A cancer diagnosis brings more than physical challenges. Patients and loved ones must also manage the emotional toll that can come with it. Storytelling, through word, pictures or other creative expression, can be an effective way to deal with these emotions and help with the healing process.
Some people look to painting or writing, while others may cope through dance, music, or a tattoo.
We want you to share your story with us. Whether it’s a piece of artwork, a blog post, or a small tattoo on your wrist – show us how you coped with a cancer diagnosis. Submit your images and stories to our “Coping with Cancer Through Creative Expression” gallery.
Here are a few patients who have found creative ways to cope with their diagnosis:
“Still the optimist” was already tattooed on Fox’s wrist when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in 2011. She added a violet ribbon – a symbol for Hodgkin’s – next to the phrase. Fox, 22, says tattoos are a way for her to embrace her battle with cancer and empower her to keep fighting.
After a relapse in 2012 and a stem cell transplant in 2013, Fox got a tattoo of a Jimmy Fund donation box at Fenway, with a Boston “B” in the middle of a heart. It is a tribute to the care she received at the Jimmy Fund Clinic, and the Red Sox players who would visit her while she was in treatment.
“2013 was hands down the hardest year of my life, but in the end I got to watch my favorite team win the World Series,” Fox says. “It meant a lot to me, and I feel like this tattoo is the perfect way to preserve my gratitude and love for both the Red Sox and the Jimmy Fund.”
“The blog has served as a journal for me to document my progress and as a reference for summarizing important medical information of interest,” O’Halloran says. “But more importantly, it has served as a vehicle for me to connect with others in the multiple myeloma community, and it has been helpful to be able to share experiences and insights with others from a patient’s perspective.”
When Baltzell was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in August 2008, she turned to her artwork. Baltzell developed the collaborative War and Peace Project, a collage of all 747 pages of Tolstoy’s classic novel that has been shown in Boston, New York, and Moscow.
“Art-making has played a huge role in my healing and in creating a greater sense of joy and purpose in my life. I had already been a practicing artist for about 15 years, but once the diagnosis came, art felt even more essential to my sense of wholeness,” Baltzell says. “This project connected me with so many wonderful people and continues to be a source of inspiration to others.”