Everyone has heard the saying that laughter is good medicine. However, what people tend to forget is that it is not only the patient living with cancer that needs laughter, but the whole family. When someone in a family is diagnosed with cancer, everyone in the family is affected and fun is usually one of the first things to fall off the to-do list. 

According to Psychology Today.com, “Laughter is good medicine” is not just an old wives tale. In one of the magazine’s online articles, Michael Miller, M.D. from the University of Maryland says that “laughter offsets the impact of mental stress.” The article also states that “laughter establishes, or restores, a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people. In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together. And all the health benefits of laughter may simply result from the social support that laughter stimulates.”

On July 16, Facing Cancer Together’s Teen Outreach participants put this theory to the test with a visit to Comedy Sportz (www.comedysportztc.com) in Minneapolis. The teens enjoyed a comedy show and took part in an improv class that allowed them to let go of their inhibitions and any stress they were feeling from their parent’s cancer diagnosis. Through improv, the teens learned how trusting their first instinct and thought enabled them to go more with the flow in their lives and how this flexibility can help with real life challenges. Finally, we learned that sometimes you just have to laugh!

So, put laughter to the test in your home. . .tell someone a funny joke, rent a funny movie or go to Comedy Sportz like we did!

Let us know how you bring laughter into your home. We’d love to share your ideas with other families.

By Kelly Theesfeld, coordinator of Angel Foundation’s Teen Outreach program