Robin Williams Saved My Life

There is an old familiar saying “Laughter is the best medicine.” I am living proof.

Journey with me back to 2006. The first time I had a cancer diagnosis. My specialist at the time, had recommended that I go to Vancouver for my hysterectomy. There was a so-called “expert” in town that was performing laparoscopic hysterectomies and she thought that, at my young age, I would be a good candidate. I trusted her advice even though I would have preferred that she do the surgery.

The surgery in Vancouver was a disaster from the start. For one thing, they tore all the muscles in my lower back. I was in agony. The surgery had not been explained to me. I had no idea that they were going to strap my legs up over my head! I could have told them that I am just not that flexible! I never have been due to calcium deposits I had developed on my spine as a child.

The Vancouver hospital released me way too early as well. By the time I made it home I was already having serious problems. My husband took me in to see my specialist right away. When she saw me she was furious. That was the first time I ever heard her swear! I was so swollen I could have given the Michelin man a run for his money. I was also black and blue from my chest to my groin.

She said, “I want you to drive home, pack a bag, and drive directly to the hospital right now. There will be a bed waiting for you.”

Concerned, we did as she requested. We drove straight home. By the time we arrived, I had begun burning up with fever and I collapsed as I was getting out of the vehicle.

My husband said, “To hell with the bag.” He helped me back into the truck and drove straight to the hospital as quickly as he could. Sure enough, there was a bed waiting for me. I had no idea I was in for the fight of my life!

Apparently, a large hematoma from the surgery had been left in my abdominal cavity and an infection had developed. Each day, I went from bad to worse. Visitors became too exhausting so the nurses cancelled all visitors and allowed only family to see me.

My doctor tried surgery. But the hematoma was elusive, hiding just out of reach behind some of my internal organs. The antibiotics were not working either. The doctor kept giving me more and more, to no avail.

The look of fear and worry on the nurses faces only confirmed what I suspected. I was losing the battle. I noticed too, that they were starting to speak to me in a different tone of voice.

During this time, my mom brought me much comfort. We were never close as I grew up and as a young adult, and yet, when I needed her most she was there. Every day. All day. Every time I found the strength to open my eyes, she was there, sharing her energy with me, willing me to live.

Eventually, they were giving me so many powerful antibiotics that I began throwing up. After a particularly violent session of vomiting,  I began to cry while sitting on the bathroom floor. As the nurse helped me back to bed I asked to see my doctor. When she arrived, I begged her to stop. Stop trying so hard. Stop giving me antibiotics. Stop giving me all these pills and IVs. I told her that they were making me worse. She reluctantly agreed.

By the next day I was having trouble breathing. They were threatening to put me in an oxygen tent. That evening, I was so weak I could not breathe automatically anymore. I had to consciously breathe in and breathe out.

I was worried about what they would do to me next. It sounds silly to say that now, but that was where my mind was at. I didn’t know what an oxygen tent was and did not want to be in one. They had given me drugs to the point of vomiting, two botched surgeries, countless x-rays and scans. At that point, me who does not like needles, had received several dozen including blood tests, injections, not to mention they were running out of places for the IVs that kept failing.

So, instead of being poked and prodded or calling for help, I lay there and breathed in and breathed out.

Sometime during the night, I pulled myself upright and sat on the edge of the bed looking out the window. I began a long conversation with God that lasted throughout the night.

I sat watching the leaves swirling across the empty parking lot. A strong wind began to pick up outside. The trees started swaying like a metronome in time with my breathing. Breathe in. Breathe out.

A pair of black rabbits appeared below my window. Eventually one left, but the other one stayed with me the entire night. Most people would not find that significant as there are a lot of rabbits on the VGH grounds. But, in Chinese astrology, I have the sign of a black rabbit. So it meant a lot to me, and I took it as a positive sign. Besides, I appreciated the company!


Somehow the swaying trees, that little black rabbit, and me made it through the night. When dawn came, the air stilled and the little black rabbit hopped away. I found I could breathe on my own again. I crawled in to my bed and laid down.

The hospital started to wake up. I could hear the hustle and bustle outside my door and, before I knew it, I had a new roommate being wheeled in next to me. She was quite lively but, exhausted from being awake all night, I didn’t have much to say to her.

I must have dozed off for a while, because eventually someone was calling me and bringing my consciousness reluctantly to the surface. “Nina. Nina. You have to watch this,” she laughed.

I really wasn’t that interested. I just wanted to go back to sleep. I drowsily let my lids droop down over my eyes. But she was persistent.

“You have to watch this! It is just too funny.”

I reluctantly opened my eyes. “What are you watching?” I asked.

“It’s a Robin Williams special. Hurry! Turn your TV on.”

Sighing, I propped myself up a bit and turned on my television. Well, who doesn’t like Robin Williams?!

Before long, we could not contain ourselves, and our very loud and heartfelt belly laughs were being heard down the hall to the nurse’s station. Two nurses came rushing into my room. Their concern and worry quickly turned into big smiles on their faces as they realized that I was awake, alert, sitting upright, and laughing with tears streaming down my face!


We made eye contact. They knew, as I now knew, that I would live. Their smiles just grew wider.

“There is just too much fun going on in here. You keep it up and we just might throw you out!”

“One can always hope!” I shot back.

Instead of insisting that we turn down our televisions or lower our voices, the nurses just turned and walked out of the room, quietly closing the door behind them for the first time. My new roommate and I laughed for two hours straight. By the end of it I was exhausted, happy, and surprisingly hungry!

The next morning my roommate didn’t want to speak with me, look at me, or develop any kind of friendship or relationship. She had built a wall up between us. By that afternoon, she was sent home.

It sounds like an odd thing, right? But it happens to me on a regular basis. I try not to take it too personally anymore. I call them my Earth Angels. They blow into my life, there is an immediate connection, one way or another they deliver their message or share their knowledge with me then, just as quickly as they came into my life, they leave.

Laughter is very powerful medicine. It is a proven effective tool to use in your healing journey. But don’t take my word for it. There have been numerous studies that prove just that.

Feeling blue? Are you experiencing some serious life challenge? Give laughter a try!

Grab a friend, or two, and some popcorn of course! Watch a marathon of your favourite shows that you know are guaranteed to make you laugh or watch a Robin Williams special just like I did. Watch your life change!

If you have enjoyed reading my post, please donate to my crowdfunding efforts to pay for my medical expenses. Thank you. GOD bless.

About the author


I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. I invite you to join me on my cancer journey as I share my experiences and the messages I received along the way about life and living.

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