Finally the chemo is over…
As some of you know, my friend Kathy was diagnosed with cancer and has been undergoing chemo, she finished the last of her 6 rounds on December 11th. Now we wait for the PET scan on January 12th, which we all hope will show that the cancer is dead. Fingers crossed.
I cannot even begin to imagine what my friend has been going through. Although we see the “tearing down’ of the physical body, it’s the emotional effects that take its toll too. The healing wall which was started at the beginning of her therapy (read how it all began), was a way to use ART as a means of healing and creative visualization. What started on a whim one summer morning, morphed into a healing modality all its own. My friend Kathy is amazing and I honestly believe that the healing art wall has helped her to keep her focus throughout this whole ordeal.
Debbie W. putting contribution on the healing wall.
There is HEALTH at the end of the rainbow
Family photos glued to family tree by Mary. Photos are from her father’s massive collection of slides.
Another family photo glued to healing tree by Mary.
More family photos from Kathy’s father’s slide collection. Added to the healing wall by Mary.
Michael (WPU Kinesiology colleague) and his wife Dana, sent Kathy a big box of old fashioned candy – the box had “get well wishes” on the top of the box. Also on the top of the box – Dr. Pill. Once all of the candy was consumed by friends, caregivers, and Kathy – Mary (her sister), cut Dr. Pill out and asked where he should go on the healing wall. Kathy asked for Dr. Pill to recline on the beach. He needed a rest from helping with her healing. So Mary cut out a piece of beach towel and put half of a cocktail umbrella above Dr. Pill. (This is from the “Fuckin Candy Box” – as named by first caregiver – Deb B.)
Mary put stent on healing wall. This stent lived in Kathy’s body for approximately 3 months. The tube went from ureter to the bladder – it caused constant irritation. She was very happy when it was finally removed. She debated with friends/family about whether to put this piece of medical waste on the healing wall. (Some friends/family thought it was GROSS.) But Kathy really wanted to include the stent because it was huge part of her healing process. So Mary spent several days thinking about how to display the stent in an “appropriate” manner. She coiled the stent using fishing line and glued a googlie eye to the top. As you walk in the front door, the stent is looking at you!
Grateful for Racine Stars – both glitter and fluorescent – put on by Racine (WPU Kinesiology colleague)- Racine was instrumental in Kathy’s healing process. Racine traveled to my friends house on five Mondays to administer the nasty Neulasta shot. The Neulasta shot increased production of Kathy’s white blood cells – she received the shot two days after discharge from the hospital following each chemo treatment. On Monday’s Kathy tried to hide from her because the shot had nasty side effects, but Racine always found her in the house! She also provided a lot of emotional support and kept Kathy updated about the functioning of the Kinesiology Dept. The stars symbolize Kathy’s new life.
More glitter stars – Racine
“One bad chapter …” – Toni (WPU Kinesiolgy colleague) painted on her wall. Toni has been an amazing supporter in Kathy’s lymphoma journey. She gave neck massages (neck issues due to chemo injections in the spine), made fruit smoothies with protein powder, and provided constant emotional support. The fish in the water – friend Lynne (colleague at WPU) gave Kathy a new coloring book (“Lost Ocean”), she colored the fish, cut them out, and brother Peter glued them into the water on the healing wall.
More new fish from coloring book – they are swimming to the pac men to help with her healing.
Sun created by Peter Gill (my friends brother) – used foam sheets and spray adhesive to adhere to the wall – sun symbolizes the joy in Kathy’s new life. Walking in the front door and seeing the incredible sun is so uplifting. Also in this photo- two butterflies, one dragonfly, and one big blue star- from Biology professor (WPU) friend Claire – Claire has helped Kathy understand the biology of the lymphoma and she has provided many words of encouragement related to beating the cancer. See below for symbolization of butterfly: The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life. – See more at: http://www.dragonfly-site.com/meaning-symbolize.html#sthash.Q44lP7lT.dpuf
Robyn (one of Kathy’s primary caregivers), created this sign. In order to prevent huge medical bills, she needed a way to ensure that all of her health care providers accepted her insurance. (When in the hospital, Kathy was treated by several doctors in addition to her oncologist – urologist, neurologist – both of these doctors don’t accept her health insurance.) So she was not interested in seeing any doctors that don’t accept her insurance. Robyn put this sign on Kathy’s hospital room door for rounds 5 & 6 of chemo. The sign received very interesting comments – several doctors were afraid to come into her room. This sign helped her take control of her life! The sign also provided some laughs – the nurses all talked about the exclusion of certain doctors!
Kenny (Robyn’s son) – put up a Michigan logo. Kenny LOVES the University of Michigan – football, basketball, etc. and would love to attend this university. This college football season (while rehabbing from chemo sessions), Kathy spent several Saturdays at Kenny’s house watching college football (mostly FSU and Michigan). They spent hours reclining on the couches watching the games. She really looked forward to spending these Saturdays with Kenny.
Butterfly painted by Ashley (Robyn’s daughter). Ashley is a very good friend – she has “my back.” She has been very supportive during the journey. Ashley is member of the soccer team that Kathy coaches (assistant coach) – (she obviously could not coach this fall season due to her health) – Ashley kept Kathy connected to the team. The soccer girls sent several cards with team photos. Ashley also brought candy and supplied well wishes on a frequent basis. She also told Kathy “not to worry – all of the cancer will be DEAD.”
Photo of card given to her by her soccer team – the Phoenix (a U14 girls premier team – U14 means the girls are under 14 years old – girls are 13 years old). It says “Believe in how strong you are” the inside of the card says “I do” The card was signed by all of the girls. Kathy hopes to assume her Assistant Coach duties for the spring season.
Most current photo of healing wall with addition of soccer photo
As you can see it’s been one helluva journey… And it’s not over yet. Fingers crossed January 12th will deliver some great news.
Part 1 of the Healing Wall
Part 2 of the Healing Wall