Caregiver: Sharon's Story

Cancer Care
“It helped me feel more positive, like life was coming back to me.”

Therapy through passion and heart

After her husband's cancer diagnosis in December 2015, Sharon's world turned upside down. Instead of enjoying each day with positive pursuits and travel, life was consumed with fear, darkness, uncertainty and medical appointments. "Suddenly, I was a cancer caregiver and my world was totally changed," she said.

Once Sharon discovered the art therapy classes available at Coborn Healing Center, she immediately felt drawn to pursue and reignite this passion. She had done some painting years ago and had always wanted to dive back in. Here was her open door to enjoy some personal and therapeutic time away from the focus surrounding medical problems. "The art therapist, Katie Kinzer, gently drew me out by listening to my fears, dreams and interests. She encouraged and sometimes pushed me to stretch and look at things differently by focusing on a variety of art expressions," Sharon said.

At that time, Sharon struggled with thinking about anything beyond cancer because it dominated her thoughts and time. "Art helped my brain refocus on new, creative and sometimes uncomfortable things," Sharon explained, "At the beginning, my attempts were dark because my life was dark. Then I started using my favorite bright colors and found myself painting trees and water because these are things I love. It helped me feel more positive, like life was coming back to me."

In order to face her fears head on, Sharon discovered the first and most challenging step was to simply start a project. From there, it developed into something big, bold and beautiful. Her husband has been her biggest supporter and at times had to push her out the door. Sharon is very thankful this opportunity was available to her. It not only reawakened her desire to create art, but more importantly, gave her a place and time to focus on herself. "I believe God led me to this place. When I think of the changes that have happened to me since starting, I realize I have grown in my ability to look at life in a broader way, and with God's help, I can handle anything that comes my way," she said.

Sharon has discovered a new way to find peace in the midst of uncertainty and chaos. Her husband's diagnosis of an additional type of cancer is adding more caregiver responsibilities to her plate. "I now feel that even though life is hard, there is a way to meet every challenge," she said.

Through the generous support of CentraCare Foundation, group and private art therapy sessions led by a certified art therapist are available for cancer patients and their caregivers. The focus of art therapy is on self-exploration and healing. A variety of art mediums may be used, and some techniques taught. No art experience is needed. To register, call 320-229-5100.