Catching up with Karyn

Laughter: The Key To Living Longer, Better Lives Even When You Have Cancer

At age 25, Zora was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. The news wasn't exactly shocking - a strong family history had been a part of the reason Zora'd been so diligent about being screened, key to her early diagnosis. What did shock Zora was how completely Breast Cancer took over her life.

"All of a sudden, everything in my life -every decision, every aspect of my day - was centered around dealing with this cancer.  That's all anyone wanted to talk about," Zora said. "My co-workers, my husband, my family, my friends: it was totally overwhelming."

When a well-meaning colleague asked Zora what she could do to help, Zora said it was the last straw. "I just snapped, and said, 'Why don't we go do something fun and not even talk about my cancer at all!'" Much to her surprise, her colleague instantly agreed, and they went to the movies. "We saw We're The Millers and I laughed until I cried."

Coming out of the movies, Zora said, "I felt so good. It was probably the best I'd felt since...

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Does Humor Really Make Coping With Cancer Easier?

This morning, I read a powerful piece in the Chicago Tribune Written by Liz Brown, When Funny Business Crosses The Punch Line is a intimate, personal examination of the role humor had in Liz's life as she supported her sister Lynn through her battle with breast cancer.

What's fascinating here is that even though Liz admits she often 'veers toward humor' when coping with life's challenges, there were times - especially after her sister passed away -  where the funny t-shirts and jokes provoked emotions other than amusement.She responded more favorably to some humor than others, and noted that her enjoyment was related in part to who was sharing the humor.  A funny t-shirt worn by a woman who survived breast cancer provoked some smiles; a sign held by a teenaged boy who appeared to be a relatively disinterested party, not so much.

Humor and Healing: Understanding the Power of the Bond

This is a good illustration of how important the bond between individuals becomes when...

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On Tour at Cancer Treatment Centers of America

cancer healthcare Dec 02, 2008

I absolutely love being self-employed. I’ve been my own boss for almost twenty years now. But if I were ever going to punch a clock for someone else ever again, I think I found where I would want to work: Cancer Treatment Centers of America. I had the opportunity to visit their facility outside of Chicago last week—they knocked my socks off!

When you arrive at CTCA you are greeted by a couple of valet attendants, who for no fee (won’t even accept a tip) park your car for you and escort you inside. When you enter, immediately you begin to feel the warm energy emanating from this place. On the wall to your left, a brass tree with leaves baring the names of patients who have celebrated at least 5 years of life since arriving. You then pass a large aquarium with beautiful fish on your left and a beautiful atrium with plants and soothing music to your right. A friendly person at the reception desk greets you and quickly determines how to best suit your needs.

The...

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Humor, Cancer and Chronic Illness

“I’m not afraid of dying.  I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”  Woody Allen

Pat’s hand gripped mine tightly– her eyes glistened with mischief. “I so look forward to your visits. Everyone else around here is so darned serious!  I wish they’d just lighten up a little.”  I looked around the room and she was right. Her 58-year-old husband and 32-year-old daughter sat on the couch, looking as if a smile would shatter their faces into a million pieces.  “Tell me something funny that happened to you this week,” she continued. “What’s that little boy of yours been up to now?”

Pat was one of several patients that I made home visits to as a nurse, following up after her chemo and radiation for a tumor in her neck and jaw. Physically she was doing fine and her outlook was tremendous. However, her family had an attitude that could sink a battle ship. Even though Pat valued...

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