One of my few early childhood memories is of a very blustery day, in which the wind was whipping all around our house. Since I was a little girl, I have loved the feeling of the wind on my body and through my hair. I found it to be ticklish, exhilarating, and mysterious. So this one day, I decided that I would go outside and run around my house, against the wind, to see what it would feel like. It was hard, I remember how challenged I was by trying to move my body through it as fast as I could. I loved it, I came back inside a little breathless and definitely inspired.
This morning I was reading some of the art journal that I kept during treatment. I love to use spiral bound journals that have unlined paper so I can draw and write. I came across an entry where I was speculating about how cancer would inspire my work. I found an idea for starting a website, and I wanted to title my first blog “Running against the wind”, because for me it captured what it was like to go through cancer treatment. The feeling of breathlessness- not really being able to stop and rest because there was so much action required, the treatments take such a toll on your mind, body, spirit and sense of self. The anguish of watching your loved ones struggle to cope with the fear and stress. The requirement of living boldly in the face of the unknown, against something that is trying to knock you down.
Yet there is the pleasure you experience at the same time- the acts of love and kindness from family, friends and strangers, finding your strength amidst the storm, letting go of the small stuff, appreciating the coexistence of suffering and beauty. And a definitive reminder that while this is hard, you are still very much alive- and fighting for it. The sensory stimulation of being in treatment is very comprehensive and undeniable, just like the wind when it blows.
This past weekend I had the honor and privilege to join my fellow survivors in a local fundraising event called the Tri for a Cure, a women only event, to support the Maine Cancer Foundation. I had set the goal last summer when treatment had just ended, that I wanted to be well enough to participate. It was an amazing day, and my good friend, the wind- was there right with me. In fact, she brought her close companion, the rain. It couldn’t have been a more perfect homage to the experience of treatment, and the beauty of crossing the finish line with family, friends, and strangers cheering us on.
– Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC, is an art therapist and breast cancer survivor. She began Creative Transformations to help others who are healing from a life threatening illness or injury. Creative Transformations offers an individual program, in person or via Skype, teaching art and meditation; workshops; and this weekly blog. Please visit our website to learn more: www.creative-transformations.com.