April 14, 2010
It was a year ago that I did art therapy with my cancer support group. That evening was very interesting and extremely emotional for me. Last night, we had art therapy again and my, what a difference a year makes – if you’re willing to work in accepting things as they are.
Last year, we drew a scribble picture, then colored it and after coloring it, looked for a symbolic picture in the “mess.” I scribbled, colored it red, orange and yellow, and found a picture of myself curled up in a fetal position – meaning I just wanted to feel safe and protected.
I wrote about that picture about two or so months ago. When I discussed my first art therapy experience with Sally, she asked me what color was I feeling the night I drew my picture. I answered red, orange and yellow. Then she had me get into a position representing how I felt at that moment sitting in her office. I became my drawing. One year later after that art therapy experience, I was still those colors and in that fetal position trying to feel safe and protected.
For this year’s art therapy project, the support group facilitator said to bring any pictures, sayings, mementos or trinkets to the meeting. Not knowing what we were going to do, I created a theme around my running.
Dale and I looked for photos of me running in various races. Yesterday, I recalled some journal entries that had to do with running so I found those and copied them. I also typed meaningful sayings and scripture that encouraged me during training for half marathons and encouraged me through my cancer and treatment.
I haven’t completely read my Caring Bridge journal yet. When I read the entries titled “The Ultimate Race I & II”, I was surprised by the content, especially one paragraph that described how my life went from the expectation of living into the elderly years to a five year statistic. (Well, I know that’s not true now.)
Another thing I mentally blocked out is my “cancer” box. In this box are all my cards, books, pictures and mementos sent to me at my initial diagnose and throughout my treatment.
When I opened the box and began going through my keepsakes, my heart was touched with deep thanksgiving and gratitude for all of you who supported me . . . and then I found the “hand” card that was sent to me by Dale’s family.
This card is a hand print of every family member. The hand prints are connected together by ribbon and the chain is 10-12 feet long! They wrote well wishes and blessings to me. This card was my reminder that they were all praying for me during my high dose chemotherapy and transplant. I was overwhelmed in remembering those critical days and my family’s love and support. That card hung in my room from the beginning of my treatment to my release from the hospital.
Last night we decorated a terra cotta pot. Our art instructor said to decorate both the inside and out. The inside represented what we hide or bury, we throw “dirt” over these memories and emotions. The outside is who we are, how others may see us.
She brought all kinds of material and mediums in which to decorate our pot along with all of our mementos. We glued whatever to the pot and covered it with mod podge.
All of my photos would not fit on the pot so I chose one picture and I used the some of the sayings. Interestingly enough, I started with the inside of my pot. I tore the edges of the photo of me celebrating my 1/4 mile lap I ran before my stem cell transplant. I was bald and I wore my “Cyndi can do it!” tee shirt. I glued the photo inside the pot along with the journal entry of the five year statistic, the “I can do it! – the race of my life” phrase, the words “endure, persevere, focus” and “forgetting what is behind.”
To me this represents what was, what I went through and how it is now truly behind me.
I tore light blue and green paper, my new colors, and glued them to the outside of the pot. I added a little gold ribbon to it to for the bling effect! Then I glued the meaningful phrases on the outside of the pot; “Cancer free ~ February 2009”, “Sprinting towards what is ahead”, “Press on toward the goal to win”, “But our citizenship is in heaven”, and the statement that completely turned me around, “You get to decide when you are well ~ March 2010”. That was it, I was done with my pot and it was complete.
So I am amazed, grateful, thankful and blessed that from last year to last night I settled down and I am centered. I am grasping hold of my life and accepting it as it is.
I can freely talk about my cancer and what I went through. I can talk about the dark days that followed. Not everyone travels the same road and for some reason mine had a bit more hills and boulders, valleys and lots of rain. Today I stand in a very green meadow with the colors of various spring flowers in bloom. I am thankful for God’s perfect plan, which I am sure will shortly unfold ~