Judy Finds Joy with Improv at Gilda’s Club

I was going through an especially dire situation when I was first diagnosed with cancer, and my treatment nurse told me about Gilda’s Club. That’s also where I heard about improv, because they offer a class there every Wednesday. Trying improv proved to be very challenging for me at first, as I would not identify myself as an “improv person.” I am a retired pastor who preached from a manuscript, and I was not used to “off-the-cuff” thinking. Regardless, I found myself really enjoying improv, and it is now the high point of my week.

I knew nothing about improv when I first started taking classes at BNW SU.  Now that I have been participating it for awhile, I have a new mentality which helps me take  ideas that I have and just going with them. Improv permits you to laugh and go with any outlandish idea. This summer, my family attended class with me, and it really benefitted my children. It has become a family tradition, in a sense. Whenever I say something silly at home on a Wednesday, my kids will say “It’s improv day.”

To me, this improv group has become a family. It feels just as therapeutic as my actual support group outside of class. Improv allows you to “Yes, and” whatever happens and just keep on going. I think that is a very helpful attitude to have when you are living with a disease. So, when there’s no more treatment, improv will still help me live my life the best I can.

Improv makes living with cancer more bearable. I was diagnosed five years ago, and it has been such a blessing to have time for laughter without sickness crossing my mind. There have been a lot of studies done about laughter being good medicine, and my experience with improv confirms them. In my opinion, improv helps you cope with difficulty in life and embrace more laughter and joy. I am able to forget all of my other worries during class every week and just laugh. That ability to create joyful space apart from daily stress in life is truly a gift.

–Judy, BNW SU Student

Gilda’s Club Twin Cities is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and the local affiliate of the Cancer Support Community, a network of more than 54 supportive, free and welcoming “clubhouses” where everyone living with cancer can come for social, emotional and psychological support. Clubs are healing environments where individuals learn from each other with guidance from licensed professionals.