BY JERRY LEWIS
Life is better when you laugh. Whether you're 9 or 79, whether you're rich or poor, whether you have an incurable disease or not, you should laugh as often as possible.
I'm convinced that laughter heals much of what goes wrong with us. I've been a comedian since I was 5 years old, so I've seen a lot of healing.
That's why I've spent the last 10 years doing Laughter and Healing seminars at medical centers across the country.
A few years ago, my doctors told me I had a serious disease that could take my life. I could hardly breathe from this disease that was destroying my lungs. But I kept laughing.
I laughed even when I was on a drug that made me look like a blimp, even when I didn't know whether I would wake up the next morning. And I kept other people laughing. I'm much better now, and I'm still laughing - especially at the doctors who told me I might not live this long.
Laughter is healing because it makes you feel better. No one knows that better than the kids and adults we help at the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
I know a guy with ALS - Lou Gehrig's disease - who carries a page of jokes with him wherever he goes. He can't walk or talk but he can communicate and smile! Children with neuromuscular diseases who spend a week at an MDA summer camp laugh almost around the clock.
People zipping around in their first power wheelchairs, obtained with help from MDA, can't stop grinning over the new freedom those chairs represent.
I wish laughter could heal people completely, but it can't. "My kids" need doctors to give them the right medicines and therapies. We need the MDA-funded scientists who are figuring out the mysteries that cause neuromuscular diseases and are very close to being able to stop them.
And, when I see a child's strength ebbing away or a young parent's life ending too soon, I need to cry.
But, on our Telethon, we quickly get back to the laughter and let it lighten our worries. Our show is loaded with comedians, singers, dancers, favorite personalities and other great entertainers to delight you.
One of these days - and it won't be that long - muscular dystrophy will fall victim to hope and determination. We'll have the last laugh, and it will be the best one ever.
So, whatever your plans are for Labor Day weekend, if they don't include the Telethon, cancel 'em. Get back on that couch. You'll learn, you'll think, you'll be amazed. You'll laugh - and you'll feel better.
Entertainer Jerry Lewis is the National Chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and has been its number-one volunteer for more than 50 years. He'll star in the MDA Telethon Sept. 4-5. Check local listings for stations and start times.