Justin Nutt, BSW, LMSW, LAC

Justin Nutt, BSW, LMSW, LAC

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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Cure Cancer With a Smile?

As CEO of Acts of Random Kindness a “good news” organization we often get requests for help from fans of the Facebook page.  Yesterday we got a very interesting one which while about an act of kindness made me look at things more from a clinical perspective.

The message read as follows:

Can you help me make my step-mom’s day?

2 years ago, at the age of 40, my step-mom (Melody) was diagnosed with colon-rectal cancer. After surgery and chemotherapy, she was in remission. She has continued to battle with pain that has been debilitating. Despite this, she has tried to maintain a positive attitude, but this has changed her entire life. A month ago, she was told that there are 2 new spots of cancer. She began radiation and oral chemo right before Thanksgiving.

2 years ago when the cancer was first discovered, I did a get well card drive and collected get well cards from family, friends, strangers, and anyone else that would send a card to me. She LOVES cards! Seeing how uplifting the cards were then, I am again collecting cards and hoping to collect even more than before! It is so powerful knowing that so many people are praying/thinking of you! She opens just a few each day, depending on how she’s feeling. As the effects of the chemo and radiation are taking effect, I am again seeing smiles and laughter that only a card can provide that magically says just the right thing at the right time!

You can mail any cards to:
Melody R
PO Box 697
Portage, MI 49081

I cannot say thank you enough,


From a kindness perspective, which is how this would be viewed by most, this is a sweet thing to do which would brighten a person’s day, but little more.  The truth though is there is empirical data to support the fact that a person who is in a happier place heals faster and a person who is filled with despair lacks the immunity to heal at the same rate.  For me this request is something that is amazing and speaks to the interconnectedness of the human spirit.  The ability to help another we have never met to heal.  How is this possible?

Here are a few facts about smiling:

  • Smiling leads to breathing from the diaphragm; deeper breathing better for oxygen intake.
  • It is impossible to be angry when you are truly smiling, and even a forced smile improves your mood.
  • Long term smiling reduces distress, anxiety, and panic attacks
  • Smiling lowers blood pressure by 10-18%
  • Smiling activates endorphins (the body’s natural pain killers.)
  • Smiling triggers serotonin (neurotransmitters in the brain) which promotes a calmer mood.

With all these results from a simple smile can we doubt the advantage of a positive outlook on the future be it a medical issue or mental health or simple hope?  Even more than that though can we doubt the connectedness of us with others?  If we can send a card, if we can tell a joke, or just sit with a friend, can we not help affect change in their wellbeing?  This is what social work is, so on a level every person is a social worker, or has the ability to be.  We can affect change for the better in another’s world; with a seemingly simple act we can lift a person’s spirit and as such help them to heal.

With that in mind perhaps we could all take a minute and send a card or note to Melody, let her know we are thinking abut her and hope she can beat all that she is fighting once again.  In most cases a card is just a card, but in this case let a card be a part of the cure.

If you want to follow Melody’s journey, Melody’s Get Well Card Drive


Written by: Justin Nutt, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer


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