Laughter is medicine for the soul!
A breast cancer survivor, Neosho C. Ponder, recently wrote a humorous book to help others facing unexpected hardship heal through laughter. The Howard alumna first discovered a lump in her breast on Friday, April 8, 2016, at 5:37pm EST. She knows the exact date and time because she says it was the moment that her life was forever changed.
"I adjusted my left breast inside of a tank top and felt a lump. When I felt the lump, my heart sank. I was on the phone with my soror at the time and had to interrupt her and tell her that I felt a lump and couldn't think. Naturally, I immediately felt the other breast to make sure it wasn't 'supposed' to be there and to make sure there were no lumps there. Then, after I got off the phone, I conducted a full self-breast exam...As I began processing that I felt a lump in my breast, I knew my life was changed forever," Ponder told Because Of Them We Can.
Just one year removed from earning her Ph.D., cancer was not in Ponder's plans, and she had to prepare for the most challenging ride of her life. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and literally began to use laughter to cope with her new reality. The next three years proved to be a series of unfortunate events, but no matter what she faced, Ponder would always find a way to see the humor in it, regularly using the phrase, "God's got jokes" when sharing stories with her family and friends.
Photo Courtesy of Neosho C. Ponder
"God's jokes persisted throughout my cancer journey. From homelessness to living in my own place with no full-time job, He shows up and shows out! When I look at my home now, I laugh a little because God has brought me so far...My faith has provided when I could not. Every time I think I won't make rent or something won't get paid, [God] makes away. It is so astounding that I have to laugh," explained Ponder.
The D.C. resident's family and friends eventually suggested that she write a book, sharing her story of how she's turned hardships into blessings. Ponder then wrote the book "God's Got Jokes," launching an Indiegogo campaign to cover editing, design, publishing, and marketing costs. She also donated a portion of her proceeds to the Donna M. Saunders Foundation, a nonprofit organization Ponders credits with helping her through her journey, covering everything from rent to random care packages, even showing up in between surgeries to check up on her.
""God's Got Jokes" speaks to those affected by breast cancer, including young women and families, whose lives have been put on hold and faith tested while dealing with some of the most difficult decisions a person can make. This book also speaks to anyone who has experienced unexpected hardships and are open to approaching their relationship with God in a new way," a statement on the campaign website reads.
Ponder says she hopes the book is a transformational experience for readers and will be both entertained and inspired, taking away the importance of faith and laughter. She also says she is most excited to complete the audiobook version of her book, explicitly created for those still in the fight against cancer.
"A cancer journey can be lonely, but by reading or listening to "God's Got Jokes", I hope people see that they are not alone. I feel it will change their approach to treatment, surgeries, and relationships...I am grateful for the strength and opportunity to share my journey in hopes that the next young woman that finds a lump will be proactive rather than reactive. I am most excited for my fellow survivors who are in the fight to listen to the audiobook [because] I found it difficult to read anything while going through chemo and recovering from surgeries," Ponder said.
This December, "God's Got Jokes" is expected to hit shelves with the audiobook slated for availability in 2022. You can follow more of Ponder's journey via Instagram.
Congratulations, Neosho. Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of Neosho C. Ponder