen of laughter and vitamins. In his 1979 book Anatomy of an Illness, Cousins describes how watching comedic movies helped him recover.
Over the years, researchers have conducted studies to explore the impact of laughter on health. After evaluating participants before and after a humorous event (i.e., a comedy video), studies have revealed that episodes of laughter helped to reduce pain, decrease stress-related hormones and boost the immune system in participants.
Today more than ever before, people are turning to humor for therapy and healing. Medical journals have acknowledged that laughter therapy can help improve quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses. Many hospitals now offer laughter therapy programs as a complementary treatment to illness

Do you agree? Do you use humour in a similar way? What helps you cope? It would be great to hear from you.

The Grove Hotel Bournmouth
 I am very pleased to be an official Support Partner of  The Grove Hotel in Bournemouth, which is the only hotel in the UK specifically for people affected by  cancer.
8 Comments
  1. I couldn’t have got this far without humour in my life. I used to visit a great friend during her chemo sessions and we laughed and giggled about all sorts. Others joined in sometimes and other times we felt it appropriate to be quieter!

    Just before I was diagnosed I met some nurses at the Mind & Body show at Olympia. We got talking and laughing about all sorts. They told me that they were Laughter Therapists and had managed to persuade the NHS to put on a pilot study in North London of using laughter within a medical environment particularly for people diagnosed with long term conditions. I often wonder how they got on and whether its been rolled out anywhere else in the NHS – there’s definitely a need.

  2. Hi Anna

    You and I laugh at most things I think Anna, but we also appreciate when is the right time to be quiet.That has come with experience!

    I also would love to know about the laughter therapist thing. It sounds absolutely brilliant!! I can’t say I have heard of it, but there certainly is a need for it. I’m sure a lot of patients would find it very helpful.

    Lets keep our eyes and ears open for it 🙂 As always, many thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Your knowledge and humour is appreciated by us all.

  3. “Be willing to access joy in the face of adversity”, C. W. Metcalf is the best humour specialist I ever came across. An American Management Consultant, his work on the use of humor in stress management is a summary of just what you do Chris!

    Keep up the good work!!

  4. Hi Ailsa

    It probably sums things up quite well! Thank you.Sometimes it is very difficult, to see humour, when serious illness is around, but there are times when we certainly need it.I try to find it, wherever I am. I get fed, by other peoples smiles 🙂

    Many thanks for your lovely comments, and thank you for stopping by to share them.

    Stay well, Chris

  5. Humour is a miracle during hard times. It amazes me that we can still laugh despite illness. And your story of Terry is so very touching. 🙂 I’m glad you had him laughing, and the two of you had such a good time. Laughter lightens the load – that I’m quite sure of.

    Great post, Chris.
    Catherine

  6. Many thanks for your comments Catherine.

    Humour is such a personal thing. What makes us laugh and when to use it are things that we can all struggle with at times.Sometimes, it goes missing when we need it most!

    I consider myself very fortunate, that I can find something in most situations that will make me smile. It seems that I can also help people do the same. Indeed, it is a miracle during hard times.

    During my personal journey, I have lost many things, but thankfully, I have retained my humour.So pleased you liked the part about Terry. He was such a funny guy, even when seriously ill. The doctors always knew when we were in clinic together!! It was more like a party.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment, Catherine.It is always helpful to get other people’s views. Chris

  7. Hi Chris,
    Riding Shotgun here (a.k.a. Don). I couldn’t agree more with your thesis on humour. Although difficult to access the sources at times there is no doubt about the powers laughter possesses. Really enjoyed your post and glad to have found you via my friend Catherine on http://www.facingcancer.ca.
    Be well and keep laughing.

  8. Hi Don

    Isn’t it fantastic that we can share good content around the world. I am very happy that Catherine found us, and that she signposted you to the blog.

    I also love Facing Cancer. It doesn’t matter where we are in the world, a lot of the issues we face are similar. This blog is about sharing, and learning from each other.

    Many thanks for taking the time to drop by and share your thoughts. I look forward to welcoming you back soon. Thanks also for joining up on Twitter, where you can catch me at any time. Chris PS I like the Riding Shotgun!

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