02 MARCH 2017

CanHOPE Survivors Retreat 2016

Contributed by: Dr Lim Hong Liang

Laugh it out!

It was time for much mirth as cancer survivors and caregivers came together at the CanHOPE Survivors Retreat 2016 to celebrate life – with a big smile and a good laugh. Suddenly, there was bellowing laughter in the Laughter Yoga classroom – one of the three breakout sessions organised at the CanHOPE Survivors Retreat in November.

Being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatment can bring about so much stress that patients and caregivers may forget the natural gift of laughing. Yet research shows that laughter yoga – a new form of exercise from India akin to internal jogging that promotes the use of laughter as a form of physical exercise – aids in cancer prevention and recovery.

Laughter yoga leader Miranda Ledesma who was amazed at her audience’s openness, presented “a spirit of celebration that lightened the mood”. “Laughter yoga can benefit everyone, but especially those dealing with serious illness. It is about re-connecting with our inner, child-like playfulness and learning to laugh. Such deep belly laughing has many benefits including lowered blood pressure, reduced stress, full body relaxation and increased oxygen in the body. All of these can lead to better pain management and more positive emotions,” she said.

Survivor Lily Lee agreed. The 53-year-old said she felt relaxed and her body warmed up during the session. “The positive thing is that it frees your mind,” she said.

Shuvo H., Director of Parkway Patient Assistance Centre in Sri Lanka, was amazed at the laughter yoga’s effect. He is exploring the possibility of bringing the therapy to his patients in Colombo.

This is the first time that CanHOPE staff from its regional offices were invited to the annual retreat in Singapore. Themed “Shine Forth Your Wellness from Within”, it aimed to encourage cancer survivors and caregivers through a host of talks and workshops. These included practical sessions on nutrition and juicing, as well as wellness workshops on stress management and personal care.

“For the past years, we have been developing our support staff in other countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. We hope that after patients are treated for their cancer in Singapore, we can continue to support them, helping them to integrate back to normal life with more ease when they return to their country,” says Dr Lim Hong Liang, Senior Consultant, Parkway Cancer Centre, who is also the chairperson of the retreat.

Written by Chua Hwee Leng
TAGS cancer & exercise, cancer caregiver, cancer survivor events, cancer survivorship, CanHOPE