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Don’t Let Cancer Break Your Funny Bone

I fractured my funny bone in February 1999. I heard “malignant tumor, surgery, radiation, chemo” and felt as if I’d forgotten how to breathe. The medical staff continued to banter about the prognosis of my exposed breasts when suddenly my mind rebelled. An old magazine article about a man who had “laughed himself well” hijacked my thoughts.

I admit it may have been a slightly hysterical reaction when I yanked off my hospital gown and ran from the Breast Center to the local video store in search of comedy tapes. But the diagnosing doctor had just informed me that it was too late on Friday to assemble their hospital cancer squad. At that moment, the weekend seemed like an emotional Grand Canyon of fear, anxiety, and depression. If laughing helped Norman Cousins beat his rare nerve disease two decades ago then why couldn’t I bemuse my cancer for 60 hours? What did I have to lose?

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