I am fortunate in many ways but my richest opportunities to date have come through teaching creativity, my Journey Within Workshops, to domestic violence survivors, women in crisis and cancer patients through Glendale Adventist’s Cancer Services Program. On Friday, May 14th, I was reminded of just how important it is to share in a kind, compassionate way, why the genuine, authentic approach to people is so invaluable – and that sharing yourself in the smallest of ways – a smile, a kind word – a simple thank you – has the immense ability to brighten and cheer and yes, heal.
I tell you the following story not to sadden you, but to remind you and myself of what’s important in life – and how a simple exercise in writing and the creative expression can have lasting impact on those around you. Several weeks ago, I was working with my Cancer Survivor group and the exercise that day was to write about Cancer: Cancer is … What does it look like, feel like, even taste like … to let the words flow from within to express what some people call The Divine, or Creativity.
One of the participants had not returned to my class since January of this year. I remember her first sharing, telling the group that she wasn’t at all creative, had nothing interesting to say and really wasn’t a writer at all. I was sad to see her not continue with us, but was delighted to see her return just a few weeks ago.
This time, she poured herself onto the page, wrote with great passion and simply let her hand flow, words tumbling everywhere. Cancer is …. an Awakening piece is from her heart, not her head – the words are poetic and wise. I took her words and put them into an image – one that complements their meaning. For some reason I felt compelled to get this back to Cancer Services as quickly as possible – the beauty and creativity that she shared took her from “I have nothing to say, I can’t do this” to a heartfelt expression for all to feel and cherish.
Friday the hospital called to tell me that this woman’s breast cancer had spread to her brain – she suffered seizures and cardiac arrest, and finally died. One minute she was with us, the next not. One minute a survivor and thriver, the next not. As far as I know, the last words she wrote were the ones from class. Her family and the hospital cherish what she did, for she left something behind that will never die. If you would like to read the words from Cancer is … an Awakening, please see attached pdf.
A Woman with Wings, Patricia Varga
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