Using Humor To Cope With Challenges
- Actress Shannen Doherty is enjoying a vacation on Italy’s Amalfi coast during her continued battle with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer battle and divorce from her former husband Kurt Iswarienko, and she seems to be keeping her spirits lifted with the help of funny video memes.
- This week, the 52-year-old “Heathers” star took to her Instagram story to share a gorgeous photo of what appears to be a beach in Italy, followed by a sweet video of the Triplets Ghetto Kids dancing to Puff Daddy’s famed song “I’ll Be Missing You,” and a video meme of a famous Adam Sandler movie titled, “Billy Madison.”
- According to the National Library of Medicine, research has shown that the amount of pain medication needed for patients is reduced after they watch funny movies.
- Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Marianna Strongin previously wrote in column for SurvivorNet, “Going through [cancer] treatment is a very vulnerable and emotionally exhausting experience. Noticing what you have strength for and what is feeling like too much [is] extremely important to pay attention to as you navigate treatment.”
- It’s important to know that if you do find yourself separating from a partner amid a cancer fight, you’re not alone.
The Tennessee-native, known for her lead roles in TV shows “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Charmed,” has been taking to her Instagram story recently to show off some of the incredible views and delicious foods she’s been eating, as well as some uplifting videos.Read More
It showed Sandler, staring in the 90s movie as Billy Madison in a cooking scene where another character Eric Gordon, played by Bradley Whitford, takes what appears to be a pie out of the oven that has caught on fire.
Seconds later, Gordon’s whole body is engulfed in flames as he flails his arms around in pain, all the while, Madison is laughing hysterically and clapping his hands.
Instead of being stressed in the frightening situation, Madison maintains his positivity, even laughing and pointing when Gordon falls to the ground amid the blaze.
Perhaps Doherty feels as if things in her life are on fire and she’s just taking life day by day, with a smile, despite any worries she may have.
Shannen Doherty’s Cancer Journey
Shannen Doherty Italian getaway comes amid her ongoing battle with metastatic breast cancer. Metastatic cancer means the disease has spread to distant areas of the body, like the bones, liver, lungs, or brain.
Her battle with breast cancer began in 2015 when she received her diagnosis after discovering lump in her breast.
“For the last year and a half, cancer has been my teacher,” Doherty explained in a 2016 speech. “It’s taught me what love, strength, friendship and support truly looks like.”
She continued, “It’s opened my eyes to myself and it’s allowed me to not only share my journey with people, but it’s actually allowed me to share my inner self with anybody who actually wanted to know what it was like. And the end result is that I am nothing but vulnerability and, to me, vulnerability is courage.”
Doherty was reportedly treated through hormone therapy, a single mastectomy (the removal of all breast tissue from one breast), chemotherapy and radiation. Her cancer ultimately went into remission in 2017.
However, Doherty’s remission didn’t last forever. In February 2019, her oncologist revealed that her disease had returned less than two years after completing her initial treatments and her cancer was stage four.
Doherty went public in 2020 with her recurrence news during an interview for “Good Morning America,” saying, “I definitely have days where I say why me. And then I go, well, why not me? Who else? Who else besides me deserves this? None of us do.”
This year, her continued battle with cancer involved surgery and radiation.
Although there’s technically no cure for metastatic breast cancer, there are various of treatment options for the disease including hormone therapy, chemotherapy, targeted drugs, immunotherapy and a combination of various treatments.
Earlier this year, the actress shared a handful of photos and videos of her getting prepared for radiation treatment on her head. During radiation, high-energy beams are aimed at the location doctors believe cancer cells to be. The MRI helps doctors pinpoint the exact location of the tumor within the skull.
She also underwent a craniotomy brain surgery where doctors worked to remove cancer from her brain.
Dealing With Cancer & Divorce, Like Shannen Doherty
Divorcing or separating from a partner while facing cancer, like Shannen Doherty, is not that uncommon. While going through a difficult time of your life with a partner can be incredibly beneficial, it’s also important to know your limits with relationships during a health battle.
Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Marianna Strongin previously wrote in column for SurvivorNet, “Going through [cancer] treatment is a very vulnerable and emotionally exhausting experience. Noticing what you have strength for and what is feeling like too much [is] extremely important to pay attention to as you navigate treatment.”
Just know that if you do find yourself separating from a partner amid a cancer fight, you’re not alone.
In an earlier conversation with SurvivorNet, Amanda Crowell Itliong talked about going through her divorce during an ovarian cancer battle.
“Women do sometimes get divorces during this time,” she explained. “It happened to me and I thought it was the worst thing that could ever happen and it wasn’t. It wasn’t even a little bit the worst thing that could ever happen.”
“It turned out pretty great in the end. Sometimes, things like cancer can show you that a relationship isn’t the right relationship,” she added.
The Importance of Laughter & Positivity
Shannen Doherty is a perfect example of someone who uses laughter and positivity when times get tough.
It’s also interesting to note, that according to the National Library of Medicine, research has shown that the amount of pain medication needed for patients is reduced after they watch funny movies.
And perhaps laughter, like Shannen Doherty makes sure to have in her life, even if it’s through looking at funny videos or memes on social media, could also help when someone is dealing with the pain that comes amid a health challenge, whether it’s any sort of health battle, like metastatic breast cancer.
The importance of positivity amid tough times has been seen through stand-up comedian Jesus Trejo in Long Beach, California.
Trejo became a caregiver for both of his parents after his mother was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor and his father was later faced with colon cancer. But instead of panicking and focusing on the devastating nature of the situation, the only child stepped up to care for his parents with love and laughter.
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Trejo opened up about how he put his career aside to care for his parents in their time of need while making time to smile along the way.
“The only advice I have for anyone watching this is laugh, and laugh often, laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself seriously. Things are already bad. Because once you do that, it’s a game-changer,”Trejo told SurvivorNet.
He also says the laughter itself might be brief, but “the effects of it just reverberate through your body, and can change an already bad situation into a better one.”
Focusing on hope, and maintaining a positive attitude amid a health battle can always be helpful.
Anecdotal evidence from SurvivorNet experts points to how a positive mindset can impact a cancer prognosis.
Dr. Zuri Murrell, of Cedars-Sinai told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview, “My patients who thrive, even with stage 4 cancer, from the time that they, about a month after they’re diagnosed, I kind of am pretty good at seeing who is going to be OK. Now doesn’t that mean I’m good at saying that the cancer won’t grow.”
“But I’m pretty good at telling what kind of patient are going to still have this attitude and probably going to live the longest, even with bad, bad disease. And those are patients who have gratitude in life.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Dana Chase, a Gynecologic Oncologist at UCLA Health, also says it’s important to try to focus on the good, stay positive, and do things that bring you joy to the degree you’re able to do so amid battling a disease like cancer.
“We know, actually from good studies, that emotional health, quality of life is associated with survival, meaning better quality of life is associated with better survival, better outcomes,” Dr. Chase said in an earlier interview.
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff