Chronic Pain Is No Laughing Matter, Says Comedian

Women in Pain conference teaches nonconventional therapies based on mind.

ByABC News
August 18, 2011, 2:58 PM

Aug. 19, 2011— -- Kathy Buckley is a successful comedian who has guest starred on television shows like "Good Morning America" and "Touched By an Angel," but her life wasn't all that funny.

The stand-up comic has been hearing impaired since childhood. Her academic performance was so poor that in the second grade she was placed in a school for the mentally impaired.

"Talk about being slow," she quipped about her teachers.

At the age of 20, Buckley was run over by a Jeep while sunbathing on the beach and experienced years of chronic pain and intermittent paralysis in her legs. Then she was hit with cervical cancer -- twice.

Today, at 58, she has overcome years of chronic pain, mostly by changing the way she looks at it psychologically.

Buckley will be bringing her award-winning good humor to the fourth annual Women in Pain Conference, "Reframe Your Pain, Reclaim Your Life," on Sept. 16 in Los Angeles. The conference will examine the psychology of pain and using pain as a positive experience to give women the tools to "reclaim their lives."

"I will go in and make them laugh," said Buckley. "Do some stand up, based on truth from my life experience and then share some stories."

"I find that when people find pain in their lives, it becomes something bigger than it needs to be," she said. "Pain is something you have to find a way to live with and then move on."

The conference is sponsored by For Grace, an organization that seeks to increase awareness of the gender disparity women experience in the treatment of their pain.

It was founded in 2002 by Cynthia Toussaint, who suffered for 29 years with complex regional pain syndrome and chronic fatigue.

The conference will introduce women to nonconventional therapies to take control of their pain: mindful meditation and guided imagery, diet, exercise, yoga and even social media networking.

An estimated 80 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, according to the American Chronic Pain Association. Research also shows that women are hit more often and with greater intensity.

For Buckley, how one views pain is crucial to beating it. One of her pet peeves is hearing people say, "my cancer" or "my pain."

"Whoa, why psyche your brain out?" she said. "Pain is nothing but a visitor, not a permanent guest in your house."