Dying Of Laughter Could Keep You Alive * CoveyClub

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Dying Of Laughter Could Keep You Alive

It worked for round one of cancer treatments, and now I’m LMAO through round two

By Debbie Nigro

Feeling guilty about having a belly laugh in the middle of a worldwide pandemic? Don’t. Might be just the thing that keeps you alive. Humor, thankfully, can still be transmitted person to person harmlessly. 

I think we can all agree: the world is a dark, scary place right now and we’re all doing what we’ve gotta do to get ourselves through. For many, sharing virtual laughs with family and friends to crack each other up has become a highlight to keep from completely cracking up. 

Those giggles and belly laughs are doing you more good than you realize. Science says that what goes on in your mind is reflected in the chemistry of your body. Laughing lifts your mood and releases stress, and according to the Mayo Clinic “an upbeat sense of humor can improve your immune system!” 

Who couldn’t use an improved immune system right now? 

Humor is how humans get through dark times. It’s helped save my life more than once because I believe in humor’s power to impact the body. The key? You gotta believe in that power. Which brings me to my boobs. 

Didn’t see that coming, did ya? (Note: Girlfriends can talk about boobs with each other, but guys can’t talk about other girlfriends’ boobs with you. Just sayin’.) 

Mid-February, a few weeks before we knew the coronavirus was a full-blown global disaster, I had a double mastectomy. Nothing funny about breast cancer, and nothing funny about trading in a perfectly good set of boobs even if they were trying to kill me. But I know for sure that my humor and attitude helped me survive it. 

I reminded the surgeons more than once “to do the right thing” in case I need to earn money as an old stripper. I yelled out a last-minute reminder from the operating room table before going under. “Don’t be fooled by my birth certificate — I’m not your mothers’ grandma! I’ve got plenty of  ‘action’ ahead!” 

For the record I’m now a two-time cancer survivor. I’m very grateful to God and many others, including my wonderful doctors! I made it through ovarian cancer seven years ago this year, and just made it through breast cancer this year. 

Both times, I was blessed with the best possible outcomes. But both diagnoses were thanks to what I now know was the BRCA gene (which I now affectionately call the “braca-my-balls” gene). 

Once I knew that I had the gene and I was given the choice to remove my boobs or “over monitor” them I chose  “over monitor.” My boobs were a big part of my sexuality. As a single mom, I was “dating” and wanted my boobs to festively date with me. 

Last summer on the trip of a lifetime with best friends, I giddily paddled the rapids of the Yellowstone River on my right side for four hours. That night I felt a lump near my right breast. I prayed it was from the paddling. Sadly it wasn’t. I had a biopsy and found out I had breast cancer. 

Heartbroken, I knew the only way I was going to make it through again was to dredge up that same attitude, resolve, and humor that got me through cancer the first time. That’s when I’d show up at the hospital for chemo treatments and announce “Hi, I’m here for the modeling assignment?” Overheard one nurse say, “she ain’t going down.” Many a nurse who picked up on my humor told me that because of it, they knew I’d get through. I believed them. 

Fast forward, I’ve now gone through chemo twice and lost my big hair twice. First time around I had two wigs. One was named “Angelica” because she was sweet. The other was called “Gigi” — well, because she was a slut. I only have one wig this time — she’s called “Che’Che’’’– and she’s doing double duty. 

Pronounced  “Shay Shay” and born out of a belly laugh, turns out Che’ Che’ in the urban dictionary means “really cool.” As in “damn girl, you’re looking so che’ che’ today.”

As Che’ Che’ and I sit here typing this, I’m stuck in “boob purgatory” with two weird lumps where my “va va vooms” used to be, held up in the middle of the already long process from mastectomy to expanders to implant surgery by a freakin’ PANDEMIC

Between them and Che’Che, who thanks to the salon being closed so long looks like she got her ass kicked in a West Side Story fight, let’s just say I have looks fit for a quarantine. 

But I’ll get through this. We will get through this. You just gotta laugh. Trust me, it’s a proven survival technique to get you through all kinds of dark times and new normals.  


Debbie Nigro is a multifaceted business and broadcasting entrepreneur. A past three-time winner of “The Best Nationally-Syndicated Radio Talk Show of The Year,” Debbie consistently shares her nonstop humor and attitude on her weekday radio show in the NY/CT market. Podcasts of the show can be heard on DebbieNigro.com. 

  1. Dawn Zachman

    Amazing article, incredible person!!

    If the message in Debbie’s story spread across the world in an instant, just imagine how many problems would be solved.

    Until then, I’ll keep doing my part and laugh everyday!

  2. Nancy OConnor

    Humor is indeed the answer Debbie.
    Thankfully your sense of humor will help pull YOU through & help the rest of us
    get in touch with our own.
    Good diet, exercise & oft forgotten & never prescribed
    laughter the key to survival.
    Endorphins, enkephalins, and dynorphins are powerful peptide or polypeptide analgesics. Their analgesic action requires binding to opiate receptors on nerve cells.
    So it’s a win win.
    Just keep on laughing!

  3. Kathy Koenig

    This is a lovely story and timely for the work I’m doing. It occurred to me that there is nothing in the caregiver field devoted to humor. I’m going to to change that and this is a reminder of the power of humor at so many levels of our existence. Thank you for sharing this and encouraging us to find humor, even in the darkest of moments.

    • lesley

      That is wonderful. Let us know what you end up doing. We love when issues we raise in TheCovey create momentum!

  4. Lisa Johnson

    I just read this again! Love Debbie’s whip ass humor, strength and wisdom! I rarely miss her radio show but it’s not enough! Waiting for the book and movie!!!

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