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Catholic Comedian Judy McDonald on Humor in Difficult Times


Catholic comedian, Judy McDonald, stops by the studio with her service dog, Oprah, to discuss PTSD, comedy, and surviving breast cancer.

Father Dave asks Judy to explain how her service dog helps her PTSD. “I got my first service dog, Daisy, in 2007,” Judy says. “I was diagnosed with PTSD. I had a lot of stuff in my life that I didn’t talk about forever, and I didn’t know about nightmares and flashbacks and all this stuff. And I was depressed, but I’m Irish, so I thought it was normal. But I didn’t get diagnosed with all of this stuff until I was 30. I tried all these different medications. Very loving Catholics told me that I just wasn’t praying enough. And I found out that you can get service dogs for PTSD … and this dog saved my life.”

“Daisy was with me on the road, and I was able to start doing stuff,” Judy continues. “I would wake up in the morning and take care of her instead of focusing on me. And she was trained to alert to my flashbacks and wake me from nightmares. … Daisy and Oprah know how to pick up on my cues when I’m having a flashback when I don’t even know what I’m doing. My pulse rate might pick up, or I’ll start doing a nervous thing with my foot that she’ll pick it up eventually.”

RELATED: Fatherly Advice: PTSD and Relationships

Judy also shares the story of surviving breast cancer: “In a few days, it is my one-year anniversary for my double mastectomy. I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year around this time. I was sicker than a dog. I had three surgeries. … My mom, sister, and dad have all had cancer before me. So, I was kind of waiting for it. … I thought it would actually help my comedy, but apparently, people think I’m dead, and the phone has stopped ringing. … Comedy helps during times like that.”

“I did stand up for the first time in college,” Judy says. “One of the comedians didn’t show up, and they pointed to me and said, ‘You’re funny, go up and talk.’ And I was too dumb and young to be scared, so I talked for 15 minutes and everyone laughed. I walked offstage, and they handed me $50, and I thought, “What?” … So, until I was about 18, I never thought I could do this as a career.” She says that her upbringing as a Catholic continues to inspire her comedy and everyday life. (Original Air 10-25-18)