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Laughter Is A Powerful Force

Just yesterday I was on an airplane headed home from a 3 day advanced training on stress, brain function and how it all ties in to chiropractic. I spoke with the man next to me almost the whole plane ride home.

It turns out he has had cancer several times, stage 4 being the last one. He ended up having a tumor the size of a baseball on his face that needed surgery and very extensive radiation therapy. None of the nurses or doctors felt he had much of a chance to live. In fact, they asked him almost daily “Are you STILL here?”

They couldn’t believe it.

Day after day in the hospital he made friends, or at least tried to….more on that later.

He would talk to people who were stage 2, and hear their stories, and what they were going to do when they were done. One man was going to work on an old boat. Another was going to renovate his cabin. But, it wasn’t long after, when my new friend came in for his sessions that he found the others were “gone”.

He asked the nurses, “What do you mean gone? Like, they are all done with their treatments?” No, he was informed, like they are no longer living.

He started to think, “wow, if they are only stage 2 and I am stage 4, what are MY chances?”.

But, it never deterred him. He kept on living, and playing practical jokes on the nurses.

One was cutting a hole in a ketchup packet and putting it in the blood pressure cuff, so that when the nurse took his pressure, it would squirt all over looking like blood.

Another, was asking for a clean urinal and putting apple juice in it. On shift change he would scare the day lights out of the nurses by drinking the liquid right out of the urinal. This one literally brought one nurse to her knees.

Day after day he walked the halls smiling and thinking up new ways to have fun. But….

he never saw other cancer patients in the halls. They stayed in their rooms looking glum. He asked the nurses if he could speak with them, but they said no. It’s best to leave them alone.

The more he spoke about his experiences, the more it became apparent what his secret was to living.

But this wasn’t all.

He told me it’s important in life to have a partner that cares about you. Somebody who will be there for you, push you to grow and get better, and somebody who knows you so well, that they instantly know when something isn’t right with you. To make a long story short, he went into kidney failure at one point while recovering at home, and his wife picked up that there was something not right about him. She drove him to the hospital and saved his life.

I felt blessed at that moment. I was heading home to my beautiful wife of almost 10 years, and  our 3 wonderful children. I am happy that I have one of his secrets in place.

So, it was a very fascinating plane ride. There is more to the story, such as being down wind from a coal-fired power plant that may be contributing to him getting cancer over and over again, but that isn’t the point I want to make with this blog post.

The focus is life. Living your life with a smile, contributing to others (another part of the story I didn’t share about is his volunteer work and how important he felt it was), and making a difference in this world. Those doctors and nurses will always remember this man. The jokes he played on them and the smile on his face. It’s just too bad that some of the other “cancer patients” didn’t pick up on his zest for life.

Then again, maybe that’s one reason they got it in the first place.

Oh, and one more point to the story. The treatment he had done was experimental and he was given a 13% chance to live.

I believe he defied all odds by his attitude.

And therein lies the lesson.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Christiana September 8, 2011, 5:22 pm

    This is a terrific article. What a gift to sit next to this man on the plane. We all need one of him in our lives. Laughter has been a key ingredient in my life and my passion is helping people increase the laughter in their lives.
    My father was terminally ill with Lung Cancer. Even though he didn’t survive it, he adopted the attitude that is was his mission to be bring joy and laughter to every person that he came in contact with. He laughed his way to the end, making the best of the time he had and enjoying those he loved. Sounds like the man in the article. So full of life that you just felt better being around him.
    My website is http://benefitsoflaughter.com. is filled with great content and videos to get the laughter flowing, would love your feedback. I’m bookmarking your site.
    Thanks again for sharing this important message. It was very well said!
    Laugh often,

  • Dr. Larsen September 11, 2011, 9:13 am

    Yes, it was a joy to be around him. I’m glad your dad could make an impact on others with his decision. These types of people really put perspective into life.

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