by Rajiv Samant MD, FRCPC, “Health Humor Enthusiast” and Radiation Oncologist, The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre (Ontario, Canada)
Laughter is the best medicine is a commonly quoted phrase but have you ever wondered why? People have known for centuries about the incredible power of humour and laughter to heal. For example, Lord Byron, the English poet born in the 18th century, stated, “Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.” While Madeleine L’Engle, the 20th century American author, said, “A good laugh heals a lot of hurts.” This of course was long before Gelotology, the scientific study of laughter and its effects on the body, became a formally recognized specialty of psychology research.
The MATCH Study: Mindfulness And Tai chi for Cancer Health. This innovative clinical trial conducted by the University of Calgary/Tom Baker Cancer Centre and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is now recruiting cancer survivors! As a participant you get to choose which treatment approach you want, or let us assign you to a group if you are equally interested in both. We will measure program effects on psychological, physical and biological outcomes including quality of life, mood, stress, balance, blood pressure, heart rate, immune function and more! Visit www.thematchstudy.ca for more details.
by Dr. Linda E. Carlson, Study Principal Investigator
by SarahRose Black, MMT, MTA, RP, CKN Music & Creative Therapies Editor
Whether I am discussing music with friends, family, patients or colleagues, a consistent trend seems to emerge. What we prefer is closely linked to our associations. When we associate a song with a particular time in our lives, that same song tends to hold ongoing significance. Perhaps a song that was played during a first dance at a wedding continues to bring up very vivid memories and feelings. A song from a childhood experience (perhaps a caregiver’s soothing voice before falling asleep) may continue to provide comfort and support well into adulthood. Often, a sequence or combination of songs can elicit a pattern of feelings, or an emotional arc taking us from one mood to another, or holding us steadily in a specific affective experience for an extended period of time.
by SarahRose Black, MMT, MTA, RP, CKN Advisory Board Member
So many moments of our lives are bombarded by various soundscapes, a term coined by Canadian composer, environmentalist and musicologist R. Murray Schafer. Schafer defines a soundscape as “a sound or combination of sounds that forms or arises from an immersive environment” (Schafer, 1977). Some of these sounds may be helpful while others may be harmful. Take a moment to consider the sounds that permeate your daily activities: what do you hear as you move through your day? You may hear sounds of traffic, or perhaps bird chirping, or maybe children laughing. Your soundscape may include keyboards clicking and coffee makers dripping. For those connected to the health care system either personally or professionally, soundscapes may include the dinging of call bells, the buzzing of pagers, the beeping of IV machines, and the varied conversations that may arise in hallways or inpatient hospital rooms, perhaps even the white noise of a crossed lobby or clinic. As an activity, try stropping what you’re doing and naming four sounds that you hear around you. What do you notice when you start to mindfully listen?
In a busy environment like a hospital, where everyone – patient and staff alike – has a job to do – it’s challenging to make time to reflect on how much we’re all holding. The lived experiences of people in an oncology program are vast and profound.