“The name of the game is calories.” Dr. Vigneri, my radiation oncologist, informed me. “Forget what you’ve learned about healthy eating. I don’t care how you get those calories. Bulk up. I guarantee you will lose weight and you don’t have much to lose. Milkshakes with every meal. All the Haagen Daaz you can eat!”
We cleared the shelves of mint chip ice-cream at my local grocery store. Who knew radiation had a bright side! Ice cream with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Any other time in my life I would feel guilty indulging in such a sweet treat multiple times a day. Instead, I felt justified. Anyone who is about to undergo what I did, deserves to be spoiled. Lucky for me, I’m not lactose intolerant! I gained six pounds during the first week of radiation. I almost reached the weight I was before surgery. I breezed through the second week with fatigue as my only side effect. I kept up an optimistic attitude thinking, ‘Maybe this won’t be too bad.’
I kept thinking, ‘It can’t get worse than this,’ and it did. Crying made my symptoms unbearable. I learned fast to control the tears. I replaced despair with hope; unhappy endings with victory. I pictured my future and eagerly consumed anything that made me laugh. Laughter was the best medicine even if it was momentary. Whether a comedy on TV, a humorous book on tape or a children’s knock knock joke, any opportunity to laugh was an opportunity to heal. My children were experts at play, laughter and carefree days. Even though they had turbulent feelings …See full post
…when spending time with me, I loved being with them and sought out spaces where we could enjoy each other without the cloud of cancer.
Laughter allowed me to feel happiness and there was still a lot to be happy for even amidst my tragic circumstances. I could still hug and kiss my children; I could still enjoy friends, and I could still laugh! The funniest card I received read, ‘Now that you are going through radiation, your husband can say he is married to a really HOT babe.” Feeling as low as I did, I was still able to laugh at the joke and it brought joy.
The act of laughing was euphoric, taking me momentarily to a place where pain didn’t exist. I could be languishing on the sofa in pain one minute, and sharing a laugh the next. I was drawn to the sound of laughter. When I heard it I would instinctively gravitate toward the source and ask, ‘What’s so funny?’ Mutual laughter restored a much needed sense of connection.
When I felt depression creep in, I would force a smile because it’s impossible to laugh with a frown. I would pull out the joke book and hope one would resonate. Or, I would try to recall funny moments where I could laugh at myself. Fun memories were triggered when looking through our family photo albums. Traditional medicine may be essential for healing the body but the medicinal effects of laughter are undeniable for the soul.
The best things in life are free. If medicine has to be taken, I recommend the kind that makes you roll on the floor laughing with tears streaming down your face and a stitch in your side. Nothing else even comes close. What better medicine than laughter for all ailments.
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