The Healing Impact of Meditative Artwork in My Cancer Journey
“Have no expectations—just explore your creativity.” Dr. Delia Chiaramonte, Gilchrist’s Medical Director of Integrative and Palliative Medicine, expressed these encouraging words to me as part of my personalized comprehensive cancer treatment plan.
Living with cancer is very challenging. There are times when you feel as though you are spinning out of control. I know firsthand; I am a six-year ovarian cancer survivor. Around my third recurrence, I found myself needing to refocus to stay true to my mantra of living a quality life ‘with’ cancer. Chemotherapy, inactivity and lingering side effects had depleted my reserves and dampened my zest for life.
Around this same time, I happened upon a painted rock as I entered the cancer center at GBMC on treatment day. Deeply touched by this random act of kindness and love, I immediately felt gratitude and joy…from a rock!
Midway into my cancer journey, I met with Dr. Delia Chiaramonte. At our first meeting, she asked me about my health goals. I quickly learned that my treatment plan would be based on my needs. Dr. Chiaramonte assesses and manages physical challenges with compassion. She values the importance of the body-mind approach to oncology care by including options that enhance spiritual and emotional well-being.
Gilchrist’s Integrative Medicine practitioners provide complementary non-pharmacologic approaches such as reiki, massage and relaxation techniques to manage pain, stress and anxiety. I was encouraged to discover ways to enrich my cancer journey through meditation, guided visual imagery, and art.
With the support of Dr. Chiaramonte and guidance from Lolly Forsythe-Chisolm, Gilchrist Mind-Body Therapist, I have deepened my sense of purpose through art. I began by attempting dotting techniques to create colorful symmetrical mandalas. With encouragement, I explored painting rocks and stones, which I found so relaxing and replenishing. I even tried to dabble in some calligraphy lettering to add words of encouragement on some of the rocks. I would fill my pockets with stones and leave them for others to find at the cancer center.
As I grew more confident, I shared my stones as gifts with others. As part of a gynecologic oncology fundraiser, my friends and I raised thousands of dollars for cancer research, education and support services. The auction included a wide range of handmade one-of-a-kind items from beaded work and jewelry to quilts (and even some painted rocks!). We felt a profound sense of accomplishment from helping others.
Featured Meditative Artwork by Rhonda M. Gold
I continue to embrace art as my form of meditation. Painting and drawing add so much depth and dimension to my life, but the greatest gift is sharing that sense of caring and love with others. My wish is that whoever finds a painted rock pauses and feels a sense of hope, joy and gratitude.
To learn more about Integrative and Palliative Medicine at Gilchrist, visit gilchristcares.org/integrativemedicine. Our Integrative Medicine services are available to patients at GBMC receiving treatment for cancer.
To support our work, visit gilchristcares.org/give.