Laughing with my Lymphoma!
I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in April 2009, which came as a terrible shock because I was not a typical fast food junkie, non-exercising American. In fact, I always followed a healthful diet with a regimen of daily walking. The diagnosis put me in a complete state of dismay. For three years I was on the “watchful waiting” plan during which I had to go for regular lab tests and visits to an oncologist.
In January 2012, I started having problems breathing, which led to the traditional four month chemo regimen. A year later, the PET scan showed that the lymphoma had returned in an aggressive way. Again I had to go through chemo after which I was advised I needed an allogeneic transplant, which I declined due to very challenging issues in my life. My condition further deteriorated and I had an ugly lymphoma mess inside of me. Besides, this the side effects of chemo led to a low blood platelet count. I had to delay chemo until my platelets were acceptable.
It was in this very depressing condition that I learnt about Laughter Yoga through a childhood friend, who was also a laughter professional. I began laughing regularly and participated several times a day in Laughter Yoga on the phone. I was laughing between 40 – 80 min each day and started keeping a daily journal of my total laughing minutes and the way I felt.
It was then something amazing happened in my blood work. My platelets increased! I was shocked. I told my oncologist about my Laughter Yoga practice and she smiled at me and told me to keep laughing and also add some pranayama exercises from yoga to my regimen.
Laughter Yoga is a combination of laughter and breathing exercises, which really helped me improve. After another chemo session, I started laughing for much longer periods. My recovery time from the chemo improved greatly. Now I am on “maintenance therapy” and am getting the chemo infusions every eight weeks as opposed to every four weeks. I feel great and my attitude is one of positivity and hope. Thanks to Laughter Yoga, which enabled me to cope with the worst crisis of my life.