We’ve all heard the phrase, “Laughter is the best medicine.” But how many of us have truly experienced what this means?
When I went through breast cancer the first time, I was devastated by pretty much every aspect of the disease and all it meant. Losing my breast, my estrogen, and my hair were tough to deal with. I suffered hot flashes, and my sensuality and self-esteem were quickly going down into the abyss. I felt ugly and hated how people stared at me in public. The scarf over the bald head was a sure sign that I had cancer. I couldn’t hide it. One time in a restaurant, a lady seated at a table with her friend said out loud, “That poor thing! I bet she has cancer.” I wanted to go home and hide. In fact I made a vow that I would not go out in public again until my hair grew back. I had nine months of chemo to face, which meant I would be home a very long time.
Then, one day a good friend of mine brought me a special gift that changed my life forever. It was a crazy little baseball cap with stick figures of bald headed people and the verbiage, “No Hair Day,” across the front. I saw the humor in it instantly. I ran into the bathroom, took the scarf off my head and placed the hat in its place. For the first time, I smiled back at the reflection in the mirror.
That hat, that day, brought back something I had forgotten. It brought laughter back into my life. I had gotten so deep into the gloom of my circumstances that I forgot about having fun. Breast cancer isn’t funny, but there are funny moments. We need to find ways to embrace those moments and cherish them.
As a friend or family member of someone going through breast cancer, try to help your loved one by finding ways to help her laugh. Here are a few ideas:
• If the patient knows her hair will fall out from chemo, buy a box of hair dye and color her hair some crazy color she has always wanted to try. She’ll only have it for a short time, so if it fails, or looks terrible, no real worries, it’ll be gone in a week or so anyway.
• Go shopping for a wig – the brighter the color the better. Try on spikes or a Mohawk.