Several people who visited me seemed to struggle with my sense of humour. They apparently felt it was inappropriate to do battle with a life-threatening disease with a smile on my face and making flippant remarks.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), that's me. I find something to joke about in every situation. Often people don't get the point, or don't appreciate it. My school teachers certainly didn't. But when it comes to fighting cancer, the two well-worn statements below are indeed true.
"Laughter is the best medicine."
"Humor and laughter are the most undervalued and underrated tools in society."
The powers of humor and laughter are numerous. Not only do they make us feel good, research has shown that laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and raises the level of the T-cells, the key component of the body's immune system. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins which are natural painkillers, and unlike cancer—laughter is infectious.
So how can you use this information with your cancer patient/friend? Hire them funny movies. Encourage them to watch comedies on TV. Lend them comic books, if they enjoy them.
One word of caution: Find out their taste in humour. I personally find slap-stick humour quite silly, and while the rest of my family double up in laughter, I sit straight-faced through it all. I guess it goes to show we're all different!