Love and Laughter
...."So there's the mouse calmly sitting on the trap, with a napkin tied around its neck, holding up the snap bar above his head with one hand while indulging in cheese with the other..."
Okay, so you probably had to be there. At the time though, trust me, that little made-up story about the mouse invasion in our garage was VERY funny. It was just one of the many good laughs I have had in the last few weeks over dinner with some cherished friends. As the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine. Its definitely something I have had a happy overdose of, for much of my life, but it's never felt so good as it does now. Whether its Charlie Harper ,from the sitcom "Two and 1/2 Men", some jokes with the family, or sharing a story with my best friends, there is pure magic in a good laugh. I can't tell you how grateful I am for those moments. They help make you feel normal again, and in a small way, instill hope. For some that may be hard to understand unless you have dealt with a life crisis - of course, that could mean many different things for a lot of people.
But back to the good stuff. There have been many studies on the benefits of a good regular chuckle. Researchers believe laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and boosts immune function. They also say it triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers.. I believe all of it, but the best part, for me - its simply, a release; a temporary opportunity to let go. That is something that has been a crucial part of my healing process, both physically and emotionally. Its just so darn draining when you think too much! When you're first diagnosed, the world as you know it goes into a strange tail spin. Unfortunately for me, I, by nature, tend to - shall we say "over -analyze" things. Some might say that's an understatement - I don't know, maybe its a Capricorn thing, but hey who the hell wouldn't analyze when diagnosed with something like this.
The problem, I think is, unlimited access to Google. That is NOT a good a thing when dealing with cancer. Note to other newly diagnosed people: LIMIT YOUR GOOGLING. You know, with enough time, you can pretty much find exactly what you "don't" want to find. That's not to say that its accurate, by any means, but once you read it, its forever etched in your woe is me mindset and that leads to more anxiety and stress.
That's why I mentioned a TV show earlier. At times I find it to be a nice distraction, add a laugh or two, and for those 30 minutes, you just may cross over into the "pretend everything is okay zone".
I have been there a few times so far. However, I must add, all things considered, I am still very lucky. I know there are other people who don't even have enough strength to watch TV. Maybe that's what makes sharing a laugh with someone you love even more important. If you ask me, laughter is at the root of some of life's best memories. Something to think about ,I guess.
And there is a lot to think about. At the hospital it is virtually impossible not to observe and sometimes connect with some truly, amazing people. There is this one middle-aged woman who I met, who has being undergoing treatment for years. This year alone she's been coming in for chemo every week for the last 7 months. She is not tired, or at least doesn't show it, she's not depressed, instead, she's rather joyful and gregarious - and so proudly shares her radiating smile. This woman loves life. Because of her various treatments, she has been able to, in her own words, "enjoy 10 additional years", so far since she got the original diagnosis. I wish her 40 more. Her loving and loyal husband is by always by her side and together they are dealing with their situation head on.
"Pat Anderson",a viewer, kindly mentioned on the last blog how society in general tends to sanitize or remove all discussions of illness, especially cancer. Add in the fact that we don't know how to talk about it, or talk with people who have it. Pat is absolutely right. Unless it's thrown directly at us, we are afraid of dealing with it. We don't know how to react or what to say. And you know what - that's okay, initially.
However, if there is one thing that I have learned so far on this journey, it's how much of a difference it makes when people reach out. I think its fair to say that when you're diagnosed you tend to feel alone, like, its just you and the illness. In reality, that very often, is not the case and having a large support system reinforces that and can do wonders for the spirit. Personally, my treatment regime has been one part science, one part laughter and 2 parts family and friends (which also includes you, the viewers/readers) . On the darkest of days, there is nothing that a hug from my wife and family cannot help make better. Thankfully the last couple of weeks have been quite goood, with many of the chemo side effects now fading away.
As I wrap this up, let me just add if you know someone, a friend, colleague, maybe a neighbour, who is dealing with a significant illness - don't be afraid. No one expects you to cure them. Just reach out to them and let them know you're thinking of them. And if a little laughter comes out of it, embrace it and enjoy that blessed moment.
"All you need in the world is love and laughter. That's all anybody needs. To have love in one hand and laughter in the other."