Over the past four years as I’ve talked about cancer and advocated for families journeying through it, I’ve noticed some oddities. At book signings, people sometimes avoid my table once they catch a glimpse of the big “C” word. Survivors share stories of friends and family who don’t visit — mostly because they’re afraid of not knowing what to say or do. Workshop attendees have told me that cancer was hidden from them as a child, as if it were secret or taboo in some way. Thankfully, I also hear stories of tender support, forthright conversation and absolute encouragement for those diagnosed and their loved ones. So, I believe we are learning, as a society, to be more open about cancer.
Still, there’s no doubt that cancer is a dreaded disease with variable outcomes, dependent on when and where it’s found and the available treatment options. That dread can drive us into fear. Powerlessness and helplessness result when we engage fear, which then magnifies it even more. It has a way of stealing our hope if we allow it to — making it even harder to face the “big C” or any other difficult circumstance that lands in our path.
Today, we’re blessed with a guest blogger who understands the intimate dance between fear and faith. Her hopeful messages focus on the healing power of humor. In her book Fight Fear and Foster Faith, Jana Flaig inspires people to gain the hope and courage that’s needed to overcome difficult circumstances. As an Inspirational Humorist and Christian Comedian, she’s taken her talent beyond the pages of a book to wrap audiences with encouragement and practical tips to knock out fear. Jana’s upbeat and memorable performances have sparked fun and faith in countless lives. She’s an ovarian cancer survivor and founder of the “Been There – Got the Wig!®” Breakfast Club and Ministry. Her positive attitude inspires others to never give up!
Jana emailed me a great lesson in magnifying hope. Here’s how she challenged her battle with fear using humor:
My biggest battle was not against stage 3c cancer, but with the fear that overwhelmed me and threatened to defeat me. One of the strategies I used to fight fear was adding humor to the cancer treatment regimen because “a cheerful heart is good medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22)
Laughter is life’s medicine. Laughter activates the immune system, decreases stress hormones and lifts the spirit. I’ve found that when I laugh, I feel better. And when I feel better, it’s easier to have hope.
To add humor to my daily routine, I substituted the nightly news programs with funny shows on TV, YouTube videos, and movies on DVD. When in my car, I listened to an all comedy radio station. I went to the grocery store wearing my Snuggie (a blanket with sleeves). I accessorized with a belt, so no one could tell I was wearing a Snuggie. 🙂
One of my favorite things to do was to spend time in a toy store where I found light-hearted and fun things, like a bird slide whistle or a sound machine with canned laughter. Most importantly, I hung out with positive people who made me laugh. Just like hope, laughter is contagious!
In addition to surrounding myself with positive people, I deliberately avoided negative people–even if they were related. Negative people bring me down and drain my energy. Years ago someone told me, “don’t walk away from negative people . . . run!” That strategy still works for me today.
Jana closed her message with some whimsical facts about herself: She’s a fitness nut five months out of the year. As a cancer survivor, she wears her “good clothes” every day and eats dessert whenever she wants (but not during those five months!).
Visit Jana Flaig at her website for more insights on conquering fear with humor.