Friday, March 30, 2012
Monday, March 12, 2012
Curetoday.com, the website of CURE magazine, a free publication for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. Also posted on Stupidcancer.com, an online support community for young adults affected by cancer (15-40), which is sponsored by The I'm Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation.Originally posted on
Fear can be one of cancer’s most debilitating side effects. Sparing no patient, survivor, or caregiver, it is also the most common. Medical professionals, faith, and loved ones can help you manage anxiety. So can a colored pencil, bottle of glue, or keyboard. Art therapy provides a mechanism for working through difficult emotions and reducing stress. Regardless of how well you can draw a stick figure or write a haiku, creative expression can bring you comfort.
Many young adult survivors have turned to art to restore their sense of optimism and passion for life. Chris Ayers, an artist working in Hollywood, began a project he calls, “The Daily Zoo” on the one-year anniversary of his acute myelogenous leukemia diagnosis at age 29. As part of his recovery process from a bone marrow transplant, he set the goal of drawing an animal a day for one year. The result: a published anthology of rhino plumbers, alien possums, and much more called, “The Daily Zoo: Keeping the Doctor at Bay with a Drawing a Day,” which was followed by Volume II—a second year’s installment of drawings. Will Reiser, screenwriter of “50/50,” is another high-profile example of a young adult cancer survivor who used comedy to come to terms with his traumatic experience, as well as to move forward.
Creative expression as a healing mechanism does not require talent. The only prerequisite is the willingness to face your fears. There are many paths for exploring the complicated mess of emotions that cancer causes. Cancer blogs have become a common means of therapeutic expression, with readers can able to offer encouragement via the comments function. YouTube and other video sharing services provide another medium for expressing oneself.
Transformative writing is a powerful strategy, which I’ve been practicing since my diagnosis with acute myelogenous leukemia in April 2011. My blog is entitled, “Shelley’s ‘Life’s a Beach’ Blog.” The Our Story page concludes with the thought: “As I wrote in my first post, life can be a b*tch, but we must always remember what a beautiful beach it is too.” The first drafts of many of my entries were much darker than the final posts. By reworking my thoughts into a version that wouldn’t terrify my family and friends, I lessened my own fear. Iterative writing can transform the worst of thoughts: “I’m going to die,” into “I might die,” into “I will survive.”
Friday, March 9, 2012
Last night I attended a "Ladies Night Out" fundraiser dinner. Despite taking a highly strategic approach to dropping my raffle tickets into the small pink bags corresponding to various prizes (i.e., zero tickets in the full bag for the weekend get away, three tickets in the almost-empty bag for the Thursday night comedy club show), I did not win a single prize. In contrast, last year I won three.
|Last year's haul at "Ladies Night Out"|