The Bright Side: Laughter is healing

Published 7:29 am Sunday, June 25, 2023

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Laughter is healing. And sometimes we need a good laugh, even if it’s at ourselves.

After my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2021, I realized that there was a higher chance that one day I may have it as well. My grandmother on my mom’s side also had breast cancer, and after telling this to my OBGYN at my last appointment, I decided it was time to start taking self-examinations seriously. So, every month I have been checking to make sure I don’t feel any odd lumps.

Well, when I tell you I gave myself a good scare last week, I mean it. I was convinced I had breast cancer at 7 a.m. Friday morning and immediately called my OBGYN when they opened at 9 a.m. I tried to cover the panic in my voice from the sweet lady on the other end of the phone when she asked if I was available to come in at 1 p.m. She didn’t need to know that whether I had plans or not, I was going to be there. I hung up after my appointment was confirmed and called my best friend.

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“I really think you’re going to be okay,” she said. Her mother also had breast cancer, and she knew what to look for. She asked some basic questions and told me a story about how when she was in her late twenties, she felt a weird spot and went straight to her doctor. Worried and very anxious, she went to her appointment thinking the worst. And what she was met with after the exam was none other than a kind, soft chuckle. The doc smiled at her as he explained what a milk duct was in women. “I felt so silly,” she said, and added “Now I laugh about it. And that’s what you’ll do too, after they tell you everything is okay.”

We talked a bit more and she had me cracking up by the end of the phone call. The thought that something could be seriously wrong was still lingering in the back of my head, but my breathing had slowed and I was able to focus on getting some work done before heading out. If nothing else, laughing had helped heal my thoughts for the time being.

Spoiler: Everything really was okay.

As I sat in the room and waited for the nurse practitioner to come in, I thought about all the times I had panicked when there was really no need to. “Worrying is like a sitting in a rocking chair, you can move, but it never gets you anywhere,” my grandmother used to tell me. My parents like calling me “Nervous Ninny” because I do tend to jump to conclusions without having all the facts, and getting myself petrified over something that turns out to be just fine. Part of the reason I named this column, “The Bright Side,” was to remind myself to focus on the lighter side of things rather than falling victim to always thinking the worst.

“So, what brings you in?” The nurse was so kind as I explained what I had felt, and after my examination she smiled and said “You are perfectly fine, but I see why you would think otherwise!” Apparently, one can have more cystic tissue in one breast than the other, which I did not know prior to this meeting. She sat down and told me this appointment reminded her of when she was my age and the same thing happened. My eyes got really big. “What?” I was shocked! I mean, she was a nurse, after all. But she explained that prior to getting medical training, she also felt weird spots that raised concern and she went to her doctor to get it checked out, just to find out it was completely normal.

As I got in my car, I thought about how I have, throughout some points of my life, let my worrying get in the way of me truly living. I thought about laughter, how it has the incredible ability to drive out even our darkest demons. I thought about what my day would have looked like if I hadn’t laughed at all, and how silly I would have felt for drowning in my premature sorrows.

There are so many things in life we have to take seriously. Don’t let yourself be one of them, at least not all of the time. No matter what we are dealing with, a little bit of laughter can go a long way.

Danielle Puleo is a staff writer for The Coastland Times. Reach her at