Humor and Healing: Laughter for the body and soul

There are very few phrases more gut wrenching than “You have cancer.” The fear of the unknown can leave you reeling. What treatment will I need? Will I have side effects? Will I survive?

Mental health experts say for some, finding humor during a health crisis is one important way to cope.

Two years ago, Diana Bosse went to the ER with intense abdominal pain and was blindsided by the doctor’s diagnosis: diffuse large b-cell lymphoma.

“I mean, you think cancer, you think the worst, you think chemo, you think, you know, I’m going to be so sick. Then I thought I can’t keep doing this. I cannot stay in this black hole,” Bosse told Ivanhoe.

Instead, Bosse began posting about her cancer journey on social media.

“Humor was my coping mechanism,” Bosse shared.

Board-certified psychologist Shelley Johns works extensively with cancer patients. She says a good, heartfelt laugh does wonders for the soul and the body.

“You take in more oxygen-rich air, it helps get your cardiovascular system moving,” said Shelly Johns, a clinical health psychologist at the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis stated.

Johns recommends her patients stock up on mood-boosting movies, read a funny book, or pull out your childhood comic book collection.

Finally, surround yourself with likeminded friends. For Bosse it was long-time friend and part-time cartoonist Steve Wallace. He read Bosse’s social media posts daily and began to sketch her exploits.

“I knew it was her coping mechanism and I knew I would probably do the same thing,” Wallace said.

Wallace’s illustrations gave Bosse the push she needed to fulfill a lifelong goal, turning her Facebook posts into a book.

“So, I thought ‘If I don’t do something now, who knows if I’ll have another chance,’” Bosse said.

Bosse has been cancer-free since August 2019. She is donating 5% of the proceeds of her book to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and another 5% to the Alzheimer’s Association, where she works. You can order on Bosse’s website,