1) Anne Marie, what would you like readers to receive from your book? I would like my readers to know that a journey with breast cancer is not the end of the world, no matter how scary it might seem. Also, I want them to know that any kind of a Life Journey Interruption can be a good thing, even if it’s hard to believe at the beginning.
2) What entered your mind when you heard your diagnosis? What immediately entered my mind was absolute terror. It was a completely surreal feeling. My thoughts went something like this: I can’t believe this is happening to me. I don’t WANT this to be happening to me. I don’t have time for this. Am I going to die? Get the cancer OUT of my body. And really, my immediate response was fear. I know some women whose basic emotion was anger, but I honestly didn’t feel a lot of anger. My main emotion, the one that had huge potential to keep me from the bright side, was fear.
3) At what point did you realize that your creativity would lead you into your healing journey? There were two points. One was very early on in the journey. Before my diagnosis, I had been working on several collaged calendars to give as holiday gifts, and they were lying unfinished on my art table. I decided to give one of them to my breast surgeon, Dr. Karp, because I felt so well taken care of with him. Also, throughout the treatments, I created lots of collaged note cards to give as gifts to my treatment team and nursing staff at the end of the hospital journey. Even though I didn’t feel well many days, I was motivated to sit down and create more collages on my good days because I wanted to give something back to these extraordinary caregivers who were my healing team.
The second was a few years after my treatments were over. I was still reeling from the fear that the cancer would return. In some ways, I was allowing this fear to paralyze me. Then I discovered the simple art of SoulCollage® and made some cards that expressed my fears, as well as the damage that the cancer had done to me. Just that simple act of making those cards helped me to honor the journey in a very visceral way, and that made a huge difference in how I went on with the rest of my life. You can see my breast cancer SoulCollage® cards here: www.kaleidosoul.com/breastcancer.html
4) What was the most difficult part of your journey through breast cancer? Well, I have to stop and think about that. There were many difficult parts: figuring out how to tell people about my cancer, living with the fear, not being in control of what was happening to my body, losing my hair…etc. But really, the hardest thing was getting through the 3rd and 4th chemotherapy treatments. Not because I lost my hair or felt nauseous a lot of the time, but because I just didn’t feel like myself. I was exhausted and weepy and felt like a shadow of my former self. I read somewhere about trying to think of the chemotherapy drugs in light of what they were doing for me instead of what they were doing to me, and that helped a lot too.
5) What was the gift?
Ah, there were so many gifts… I don’t think I can choose just one. The gift was the love and support I received from the people in my life. The gift was a closer connection with Spirit. The gift was a re-routing of my life, a re-direction.
6) What do you know for sure? What I know for sure is that we are not alone. I know for sure that life is a journey and our journeys are all individual but we are all intricately connected. I know for sure that if you follow your heart, all shall be well.
Anne Marie Bennett is a writer, self-taught collage artist, website goddess, cancer survivor and SoulCollage® Facilitator. She received a BS degree in Education from Southern Connecticut State University and has taught people of all ages throughout the East Coast. She lives in eastern Massachusetts with her middle-aged husband (also a cancer survivor), two elderly cats and one very playful dog who keeps all of them young-at-heart. She is happiest when she is reading, writing, breathing salt air, dancing, and hugging her beautiful grandchildren.
For more information about Anne Marie’s book, Bright Side of the Road, please visit this page: www.annemariebennett.com To purchase the book, please visit this page: www.annemariebennett.com/how-to-purchase. For more information about SoulCollage® please visit www.KaleidoSoul.com and www.SoulCollage.com