Looking Backwards at Cancer

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My wife and I teach Laughter Yoga. It’s best described as a method of uniting people the world over in remarkable, spontaneous and hilarious sessions of healing and health. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s life-changing.

As a breast cancer survivor, I’ve found my connection with my own “Comedy Chemo” to be a great stress reducer. (Yes, laughter has been scientifically proven to create endorphins and reduce stress related chemicals).

One day a few years back, we were driving in our car and leading a “Laughter Yoga on the Phone” session over our onboard Internet system.

Often over the years we have been in the car, traveling somewhere when the hour came to host one of the many calls we offer. And so it was by accident that day that we started to read the traffic signs out loud– backwards as we sped down the freeway. “RAC LOOP ENAL “ as I recall was the very first one we laughed over. Of course that was the “CAR POOL LANE”.

Something about twisting those usual brain patterns and the built in mechanisms that we all rely on to get by in life, was remarkably and undeniably funny. The group that was with us on the phone joined in, saying their own names backwards. It got funnier with each new word. We laughed long and hard. And as always, we felt better at the end of it.

Studies show that comedy relies on the ”Incongruity Theory”, which explains that we laugh at surprises and violations of our expectations.

So I’ve been wondering: “What if we could live a little bit of our lives—this life that includes cancer—BACKWARDS?” What I mean by that is, what if you could reverse the thoughts you have about your cancer and see your disease from a decidedly different angle?

Here’s an example:

A cancer survivor might say “I’ve always thought of myself as a sick man, hoping to be well”. But what if that were reversed to become “I always think of myself as a well man, hoping to get un-sick?”

The difference is subtle when we say it, but when we believe it, we are suddenly coming from a place of wellness instead of a place of illness.

We are acknowledging our lives from a vision of abundance rather than a view of scarcity. We give ourselves permission to be healed and vibrant despite the veneer of cancer that is but a shell over our whole being.

In other words, we actually live our lives as the glass half full—not that half-empty one. And better yet we can accept that, even with cancer testing our resolve, we are filled to the brim with the power and the drive to live and excel.

Our glass is not only full, but overflowing.

So now I look at my own breast cancer BACKWARDS too. I am no longer a sick and slowed down cancer patient trying to outrun cancer.

I’m intrinsically healthy, dashing full speed through life, daring cancer to keep up with me.

Sure, I know that many factors go into the human ability to heal. This may not cure anybody, but attitude is high on my list—even when it hurts.

And ultimately when you think about it, the goal of most everyone with cancer is to reverse the process; to get back to where we started. Disease free.

Any way to look at it, forwards or backwards, a different point of view—especially when it’s our own—can’t be a bad thing.

I’ll close with a “Palindrome” –a sentence that reads the same both backwards and forwards in honor of all of us with cancer looking ahead to healing from any direction. Try reading it both ways!

Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?

Photo credit Unsplash


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