Using Creativity to Make a Difference in Your Life


Being creative has helped this ovarian cancer survivor during her journey. She recommends that people use their energy in a positive way and do something that will make a difference in their lives.

I have recently found that writing about my story has helped me find a new outlet for my creativity as I deal with my ovarian cancer.

I was diagnosed in 2013 and have had three major surgeries and three aggressive rounds of chemotherapy, one time losing my hair. I had some new lymph nodes show disease in October 2020 and had radiation for those spots. More nodes were discovered in February and I recently began receiving radiation once again. Chemo will follow and I will once again lose my hair.

From the start of this disease, I have wanted to give back. The question was how to accomplish this. I thought of journaling to share my story to help someone else. I did not do this, which is something I regret. However, the memories of each treatment, surgery, medicine, patch, as well as doctor appointments, nurses administering chemo, pharmacy techs getting meds for home, and all the other support staff involved in my treatments, are as if they happened yesterday and are still fresh in my mind. All these wonderful people have given their best to me and for that, they all deserve the best from me. How could I do that?

For me, being creative has been a hidden talent that I really did not use enough in my life. I was a teacher and then principal. I made thousands of bulletin boards and created worksheets, poems, games, and projects for learning. I have created schedules, handbooks, and devised all types of plans for a school building. Discipline plans for a student’s success was a great way to be creative and not be punitive. And then I retired.

Since then, I have found that working in my yard and creating gardening beds of beautiful flowers have been very cathartic. Painting the inside of my house with new color schemes and redecorating each room have been a fun way to make changes in the decor. The point of this is that I have kept remarkably busy, thinking about the future, not my disease.

I must admit, there were days of therapy that to dig in a flower bed was limited to a few minutes as I was exhausted. But these few moments made the bed look better. This was an accomplishment, small as it may have been. One day, I was mowing the lawn and decided to sit in the driveway to rest (chemo was kicking my behind). I laid down in the driveway for a few minutes to take in the glorious sun and a car drove by. She turned around in the next drive and came back to check on me to see if I was OK. She was a nurse. I thanked her and realized laying down in the driveway was probably not a good idea. Next time I want to feel the sun’s rays, I will sit in a chair! The point is that I was mowing the lawn doing something.

I have found another creative outlet as well. A dear friend introduced me to beach glassing. I love to collect beach glass from Lake Erie. Being outside listening to the waves and digging in the small stones looking for clear, white, amber, green, and turquoise bits of glass as well as those very precious blue and red glass is life-giving to me. Glass is not all that we find. Lucky stones, tile, driftwood, and heart rocks add to my collections.

I started to create beach glass artwork for family and friends. They have received them for Christmas and thank you gifts. I have also given my artwork to my medical team as a thank you. I finally feel that I am giving back to those who have given me so much. I am giving back to my incredible group of people who keep me going.

Creativity comes in all forms. You can read and become part of a book club. You can grow flowers and enjoy them on your table. Homegrown tomatoes taste so good from your own garden. Write a note to a friend to tell them you are thinking of them. With the pandemic, those notes can be life-giving. Write a poem, bake cookies, read a book to learn something new, take a class at your local YMCA.

The whole point is the verb! Be creative! Do something! Do something that will make a difference in your life. Find a creative outlet and use your energy for a positive way. It surely will do something for you and maybe benefit someone else.

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.

Related Videos
Dr. Alex Francoeur interviewing against a gray CURE background
Kristie L. Kahl and Dr. Debra Richardson
Related Content