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Laugh ‘til it heals. Notes from the world’s funniest cancer mailbox

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Title: Laugh ‘til it heals. Notes from the world’s funniest cancer mailbox

Author: Christine K. Clifford

Publisher: Anshan Ltd

Reviewer: Carol Singleton, Queen’s nurse, clinical governance manager, British Red Cross


What was it like?

This little book aims to remind us that humour can be a great healer, and just because you, or a friend or relative, has cancer, you can and should retain a sense of humour. The worst possible thing to do around people with cancer is to talk in hushed tones, look sad, avoid talking about illness and pretend that there is nothing wrong.


What were the highlights?

Christine Clifford has brought together stories provided by cancer survivors of humorous events in their lives. Her book is divided into ten chapters. I particularly enjoyed the one called “Funny you asked…”, which includes a dozen ways that the Cancer Club suggests you can bring a smile to a cancer patient and show that you care. Most of the suggestions are practical, offering ideas separately to cancer patients and their supporters. These include recording their journey through their illness or providing a basket of useful items or  household necessities, but also whimsical things, such as a back scratcher, sweets or bubble bath.

Strengths and weaknesses?

The author is American, therefore some aspects of the book are more pertinent to the US market, such as the useful resources for people with cancer, which includes organisations (all American) that provide valuable information about cancer. You can access their websites and may find some of the more generic information helpful. There is also information on the world’s leading authorities on the use of therapeutic humour, including a potted history of the ten people with contact details, e-mail addresses and websites.

Who should read it?

This good book could provide alternative ways of coping with cancer and therefore would benefit people diagnosed with cancer, their families and friends as well as healthcare staff involved with their treatment and support. It achieves this by providing practical things to do, different ways of coping with and material to re-introduce humour, providing “permission” to laugh again.

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