Sukumar Satpathy

Mandy Riches, UK: I had just been diagnosed with cancer for the third time (Hodgkin’s lymphoma twice in the 1990s and breast cancer in 2011) but little did I know that later that evening, I would be sitting on the sofa giggling away with my parents and partner. All thanks to a laughtercise DVD given by my friend Stephanie, a laughter practitioner. I started with some of the exercises, and it wasn’t long before the laughter became infectious and I found myself giving it a good Ho Ho Ho.

I was devastated to have to deal with cancer again, and this time it hit me much harder emotionally. I don’t know if it was the optimism of youth that carried me through the first two, or the cumulative effect of ‘here we go again’. One way or another I experienced an overwhelming sense of emotion. I found myself just crying for no real reason, I couldn’t sleep, I’d often wake up with tears streaming down my face and I found it really difficult to articulate what was going on.

I never thought that Laughtercise, based on the principles of Laughter Yoga, would become such a useful tool at this time, but it did, and continues to be so. It gave me more energy, and significantly reduced some of the stress and fear around cancer. It also helped me connect with my family and friends in a really meaningful way. At times like this, people don’t know if they are allowed to laugh around you. It was easy for me to effectively give ‘permission’ for them to laugh with me, and although it started as an exercise, it was contagious and incredibly powerful, helping them to relax and deal with my illness too.
I know it all sounds a bit mad, and I acknowledge that it won’t be for everyone, but honestly you have to try it! I am passionate to bring more laughter into the lives of as many people as possible to help them deal with this distressing disease.

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