How stand-up comedy is helping cancer patients tell their stories

The therapeutic possibilities of comedy are being explored at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre through workshops run by Rachel Berger.
Comedian Rachel Berger looks into the camera. She has wavy brown hair and wears large hoop earings and an orange jacket.

On Thursday 7 July, Rachel Berger will play host to a very different kind of comedy night at Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (aka the Peter Mac). All the participants of Stand Up For Cancer will be cancer patients from the centre. Each will complete a comedy workshop with Berger earlier that day and will draw on their personal experiences for a series of five-minute performances.

In a statement, Peter Mac’s Director of Prevention and Wellbeing Geri McDonald said the Centre expects participants to get something valuable out of the experience. ‘Everybody responds to cancer differently. For some people, humour is an attractive way to process what’s happening and they want to explore new ways of talking about their cancer experience,’ she said.

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Daniel Herborn is a journalist and novelist based in Sydney. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Saturday Paper, The Monthly, The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and others. He has also practised law at an Intellectual Property firm specialising in creative industries clients.