Laughing at the Big “C”

Laughter and tears are part of living. But do you find enough time for laughter? I am not asking if you experience lots of good times. Of course we should laugh during the happy times. But do you also laugh during the difficult times?

Erma Bombeck is known for her humorous books, but she wrote one that covered a more serious topic: cancer in children. The book is titled, I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise (Harper and Row, 1989). Bombeck talks with numerous children with cancer and learns important life lessons from them. She learns, for instance, that cancer survivors know how to laugh.

She cites the experience of 15-year-old Jessica from Burlington, Vermont (USA). Jessica’s leg was amputated at the knee because of cancer. She was learning to wear a prosthesis. Jessica tells about playing soccer. She kicked the ball hard and it flew off in one direction while her artificial leg flew another way. Then “the tall, gorgeous person that I am,” she said, “convulsed on the ground in laughter.”

Jessica may not have laughed about her cancer, but she laughed about dealing with the consequences of it. And her laughter helped her cope.

Then there is the story of 17-year-old Betsy. She made her way to the radiation room for her regular radiation therapy. As usual, she dropped her hospital gown and, wearing only her birthday suit, climbed onto the table and waited. After a couple of moments she began to realize something disturbing: the extra people in the room were not the medical students she had thought, but rather painters giving an estimate on painting! Betsy laughs heartily about the incident. And like Jessica, her ability to laugh helped her to cope with one of the most difficult things a young person can endure — cancer.

Biblical wisdom teaches that “there is a time to weep and a time to laugh.” Do you find plenty of occasions for laughter? You can…if you also find reasons to laugh during the especially difficult times.

Survivors know how to laugh. If you can laugh even when the going is rough, you’ll make it. And you’ll smile at the end.

And so, we pray: Lord, I know people, even in my own family, who have or are dealing with that demon cancer. It is a horrible uncertainty to deal with moment by moment and day by day. It would be impossible to deal with if we lost our ability to laugh at something. Help us keep laughing knowing that our life is always in you and with you, and nothing can separate us from you love in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Grace and Peace

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