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A Letter to My Newly Diagnosed Self
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Vision Boards for Cancer Survivors

Vision Boards are both therapeutic and fun for cancer survivors and everyone else!
PUBLISHED May 04, 2019
Jane has earned three advanced degrees and had several fulfilling careers as a librarian, rehabilitation counselor and college teacher. Presently she does freelance writing. Her articles include the subjects of hearing loss and deafness, service dogs and struggling with cancer. She has been a cancer survivor since 2010.

She has myelodysplastic syndrome, which is rare, and would love to communicate with others who have MDS.
What is a vision board? Oprah Winfrey explains it this way:

“I was speaking with Michelle (Obama) and Caroline Kennedy and Maria Shriver – we were all doing a big rally out in California. At the end of the rally Michelle Obama said something powerful. I want you to leave here and envision Barack Obama taking the oath of office. I created a vision board. I had never had a vision board before. I came home, I got me a board and put Barack Obama’s picture on it, and I put a picture of the dress I want to wear to the inauguration.”
   
I have read “Becoming” by Michelle Obama and did not remember it being mentioned. I knew nothing about vision boards. On a routine visit to my oncologist, she told me she was arranging a program and wanted me to come. My sister was with me and knew all about them. Together they gave me some ideas, like bringing pictures of my beloved hearing ear service dog. I gathered pictures of several important events of my life, and then asked a friend to go with me.
    
There were about 25 people including cancer survivors, my oncologist and her husband, hospital staff and families of the survivors including children. Each of us was given a plain picture frame 8 ½ by 11. Some of us had brought our own pictures, while on a long table were piles of magazines and more clip art pictures and slogans. The leader of the program explained what we should do and showed a video about this activity.
    
I am not an artist, but a writer. I honestly did not know where to start. I was apprehensive, and just sat there stupidly for a few minutes. I looked around and everyone else was busy. My hearing ear dog was with me watching me expectantly. I looked for scissors but there were pinking shears. I asked my friend why they had those (she is a gorgeous seamstress) and she said it was to make the pictures prettier. I grumbled a little bit because they were awkward to use, but they did make the pictures more decorative.
    
I finally decided I could not be the only one in the room doing nothing. What happened next is the great thing about vision boards in my opinion. These boards evolve and create themselves with help from us! As I looked over my items, I realized what I wanted was to write more, travel more and to dream about more events. I also wanted my dog’s picture on there.
    
I took my travel pictures from Alaska and Canada as my background. I put the titles of two of my books on there. The book, “Paw Prints on My Soul: Lessons of A Service Dog,” has a beautiful picture of my dog. The other title, “Life Is Short – Eat the Donut,” has been my motto since being diagnosed with cancer. I wrote out my goals of writing, traveling and dreaming. I wandered over to the table and saw the words “Best Self” and added that. Finally, I took a picture from Facebook of my oncologist who has kept me alive for nine years. I knew she also loves to travel and placed it next to the gorgeous Alaskan scenery of Glacier Bay.
    
I sat there in awe. I never planned this – it just happened. The magic of the vision board had captured me! I looked around the room and every single person had a special board –even the children. I only wish I had time to see all of the boards, but the meeting was finished so I left.
    
I went home and Googled more information on this phenomenon. One explanation was these are visual presentations of what you want to accomplish in your life. Some people call them “dream boards” because you are putting your wishes on paper.
    
A plethora of ideas ranging from health and fitness to goals to passions to home organization to travel can be put on boards. These are just a few ideas. The boards help us to identify, visualize and reinforce our goals.
    
I didn’t read this before I started. I looked over my past and knew what I wanted for my future. What better activity for cancer survivors? We all have fears and concerns, but to put our dreams in pictures gives us the most important emotion of all – HOPE.
    
My wise and wonderful oncologist knew this and gave every one of us hope that evening!
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