Dark Humor Therapy for Cancer Patients!

Dark humor may seem like an unconventional way of getting someone with cancer to cheer up, but many cancer patients find it easiest to get through chemotherapy by learning to laugh at their tough situations. Dark humor therapy helps people stay upbeat while getting through difficult treatments.

One breast cancer survivor, Kim Kovel, called in a favor from a friend, illustrator Mark Smith, to design an activity book. Mark created “Hello My Name Is Cancer” as a way for cancer patients to pass time in the chemo chair. One page contains a word search titled “Find the Lump.” A coloring page encourages patients to fill in chemo bags portrayed as cocktails during happy hour. These activities make light of a serious situation by blatantly making fun of it.

Dark humor isn’t just for books. Comedienne Gilda Radner turned her struggle with ovarian cancer into a bestselling book titled “It’s Always Something,” which was the catchphrase of her character, Rosanne Rosannadanna on “Saturday Night Live.”

Shortly after her breast cancer diagnosis, Tig Notaro started her routines with, “Good evening. Hello. I have cancer. How are you?”
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga took his fight against Hodgkin’s lymphoma to YouTube with a series of videos titled “F–k Cancer.” The humor these people embrace may be dark, but any laughter helps ease the harshness of dealing with cancer.

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Edgy humor that makes light of a bad situation lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, reduces stress and triggers endorphins in the brain. Meanwhile, coloring books give the brain something to do, and they provide an outlet for creatively expressing fears, hopes and frustrations.Dark humor is just one way of alleviating the burden of cancer. See why patients in St. Louis and Kansas City use The Healing Chair as their own form of therapy.

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