Humor for Patient Leaders 101

In this discussion board, share some times you may or may not have chosen to use humor in your advocacy and WHY. Feel free to reach out and comment on others.

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When I reach out to others I know that my humor often is not understood… I will be cracking up and others just confused. So, I am really sparing at using humor and more literal and serious especially as I age. Although, people do laugh with me (I hope) when I am just being me and living life. I do enjoy others jokes, for me its timing and delivery… mine needs work.

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When I’m giving a presentation I usually use self deprecating humor, as it’s not intimidating or judgemental to the people in attendance, whether medical professionals, researchers, government officials or patients.

There are some personal anecdotes that I may share to make a human connection with laughter. We all spend so much of our time being serious and focused on the disease we advocate for, laughter helps to take a little pressure off and realize we’re all in the same situation, just trying to do what we can.

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When giving a presentation, humor normally helps the audience stay focused.

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I have Multiple Sclerosis. The first time I used a wheelchair, my husband helped me get around. He accidentally hit a storm drain cover and the wheel got stuck and I tipped over. He said “At least you’ll float down there!” :clown_face:

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I find humor is a great way to lift others spirits and also break the ice when it comes to promoting awareness.

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Living with lupus, an invisible illness is not fun. But some stories are funny. One time, I got out of my car that was legally parked in a handicapped space, and this woman said/shouted at me…“Hey, you don’t look disabled and I said well you don’t look stupid. I have an invisible illness, what;s your excuse?”

I am an advocate, not a comedian.

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I use humor often, but know that print humor doesn’t aways translate, so I often use parenthesis or italic to highlight my sarcasm. I am only sarcastic when referring to myself, never to others. I think that is important. I had a woman tell me that she sees nothing funny in living with RA. I felt bad for her because if you can’t see the humor, you can only see the pain.

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I’ve found humor to help in those situations where the conversation may feel uncomfortable or “risque” such as around sexual health and it provides a bit of an icebreaker

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I’ve tried to use humor, but I’m not the greatest at it and it’s difficult to think of what to write at first so I plan on using a notebook to write topics to include in my advocacy.

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i use humor all the time it’s encouraging

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Humor is always fun and beneficial if used in the right environment. I know not all others feel this way, but laughing at yourself and making jokes tends to make people feel more comfortable.

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I am recently vision impaired. While not easy I do look for ways to laugh at what I can. So I always tell people “I have a story to add to my book”. Example: I am out for dinner and want to use a spice that has a cover on it. I am shaking and shaking and cant tell if anything was coming out. There wasn’t. I had the lid on. lol. Later in the same meal I was trying some more spice and poured it and over half of the container spilled on my plate. I had the “spoon” side of the container open instead of the sprinkle side.

Sometimes you just have to laugh!

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I agree with you completely.

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Great responses! I have so many open heart surgery jokes. Having 3 has helped me perfect my game!

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I usually crack joke depending upon my own experience, interaction with patients, current situation or one I have seen through social media & I make sure, it’s simple & can be cleared understood to bring smile to listeners.

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Okay, here is my attempt at being funny on the open mic :microphone::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

When my breast cancer journey commenced last summer, I decided to name my tumor fred. That’s right, a small case “f”. He didn’t deserve a capital “F”. Not only was he a tiny tumor, but also a big pain in my behind, and a pain in my boob, and he took away a year of my time to focus on his tiny, aggressive, invasive and narcissistic self. So he will not get the recognition and stature of a capital anything! A big “F- You”, little f fred!

My cancer journey became a campaign against fred. I didn’t mince my words. I called my campaign Drop Dead fred. I started raising money with my campaign for cancer research, cancer treatment and the transportation company that gave me rides to chemo. It wasn’t long before my friends were chanting on social media – “Drop Dead fred,” “Die fred Die”! Whoo, I never want to piss off these folks! I was imagining them gathering an angry crowd with pitchforks and torches, coming after my little tumor in my little breast! Aach!

Anyway, for all intents and purposes, fred is officially dead. After the surgery, my margins were clean and so were the biopsied nodes, I was baked with radiation and stewed in a mixture of chemo and targeted drugs to make sure that fred and any of his progeny had bit the big one and gone straight to hell. Now fred is dead, I am alive, life is good, tra la!

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I’ve noticed I tend to use less humour as I tell my story more, but I share more personal details of my life instead. I want to connect with my audience and not everyone shares my weird sense of humour.

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I really appreciate everyone’s honesty about how they are using humor. I believe humor is so important, it helps lighten the mood and I wholeheartedly believe that joy connects people. I try to use it only when it relates to me but won’t effect any of the families I work with.

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I’ve been performing stand up comedy on and off for over 17 yrs and one thing that I’ve learned is not everyone is going to get it. This hold true to humor as it pertains to talking about illness or in my case, diabetes. Some people just won’t get it so when I understood that I would stop apologizing. I’m confident in my material and I know I would never joke about anyone else’s diabetes or complications but my own. The sad part is when people try to guilt you into not telling your truth. You just have to turn a deaf ear to them. As ling as you know your content or material is based in your truth you have to tell it

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