The last thing that a cancer diagnosis would inspire is laughter; but laughter is a vital part of beating cancer. Clinical trials have concluded that there is a correlation between laughter and healthy blood cells, helps alleviate depression and insomnia, promotes better sleep and reduces inflammation. A study at Oxford University even discovered that fifteen minutes of laughter can increase pain tolerance by 10%.1 Depression, insomnia, inflammation and pain are common for people facing cancer, and the last thing a patient’s body needs is more drug therapy because they are already taking many medications that tax the kidneys and liver.
At Oasis of Hope Hospital, we recommend laughter to our patients and hold regular laughter therapy sessions to help our patients enjoy its therapeutic benefits, and to put cancer on hold for a moment and get back to having a little fun. In one session, I decided to ask some nurses to take the blood pressure of all of the participating patients before and after doing four different relaxation techniques—progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, prayer and laughter. Laughter was the only intervention that caused all of the patients to relax as demonstrated by a slight drop in blood pressure. Though this was not a clinical trial as the above mentioned studies, I was thoroughly convinced that laughter therapy should always be offered as a part of our cancer treatment protocol.
If you are a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you may initially need to have a good cry. But get to laughing as soon as possible. As it is written in Psalm 126:2, “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them,’” start to laugh as a step of faith that the Lord will do great things for you.
- Gilbert, R. (2014). Laughter therapy: promoting health and wellbeing. Nursing & Residential Care, 16(7), 392-395.
Daniel Kennedy, MC, MBA