A cancer diagnosis is not usually associated with laughter, and believe you me it was far from my initial response. Who could laugh at a bowel cancer diagnosis at 42 – or any age really?
But as a laughter yoga facilitator and lecturer in health promotion, from the moment I was first diagnosed I knew somehow laughter would be integral to my healing and recovery.
As a seasoned laughter-yogi perhaps this should have come naturally. But the first laughter session I had after diagnosis, a corporate lingerie party, felt undeniably forced. It had been too late to cancel, so, like being pushed into a room before the door is rudely shut behind your back, I was trapped.
Thirty or so chatty and excitable ladies filled the room. Their energy was palpable while mine sat quietly in the corner, too shy to introduce herself. How could I muster the strength and state of mind to run a laughter session when in a few days I was scheduled for major surgery – a full bowel resection together with a temporary ileostomy? All I wanted was to hide from the public and cry.