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Writers Guild of America Member News
March, 2003 Issue

How Laughter Helps Us Heal 

Pediatric outpatient receiving treatments at UCLA Medical Center.
Photos Courtesy of Leslie Barton Photography

Ever consider that the work you do could actually save a life? Why does laughing feel so good? How can a smile ease pain and help us to heal?

At a time when treatments for life-threatening diseases are more emotionally, physically, and financially traumatic, the link between comedy and positive patient treatments has urgent relevance. Now in its fourth year as an independent non-profit research and therapeutic entertainment treatment organization, the Rx Laughter project, co-sponsored by the WGAw, shows carefully selected classic and contemporary comedy films and television programs to sick children. 

In the latest phase, isolated cancer patients are linked electronically, watching the same comedies at the same time but able to laugh and talk together directly from their rooms and treatment areas in the Pediatric Critical Isolation Unit at the Mattel Children's Hospital of UCLA. Some of these children are secluded for months at a stretch as they receive painful and frightening procedures, such as bone marrow transplants and chemotherapy. 

"What I'm actually hoping for is nothing less than revolutionizing the way we treat kids," says Margaret Stuber, M.D., the principal investigator of Rx Laughter. "Rx Laughter is really creating models that can diffuse out of UCLA to be used at other children's hospitals around the country," says Edward McCabe, M.D., Ph.D., physician-in-chief of the Mattel Children's Hospital. 

The project has continued its groundbreaking research using donations from individuals and organizations. If you (or your production company) wish to contribute to the work of Rx Laughter, make checks payable to Rx Laughter/UCLA Foundation, and mail to Sherry Dunay Hilber, founder of Rx Laughter, UCLA Pediatric Pain Program, Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA, 10833 Le Conte Avenue, MDCC Room #22-464, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1752. More information about Rx Laughter is available at www.rxlaughter.org. 



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