By Ann Tuzi

Whenever I am asked what has helped me during my struggle with chronic pain, I answered right away; laughter therapy.

Laugh though you might, I am quite serious – laughter therapy has been a useful tool in my arsenal in the battle against chronic pain.

I have been battling severe chronic pain for the past eight years, as a result of shingles, which I contracted during cancer treatment. For years, I grappled with the pain, experimenting with a number of different therapies. While each helped a little, I still found the pain to be very difficult to manage.

Finally, I met Dr. Melynk at Princess Margaret Hospital. Dr. Melnyck recognized how pain was impacting my mental state, and suggested a different therapy than any I had tried before.

Dr. Melnyck suggested the laughter program at Gilda’s Club.  Though I was leery at first, and unsure of her suggestion, I was finally persuaded to join the program.

To my surprise, I found the laughter program a pleasant change to my daily routine.  It provided a unique, positive approach to my pain management; I have much more self-caring time, and has truly helped me to find positive relief through my battle with pain.

I work with Kathleen McAuley at Lighten Up, where we use laughter to provide a positive state of mind, change my perspective, and to exercise the diaphragm. Laughter has truly been terrific medicine, helping me to cope with my pain in a new and effective manner.