A group of five people are laughing; the person in the middle in a polka dotted turtleneck is highlighted in yellow.

What Makes You Laugh?

You have been told you have lung cancer. You have been through the staging process. You have begun your treatments. All you can think of is will this work, will I be alive in a year and so many other questions. But you know what, your days will become better. As the days pass this becomes your new normal but in order to do that, you must be able to find the humor in your treatment, your doctor visits, and tests.

An unexpected laugh at the clinic

Two years into my treatments, the nursing staff was having trouble getting blood return on my port. I had to do what I call gymnastics in my chair -- shifting positions, moving my arms, coughing -- anything that would get my port to work. After about a half hour, nothing was happening, so my nurse says, "Let's have you lay down and see if that helps." She grabs the lever to lower the back of my chair and due to a malfunction, it flew back with me going with it. It flew back so fast my legs went up in the air. Directly behind me was a floor to ceiling window and I envisioned going right through it. Sounds terrifying right? Not in the least, we laughed for at least 10 minutes. We couldn't stop.

The nurses felt about absolutely terrible and kept apologizing nonstop but in between laughs. I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. But, when I got home, instead of feeling "oh woe is me" I was still laughing at my adventure. It was that day that I decided I had to find a way to make every visit fun. Some way, somehow.

The humorous silver lining

It really isn't that difficult. I know it is hard to keep a smile on your face all the time every day but it is possible. About 3 years into my treatment for my lungs I found out I had bladder cancer as well. It had not spread from my lungs but was its very own cancer. I could have broken down and cried for weeks that I now have cancer but I walked around as I was telling family members and after telling them, I ended with, "Well, if you are going to have cancer why not have several and get it all over with." That statement caught everyone so off guard that it helped them to laugh and lighten the mood.

Lighten the mood

I suppose that is key in all of this. Knowing we have cancer can cause our mental state to deteriorate very quickly but try to find some small bit of humor in every day. I usually take two naps a day due to fatigue. On the days that I only take one, I spend the remainder of the day joking that I feel so great that I'm going to run around the block. My children look at me like I've lost my mind as I only have my right lung lobes but it brings a smile to their faces.

Smile. Make others smile. It will make your life better and spread more happiness in a time of gloom and despair.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.

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