We all have excuses we can use for why we feel sorry for ourselves or hide from the world — pain in our lives that we feel is holding us back. Kathy Buckley certainly had more than most.

The comedian, who has been deaf since she was a baby, has shared that actually it was growing up being hearing impaired (and her recovery from a near-fatal accident), along with fighting (and beating) cancer that helped her find the humor in life. She turned the darkness into laughter.

Buckley has been through a lot in her life and from a young age, she was misdiagnosed as “slow” and placed in a special education classroom. In fact it wasn’t until she was 8 years old that the school figured out she was hearing impaired and finally connected her with someone who could teach her how to communicate!

That’s how Buckley eventually transitioned into public school, where she still struggled and went through some very dark times. Her classmates weren’t especially kind and she struggled academically, experiencing depression.

It was during the darkest time of all — when she was hit by a truck at age 20 and pronounced dead at the scene –- that she decided to live fully, and do her very best to enjoy it while she was living.

Comedy helped Buckley get through a battle with cervical cancer — and emerge victorious. During this recovery phase, Buckley learned the strength of the healing power of laughter– and discovered she was good at making people laugh. She had found her path and her purpose as a comedian. She got on stage to stand-up at a charity event and her life changed.

I look at the audience and think, ‘I know what it’s like to not have a job, to be on welfare, to have no self-esteem because society has placed labels on me.’

Today, Buckley is a five-time American Comedy Awards Best Stand-Up Female Comedienne nominee as well as an author, actress, and public speaker.

She uses her comedy as a platform to amplify the struggles of others, often bearing lessons about love, honor, respect, and withholding judgment.

Her message comes through clear as day:

“There’s is only one power no one can take from you. That is the power to forgive — and you use that power to love, respect, and honor yourself. You are the gift that has been in this universe.”