The cancer that died of laughter | Eyal Eltawil | TEDxTelAvivUniversity


Translator: Sagar Pathak
Reviewer: Theresa Ranft Some of you are probably thinking, “Aww … He had cancer! What a poor guy!” But the opposite is true. I owe everything to cancer. In fact, without it,
I wouldn’t be on TEDx! All my life I was an actor and a comedian, and as much as I tried –
and believe me, I tried – I never performed
in front of such a large audience. This is incredible! (Applause) Thank you. It’s incredible! What took Jerry Seinfeld
20 years of hard work I achieved just in one month
of losing my health. (Laughter) Today I’d like to talk to you about one of the greatest
crises of my life: cancer, which I overcame by using humor. Because I truly believe
that there is a huge difference between a sick person
and a person with a sickness, just as I believe there’s no separation
between body and soul. Now, I am aware that the word “cancer”
is a difficult one for some people. So, with your permission,
from now on I will call it … “Simon.” If there’s anybody here by that name,
please don’t take it personally. (Chuckling) It’s been almost four years
since I’ve been cured, and I must say I am lucky
to be here, really lucky! With all the treatment I went through: bone marrow transplant, CTs, radiology … My body is presently full of radiation. Let me give you an example. Um … Excuse me, Miss.
May I see your cellphone, please? Thank you. I noticed your battery is almost empty.
Now, don’t worry. Here, it’s full now. (Laughter) Thank you, thank you. (Applause) People ask me all the time, “After all you went through,
how can you laugh about it?” And to that I say, “What is the option?
Is it better to be depressed?” After surrendering
my body and soul to the doctors, the only thing that left me was my choice as how
to face the situation. Simon was already there. Isn’t it better to look for the benefits? And I had good reasons to be depressed,
really good reasons! I was diagnosed at stage IV. I had children’s “Simon,” which, statistically, attacks kids
up to 18 years of age, and I somehow got it at the age of 31. My illness started as a huge growth of 20 centimeters in my belly. It’s something this big. I didn’t need a surgeon,
I needed a midwife! (Laughter) I was terrified and confused, and I decided to do two things. First, I took a camera
and videoed everything. And second, I tried to laugh
as much as possible. And my decision to take control
of the situation helped me deal with the trauma. And after four months of sickness,
I felt great, really great. It even showed after the treatment
as the tumors got smaller. I felt alive again, really alive. And to ensure
that it wasn’t just an illusion, I went to see my oncologist. (Video) (Hebrew) Oncologist: As I told you, I went through the exam
with the radiologist I trust, and we compared
it to the disc you brought me, to the two discs you brought, after the surgery
and before the treatment, and, in fact, there is a very,
very impressive improvement. Eyal Eltawil: Well, that’s great.
Oncologist: It’s good. What’s not good is that now
when we compare the discs, we see that there are more
than the three masses we talked about in the beginning. We see that in the waste
there is one affliction, maybe like 1.5 or 2 cm long. In the stomach wall
there is a kind of affliction and in two more places,
in the stomach’s fat, inside the stomach there is fat, there are two more afflictions. More or less four afflictions that weren’t shown in the PET-CT. When looking now
at the CT we do see them. EE: What does that mean? Oncologist: It means, uh … EE: That it doesn’t look good … to put it mildly. Oncologist: It turns the disease
into a metastatic disease. It’s no longer the percentages
I gave you at the beginning. (Video ends) (On stage) (English) EE:
That was the worst experience of my life. Try to imagine the situation: one moment she’s telling me
that there’s a huge improvement. I was on top of the world. I was sure I’m going to heal. A second later, she’s telling me
that there are metastases, that Simon had spread. I realized that there’s
a good chance that I might die. And I started asking myself, “Why? Why is this happening to me? Why do I deserve this?” I was crushed. I went back home, and I didn’t get out
of bed for an entire week. At this very moment, if I hadn’t collected all my strength
to do my best to laugh, I am sure I wouldn’t be here
with you today. Even at my lowest point, I did my best
to look at everything with humor, because humor supports your soul, and it gives you hope. It also allows you
to laugh more often and – This is very important. When you laugh,
your brain releases endorphins that change the chemistry in your body. So, even if you know
you’re lying to yourself – physically, you’re actually
healing yourself. Humor and laughter
are the winning combination. Humor is a way of looking at life and laughter is the catharsis. What made it hard for me to laugh were the people who had
just heard about my Simon, and they had only one thought in mind: death! For example, my friend told me, “After I heard about your situation, I took out all the photos
we took together, and I remembered
how you used to be a funny guy and full of energy,
with passion for life.” I was like, “Man, I’m still here, okay! I’m alive!” (Laughter) Like, if Simon doesn’t kill you,
your friends will. (Laughter) Even the doctors stressed me out. Just before my operation,
the surgeon came to me and said, “This is going to be
a very long operation, very long!” “Why are you telling me this?
I’m going to be asleep!” “Okay, thank you very much
for the information, doctor. I’ll bring a book!” (Laughter) “It will take seven hours
and it’s very, very complicated, very complicated!” “Ah, complicated? Okay. well, if you need me,
just wake me up.” (Laughter) “I’m here to help!” Thank you very much, thank you. (Applause) I would have done anything
to survive. Really, anything. I was desperate and I started
asking people for advice. Listen, be careful
about listening to advice, okay? (Chuckling) Really, there are people
with good intentions, but – Let me just tell you about it. When I just got sick, a young,
healthy woman came to me and said, “Listen, put turmeric
in everything you eat.” I was like, “turmeric?” She said, “Yes, ‘curcumin,’ it’s a spice, and it’s a remedy
against Simon.” Listen, from that moment, I put turmeric in everything
that entered my mouth. A month later, I went to see
a naturopathic doctor, and she told me, “You can eat whatever you want,
just not turmeric! It activates the sort of Simon you have.” And I was like, “Now you’re telling me? I have a factory of turmeric in my belly.” (Laughter) But in spite of all I went through,
I found many benefits in having Simon. Sounds ridiculous? Yeah?
I’ll name some. First, medicinal marijuana.
Wow! Wow! (Chuckling) (Applause) I never believed
I could have so many friends. (Laughter) Even my grandma would call
in the middle of the night. Second, I am much,
much lighter nowadays. (Chuckling) Much, much lighter. Because they removed so many
of my body parts. (Chuckling) My spleen, half of my pancreas,
my abdomen shell. In short, they left me
with my stomach and my rectum. (Laughter) Therefore, there’s no chance
I’ll ever have Simon again. He has nothing to hang on to. Third, and really most important: family and friends. (Video) (Music) (Hebrew) Visitor:
I know you’re going to win. I know that in 10 years’ time
we’re going to laugh about it. Friend: Give me
some chemotherapy also, so they would stop talking
about these things. (Laughter) (Singing) Next year, we’ll sit on the porch and we’ll count migrating birds. (Bird cries) (Video ends) (Applause) (English) EE: Thank you. It’s amazing, really. When you have Simon,
everybody is there for you. Family and friends,
they work for you, serve you, 24/7. They’ll pay for everything. Basically, they become your slaves. You know, sometimes
I thought about just giving up, but with so many people invested in me, dying just wouldn’t be
politically correct. (Laughter) Although, there is a disadvantage to this specific advantage. When I finally got a clean bill of health, all the pampering
and attention just stopped. Everybody got back to their lives, and the focus was no longer
on the most important thing – me! Like, hello! I still have side effects! (Laughter) So, yes. I’m healthy; and yes, I’m alive. But this is not the real victory. The real victory is that I lived
every day with humor. Even if I had died, I would have won because I would have died laughing. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause) I want to take you to the moment
that I found out that I was cured. (Video) (Hebrew) Oncologist: …unable to
detect suspicious pathological absorption. EE: Does that mean it’s all clean?
Oncologist: Yes. Postoperative changes in retraction, partial Pancreatectomy. EE: But, as of now, we’re doing well. Oncologist: Yes. Looks great. Looks great. Would you like a copy? EE: We beat the system, mate. I’m clean. Can you comprehend that? We clearly beat the system, mate. I honestly don’t know what to say now. I mean … what do I do now? [All you need is laugh] (Applause) (Video ends) (On stage) (English) EE:
Thank you. Thank you very much. So this what I’m doing now. I stayed alive to tell you
and pass on to the world that humor helped me beat Simon. I truly believe that Simon is no different
from our daily challenges. They are all just little Simons, and it’s up to us how we respond to them. And you don’t have to be a comedian
or an actor in order to do that. All you need to do … is change your attitude. Thank you. (Applause) (Cheering)

21 thoughts on “The cancer that died of laughter | Eyal Eltawil | TEDxTelAvivUniversity

  • Dear Eval Eltawil
    I am very impressed with your presentation at the Tel Aviv University. Prof. Oren Asman recommended me to view this youTube.
    I am the President of the World Association for Medical Law, and would like to have your presentation for the world congress in Los Angeles in August 7- 11, 2016.
    Thomas T. Noguchi, MD,

  • Excellent!!

    The power of humor for healing should never be underestimated. See Norman Cousins' Anatomy of an Illness.

    It's also healing to the cancer patient's loved ones, if the patient keeps up their morale.

    Basically it requires a serious mental shift, to laugh at cancer. And because cancer is often rooted in psychology to begin with, that sea change in mentality is healing.

  • God bless him and everyone dealing with this terrible disease, what an amazing outlook he has, no one knows the feelings that we experience, and I pray no one ever does.

  • ื ืฉืžื” ื›ืœ ื”ื›ื‘ื•ื“ !!! ืชืžืฉื™ืš ืœืฆื—ื•ืง ื•ืœื”ืืžื™ืŸ ื•ืฉื”' ื™ืชืŸ ืœืš ื‘ืจื™ืื•ืช. ืชืขืฉื” ืขื•ื“ ื”ืฉืชื“ืœื•ืช ื‘ื“ื•ืงื”- ืงื— ืฉืžืŸ ืงื ื‘ื™ืก ื•ืชื” ืฉืจื‘ื™ื˜ืŸ ื•ื•ื™ื˜ืžื™ืŸ B17 ื•ื”ืจื‘ื” ื•ื™ื˜ืžื™ืŸ c , ืชื›ื ื™ืก ืœืชืคืจื™ื˜ ื”ืงื‘ื•ืข ืฉืœืš ื”ืจื‘ื” ื”ืจื‘ื” ื™ืจืงื•ืช ื•ื™ืจื•ืงื™ื, ื ื‘ื˜ื™ื, ืขืฉื‘ ื—ื™ื˜ื” ื•ืฉืขื•ืจื”, ืœื—ื ืฉืื•ืจ, ืคืจื•ื‘ื™ื•ื˜ื™ืงื” ืฉื–ื” ืœืื›ื•ืœ ื”ืจื‘ื” ื—ืžื•ืฆื™ื. ืฉืžืฉ ื•ืื•ื™ืจ ืฆื— ื•ืžื™ื ื ืงื™ื™ื-ืžืกื•ื ื ื™ื ืื• ืžื™ื ืจืœื™ื . ืžืฆื•ื•ืช ื›ื™ื‘ื•ื“ ื”ื•ืจื™ื, ืฆื“ืงื” ื•ื—ืกื“ื™ื ื•ืฉืชื”ื™ื” ืœื ื• ื‘ืจื™ื ืขื“ ืžืื” ื•ืขืฉืจื™ื.

  • Just brilliant! Literally got me through one of the darkest most hopeless times of my life. Please keep the remarkable talks coming

    Julie (North East England UK)

  • It deserves to be more diffused. I love his dark humor, he is great. Laughing, smiling, help fight this dear cancer! Smile for life. Thank you for entertaining me and making me laugh for 15 minutes. "humor is a way of looking life and laughter is the catharsis".

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