Laughter is The Best Medicine

“Comedy Crushes Cancer.” I believe it! Or maybe I could also say “Laughter is the Best Medicine.”

From an early age, I learned to handle my difficulties with humor.  As a young teenager, I left home in the middle of the night and moved into the spare room at my grandparents’. There I discovered “Reader’s Digest”, a wonderful, small magazine with short stories, articles, and my favorite section… you guessed it; “Laughter is The Best Medicine.” There was a stack of them sitting on the back of the toilet – that’s right, the bathroom was my library. A few moments away from the world and some laughs kept my mind right. It still does today! Although I don’t create bathroom type of jokes, I was introduced to comedy sitting on the toilet. Trust me, comedy also got me through stage four cancer in 2007!

Crawling into the hospital, I submitted to the usual dozens of tests and the conclusion was… cancer. Stage four. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. How did I handle this news? No surprise, with humor.

This time though, the comedy came from the doctor. Doctors are often known to have a less-than-friendly bedside manner and after years of having their noses in books, I get it. So did my doctor. He made a valiant effort to lighten the mood. When he skipped into my room, grinning proudly, he tossed out “I have some good news and I have some bad news.” I thought about which to choose. Too late – he told me the “bad news” first. Clearly, he didn’t quite catch how this works. He blurts out “You have cancer.”

Hmmm….  If that’s the “bad news”, the “good news” better be really good. I mean, exceptionally good! Maybe something like “And you also won the lottery” or “You’ve been Punk’d. JK. Come out, Ashton Kutcher.” Or even better “You have European Medical Insurance.” I waited to hear the details of the good news and he delivered it. “But it’s the good kind of cancer.” Hmmm… Isn’t that like “sort of pregnant?” Or “kinda dead?” Or Universal Healthcare?  Although the news wasn’t delivered with a red clown nose and a squeaky horn, I did appreciate the effort. And in a way, he was right. I recovered and I’m here, even though I haven’t won the lottery and I’m not on “Punk’d”, but I do have Medi-Cal! That definitely helps me deal with cancer.

Stage four. That was also odd to me. NonHodgkins Lymphoma, stage four. Why four? Most lists are “Number 1”, or “Best 3”, “Top 10”, “Greatest 100”. But four?

For my silly brain to make sense of this strange numbering system, I had to continue with the stages and make it a Top 10 List:

Stage 1 – The best! (if you can have a best type of cancer)

Stage 2 – Not bad, really.

Stage 3 – At least it’s not Stage four!

Stage 4 – Bad.

Stage 5 – Dead.

Stage 6 – Six Feet Under.

Stage 7 – Heaven.

Stage 8 – It’s hot down there!

Stage 9 – You are a cat.

Stage 10 – You’re Bo Derek. (Some millennials and Gen Z’s are reading this thinking “Uh, hashtag, who is Bo Derek? Like, didn’t he play two sports? Wasn’t she little and lost her sheep? Siri, who’s Bo Diddley?”).

Now, it all makes sense. The numbers don’t lie! That clearly explains Stage four.

“If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.” I did both. Some people cried at my jokes. Some people laughed at my egg-shaped head after I shaved all my hair off. For me, laughter really was my best medicine. It still is. I believe it! I do hope for all those impacted by cancer and other life challenges that you find your laughter, joy, and inspiration, even if it is where I found mine…on the toilet. It’s there. You’ll find it. I did.  And for me, “Comedy Crushes Cancer.”

Paul Lauden

Paul is a cancer survivor turned “thriver”, actor and producer who created the sketch comedy show http://www.channelsurfingstudios.com/. As a recent cancer survivor, Paul works to raise money for others going through cancer and we were honored to have him as a guest speaker for our June webinar (click HERE to watch the webinar recording).

You can also check out his website at http://www.paullauden.com.