Collaging with Cancer: A SoulCollage® Journey
By Anne Marie Bennett | Posted 6/1/12 | Updated 9/10/20
There is never a convenient time to receive a cancer diagnosis. Here’s how it felt to me, metaphorically speaking. I was traveling along my life’s path, pretty much “merrily on my way.”
I was self-employed with a successful, creative business that connected me to amazing kindred spirits around the world (one of the many blessings of the SoulCollage community). Also part of the picture: a loving husband, three beloved pets (two cats, one dog), and seven grandchildren, also dearly beloved.
Imagine yourself walking on a wide, bright, sunlit road through the middle of a golden meadow. Once in a while there’s a dip in the road, or a curve that you didn’t expect, but it’s pretty easy to navigate. Then, without warning, wham! The skies darken, a deafening roars surrounds you, and you trip into a major pothole.
When you scramble out of it, you’re standing in front of a chasm as wide as the Grand Canyon, and on the other side of it, there’s a towering, craggy mountain blocking your path, blocking the sunlight. That mountain’s name is Cancer, and somehow you’re going to have to get across this chasm, then find your way to the other side of the mountain so you can continue on your life’s journey. This means you’re going to have to climb that Cancer Mountain, landslides, thunderstorms and all.
Yes, that’s pretty much how it felt to me (both times) when I heard my doctor telling me I had cancer. It wasn’t even just a “Journey, Interrupted” scenario. Many of life’s interruptions are devastating, of course, but none of them are nearly as time consuming as a cancer journey. Along with a diagnosis of any kind of cancer comes days and weeks and months of climbing that particular Mountain. In other words, your life is interrupted for a long time, including all the time it takes for doctor appointments, tests and procedures, possible surgeries, treatments and then of course, periods of recovery for everything in between.
This can be extremely frustrating, and if you’re as impatient as I am, completely maddening at times. I made this SoulCollage® card soon after my second cancer diagnosis, to give image to the parts of me that were annoyed, frustrated, and just plain angry that my journey was being interrupted this way AGAIN. Here is some of the journaling that I did with this card:
I Am the One Who is NOT happy about this new twist in the road. I Am the One Who wants my journey to go back to being what it was before. I Am the One Who didn’t sign up for this new roller coaster ride.
I Am the One Who is dazed and confused by what is happening to me. It’s all happening SO fast and I am not in control of very much of any of it.
I Am the One Who doesn’t know how to travel this new road. I Am the One Who sees a chasm in the road ahead of me and I don’t see how I can possibly get across to the other side of the road.
My gift to you is a new path to follow. I give you destruction and chaos which clears the way for new things and experiences. I give you confusion and despair which often paves the way to clarity and light. Be patient, though, this journey to clarity and light might take a long time.
I want for you to embrace the confusion and the despair you are feeling right now. I want you to face it, to feel it, to not run away from it. I need you to give yourself space for all these wild feelings of being out of control and unsure. I need you to honor me and my feelings no matter what.
Note that collaging this card and journaling with it didn’t give me any answers about how I was going to find a way across that yawning abyss standing in my way, nor did it help me make any decisions I was needing to make in the non-metaphorical portion of my life (surgery or treatment options).
What this simple collaging process DID do for me was give me a lovely release of the energy of the feelings that were building in my body, mind and spirit. What it DID give me was a deep re-connection to my Self, and a blessed permission to feeling whatever I was feeling no matter how strong, power-full or scary those feelings were.
©2012 Anne Marie Bennett. All rights reserved.
Next: Chapter 3: Collaging the Fear
Anne Marie Bennett is a published author, self-taught artist, and SoulCollage® Facilitator. more
Goddess of Peace and Mindfulness
Learn more about the origins and techniques of SoulCollage® in the book Soulcollage: An Intuitive Collage Process for Individuals and Groups by Seena B. Frost