Hilaire Lockwood, cancer survivor and owner of Hilltop Yoga in Lansing, speaks Friday at Cancervive, a comedy benefit for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.
Courtesy Photo

Laughter may not literally be the best medicine, but it can certainly help. That’s the reasoning behind Cancervive, an upcoming comedy benefit for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

"I love the idea of comedy and cancer. Laughter is healing," said Hilaire Lockwood, owner of Hilltop Yoga and an organizer of the event.

Lockwood is living with cancer. For twelve years, she has battled papillary thyroid carcinoma. She remembers people telling her that it was "the easiest cancer I could get." It ended up being anything but. Her cancer resisted radiation treatment and spread to her lymph system.

"Figuring out that (the cancer) was metastatic as well as resistant put me in the one percent chance of survival," Lockwood said.

The event aims to help people in a similar situation. A portion of the funds raised Friday benefit patients with Lockwood's specific type of cancer. The event includes a silent auction, with prizes from a host of local businesses, and drinks and hors d'oeuvres are available.

As a yoga instructor, Lockwood found her practice to be essential along the way. It even helped her to initially discover the cancer. She felt that something in her body felt off during meditation, which prompted her to visit a doctor.

"I knew something was wrong," said Lockwood. "Things that usually were not difficult suddenly were."

Lockwood’s cancer, which appeared to be in remission, returned in March. But she feels that yoga has kept her body in the best shape it could be for the battle.

"I honestly don't know how I would have done this emotionally, physically and mentally without my practice," she said.

At the event, Lockwood will share her experiences with cancer, yoga and more onstage. Headlining the comedy portion of the night is Julian McCullough, a Los Angeles-based comedian who has appeared on “Inside Amy Schumer” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

Mid-Michigan native Aaron Putnam is also on Friday’s bill. A busy comedian, Putnam tours throughout the U.S. He used his connections to line up the evening’s comedic talent, which also includes comic Esther Nevarez and emcee Nicki Wright.

Putnam also has a personal connection to the event: He and Lockwood, friends since high school, were married Sunday. Putnam believes humor and a positive attitude are important during tough times.

"Laughing is one of the best things you can do," he said.

Putnam and Lockwood are hoping the event becomes an annual tradition.

"We'd like to do one a year if it goes well," Lockwood said.

The event is held in the new UrbanBeat event center, which opened in Old Town earlier this year.

"Old Town is one of the greatest places in Lansing," said Putnam, adding that local involvement is crucial to building community.

"If you don't support it, it won't happen,” he said. “You've got to put the work in."


6:30 p.m. Friday, May 13
UrbanBeat Event Center 1213 Turner St., Lansing

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