This is the time of year to reflect on what you are grateful for, but have you tried to express it through art?


“Gratitude — the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”

This is the time of year when many of us ponder on what we are thankful for. Many are thankful for friends and family, while for others, it’s the blessing of health, a good report from the oncologist, or even a clear scan. We truly never realize what can happen in a year and how our lives can change in an instant.

I recently was able to join two of the art classes we had at the survivorship center. Both projects were very simple, but by the end of it, there was so much meaning to these little projects.

The first project was a fall lantern in which we had to decoupage tissue paper around the glass jar and then place leaves on top. The instructor led us by explaining that each of us has special lights in our lives. Those lights are special people or things that bring much joy into our lives. As we placed the leaves on our lantern, she wanted us to reflect on all the lights in our lives and why they were so special. As the group came to a close, we shared our stories of our lantern. As many were sharing their stories, I sat and thought about my lights and why each of them is so important.

Who makes your lantern glow?

The second project was a gratitude tree. It was a simple branch placed in a glass jar with rocks to hold it in place. We then placed paper leaves on our branch and on each one we wrote something that we were grateful for. Each tree was very unique but everyone was able to stop and think about the blessing in his or her life.

Art has countless healing powers. There are so many different articles out regarding the benefits of art therapies for cancer patients. Many suggest that art can reduce anxiety, depression, pain, and fatigue, and increase quality of life. Art allows each individual to activate a different part of the brain than you would with traditional talk therapy, which helps them explore further insights. Through simple projects, patients are able to express themselves through the beauty of art.

I am grateful that I was able to enjoy the two sessions with survivors. One survivor was able to express her sadness about her cancer and what it had done to her and her family, but also show the light that it brought into her life. Even through her darkness there was that light. She is now able to enjoy more time with her family, enjoy the little things, and let go of her small worries.

What are you grateful for?