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News Archive - Progress Newsletter Winter 2002 Online

Humor and Cancer? Don't Make Me Laugh
A lighthearted look at cancer from a patient's perspective

Lila Green, three-year ovarian cancer survivor and humor educator, shared her perspective on humor and cancer with the faculty and staff of the U-M Cancer Center at two special presentations honoring the four-year anniversary of the opening of the Cancer Center building this past May.

"Cancer is a bumpy journey, and I have found that humor helps to smooth the road," Lila Green told the standing-room-only crowd of Cancer Center staff and faculty who had helped her through her treatments. During treatment, Ms. Green gave her health care providers permission to laugh with her - not at her. She shared tips for adding a light touch to everyone's personal and professional lives:

  • Take work seriously and yourself lightly. Humor is everywhere in everyday life - look for it until it finds you.
  • Take a patient's "funny bone" history along with their medical history.
    Find out what toys and games patients played when they were little.
    Ask, "What part of you feels best today?"
  • Add a humor board to your office and clinic area - include patients' and staff's favorite cartoons and comical signs.
  • Along with introductory pictures of the health care team, display their baby pictures.
  • Add a cartoon to your next meeting agenda.
  • Leave work at work and go home light hearted - on the drive home think about the most pleasant thing that happened that day at work; blow soap bubbles when caught in a traffic jam.

Humor helps give perspective - it gives distance. "It's like changing a baby's diaper," said Ms. Green. "It doesn't solve the problem, but it sure makes things better for the moment."

Gift of Laughter at Survivors' Day

Humor was also the topic at the Cancer Center's annual Survivors' Day celebration, Sunday, June 10, at Washtenaw Community College. National champion juggler, author and cancer survivor Scott Burton brought his one-man show Looking for Laughter in All the Wrong Places to the celebration. Having been there, Burton believes the gift of laughter helps cancer survivors feel normal and see their lives as precious. "I felt, and still do, each moment laughing is a moment you are - if only for a second - in love with life."



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This article is part of the Cancer Center's News Archive, and is listed here for historical purposes.

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