“My Gutsy Story®”Jan Marshall

Jan Marshall face

Touched by an Angel in an Inappropriate Place

IN THE BEGINNING, they claimed they never promised us a rose garden. Never said there wasn’t one, so I assumed I’d wake up and bees would be a buzzin’.

Then someone up there, said, “Hey lady, wanna learn some great lessons?” Before I could answer, like everyone else in some manner, I endured grief, disappointments, illness including cancer and, more recently, brain surgery, plus some bad fish.

Fortunately, I have a congenital condition known as Opticockyitis, named after the doctor who diagnosed it in a cocker spaniel. It’s an affliction causing me to observe most situations a bit off center. Can’t help myself. It is like being born with a Whoopee cushion in my head. Whenever I was dealt a major blow in life, and after I finished crying, moaning, and complaining, my ability to observe the moment with this unusual perspective saved my life, according to my physicians.

But I have a confession to make. After first being touched by an angel in an inappropriate place, I was shocked. “Not me, not cancer.” I had mammograms every year, ate well, jogged, practiced yoga, laughed and made love frequently (sometimes at the same time — talk about multi-tasking or ADD) so, of course, I had to be immune.

As a motivational seminar leader, teaching about the connection between mind and body, stressing humor was an important element. In my workshops I taught that increasing the laughter in one’s life is essential to one’s wellbeing. I was a newspaper humor columnist and an author of funny survival books. I was founder of the International Humor & Healing Institute and a Certified Master Clinical Hypnotherapist. How could this have happened?

No one in my family had cancer. I did not fit any statistics: oh yeah, except the part about early detection. My trusted radiologist made a major error: He hadn’t noticed the cancer during the last few mammograms in the fourteen years he was my doctor. OOPS!

The situation became worse with every decision. Before the cancer and lousy chemotherapy, I was a healthy lady. Cancer can make you sick; not the illness itself, but the treatment. Years ago, though not now, receiving chemotherapy was like dropping a bomb to catch a fly; killing the insect, but affecting so much more.

I believe in fifty years we will think that placing toxins in our bodies is barbaric.

People will say, “You’re kidding. Do you mean in the twentieth century when people had a severe illness, they removed the part with the problem and then they pumped your body full of crap? EEEW!’

When told I needed a biopsy I asked if it mattered if I waited a couple of weeks. I had a scheduled speaking engagement in Washington, DC, plus a meeting with Patch Adams, that remarkable physician who uses humor in dealing with his patients and dreamed of building a free hospital.

We shared information. I told him about my plan for placing humor/healing rooms in hospitals to start, then corporations and schools.

I had designed rooms to promote healing by inducing positive emotions in a hospital setting in addition to other medical therapies. It was intended to prevent burnout among staff and as a pleasant waiting section for visitors. By placing specific areas with healing colors, soothing sound, ergonomically designed furniture and humor from every medium, enlightened physicians could write a prescription for the patient to spend time in the Humor Room just as they would prescribe any other physical therapy.

The first place was to be the “Steve Allen Humor Room.” Steve had become a dear friend and supporter after he appeared on my television show, and I was a frequent guest on his syndicated WNEW radio program. He was a kind, brilliant and funny man.

Jan Marshall & Steve Allen

Jan Marshall & Steve Allen

The doctor said it would be OK to take my trip if I agreed not to wait more than those two weeks. I took healing tapes to play in my hotel room as well as books and soothing meditations. I knew I’d be OK. I have always believed in the power of prayer and the kindness of strangers. “Not so fast,” Grandma used to say, “Man plans. God laughs hysterically.

It was cancer. It had spread to lymph nodes.

I had chemotherapy and, much later, brain tumor surgery. When my hair grew back an inch, just for fun my caregiver dyed it blonde for two days.

I looked like rocker Eminem, cursed, and grabbed my crotch a lot. I let it grow back auburn.

I was no longer recognizable to myself. I cried in the shower every day. After the screams and unending tears, a new plan was necessary: to do what always helped me before, which was to get out of me and assist others.

I had done that when Steve Allen died suddenly and my grief was so enormous that I gave up dreams of installing Humor Rooms.

Whenever I am in a funk, what often helps me (besides music or funny films) is helping someone else out of his or her distress.

So I presented university programs regarding the benefits of humor in business, which were voted the best for three years in a row, and I shared healing techniques with doctors, nurses, and technicians at clinics, hospitals and major corporations.

But the two actions that proved most helpful to me were: 1) forming “Jan’s Army” and awarding badges of heroism to other survivors And 2) keeping notes and seeking out the humor in daily hassles, such as dealing with new technology, internet dating, and more; then turning them into newspaper columns and books, the most recent: “Dancin’, Schmancin’ with the Scars: Finding the Humor No Matter What! *Dancin’ is code for anything pleasurable.

It is dedicated to veterans, cancer and brain tumor survivors and regular people simply dealing with “stuff.” Most important, it includes tips and techniques for living joyfully, even when going through a rough patch.

I’m still “dancin’ ” as are all you gutsy people, even though your very own scars may not be visible. Cheers to you!

Jan Marshall Book NewDancingWithScarsFront

Click on cover to go to Amazon

Jan Marshall Bio: The cheeky very seasoned Humorologist, Jan Marshall, is author of satirical survival books; her most recent, “DANCIN, SCHMANCIN with the SCARS: Finding the Humor No Matter What!” available through Amazon and on ebook devices.  Newspaper columnist and media humorist, Jan hosted her own television series and is a national speaker and consultant.

The International Humor & Healing Institute which she founded in 1986, included among other board members, Norman Cousins, Dr. Bernie Siegel, John Cleese and Steve Allen. Jan is a Certified Master Clinical Hypnotherapist.  “Jan’s Army” distributed badges to heroes enduring the battle of cancer. Please visit Jan’s website.

Please visit Jan’s website

Twitter:  @JanMarshmellow

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JanMarshallAuthor

Link to purchase Jan’s Book on Amazon.

Jan Marshall and Phyllis Diller Award

Jan Marshall and Phyllis Diller Award

SONIA MARSH SAYS: Jan, you are one “Gutsy” lady to have overcome obstacles in your life, through humor and helping others. I think you offer a different perspective and admire what you do when you find yourself in a “funk, to do what always helped me before, which was to get out of me and assist others.”

Please mark your calendar for the “Bring Out the Gutsy in You” Event on 9-26, where we launch our First “My Gutsy Story®”Anthology Book. During September we shall focus on the event and other posts and October 7th, we shall post Joe Weddington’s inspiring story.


Do you have a “My Gutsy Story®” you’d like to share?

Would you like to submit your “My Gutsy Story®” and get  published in our 2nd anthology?

Please see guidelines below and contact Sonia Marsh at: sonia@soniamarsh.com for details.

You can find all the information, and our new sponsors on the “My Gutsy Story®” contest page. (VIDEO) Submission guidelines here.

Janet Givens is our first “My Gutsy Story®” for the month of August, Suellen Zima is second and Terri Elders is our third author of the month.

VOTING for your favorite August “My Gutsy Story®”, starts this Thursday, August 29th, and ends on September 11th. The winner will be announced on September 12th.


Comments (19)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Sonia Marsh says:

    What an inspiring story about healing through humor. So glad yo’ve helped many people.
    Sonia Marsh recently posted..“My Gutsy Story®”Jan MarshallMy Profile

    • Jan says:

      Thank you Sonia for the opportunity to be among your gutsy chosen few. Do you mind if I skip the bathing suit competition as I am practicing for the talent portion. I am an accordion player in an all topless band and pretty good except when playing Lady of Spain, which is quite painful

  2. Jan,

    Thanks for sharing your story with us, inspiring and healing others through the gift of humor. God bless. 🙂
    Jolyse Barnett recently posted..The Jersey Shore and MoreMy Profile

  3. Well, I’m delighted you’re still Dancin’in whatever form. I’m also delighted to see that despite the various obstacles you’ve face humour has remained ( even if it is spelled in the British way).
    Yours is one of those stories that really is Gutsy as in the sense of the adversity you’ve had to overcome. Something which would have knocked most people over and then kept them down.

    I really hope you’re right and we’re approaching a time where we can stop pumping toxins into the body of someone already suffering enough. The stories I hear of cord cell therapy are remarkable and I hope they’re the miracle we need.
    Let’s hope you’ve had your share of problems now and life runs smoothly from now on, though not without the obvious humour you hold so dear.
    My very best wishes to you.
    David Prosser recently posted..A Mode of TransportMy Profile

  4. Liz B says:


    Thank you so much for sharing your very courageous story! I loved how you let your caretaker dye your two-inch hair growth blonde! I also live by the rule that when in a funk, I “get out of myself” and do something for others. Your journey so far has been full of humor and healing as you have dealt with life’s challenges. I can’t see it continuing in any other way. Thanks for your inspiration!
    Liz B recently posted..Nope, Can’t Do!My Profile

    • Jan Marshall says:

      The mysterious Liz B. I looked at your lovely web stie but could not find your name. If this is Sean Connery, I appreciate your kind words, again. If you are indeed Liz than I thank for your kindness as well.
      Best to you a well. Jan Marshall

  5. Jan, You’ve combined two of the best healing modalities I can think of–dancing and a sense of humor– into the best medicine one can have when facing a life-threatening diagnosis such a cancer. I follow you on Twitter and it is so nice to hear more about you and your brave and inspirational story. We need more of you in this world. I’m thrilled you are still dancing and finding strength by helping others. Very uplifting. Thank you for sharing!

    Kathy Pooler

    • Jan Marshall says:

      Kathy, you are a hero. As for combining talents, not only are you a creative writer but a television star. I saw you on our dear Jason Mathew’s show. I particularly liked your high kicking Rockette style Dancing. You are a sweet, caring gal.
      Good luck on your own journey as well as we continue as members of the “C” club we never asked to join
      I wish you all good things and health especially.
      Hugs, Jan Marshall
      Jan Marshall recently posted..DIET, EXERCISES AND OTHER FABLESMy Profile

  6. So inspirational, Jan. You are one heck of a gutsy woman. I’ll be voting for you and passing this along to everyone I can think of. Will include in my newsletter if I get it done this week. Your story is one of amazing fortitude–your guts even have guts! Good luck, my friend. Double hugs…

  7. Jan Marshall says:

    As for my guts having guts; it now explains the weight gain. You are such a supportive, creative artist/writer and friend. I am sure as a lover as well. Remember, after I advised you never to wear a wedding gown on a “First Date”, now you have a honey.
    I appreciate your kind words and vote too!
    Hugs and kisses,
    Jan Marshall
    Jan Marshall recently posted..DIET, EXERCISES AND OTHER FABLESMy Profile

  8. suellen zima says:

    I read about Norman Cousins and how he healed himself with humor. Then, I heard about the Humor Institute. Then, finally, I met you and have thoroughly enjoyed the past years being neighbors, friends, and authors.

  9. Myra Posert says:

    Your humor is infectious—no, that doesn’t sound like a good thing–but I meant it in a good way! You are one funny lady, but with so much depth and respect for people. I admire you!

  10. My Grandma was the funniest woman on the planet. She used to say “laugh or you’ll die crying” and she was right! She’s been gone for years and now I get to know the next funniest woman on the planet! Thank you Jan for sharing your story of triumph over the evil Big “C”. Even with crying everyday, you used your pain to help so many through Humor and Healing! You make me want to be a better person and remind me of how much helping others in my time of need is the only way to rejuvenate my spirt, mind, and body! Please keep writing and enlightening people of all ages on how to live, as you say, joyfully! After reading “Dancin’ Schmancin’ with the Scars: Finding the Humor No Matter What” I can’t wait for your new book! You are my hero!

  11. Maha says:

    Nice post

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge