My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2001. And now, 12 years later, we give thanks each day for her recovery and healing and the fact that she was recently released from a decade-long, clinical-trial study.
I, during these past 12 years, have written a great deal about breast cancer. Writing about cancer is important to me – and my hope is that I can provide some bit of information or inspiration that might be of help to others. I have written about cancer from a theological perspective, as well as relational and social, but most commonly from one of practicality and helpfulness as a breast cancer husband.
Earlier this year, I was blessed to complete two books about breast cancer: The Ten Things Every Breast Cancer Husband Should Know and Husband’s Guide to Breast Cancer. While writing these books, I also conducted interviews with men and women whose lives have been impacted by breast cancer, and I have learned a great deal more about this disease and how people cope with this illness through faith, grit and determination.
And while I know that not every breast cancer diagnosis turns out well (some women and men die), I am even more convinced that humor and laughter play a huge role in the healing journey. Although cancer is no laughing matter, it does matter if we laugh. Most women affirm this – men can be helpful along the way by staying upbeat and positive.
In writing these books, I was inspired by one couple who staved off depression by reading joke books before bedtime. Another breast cancer survivor told me she was saved through laughter. And more than one breast cancer husband regaled me with humorous scenes lifted from surgery waiting rooms and chemotherapy lounges.
The older I get, the more I am convinced we need to lighten up if we are going to lift up. Jesus told funny stories. Yes, many of the parables are ancient forms of humor. In fact, the movement of the Spirit is more akin to laughter and joy than to a dour outlook or a scowl. Many of the parables have a party or banquet setting. “For God so loved the world” is a joyous affirmation that should brighten our outlook in the midst of any tragedy, hardship or distress.
God is with us. God is for us – not against us. And when we need healing of the body, mind or spirit, we would do well to begin with a smile, which takes less effort, and which God offers at the break of every new day, even through our difficulties and even through cancer.
Todd Outcalt is the author of thirty books, including The Healing Touch, The Best Things in Life Are Free, and Candles in the Dark. He has written for many breast cancer-related magazines such as Cure, The Way of Saint Francis, American Fitness, and The Barefoot Review. He and his wife, Becky, will soon celebrate 30 years of marriage and enjoy hiking, kayaking and travelling to exotic locations like Brownsburg.
We need to lighten up if we are going to lift up.