LIFE LESSONS A sense of humour can help us to nd calm in times of adversity.
HUMOUR HELPED ARTIST, WRITER AND FILMMAKER MATILDA TRISTRAM TO FIND CALM IN TOUGH TIMES
Four years ago, when I was pregnant with my rst child, I was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. During the treatment that followed, I wrote a diary comic about my life, about having chemo during my pregnancy, about the birth of our son, James, about the things that made me laugh and kept me going.
Why did I put it all in a comic? When I was working out how to describe or draw something, I’d stop thinking about how frightened I was. Familiar objects and scenes suddenly seemed more meaningful, more precious, because they told the story of my life – which could end at any moment. I wanted to draw it all while I could. Talking about how I felt was upsetting and di cult; drawing wasn’t.
I posted the comic online and received a great response from other cancer patients, their friends and families, and from doctors and medical professionals. It came out as a book, Probably Nothing (Viking, £16.99), when my son was one.
What strikes most people about the book is that it’s funny. They wonder how I kept laughing during that time. Before I became ill I loved laughing and making jokes. That didn’t change after my diagnosis. Although cancer is horrific, some of the things that surround it are funny: the awkwardness, the interesting people you meet, the strange things your body does.
However, one of the hardest aspects was the pressure to always look for positives. There were days when I felt like there was no bright side, times when I couldn’t laugh. But I am glad to have turned the experience into something that has been received in such a positive way.
MATILDA TRISTRAM co-wrote CBeebies’ The Adventures of Abney and Teal and the BAFTA winning Dipdap. Her new book, My Year in Small Drawings: Notice, Draw, Appreciate (Leaping Hare Press, £9.99), is out in October.